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

Summer...

Hi Folks!

Sunny, hot, windy, rainy. Just one wonderful Wisconsin spring day. Left some large bath towels on my clothes lines the other day - one of those aluminum umbrella types with skinny line. Came home to find it turned inside out, with one half folded over the other, turnover fashion. Don’t know if some of that laundry ended up in Lake Michigan, but most of the towels were still there, some dragging on the ground, some wrapped tightly in and out of the twisted lines. Some of the towels had to be re-laundered, but those that didn’t certainly smelled wonderfully fresh.

DON’T FORGET TO VOTE

The recall election coming up next week - Tuesday, June 5 - could possibly be the most important election ever in Wisconsin, perhaps in the nation. Do not forget to vote. The outcome is likely to determine the direction government - and taxes - in this state will take for years to come.

If you know the issues, vote! Numbers count.

IN STYLE

Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, so summer has officially begun. According to old school thinking, the well-dressed woman should now be wearing white shoes.

Remember that crazy old movie, where a crazy old socialite matriarch was killing family members who - Heaven forbid! - disgraced the family by wearing black shoes after Memorial Day, or maybe it was white ones after Labor Day. Anyway, in today’s world, we pretty much wear whatever we want, whenever we want, and judging from the mini skirts that are back in fashion, some folks sometimes wear not much of anything at all.

NATIONAL DEBT

President Herbert Hoover, back in the day, was upset enough about government borrowing to declare, “Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.” Wow! He should see how blessed they are today!

SCHOOL’S OUT

Anyway, school will soon be out for the year, if it isn’t already. The lucky kids and their teachers have a long summer of leisure to look forward to. What bliss!

On the other hand, some will be seeking summer employment, and many of this year’s crop of graduates will be stalking the elusive permanent full time job. That’s never an easy task, but with the current job market that prized quarry is harder to find than ever.

Found a few tips to make the quest easier.

First, when you’re seeking a job is not the time to be modest. Don’t be afraid to brag - at least a little. Employers don’t have a crystal ball, and unless you point out your own achievements, they probably will never know about them.

If you’re new to the regular job market, you still can prepare a resume. List school awards, club activities, volunteer work. If you’ve been baby sitting since you were 12, say so. It’s even better if you can list the family as a reference. If you’ve done yard work for neighbors, even on a volunteer basis, that counts. Again, it’s particularly good if the neighbor will be a good reference, but don’t forget to ask first.

If you’ve regularly helped out on grandpa’s farm, say so. And handling regular chores in your own family household, business or farm also counts as work experience.

If you believe you’re particularly talented at certain things, don’t be afraid to say. Don’t come off as arrogant, but don’t sell yourself short. And that’s exactly what you’re doing when you apply for a job - you’re selling yourself. The employer, if you’re hired, will be buying your time and talents. You need to be the salesman for yourself!

JOB HUNTING DON’TS

On the other hand, there are lots of things you can do to flub up an interview. Employers have lots of horror stories to tell.

More than half of hiring managers say dressing inappropriately is one of the most damaging mistakes a candidate can make in an interview.

Speaking negatively about a current or previous employer came in second at 49 percent, and appearing disinterested ranked third at 48 percent.

But some job seekers are either really, really dumb, or they want to stay on unemployment.

One job applicant answered her cell phone during an interview, and then asked the interviewer to leave her own office because it was a “private” conversation.

Another told the interviewer he wouldn’t be able to stay with the job long because he thought he might get an inheritance if his uncle died, and his uncle “wasn’t looking too good.”

Some must have left the interviewer wondering, “Did this really happen?”

For example, an applicant told him he could not provide a writing sample because all of his writing had been for the CIA and it was “classified.”

One told the interviewer he was fired for beating up his last boss, and a person applying for an accounting position said she was a “people person,” not a “numbers person.”

Insecurity shows in strange self defeating ways. Grooming is important, but if it isn’t complete before the interview starts, don’t try to fix it. Do not be like the girl who took out a hair brush and brushed her hair mid-interview. Do not smell your arm pits. Do not pick that particle of food out of your teeth. Any of the above... Oops...Don’t call us, we’ll call you!

SUMMER FUN

Speaking of school being out, an booklet written for the Pound centennial in 1981 includes an article entitled, “Fun As We Made It,” written by Ruth Sokol.

