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

Issue Date: February 17, 2021

Back in the Cold...

Hate to admit it, but was dumb enough to come back Sunday from Florida into our frigid Wisconsin winter even though my wonderful nephew, Ron and his lovely wife, Karen offered to keep me.

Picked a good week to be there, and a great week not to be here in Wisconsin. While TIMESland was shivering with temperatures well below zero, coldest of the year, at least so far, Florida was enjoying beautiful days in the 75 to 80 degree range and nights in the 60s, with mostly sunshine during the day at least in the area around Cocoa Beach and Orlando. When rain did decide to fall it relented quickly and the sun came out to warm things up again.

Got to see the space station, but not inside it. Saw the area where space ships are launched, but didn't get to see one go up, thanks to the Feb. 4 snowstorm that cancelled the first few days of the trip. Soaked up peace and beauty at a Buddhist temple with massive statues, engraved pillars and flower-filled meditation gardens. Lady at the gift shop said people of all faiths come there frequently to meditate and pray, and all are welcome.

Spent much of one day on a gambling ship with a live singer performing on the top deck, outdoors, with palm trees, sea birds, ships and the city skyline in the distance. Dabbled my toes in the Atlantic ocean, saw maybe 30 alligators while whizzing through a grassy northern portion of the everglades on an airboat with a great captain who stopped to point out countless varieties of wildlife all along the way, and chuckled over a "Snowmobiling Prohibited" sign next to the mounted alligator head in the Wild Cabbage cantina where we bought our tickets for the air boat and dined on alligator and other seafoods afterwards.

Was impressed that beef cattle were busy grazing in tall grass all along the swampy waterways in the Land of the Seminole, and would wade out perhaps even knee deep to drink their fill before going back to dining on the endless grass. Spotted one Bald Eagle, numerous herons and egrets, some beautiful pink birds that the boat's captain didn't identify for us, and a lot more.

The final night of that incredible vacation was spent enjoying the company of 16 other family members at an incredible Korean Barbecue dinner prepared by Karen, who has mastered the art of oriental cooking.

The only bad part of the trip was a severe asthma attack brought on by spending hours masked at the airport in Appleton and on the plane headed for Florida. Found myself unable to walk fast enough to get off the plane and ended up being delivered in a wheelchair to Ron and Karen. Gave them a scare, but I recovered quickly and was able to thoroughly enjoy the rest of the week.

Would never have taken this trip had it not been for my hosts, and the wonderful grandkids who organized and financed it for me. What a wonderful gift for Christmas and Valentine's Day!



LENT IS HERE

Back in the real world, today - Wednesday, Feb. 17 - is Ash Wednesday, and the start of Lent. Hard to believe, but Easter is just six weeks away!

We used to joke about things we could give up for Lent - things like wearing hip boots to bed. Wish I could give up wearing a mask!



ON THE SOAP BOX

FATHER OF OUR COUNTRY


Once upon a time in this land, Feb. 22 was a Federal holiday, marking the birthday of George Washington, the Father of our Nation, the man who led the rag-tag Revolutionary army to victory over the well-financed British Red Coats, and the man who could have become king of the new nation but chose to become its first President instead.

Sadly, efforts are underway to dishonor President George Washington because he was a slave owner who came from a Southern family who were slave owners. Folks tend to forget we are the creatures of our times, and statesmen must start from where they are and progress from there.

Kids today seem to no longer be taught that Washington inherited most of his slaves, and that he lived in a day when it was illegal for a slave owner to simply free his slaves without providing for them financially.

Wonder if schools today even bother to teach that Washington could easily have been named king of the new nation he led to freedom from England? He declined that honor because he had fought for a vision entirely new to the world - a nation led by citizens who would give up their individual pursuits for a time in order to serve their country, and then return to their private lives in a nation where everyone (except, sadly, the slaves) was free to succeed or fail by the sweat of their own brows.

Are today's history teachers honest enough to point out that the Constitution that created the United States of America was the first of its kind in the world and set up a system of freedom and self reliance that had never been enjoyed before?

Do they mention that even though some of the framers of the Constitution were themselves slave owners, most of them - if not all - wanted slavery to end, and in fact wrote provisions that paved the way for a peaceful end to that shameful misuse of human beings?

Speaking of a free nation, remember that cannot continue to be a reality without free exchange of information, factual teaching of history, and without fair and free elections, protected against manipulation of ballots.

We owe it to ourselves, to the untold thousands of forefathers who fought and died for us, and for the children who will inherit this world after we leave it to protect out freedoms, whatever the cost.



INTERNET SCAMS

Have been getting multiple voicemail messages recently advising me that my Amazon order will be shipped out within a day or two unless I call and cancel the order, and charges from the Amazon account will be billed to my bank card.

The hitch is that I do not have an Amazon account, never have had one, and in the light of recent happenings most certainly never will have one unless it is billed to a very restricted pre-paid debit card.

Because of that, I ignored the voice mails. Then, early this week, at my regular e-mail address there was an e-mail from "Lois" at "gcqhqjf@baybabes.com" that included an Amazon order confirmation number, a final price of $6,120 and instructions that the order would be billed to my account and shipped in two days unless I called Customer Service at 1-360-702-5238 to cancel. Looked official. It included the Amazon logo, Order Confirmation Number, and photos of the products I allegedly ordered.

Wasn't too concerned that they would ship anything, since there is no credit card, I have no Amazon account, and my bank account balance is far, far below their listed purchase price.

