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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Country Cousin

Honor Grandparents...

Labor Day Weekend has come and gone. Kids are back in school. Leaves are turning color. Nights are chilly and mornings are chillier. Temperatures of 32 degrees and below were reported in the northern reaches of TIMESland even before August ended. There may still be some fine days, but the short and rainy Summer of 2017 is definitely over!

HARVEST MOON

The September Full Moon is Wednesday, Sept. 6, but the Harvest Moon doesn't come this year until Thursday, Oct. 5. Somehow, the September and October full moons seem to generally bring clear skies with them. The Harvest Moon became called that in northern latitudes of the world because it rises earlier and sets later than moons in other months, shedding its silvery glow on fields so farmers can continue harvesting long after the sun goes down.

GROWIN' THINGS

Don't know if it's legend or fact, but an old farmer's tale is that temperatures below 32 degrees will kill above-ground plant growth unless there's a full moon. If there is, the plants will survive.

HARVEST DATES

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, the best days for harvesting above ground plant this year are Thursday and Friday, Sept. 28 and 29, and Oct. 15 and 16.

Best times to harvest underground crops are Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 18 and 19, and Oct. 15 and 16.

This creates some problems because the best days for canning, pickling and making sauerkraut are said to be Thursday and Friday, Sept. 14 and 15 and Wednesday and Thursday, Oct 11 and 12. hard to pickle or can things before you're supposed to be picking them!

Anyway, if you want to destroy pests or weeds, the best days for that are said to be Thursday and Friday Sept. 7 and 8, or Oct. 5 and 6.

GRANDPARENTS DAY IS SEPT. 10

Used to think Grandparents' Day was dreamed up by Hallmark or the American Florist Association to sell more of their products, but guess that isn't so.

It's a real holiday, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 at the urging of Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade, the Oak Hill, West Virginia housewife who founded the holiday. McQuade had worked with senior citizens for many years. Her original idea for the holiday was not only to recognize grandparents but also to bring attention to the needs of people living in nursing homes.

Carter signed the Grandparents' Day proclamation on September 6, 1979, and the first Grandparents Day was celebrated three days later. Today, there is even an official American Grandparents Association, with its own set of web pages with ideas on everything from crafts to do with grandkids to maintaining long distance relationships with them.

REMEMBERING MINE

Was privileged as a youngster to spend a lot of time with my grandparents on both sides of the family. They were hard working people who passed along their wisdom and their views on life while they worked. Generally, if we wanted their company, we had to work with them, or at least they pretended we did. Realize now that working alongside them meant we were keeping out of trouble - not eating the chicken feed or getting under cow's hooves.

On the other hand, got to watch my old French grandpa dance an Irish jig with his Polish wife at their youngest daughter's wedding - and he was well over 60 at the time.

Once challenged his order to get dressed for Sunday Mass with the argument that he wasn't going, and he roared his standing rule: "You do as I say, not as I do." We did, too.

Loved the big goose down comforters that Grandma Boivin used to make from feathers of birds that she raised herself. But she was soft hearted, and didn't want me to know that the geese had to die so she could have comforters on every bed. Told us kids that on summer evenings she would bring in the geese one by one and pluck the down from them to save for the comforters. Believed her too, for a long time.

She rightly told me to stay away from those geese. They were taller than me, and really, really mean.

She also taught me to make the wonderful rolled egg noodles - guess we'd call them kluski - that she used to feed her family of a dozen kids and their husbands, wives and children who regularly dropped in unannounced for Sunday dinner. If there were to be 13 at the table, grandma always took her plate and ate in the kitchen. Good excuse! It was quiet there.

My German grandpa (mom's side of the family) and his Scotch/Irish wife from the hills of West Virginia would occasionally take time out from their chores to play games with the rest of the family, including one called "Quaker's Meeting." In that game the players were supposed to remain silent and straight-faced while the person who was "it" tried to make them laugh or talk. If you broke the silence rule, you were "it" and had to perform.

We called that set of grandparents "Pa" and "Ma." Once Pa got some laughs by putting his heel behind his head. Worked for him, but he was sort of tall and lean. My short and somewhat stout father tried to repeat that trick and got his foot stuck there. Trust me, everybody was laughing while he rolled around trying to get it unstuck.

They had no electricity, but they did have a crank-up record player and a small record collection, and a radio that ran on some type of battery system that Uncle Dorsey devised.

Ma was a wealth of sayings for just about every occasion, including, "Whistling girls and crowing hens will always come to some bad ends," and that, when it came to helping, "One boy is a boy. Two boys are half a boy. And three boys are no boy at all!"

She had some strong opinions. We once had to bring a newspaper from home so she could burn a picture of the presidential candidate she did not like.

The grandparents on both sides of the family passed along their personality traits, and their knowledge of gardening, cooking, family heritage, God and nature. We assimilated some of their wisdom just by hanging around.

We are all far richer for having known them!

ON THE SOAP BOX FAMILY TEASING

Note the varying national heritages of our family. Some of our ancestors were first generation immigrants, other families came here centuries earlier. There were difference. Doubtless other American families have the same mixtures of national backgrounds, and doubtless those families, like ours, did a bit of teasing. If not, too bad for them!

Pa was sometimes berated for his German muleheadedness, Ma for her Irish temper, Grandpa for his French temper, and Grandma for some of her Polish traits.

Their kids and we grandchildren were occasionally accused of inheriting these traits if things had been done that made the parents and/or grandparents angry.

But the teasing, and the scoldings, were all done in love, and taken in stride. Homemade ice cream, mosquito smudges, tractor rides, horse and wagon rides, fresh baked cookies, dandelion wine, home grown chicken noodle soup, home churned butter, and fresh caught fish were the frosting on our family cake of mixed heritages.

