Hated the cold that blew in with January, and generally do love the January thaw, but this year, not so much. Hate gray days! There's no sun, and the treacherous ice brought on by winter rains and drizzle is hard to live with. We're in the winter doldrums.
Weathermen are predicting moderate temperatures to continue through the end of this month, with the highs hovering right around freezing. There's still no sunshine in sight, and only bits of snow. Unfortunately, that nasty word "drizzle" keeps popping up. The coldest nights are supposed to be Saturday, Jan. 28 and Sunday, Jan. 29, with a low of eight degrees, and then it's supposed to get a bit warmer again.
The long-range forecast doesn't call for any drastic weather in February. Hope they're right.
That said, sooner or later this drizzly dreary January thaw will end, and we'll perhaps get some snowman weather.
Realize in these days of political correctness, making blonde jokes is probably frowned upon, but can't seem to help myself.
Here's a new one, winter-related.
Friend claims he built a blonde snowman a while back. Said it took a lot longer than building the regular kind. Hollowing out the head wasn't easy.
THEN THE FIGHT STARTED...
This is the time of the year when many of us take a good look at ourselves and often do not like what we see. We're suffering from New Year's resolution syndrome.
Fellow says when he walked into their bedroom the other day his wife was standing nude in front of the full length mirror, studying her appearance.
She was not happy with what she saw, and said to him: "I'm ugly! I feel horrible. I look old and fat and bumpy and wrinkled. I need you to give me a hug and pay me a compliment."
Says he complied. Gave her that hug and said to her tenderly, "Your eyesight is darn near perfect."
That's when the fight started....
Claims he doesn't understand. He did exactly what she asked him to do.
STAY YOUNG AND SMART
We talk about getting old and wise, but most of us are painfully aware that age can lead to brain decline, as much as a decline in physical abilities and general appearance.
Here are a few tips to stay young. Not exactly the Fountain of Youth, but some things to help.
First, stay active. Add a sport or other enjoyable physical activities of all sorts to your daily regimen. That could include dancing, tai chai, bicycling, golf, or any other activity that stimulates connections between neurons in the brain.
That can also help you maintain connections with friends and loved ones, and that's important too. Maintaining closeness with the one you love also helps by stimulating production of DHEA and other beneficial hormones. Or take DHEA supplements.
Next suggestion, related to the first, is to give your brain cells an oxygen bath. Aerobic exercise stimulates circulation, which bathes the brain cells in oxygen and keeps them young. Results of one study show that 30 to 40 minutes of daily exercise (the kind that gets you breathing a bit hard) caused new brain cells to grow in the part of the brain that controls memory.
And finally, sleep more hours. Sleeping fewer than eight hours a night doesn't just leave you feeling tired, it packs on pounds, ups your risk of diabetes, heart attack, and stroke, and leaves your face looking haggard and tired, which it probably is.
Also, lack of sleep boosts weight by increasing levels of a hormone called ghrelin, which makes you think you're hungry and suppresses the hormone leptin, which makes you feel full.
And all this time I thought it was just my mind that confused being tired with being hungry. Turns out my body does too!
Maybe early to bed really does make you healthy and wise! don't know about the wealthy part. That probably comes from being early to rise!
ON THE SOAP BOX
It's no secret that Yours Truly has been a Trump supporter, and therefore rejoiced in the results of the November election.
So it should be no surprise that Nobama Day, the inauguration of President Donald Trump on Friday, Jan. 20, was thoroughly enjoyed in our household.
Must now crow a little. Learned that a favorite nephew, Ronald Prudhomme, and his beautiful wife Karen, were invited guests at the inauguration and one of the balls held in our nation's capital on Friday to celebrate it. Didn't see them in any of the TV broadcasts, but they were there, and delighted to be part of it all.
Feel a proprietary interest in this nephew, and a particular pride that he overcame an early childhood disability to become the very wonderful and successful person he is today.
