Country CousinIssue Date: April 4, 2019
Doing chores, Filling potholes
Spring continues to make reluctant advances into TIMESland. Snow is slowly disappearing, but those of us who long for shirtsleeve weather are still shivering in our parkas, what with the dampness, wind chill and near freezing temperatures, even during the day.
On the bright side, thanks to the slow thaw, we appear to have been spared the floods that washed away roads, vehicles and even buildings in some other parts of the state. With the snow and ice buildup on roofs pretty much melted away there have been no new roof cave-ins around here recently. Lake and river levels don't look too bad, and in some secluded sunny spots the earliest blooming flowers are starting to poke their little green shoots up into the sunlight. There are a few snow mountains that may not disappear until June at this rate, but time will tell.
Managed to get through April Fools Day without being pranked once. Something of a relief, but also something of a disappointment. Didn't get to prank anyone else either. Getting to be a dull old foggy, I guess.
In an Oshkosh garden over the weekend saw tulips up about two inches, and tiny white snowdrops in full bloom. They used to be about two weeks ahead of us, but I doubt we'll be seeing even snowdrop blossoms in two weeks.
Granddaughter in Reno, Nevada is crowing a bit. Sent Facebook photos of her yard with tulips in full bloom last week. Guess she inherited her great-grandma's green thumb.
SEE GEORGE FLY
We don't have flowers yet, but we get to watch George. George is the goose who moved in with the family as a tiny gosling last spring and has stayed ever since. He learned to fly, but seemed to prefer chasing the car on his two webbed feet when his father-figure host drove away.
He learned to fly, but attempts to interest him in flying south with the other wild geese last fall were useless. He'd go down to the river with the family for a swim, and then come back home his human family rather than stay with the other wild geese. He ended up being provided with food and heated water in a tent shed all winter and did just fine.
Now that Spring has come (sort of, at least), George is back outside. These days he often amuses himself by chasing one or both of the family's pit bull grand-dogs or flying ahead of them and then landing so he can look back, flap his mighty wings at them and laugh.
George has no love for me or my daughter-in-law, and has bitten at least one of the grown grandsons and nipped one of the dogs and lived to tell about it. We tolerate him, but he'd better be careful. If George does too much biting, he might end up being the one bitten, but only after that goose has been cooked.
Just kidding, George! That will never happen, and you know it. That's why you're so brazen!
Maybe if we get a few geese to keep that gander company he won't have time to chase dogs or humans and we'd all be safe.
MEMORIES OF MOM
Today would have been Mom's 97th birthday if she were still alive. She was born on April 3, 1922 and grew upon the family farm outside of Crivitz where we now live.
Their first home was way ahead of its time. It was an earth home, built into the side of a hill. It was far off the beaten path, but not far from the banks of the Peshtigo River, and not far from Crivitz by way of the railroad tracks that pass through the property.
Her step-mom always had beautiful flowers growing in the front yard of that log and sod structure, and Mom used to tell of city visitors who came there by passenger train to admire their quaint house and the flowers that surrounded it.
Growing up on that little farm gave Mom a deep appreciation of the hard work that went into keeping food on the table, and in fact of the value of hard work.
When I was small she always had chores for me to do, and Aunt Martha, mother of my favorite cousins, had the same philosophy. Once a girl was old enough not to chew on it she was handed a dish towel and told to help when it came time to dry the dishes.
Setting and clearing the table were regular chores for us, and when there was gardening to be done, we were required to help do it.
No one in our two families would have dared to complain about being bored. Had we done that, someone would have found work for us to do, and play time wouldn't come until we had done it.
Now that I'm older, I realize it would often have been far easier for Mom to shoo me off to watch television rather than teach me to dry a dish, wash a window, scrub a baseboard, peel a potato, polish shoes, or measure flour and spices into a bowl. I also realize there was no television in those days.
But more than that, I now understand that in assigning helper chores Mom could keep an eye on me while making me feel like a valued and contributing member of the family and teaching me lessons I needed to learn.
Sometimes, when I was a beginning reader, she would sit me on the cupboard and have me read her stories while she went about her meal preparations or cleanup. She actually made me feel like I was entertaining her by doing that!
Thank you, Mom, for all those chores, and for all the time you spent teaching me to do them.
GOOD NEWS GAZETTE
We hear so often about trouble making teens, bullying, school shootings and the like that it was an absolute joy to see a Facebook posting last week about 12-year-old Monte Scott in Muskegon Heights, Mich. That young man, not quite a teen but pretty close, got off early from a half day of school and spent his free afternoon single-handedly filling in about 15 giant potholes in the road near his home.
