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

Hi Folks!

If March came in like a lion - with all that snow - then the lamb of its departure must be something of a hyperactive one, considering the wind of the last several days. On the other hand, if the record snowfall that marked the entry of March is called lamb-like (being fluffy and white, you know), then its waning days could be compared to a well mannered lion - lots of noise but no bite. High winds, but moderate temperatures.

Whichever animal we want to compare it to, we enjoyed over a week of incredible weather for so early in the season, and now adjusting to normal temperatures is a bit difficult. But the ground is far warmer than usual for this time of year. Grass is green, forsythia are in bloom, and so are daffodils in some sheltered corners.

Just 50 miles or so farther south, cherry trees are wafting their spring-like fragrance into the air, willows are leafing out, and all around are signs that Spring may really be here.

If April doesn’t bring a late-season freeze, everything is in order for an early start to the real spring.

Easter is just 10 days away, and if it doesn’t rain, outdoor Easter Sunday egg hunts could be a reality in TIMESland.

Meanwhile, predictions are for a fine Palm Sunday, with clear skies and temperatures in the high 60s. Not exactly springtime weather, but very pleasant indeed for the first of April.

APRIL FOOL!

Speaking of April, Sunday is April 1, otherwise known as April Fools Day.

Have always admired folks who can pull off a really good April Fool’s prank, and have taken up reading about some of the best. Keep hoping I’ll learn from them and come up with an inspiration. Certainly if that ever happens, it will be on April 2!

Anyway, times certainly do change, but humor does not.

Back in 1962 there was only one TV channel in Sweden, and it broadcast only in black and white. But on April 1, 1962, the station’s technical expert, Kjell Stensson, appeared on the news to announce that, thanks to a new technology, viewers could convert their existing sets to display color reception.

All they had to do was pull a nylon stocking over their TV screen. Stensson proceeded to explain the scientific reasons, and to demonstrate the process. He claimed the weave of the stocking would bend the light refraction to allow the colors to show through.

Thousands of people nylon stockings were painstakingly pulled over thousands of television sets that day.

Wonder how long it took those who were taken in to realize what happened?

Real color TV broadcasts in Sweden began eight years later, on April 1, 1970.

Considering the date, wonder how many Swedish viewers thought they were being taken in again?

Don’t you just love it?

GLOBAL WARMING???

Somewhat incredible that politicians have been awarded Nobel prizes for discovering global warming, but real scientists continue to say it doesn’t exist.

Our government taxes carbon dioxide output on the assumption it is causing our Earth to overheat, but at least some real scientists say the whole global warming issue is a hoax, and in fact by limiting the production of carbon dioxide , the pseudo-scientists of political back rooms are in fact limiting emissions that help plants thrive and grow to feed a hungry world.

In a Wall Street Journal article printed this week, Will Happer, Professor of Physics at Princeton University and noted climate change skeptic, stated the catastrophes predicted by IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) computer models of temperature rise aren’t borne out by fact, and says the world’s temperatures have not risen for more than 10 years. Happer goes on to say that natural fluctuations in temperature are not uncommon, pointing out the unusually warm winters of 1932 and 1934 followed by unusual cold in 1936.

The article states: IPCC blames the purported warming on CO2. Happer attributes beneficial plant growth to CO2. Where one side calls the gaseous substance a poison, the other claims its benefits to mankind. Whom are we to believe: the ClimateGate conspirators, a government panel invested in catastrophe, or a physicist with nothing to gain from a natural phenomenon?

It goes on, Carbon dioxide takes the punch as the villainous product of fossil fuel combustion. Mankind constitutes the villainous user of fossil fuels. So, to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, public policy taxes carbon output. The monies collected enlarge government coffers but have yet to show any effect on temperature rise. In the meantime, CO2 levels are unnecessarily reduced, starving the plants of the nutrients they need thus reducing food production and promoting hunger around the world.

Harper also says since global warming hasn’t happened, the catch word now is the more nebulous phrase, climate change, which can mean just about anything.

And the question remains, is there a problem with climate change, or has climate change occurred in cycles on this Earth since the beginning of time?