She begins, “School was out and the long free summer stretched ahead. We lived on the hill west of town, and 50 years ago a lot of youngsters were living on the hill. We had to find or organize our own entertainment for the most part, but in thinking back, our free time was fun-filled and happy.

“I remember that we had free shows on Main Street once a week. The screen was set up in the middle of the street in front of the bank and the projector was in front of the shoe store.

“The ‘talkies’ started in 1928 so we had Westerns with all the sound effects. People would stand or sit on benches in the street to watch the shows. Most everyone for miles around came in for the fun and the town was bulging.

“A few years later they moved the location of the screen between the Mercantile Store and Seils Storage Garage, put up a fence, and charged a nickel for admission. Nickels were hard to come by in those days, so we scaled the fence many times to see the show.

“The medicine shows hit town every summer and stayed about a week. Every night there was a show. They would move in with a trailer or two, into the field north of the garage. A stage would be set up, and during show time there was a piano and maybe an accordion and a few guitars and the troops would entertain with skits, jokes, singing and dancing, About four times during the evening there was a break in the entertainment during which time they hawked their medical wares, claimed to cure most any illness and great for animals, too, all for $1.

“One night during the week there was an amateur hour, when local talent would sing or play instruments. Winners were picked by audience applause and given a small prize. The medicine shows drew as big a crowd as the free shows and there were no benches to sit on.

“Then there was baseball. There was usually a game of ‘work up’ every day somewhere in town. All you needed were enough players to cover the bases, a pitcher, a catcher, and at least two for beginning batters. A few fielders always helped. Seven or eight kids could get a game started.

“When it was dark we played ‘Kick the Can’ or ‘Prisoners Goal.’ The bank was usually goal and we would scatter and hide all over town. Folks those days never bothered us much, although we did our best to avoid their gardens and flower beds.

Sunday was always family day. After church, if we stayed home, there was always company and relatives dropping in. We usually made homemade ice cream with our old-fashioned hand cranked freezer. Everyone took their turn at the crank until even the men couldn’t turn it any more. Then the ice cream was frozen and ready to eat. Many Sundays we would go on family picnics. Everyone would bring something and we’d put it all together and have a feast.”

Sunday afternoons were spent playing ball, swimming, croquet, “or perhaps a little fishing.”

Sokol’s story went on to tell about fall and winter fun, and concluded, “We didn’t travel far from home for our fun. We listened to ‘Jack Armstrong’ and ‘The Shadow Knows’ on the radio. We played marbles and jacks and monopoly. We read ‘Big Little Books,’ and we didn’t know we were in a Depression. But our folks knew it and tried their best to make our lives happy and secure.”

What more could anyone ask?

Watch for more excerpts from the book, which came to us courtesy of Alton Stank,who found it among the effects of his aunt, who died at the age of 103.

SAVE ON LAUNDRY

Have you noticed how the price of laundry detergent has gone the way of gasoline?

Well, on this one we can fight back. With very little effort we can whip up some inexpensive and effective laundry soap, and fabric softener as well.

Laundry Detergent

1 quart Water (boiling)

2 cups Bar soap (grated)

2 cups Borax

2 cups Washing Soda

Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted. Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved. Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed. Cover the pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Stir the soap each time you use it. Don’t be alarmed, it will gel.

For the bar soap you could try Fels-Naptha, Ivory, Sunlight bar soap, Kirk’s Hard water Castile, or Zote. Don’t use heavily perfumed soaps. Washing Soda and Borax can normally be found in the laundry and cleaning aisles.

To make your own fabric softener, mix 1 cup white vinegar, 2 cups very hot water, and 1/4 bottle (regular size) of an inexpensive hair conditioner, any fragrance. Pour all 3 ingredients into an old detergent or softener bottle and shake about 30 seconds. Add during final rinse cycle if your washer doesn’t have an automatic rinse dispenser.

GROWIN’ THINGS

Rhubarb stalks make a whole host of delicious things to eat, but the leaves are poisonous - to bugs as well as to humans. Old timers tell me this organic homemade bug spray is tremendously effective against most types of creepy crawlies. It is poisonous, so if you brew some up, be sure to keep it away from youngsters.