In early elementary school he was deaf, but was smart enough that no one knew it. At one point a teacher told his parents that "he might be educable". Finally removal of his tonsils and adenoids cured the hearing problem that no one knew he had.
Sadly, at that time (50 years ago) educators apparently had not yet figured out that learning abilities of children who are deaf at an early age differ from those who have had no hearing problems, due to brain development issues. Until the listening portions of their brains catch up with the rest of it, they need to learn in different ways. Talking at them doesn't do it.
Ron got through elementary school, and graduated from high school, but was tagged by teachers and classmates as unlikely to succeed.
Then he joined the Air Force. Eventually, on his own, he earned not one, but three college degrees. Achieved high military rank. Did a lot of secret stuff that he wouldn't talk about. Headed a seismic detection program that covered about a quarter of the world. Retired from the Air Force a while back after more than 20 years of service.
He never talked much about his achievements, at least not to the family. His parents were amazed at his retirement party to meet high ranking officers who had come from all corners of the world to be there.
He now heads an aero space company that he founded. All that in addition to raising a wonderful family and continuing to be the fun loving prankster that he has always been.
Incidentally, once during an early overseas deployment, this young man addressed a letter to simply "Uncle Wayne and Aunt Shirley, Crivitz, Wisconsin."
And we got it.
How's that for postal service in the old days?
And there he and Karen were in Washington, representing a very proud family at the inauguration of the President who is promising to make America great again!
Ron wasn't the only member of our family who had hearing problems resulting from adenoid obstructions, but eventually, because we learned to watch for it, the younger ones weren't affected as badly.
Still, hearing loss is hard to detect. Kids learn to lip read and compensate otherwise for their lack of hearing. In kindergarten and probably first grade they will probably do well, because the teacher faces the class when talking. It's later, when teachers turn their backs to the class to write on the board, that the problems show up.
Parents, be alert. If your child, even a toddler, suddenly changes from being a relatively obedient tyke with a sunny disposition to one who is grouchy and seems to deliberately disobey, pay close attention. He may not hear what you're saying.
How would you feel if every time time you heard someone speak to you they were scolding and angry?
Every parent should make it a practice to regularly speak to their child from behind, or at least while out of sight, preferably when they do not even know you are there. Say something you know they want to hear, and notice whether or not they understand what is being said without the benefit of lip reading, facial expressions or body language. Children are amazingly perceptive.
That simple test could catch a hearing loss early and prevent a long-term problem from developing. There's no cost, and you don't even need a trip to the doctor to get it done, though it doesn't hurt to get a professional evaluation done once in a while anyway.
ON THE SOAP BOX AGAIN
Our new president, Donald Trump, has been criticized from many quarters because of his stance on immigration, and his determination to keep illegal immigrants out of the country. He has already taken steps to get going on that fence he promised on the United States border with Mexico. Not only illegal immigrants, but also a great many other things, like illnesses and illegal drugs, reportedly have been coming in through that unprotected border and that needs to stop.
Incidentally, isn't it ironic that outgoing President Barrack Obama during his waning days in office chose to end the "wet foot, dry foot" policy by which this nation allowed escapees from Cuba to take refuge here, while allowing illegal immigrants from Muslim countries and Mexico to stay no matter how they got here?
Legal immigration is quite another thing. In fact, legal immigration is a primary reason that America became great in the first place.
President Trump has expressed no opposition to that.
But immigrants, even legal immigrants, have certain responsibilities if they want to benefit from living in America.
Here's what the late great President Theodore Roosevelt had to say about that: "In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
WHO DO YOU KICK?
Was looking for the above quote from Teddy Roosevelt to get the words right, and came across another comment he had made that sort of gets things about life in general right on. This is it:
"If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month!"
Had known he could be a pretty funny guy, but never heard that one before.
He's totally right. If we all took responsibility for our own actions and inactions there wouldn't be so much hue and cry for government to do things for us.
We need to kick ourselves in the duff when needed, and to do that we need to get up off them and get to work.