Do wish the politicians would end their futile attempts to control the weather. Only God can do that, and He doesn’t even tax us for it!

PALM SUNDAY

Strange how traditions evolve. In the old, old days, when many Christians around the world refrained from eating any animal-based food during Lent, pancakes were eaten on Shrove Tuesday, in a valiant attempt to consume the egg supply before the 40 days of fasting began on Ash Wednesday. Eggs were not to be eaten again until Easter, which may partly explain how the tradition of decorating hard boiled eggs began.

Today, pancake and porkie breakfasts on Palm Sunday are a major tradition as part of the Easter celebration in many communities, Peshtigo for one.

Even in the old days of serious fasting and personal sacrifice during Lent, Sundays were often considered days off, when the devout penitents could eat whatever they wanted before starting their fasting again on Monday. And refraining from the consumption of animal-based foodstuffs was a sacrifice indeed. Don’t forget, in those days there were no semi-trailers hauling in groceries from the far corners of the globe, pressure canning was unknown, and homes did not have electric freezers. The only produce available by Easter in the colder climes would be grains, cabbages, and root vegetables like potatoes, carrots and rutabagas. Diets without meat, milk, eggs or cheese could be boring indeed.

EASTER DECORATING

Saw some adorable Easter centerpieces prepared by a TIMESland florist that can be easily duplicated, even by an unartistic klutz like Yours Truly.

Get a clear glass vase with a somewhat bulbous base. In the bottom put some jelly beans, pastel M&Ms or those cute little spotted bird eggs, up to about the fattest part of the vase. Make a sort of sleeve out of tissue paper in an appropriate Easter color, preferably green, and tuck it into the vase atop the candies with an empty clear glass of an appropriate height set in the middle.

Around the outer edge of the vase (but on the inside) put a solid ring of either yellow peeps or the pink marshmallow bunnies. Then carefully pour in some more of the candies between the tissue paper and the peeps so they hold the peeps against the vase wall, and hold the glass in the center upright.

Now, make sure the tissue paper is standing nicely upright, so it doesn’t come in contact with the glass that it’s holding, because you’re going to fill that with water. Things could get really messy if the water were to leech out onto the candies in the bottom of the vase.

Now, put water carefully into the glass in the center of the vase (not too deep), and insert stems of cut flowers for a centerpiece bouquet. Some stems of ivy trailing down the sides of the vase would add even more charm to the arrangement, but don’t use so many that the peeps are hidden.

VOTE ON TUESDAY

We in TIMESland go to the polls on Tuesday, April 3. There isn’t a lot of competition, but there is some. If you don’t know the candidates personally, or even if you do, take the time to find out their stand on some basic issues, like land use controls, personal freedoms, and, for school board candidates, educational philosophies.

Just going to the polls isn’t enough. To be truly responsible citizens, we really should know what to do when we get there!

ON THE SOAP BOX

PAIN AT THE PUMPS


What a brilliant move! With gasoline prices setting record highs, President Barack Obama and friends have not only stopped the Canadian pipeline, they placed an embargo on an American oil field capable of producing a million gallons of crude a year to protect some type of lizard that apparently wasn’t where they thought it should be.

Guess what, fellas? Dinosaurs went extinct many years ago, and the world survived. In fact, we’re probably doing a lot better without them.

If gas prices keep going up, humans could become extinct.

We can feed the world population because modern farming machinery allows production by a few to feed the many.

If farmers can’t afford the fuel for their machines, and if the rest of us can’t afford the gas to get to work, even politicians could become extinct.

No one will be left with money to support them!

Wonder how that happens? Price at the pumps in Milwaukee last weekend was $4.29 a gallon, while up north, where fuel is generally more expensive the price was still $3.93 to $3.98 a gallon. Where will it stop? Or will it???

STILL ON THAT BOX

UNCIVILIZED BEHAVIOR


Have been totally dismayed by the behavior of some individuals who should be shining examples to our young people, but who instead in the past year have been exhibiting behavior far more appropriate for uneducated masses in Third World countries.

Talking here about violent demonstrations, vandalism, and uncivilized actions of teachers upset over Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill.

Throwing things at our legally elected legislators, spitting at them, and defacing our state capitol are never appropriate.