However, did call to cancel. The woman who answered in highly accented English tried hard to convince me my Amazon account had been hacked, including my personal banking information. She said the only way to prevent future misuse would be to get an Amazon green card. She then tried to get information from me, saying she had to confirm I was indeed the person involved before she could issue the card.

Had probably been dumb to make the call in the first place, but was smart enough to hang up without giving the answers she was looking for.

Attempted to call Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Never did manage to reach a human, or even a chance to leave a message. Their budget is over $193 million a year, and they apparently can't afford a human to answer the phone.

Called the governor's office and got nearly the same response except that there was an opportunity to leave a voice mail. That led to a game of phone tag with a person in the Office of Consumer Protection. Will pass along advice from her as soon as we manage to make contact, which hasn't happened yet.

Meanwhile, called my bank and was told I had rightly assumed I should provide no information to the supposed Amazon caller. She explained how to set up a way to monitor my account by phone.

Also contacted a sister-in-law, who has been advised to never say "yes" in a conversation with a scam caller. Say "correct," if you must, and for example, "speaking," if they ask for you by name. If you say the magic word "yes" the scammers can record it and attach it as your response to whatever ridiculous offer they're making, which could give them a legal right to withdraw money from your bank account or credit card.



DEFROST THE WINDOWS

Texting often involves incomplete information, and sometimes that can be disastrous. For example, one frosty winter morning, wife reportedly texted hubby: "Windows frozen." Hubby texted back: "Pour on some warm water." (Not good advice in any case, but oh, well!) Anyway, short time later wife texted back again: "Computer fried. Now what?"



RIDDLE ME THIS

See answers after Cookin' Time.

If the sun shines while it's snowing, what should you look for?

What did the sturgeon say when it swam into a concrete wall?

What do you use to catch an Arctic hare?

What did the big furry hat say to the warm woolly scarf?

What's the difference between an iceberg and a clothes brush?



COOKIN' TIME

During Lent it is traditional in many families - and somewhat mandatory in most Catholic families - to eat more fish than usual during Lent, because Wednesdays and Fridays are days of fast and abstinence - which also means meatless. The fish recipes that follow call for haddock, but almost any other well boned fish will do, such as walleye, cod, flounder, halibut, even pollack and catfish or bull heads taken from very fresh cold water.



BAKED HADDOCK

Bake enough on Wednesday to save half for the Mushroom Haddock Loaf on Friday.

6 haddock fillets (5 pounds)

1 teaspoon dill weed

3 medium lemons, sliced

Tartar Sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup dill pickle relish

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon diced pimientos (optional)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon dill week

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place fillets in a greased 15-in.x 10-in.x1-in. baking dish (not aluminum). Sprinkle with dill. Arrange lemon slices over fillets. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until flakes easily with a fork. Stir the tartar sauce ingredients together in a nice serving dish and serve with the fish. This recipe serves six (with half a fillet each) and leaves six cups of leftover cooked fish for the Haddock loaf on Friday.



MUSHROOM HADDOCK LOAF

1-1/2 cups crushed saltines (about 45 crackers)

1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom coup, undiluted

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons chopped green onion

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 drops hot pepper sauce

2 cups flaked cooked haddock.

In a bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, soup, eggs, milk, onion lemon juice and pepper sauce; mix well. Add the haddock. Press into a greased 8 in. x 4 in. x 2 in. loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Yield: 6 servings.



CHERRY CREAM CHEESE COBBLER

We all know now that George Washington did not really chop down that cherry tree, but the fact remains that Washington, DC, at least the part that surrounds our nation's capital, has beautiful cherry blossoms in spring, so there must be cherries there later in the season, right? Anyway, this warm, cozy (and easy) dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream of a dollop of real whipped cream seems like just the right way to celebrate the birthday of the man who led the United States of America to victory over the British, and eventual world wide victory over government by royal dictators. There are attempts today to demean him because he and his family were Southern slaveholders, but the fact remains that he could have been made king when the Revolutionary War ended, but he chose not to. He had fought to make this nation free, not to establish a new royal family. And it was he who set the tradition (now law) of a two term limit for United States presidents. He understood if anyone was in office too long they might get to like the power and prestige too well and never agree to go back and live as a common man.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

1 cup milk

1 egg

1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put butter into a 9 x 13 baking dish and put it into the oven for a few minutes to melt. While the butter melts, whisk together the sugar, flour and baking powder, and then stir in the extract, milk and egg to the flour mixture. Tilt the baking dish with the melted butter a bit to get the butter spread around, and then pour the batter over it. Do not stir. Put the cherry pie filling into the bowl you just took the batter out of and stir in the cream cheese pieces. Drop spoonfuls of the cherry/cheese mixture into the batter, but don't cover it completely. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top begins to brown.  Makes 8 to 10 servings.



RIDDLE ANSWERS: Snowbows. "Dam!" A hare net! "You hang around while I go on ahead," and finally, one crushes boats and the other brushes coats.

The Country Cousin



Thought for the week: George Washington never saw the events that shook cities across this nation over the past two years or so, but he did somewhat foresee them, as when he cautioned back in Revolutionary War days: "The tumultuous populace of large cities are ever to be dreaded. Their indiscriminate violence prostrates for the time all public authority, and its consequences are sometimes extensive and terrible." He also cautioned rightly that "Liberty, when it degrades into licentiousness, begets confusion, and frequently ends in tyranny or some woeful confusion."





(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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