Without saying anything to anyone, without any promise of pay or praise, he donned his orange and red sweatshirt, grabbed a shovel and an empty garbage can and went to work, digging soil from the back yard of his home and hauling it by garbage can to the pothole, which he then filled in tamped down and then moved on to the next one.
A passer-by spotted him doing the work, and filmed it. The boy said his mother's and grandmother's cars had been damaged by hitting the potholes and he didn't want that happening to other folks. His proud Mom posted that on Facebook and the story spread.
What an example he is to all of us!!! Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all decided to do something about problems instead of just complaining and waiting for someone else to do something?
Scott's efforts may have shamed city officials into taking another look at how they do things. Muskegon Heights Mayor Kimberley Sims congratulated Scott on his industriousness but said she was sorry that "the problem is so bad that he feels he has to do that."
As for young Scott, he said he plans to just keep filling pot holes until he runs out.
THINGS TO DO
Watch the signs, posters, bulletin boards and ads for opportunities to enjoy Easter Egg hunts, pancake and porkie breakfasts and other pre-Easter fun events in TIMESland in the coming weeks.
The Beecher-Dunbar-Pembine High School Class of 2019 will be coordinating this year's Spring Festival on Saturday, April 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Features Easter activities for the kids and a photo op with the Easter bunny! Shop local at the Annual Spring Craft Fair, grab a bite to eat at the concessions and bake sale, enter one of the many raffles. Entertainment throughout the day includes the Pembine Forensics and Solo and Ensemble Groups.
The annual pancake breakfast at Saints Joseph and Edward parish church in Walsh (County Road G in Porterfield) runs from 9 to 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 7.
Also on Sunday, April 7, the Grover/Porterfield Fire Department Women's Auxiliary is hosting its 6th annual all you can eat pancake breakfast and bake sale at the fire station on County D and DD in Harmony from 8 a.m. to noon. Breakfast includes sausages, fresh fruit, milk, juice and coffee.
Enjoy a warm bowl of homemade soup and bread and then take home a beautiful handmade bowl at the 9th annual Tri-City Area United Way 2019 M&M Area Empty Bowls event on Tuesday, April 9 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Best Western Riverfront Inn in Marinette. Music will be provided by Matt Johnson. Each person who attends gets to select a beautiful hand made clay bowl to keep as a lasting reminder of world hunger. The bowls are hand made by students of Peshtigo Elementary Learning Center, Marinette Middle School, and St. Thomas Aquinas Academy. The $15 admission provides funds so local food pantries can continue assisting individuals who are not sure where their next meal is coming from. If you want to do a little more, bring a non-perishable food items to help support the Peshtigo SEED (Students Eat Every Day) Program, run by the Peshtigo High School Volunteer Club provide weekend food for students in need.
THE SOAP BOX
The April 15 income tax filing deadline is less than two weeks away.
Remember when that was a dreaded day for most of us? We knew we'd end up having to pay the piper, but absolutely dreaded having to figure out how much, and then finding the money to pay the bill.
Somewhere along the way, those who manipulate state and federal policies figured out that if the tax tables required employers to withhold more tax dollars than necessary from each paycheck tax filing would be a pleasure instead of a pain. It's always fun to get money back, so taxpayers wouldn't complain as much.
They knew it would be easy for some of us to forget that the money we get from our income tax return isn't a gift from Good Old Uncle Sam, it's simply getting back a little of the money we earned and paid in the first place.
Lest anyone forget, those who "get back" more from that tax return than they paid in are also not exactly getting a gift from Good Old Uncle Sam - they are getting a gift of money earned by other taxpayers. Government basically has no money of its own. Things like government grants and subsidies do not come from any Governor, President or legislators, they come from the pockets of other hardworking individuals. Even taxes paid by large corporations ultimately come from wage earning taxpayers, because the corporations raise the prices paid by everyone when their taxes go up.
Some folks must simply love paying taxes though. They voted out the only Wisconsin governor in years who lowered taxes and eliminated the budget deficit. Those same folks are still busy trying to get rid of the only president in years who managed to get lower taxes for working folks, and they somehow keep spreading the lie that those tax cuts only benefitted the super wealthy. Guess they like unemployment and want high taxes for anyone lucky enough to have a good job. They get more votes that way.
Heard that an IRS auditor conducting an audit at the taxpayer's home wanted to know how he managed to buy such a luxurious villa with such a low income.