And surely, for a teacher to shout insults at a child because she doesn’t like the way his father voted is unforgivable! The person who did it knows who she is, and probably those who were standing around her do too. At the very least, they should let her know they disapprove of that sort of rude, crude and un-American behavior.

In this nation, we like to pride ourselves on being able to remedy political problems at the ballot box. If we don’t like the way elections turned out, we can wait two or four years and try to change things in the next go-round.

For many years Conservatives suffered politely while liberals won elections and moved their agendas farther and farther along. There were no demonstrations, no threats, no egg throwing, no mass hysteria, no vandalism and no recall attempts except for the Senators who tried to thwart the will of the voters by refusing to do the job for which they were elected.

Hope folks keep these things in mind while they listen to the rhetoric that surely will heat up as time for the Walker recall vote draws near. Which type of behavior do we want to reward?

MORE FOR YOUR MONEY

With the price at the pumps so horrendously high, every little tip for saving gasoline helps. Reader Svea Olsen passed along several ideas to shave a bit off the cost of driving.

One is to make a habit of filling your fuel tank early in the morning, preferably on a cool day. The colder the fuel is when you pump it in, the more dense it will be. The gasoline expands as it heats up, so what started as a gallon could end up being slightly more.

Also, to minimize evaporation, pump your fuel slowly into the tank. Vapors from fast running gas are sucked up and back in to the underground storage tank, so you get less for your money.

And finally, fill up when your tank is half full. It’s better for the engine in any case not to be pumping sludge from the bottom of the tank, and a full fuel tank allows less air and consequently less evaporation.

If you don’t think gasoline evaporates quickly, put a very small amount out in an uncovered container and see how long it lasts. Just don’t light any flames nearby.

Thanks, Svea!

COOKIN’ TIME

Easter is coming on fast, and so is the season for fresh asparagus, and fresh greens like dandelions and spinach. Too many good things to choose from! But how about a surprise.

HOMEMADE CUTE CAKES

If you’ve got some time to yourself on Sunday, April 1, cook up these surprise cupcakes. Quick and easy to make. Frosted with colored mashed potato frosting, they look like dessert, but...

For a dozen of these little beauties, you need:

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

3 tablespoons ketchup

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon pepper

POTATO FROSTING

3 cups mashed potatoes

Food coloring

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with foil bake cups. In a large bowl, mix together all of the meat loaf ingredients until well combined. Divide the mixture evenly among the lined cups (the liners should be about three quarters full). Place the filled muffin tins on cookie sheets and bake the cupcakes for about 15 minutes or until cooked through. While the cupcakes bake, divide the mashed potatoes among three small bowls and stir a few drops of food coloring into each batch to create blue, yellow, and pink pastel frostings. Spread a generous dollop on each cupcake. Makes 12 cupcakes.

PEANUT BUTTER LOGS

If you do this right, either of the two sort of healthy snack peanut butter recipes could be made to look like chicken sticks or nuggets. Serve as the main course at the meal for which the cupcakes above will be offered as dessert. Way too easy. Wrapped individually, or tucked into plastic eggs, these make excellent Easter Basket treats, and you don’t need to feel bad about letting the kids eat them.

1 cup sugar

1 cup light Karo syrup

12 ounces creamy peanut butter

6 cups corn flakes

In a saucepan, mix the sugar and syrup. Cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil 1 minute longer and remove from stove. Stir in peanut butter and when smooth, stir in the corn flakes. Mix well and drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper. Let cool, and eat. Finely crush some corn flakes and roll the finished product in them if you want that nugget look.

HONEY PEANUT BALLS

1 cup chopped roasted peanuts

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup honey

1 cup dry milk powder

Pour peanuts into a plate or shallow bowl; set aside. In a medium sized bowl, combine peanut butter and honey. Stir in dry milk, mixing well. Form the dough into quarter-sized balls. Roll each in the chopped peanuts until coated. Makes 4 dozen.

Thought for the week: Lord, we thank You for bringing us this wonderful Spring. Open our hearts to receive the joy of Your salvation as Easter approaches. Amen.

COUNTRY COUSIN


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