The Packers lost the big game last Sunday, and won't be playing in the Super Bowl this coming weekend, but that doesn't prevent us from enjoying the final big game of the season. We can still have a Super Bowl party and bury our sorrows in a lot of good food and a little drink even if we don't really care who wins the game.
In honor of our Wisconsin heritage, make up an offering of cheese-based appetizer bites, both sweet and savory.
Ideas include topping cooked red potato slices with a slice of hard boiled egg spread with mascarpone cheese a dab of mustard and a sweet pickle wedge; filling a corn chip cup with salsa, a Monterey Jack cheese cube, a dab of black bean salsa and maybe a cilantro leaf; filling an oversize cooked macaroni shell with tuna salad and a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese; and a variety of good things stabbed with cocktail picks. Some good combinations might be a strawberry half speared with a slice of Brie cheese, a slice of kiwi and a red grape, a cucumber chunk speared with a grape tomato, a feta cheese cube, an olive and an olive oil drizzle, picks with sliced rolls of dried beef spread with cream cheese accompanied by a grape tomato and an olive, sausage slices accompanied with cheese cubes,pickle chunks and olives. If you run out of your own ideas, check out "PicksAndBites.com" sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
NO PEEK CHICKEN OR CHOPS
Remember this good old standby? Sometimes we get too cozy with a recipe for a while, then neglect it so long we forget about it. Makes a bunch, and easily expandable if you have a crowd coming for dinner.
2 cups raw rice
2 1/2 pounds or so raw chicken, cut into serving pieces, or equal amount of pork chops or lean pork roast, sliced across the grain
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 soup can water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 package dry onion soup mix
Butter a sizable casserole dish, one with a cover if possible, but if not, use aluminum foil. Mix 2 cans of soup, can of water, and soy sauce. Mix half of this with the rice and put into the casserole dish. Put the chicken or pork on top. Pour over this the remaining soup, then sprinkle the packet of dry soup over the top. Cover tightly and bake for 2 1/2 hours at 350 degrees. Do not peek!
APPLESAUCE SPICE CAKE
This cake can bake right along with most oven meals, including No Peek casserole and it's a good, easy and inexpensive dessert.
1/2 cup butter or buttery flavored Crisco
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup raisins, optional
1 cup chopped nuts, optional
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening, sugar, honey and eggs together. Mix the rest of the dry ingredients. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the water and applesauce. Or just put all the ingredients into a food processor until well blended. Stir in nuts and raisins if you're using them. It's a good idea to toss the raisins with a bit of the flour first so they stay distributed throughout the cake instead of settling to the bottom. Prepare the crumb topping and sprinkle it all over the top of the cake. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. If you need to guild the lilly, serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping. But it's also very good as is.
Didn't know what Sofrito was, but the original Spanish Stew recipe used last week called for it as an option, so looked up some information. Use as a base for all sorts of good south of the border things, or just as a sauce for Mexican foods, including corn chips. It's pretty much a type of salsa, not hot but full of flavor. Very good on tacos.
2 pounds plum tomatoes
2 red or green bell peppers
1 fresh jalapeno pepper
2 medium yellow onions
5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pick leaves off cilantro. Stems give a flavor we don't like. Coarsely chop tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Combine with garlic and cilantro. In batches, pulse mixture in a food processor until finely chopped. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high until shimmering. Add mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced, 25 to 30 minutes (reduce heat if it starts browning at the edge). To store, let cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks, or freeze up to 6 months.
Thought for the week: This week, Jan. 22 - 28, is official School of Choice week, so we are right in the middle of it. This is a good time to consider the benefits of allowing parents the right to decide who will educate their children, and what they will be taught. This is a most important choice that should not be left to the discretion of bureaucrats. As President Theodore Roosevelt once warned, "To educate a person in the mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society." Perhaps it is time for us to once again put absolute right and wrong (including God) back into the curriculum. If public schools cannot or will not do this, private schools can. Most of them never took it out in the first place. Hurrah for private schools of every Christian persuasion!
(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 email@example.com.)
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