"Well," the taxpayer answered, "while fishing last summer I caught a large golden fish. When I took it off the hook, the fish opened his mouth and said, "I am a magical fish. Throw me back to the sea and I'll give you the most luxurious villa you have ever seen.' I threw the fish back into the sea, and got the villa."
"Can you prove that unbelievable story?" the auditor demanded.
"Seeing is believing! You can see the villa, can't you?" the man replied.
Meanwhile, in another town a little boy prayed nightly for God to send him $100. Finally he wrote a letter asking for money and addressed it to "The Lord, USA." Postal personnel decided to forward it to President Donald Trump. The President was so impressed, touched, and amused by the letter that he instructed his secretary to send the little boy $5, feeling that this would seem like a lot of money to a little boy.
The lad was delighted that his prayer was answered, but also a bit disappointed that it was only $5. He wrote a thank-you note to the Lord: "Dear Lord, Thank you very much for sending me the money. However, I noticed that for some reason you had to send it through Washington, DC and as usual, those jerks deducted $95."
Lent continues, and for some of us that means more meatless meals than usual. Do those meals right and it's no sacrifice at all, and instead something of a reward.
Takes 25 minutes to prepare, start to finish. Enjoy it with buttered rice, Salty Sauce* and a fresh green salad or better still, Cheesy Broccoli and sliced tomatoes, for a magnificent meatless meal.
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
3 c. halved cherry tomatoes
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil (or 2 teaspoons dried basil)
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
*Balsamic glaze, for drizzling
Make the Balsamic glaze ahead of time. (See recipe after this one.) Have all your ingredients assembled before you start cooking, because things go fast once you start cooking. Season salmon all over with oregano, salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. When oil is shimmering but not smoking, add salmon skin-side up and cook until deeply golden, about 6 minutes. Flip and cook 6 minutes, until salmon is opaque and flakes easily. Transfer to a plate. Add remaining tablespoon olive to skillet, then stir in garlic and shallots. Cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until tomatoes just begin to burst. Remove from heat and squeeze lemon juice over them. Spoon the tomato mixture over the salmon, garnish each serving with basil and Parmesan, then drizzle with balsamic glaze or salty juice.
2 cups balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
Mix balsamic vinegar with brown sugar in a stainless steel saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until glaze is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Glaze should coat the back of a spoon. Let cool and pour into a jar with a lid; store in refrigerator. Keeps for a long, long time, and is good over lots of things, just drizzle on lightly because the flavor is intense. Substitute raspberry or any other flavored balsamic vinegar if you like, or instead of brown sugar, use molasses, honey, maple syrup or agave nectar. Great on pasta with gorgonzola cheese, green onions and portobello mushrooms, on grilled beets and carrots, with salmon or pork, or as a dressing on salad with toasted nuts, dried cranberries or fresh strawberries.
1/2 cup cider vinegar or regular white vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
Mix together thoroughly and serve on whatever you like, especially fish, French Fries or steamed rice.
BLACK BEAN BROWNIES
Wrote last week about using black beans in cookies to make them look like chocolate chips for an April Fool's Day joke. Then found this recipe for Black Bean Brownies in the most recent issue of Marinette County Elderly Service's Northwoods Senior News, and it is no joke. Haven't tried these, but the idea seems to be a way for folks to have their fat-restricted diets and eat brownies too. It's also easy, definitely another plus.
1 can black beans, 15 ounces
1 box chocolate brownie mix, 19.5 ounces
Preheat oven to whatever temperature the package of brownie mix calls for. Rinse and drain the black beans. Put the beans back in the can and fill it with water. Process beans and water in blender or food processor until smooth. In a medium size bowl mix the pureed beans with the package of brownie mix just until smooth. Do not add eggs or oil, just the pureed water/bean mixture. (You could add nuts or chocolate chips if your diet allows.) Spray a baking pan of the size called for on the brownie mix package with a non-stick spray, then spread in the brownie/bean mixture. Bake according to the brownie mix package directions.
Thought for the week: If we but open our eyes to the beauties of fields and forests, in songs of birds and music of men, in sky and stream, in the joy of a child's laughter, in all the beautiful, simple pleasures of daily life, we are reminded almost constantly of God's boundless generosity to us. Dear God, thank You for these gifts. As we prepare our souls for Easter, let us join the unknown author who prayed: "Help us to realize that You are never outdone in generosity, and that the least thing we do for You will be rewarded, full measure. Then we shall see how the desert of our soul can blossom, how that dry and wasted land can bring forth the rich, useful fruit that was expected of it from the beginning. Amen."
(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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