ORGANIC BUG SPRAY

Roughly shred 3 pounds of rhubarb leaves and boil in a gallon of water for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and then strain. (Use old utensils if you can - the rhubarb will stain most things and poison the rest.) In a small saucepan heat two and a half quarts of water to just boiling and mix in about 4 ounces of softened soap ends. Any bits of soap left in the shower will do. Allow to cool, stirring regularly to make sure all the soap is dissolved. Add to the strained leaf mixture, stir vigorously. Put in tightly sealed gallon jug to store, and pour into hand sprayer to use. Spray directly onto infested leaves. Any unused spray can be kept for a week or two, but keep your kids away, as it’s quite harmful.

COOKIN’ TIME

Good things are happening - things like asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb, tiny fresh green onions. Even as we force ourselves not to set started plants in the garden too soon, the season of garden bounty has begun and we’re harvesting in rows next to the ones we’re planting. But let’s enjoy some of the good things this week.

LEMON PEPPER PASTA AND ASPARAGUS

This is actually good hot or cold. Ideal with ham, pork chops or hamburgers cooked on the grill.

2 cups (4 ounces) uncooked farfalle (bow-tie) pasta

1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)

1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 can (15 to 16 ounces) navy beans, rinsed and drained

Freshly ground pepper, if desired

Chopped fresh parsley, optional

Cook and drain pasta as directed on package. Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook bell pepper, asparagus, lemon peel, salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in oil, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir lemon juice and beans into vegetable mixture. Cook until beans are hot. Add pasta; toss. Sprinkle with pepper and finely chopped fresh parsley.

ASPARAGUS STIR-FRY

1 pound fresh or frozen asparagus (ends removed) cut in 1”

diagonal slices

1/2 medium onion, sliced lengthwise

1/4 pound (less if desired) sliced mushrooms

1 tablespoon oil

2 teaspoons mashed black beans

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/4 cup chicken broth or water (or as needed)

1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in small amount of cold

water or broth

1 teaspoon sesame oil prior to serving or toasted sesame

seeds (optional)

Heat oil in wok or fry pan. Add asparagus and stir-fry about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and onions and stir-fry about one more minute. Add black beans, garlic, soy sauce, and small amount of chicken broth or water. Cover. Simmer about 4 minutes or until asparagus is tender crisp. Add sufficient cornstarch paste for desired consistency and heat to thicken. Add sesame oil or sesame seeds if desired. Serves 3-4. Excellent with marinated stir-fry flank steak or chicken strips and rice; also with crab or shrimp omelet.

RHUBARB MARBLE CHEESECAKE

Topping:

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 cups chopped rhubarb

2 tablespoons water

In a medium size pan combine the granulated sugar and the cornstarch. Stir in the rhubarb and the water. Over medium heat, cook rhubarb mixture, until it comes to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and allow mixture to simmer for about 8 - 10 minutes, or until rhubarb is tender. Be sure to stir almost constantly to avoid sticking and burning. Remove rhubarb from the heat and pour into a bowl. Refrigerate mixture to cool it, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Crust:

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

In a medium bowl, mix together the crumbs, the granulated sugar, and the butter. Press into the bottom of a 9” spring form pan. Set aside.

Filling:

2 packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, the granulated sugar and the cornstarch until smooth. Be sure to beat it long enough at this stage. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat at low speed. Add the vanilla extract and the sour cream, mixing just until smooth. Do not over mix. Pour about one half of the cream cheese mixture into crust. Spoon about one half of the rhubarb mixture over the cream cheese in dollops. Using a knife, swirl the rhubarb mixture through the cream cheese mixture. Repeat with the remaining cream cheese mixture and the rhubarb, and swirl again. Bake at 325 for about an hour or until almost set in center. Remove from oven, run knife around edge of cake to prevent cracking. Turn oven off, and return the cake to the oven, allowing the cake to rest with the oven door ajar for about 2 hours. Remove from oven and allow cake to cool completely. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 8 to 10 hours, or overnight, before slicing. Serves 12.

Thought for the week: “Government has no wealth of its own. The government cannot give to anybody anything that it did not first take from somebody else.” - author unknown.

COUNTRY COUSIN


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