Teasing actually helped meld it all together. Today's world of political correctness takes a lot of the fun out of life!

Grandma and Grandpa, Pa and Ma, you're all gone now. Hope that from your new lives of ease in Heaven you look down sometimes and know how much you meant to all of us!

GREAT GRANDKIDS

Getting to know the great grandchildren is privilege I've been enjoying lately, but truth to tell, all grandchildren are great. There's an old Jewish proverb that wonders how the boy who wasn't good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world. That's a valid thing to wonder about.

As Rachel Carson observed, "If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in." And we grandparents and great grandparents need the companionship of the young ones to help us remember how to notice, pay attention, appreciate, and be inquisitive. They keep us young. They help us get into mischief we haven't thought of on our own, and give us an excuse to buy toys we've always wanted to play with.

On the other hand, keeping up with the grandkids and great grandkids can be exhausting. As one unknown pundit observed, "On the seventh day God rested. His grandchildren must have been out of town." Another said there are two times she dislikes about her granddaughter: "When she won't take her afternoon nap, and when she won't let me take mine."

WALLET SCAM

Heard on the national news about a woman in the Milwaukee suburb of Brookfield who was scammed out of $2,000 because she thought she was participating in a plan to keep the contents of a wallet she and two other women "found" in a park there.

As the story unfolded, it seems likely the wallet had been planted, but it seems sort of incredible how the victim's intended bit of larceny led to her own loss of funds.

Story was that the woman was walking through a parking lot on Bluemound Road in Brookfield when a woman called out to her and asked if she had dropped anything. The woman had a wallet fat with what looked like cash, "brown and it almost looked like the size of a brick."

They called over a third woman to take a look, and decided to keep the money -- splitting it three ways. "Finders keepers then, huh?" she said.

Greed had gotten the best of her, and she went along with the plan not to even try to find the rightful owner.

Eventually poetic justice prevailed.

The woman who "found" the wallet told the intended victim that she worked at First Weber Realty, where they had a money counting machine, and her boss would help them draw up paperwork to keep the money legally. They drove together to the office and the woman who found the wallet walked inside.

She came back with the news that there was $150,000 cash in the wallet, but to get the money, all three would have to provide some cash to prove they were financially responsible.

They drove to a nearby credit union and each withdrew $2,000. They went back to the realty company. The woman who claimed to work there went inside and came back out with what the victim said looked like stacks of cash. Then it was her turn. She went inside, leaving her $2,000 with her two "friends" in the car. That's when she realized something was wrong. No one inside knew anything about a found wallet or proof of financial responsibility. When she came out the car, the woman and her money were all gone.

The victim said she is embarrassed about the whole thing and asked that her name not be revealed. She's sad that she lost the money but glad she wasn't hurt.

COOKIN' TIME

Garden produce is super abundant right now. Had forgotten how wonderful fresh egg plant, zucchini and summer squash can be. Ditto for fresh picked green beans. Real locally raised, vine ripened tomatoes are a far different fruit than the cardboard imitations we too often get from supermarkets. But beware of roadside stands. Some of them sell real home grown produce. Others buy it off the truck just like the stores do, and it can come from anywhere.

ZUCCHINI "CRAB" CAKES

Makes about 20 cakes. Serve them on plate, like salmon patties, or on a bun with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce. These are good with shrimp sauce too.

3 medium zucchini or sumer squash, shredded

1-1/2 cups bread crumbs

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1-1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 small green or red pepper, finely chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

Shred the zucchini or yellow summer squash into a colander over a bowl. Let it drain for 30 to 45 minutes. Press down to remove excess water and pat dry with a paper towel.

In a medium bowl, combine the zucchini, bread crumbs, eggs, mayonnaise, Old Bay, mustard, onion, green pepper, and salt and black pepper. Using an ice cream scoop, place a portion of the mixture in your hand and form into a ball. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Press down lightly on the balls to form cakes. Pour the olive oil into a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Gently transfer the cakes to the skillet using a spatula. Turn every minute until they are golden brown and crispy. Add more olive oil if the pan gets dry. Serve hot with tartar sauce or shrimp sauce.

STUFFFED TOMATOES

2 eggs

8 large tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped basil

1 cup of ricotta cheese

1 clove minced garlic

1 cup corn, fresh canned or frozen kernels

1 cup diced zucchini

Parmesan cheese.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Slice tops off the tomatoes and, working over a bowl, use a spoon to remove the center.  (A serrated edge grapefruit spoon works very well.) You want to have something resembling a bowl when you are done.  Chop the pulp that you removed and save for later.  Beat the eggs lightly, and stir with the ricotta until the mixture is smooth. Add the onion, basil, garlic, two tablespoons Parmesan cheese, corn, zucchini, and the removed tomato pulp.  Stir until it is well-mixed. Fill each tomato shell with the ricotta mixture. Add a dash of Parmesan to the top of the stuffed tomato if you like.  Bake the tomatoes for about 45 minutes, or until the tops are nicely browned.

ZUCCHINI BROWNIES

Bake some batches of these luscious brownies to eat now and freeze for future use. You'll never have to yell at the kids to eat their vegetables.

1 cup margarine or butter, softened

1/2 cup vegetable oil or coconut oil

1-3/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk, with a teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar added to sour it

2-1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup dark cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups shredded zucchini

2/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine, oil, and sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla, and sour milk, and beat until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and zucchini. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, and stir until well blended. Spread batter into a greased and floured 13x9-inch pan, and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

Thought for the week: Grandparents have much to offer if only the young would listen. As Joseph Joubert once said, "Life is a country that the old have seen, and lived in. Those who have to travel through it can only learn the way from them." Of course, this is repeated here by another grandparent. But it's worth thinking about!

Country Cousin

(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 shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo.com.)


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