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

Procrastination...

Hi Folks!

Hard to believe our bright and shiny New Year is already more than a week old, but it is. My, how the time flies!

Wonder if the mild winter weather we’ve been enjoying in recent days is the traditional January thaw, or if it means there’s a pleasantly tolerable winter to come, in which case we still have the thaw to look forward to?

One January, many years ago, we spent a day barbecuing and eating outdoors in 70 degree sunshine, but there was snow on the ground at the time. Of course, that was way down south in Appleton. Maybe it didn’t happen here in the North Country.

Anyway, the balmy weather was short lived. Serious snow fell the next day, or perhaps even later that night, not sure which, but we had that wonderful day to remind us that Spring would come again.

Also recall a February when the temperature never rose above zero for the entire month. Never, ever want to see a cold spell like that again!

PROCRASTINATION

Am cursed with a lifelong habit of procrastination, and have resolved this year to overcome it, to quit putting things off until minor task molehills accumulate into mountains of postponed responsibilities.

Procrastinating applies not only to onerous responsibilities, but to things we want to do as well. A favorite (and too often false) promise to myself is, I’m gonna do that someday.

Realized recently that my somedays are running out, and am already too old to take on some of the experienced promised to myself in earlier, younger years. Will not be bicycling across the United States. Probably will not be taking a tramp steamer to South America. Will most likely never climb a mountain, pilot an airplane, or even create a show place rock garden. Should have done all those things when the youth and stamina were there to accomplish them.

Was shocked recently to learn that procrastination is a learned habit, not a born one, that’s shared by about 20 percent of the American population.

Psychiatrists define procrastination as a maladaptive lifestyle that cuts across all domains of life. In general, they say procrastinators do not pay bills on time, miss opportunities for buying tickets to concerts, fail to cash gift certificates or checks, file income tax returns late, and leave their Christmas shopping until Christmas Eve.

Procrastinators get speeding tickets and arrive late for appointments, movies, plane flights and parties because they put off leaving home.

Someone’s been spying on me!

Always believed my problem was one of not being able to tell time, but the psychiatrists say that’s not true. However, they do concede that procrastinators are more optimistic than other folks about how much they will be able to accomplish in a given amount of time.

They say procrastinators who claim working under pressure makes them more productive or creative are only telling lies to themselves. They are simply squandering their resources, and may in fact be rebelling against authority or harboring a secret fear of success!

But there’s hope! The same psychiatrists say that procrastinators can change their behavior with some highly structured cognitive behavioral therapy.

Guess it’s worth trying. Must get started on that first thing tomorrow!

ON THE SOAP BOX

ABORTION PREJUDICE


With the anniversary of the infamous Roe vs Wade decision looming on the horizon, read once again recently a prominently headlined opinion piece that supports the notion that abortion is an important right for women and any attempt to require that pregnant women. One of the most objectionable claims in it was that a requirement for women to be given ample information and time for reflection before proceeding with the irrevocable step of abortion - murdering their unborn child - is somehow interfering with one of their rights.

There are all sorts of rights involved here, and perhaps least important is a woman’s right to rid her body of an unwanted infant before its normal nine months of tenancy are up.

If the expectant woman truly doesn’t want the child, she can always let live and then put it up for adoption after it’s born, so we’re really not talking here about affecting the rest of her life. The only life involved is that of the baby.

What about the child’s right to live, to be born?

What about the father’s rights? He will be legally required to support that child if the mother decides to let it live. Does he not have a right to be at least involved in the decision?

Don’t those of us who consider abortion murder have a right not be forced to pay for it, whether by taxation or by higher insurance premiums?

What about the unwilling mother-to-be’s right to be fully informed about a medical procedure and the effects participating in the murder of her unborn child may have on her mind and body through all the years to come?

Years ago a dear friend had just delivered a baby after a long, difficult and life threatening pregnancy. When she found herself pregnant again, without even a few months’ respite, she was devastated.

A well meaning neighbor provided a powder she could take to end the pregnancy.

Emotionally upset, physically frightened, and wanting to do the deed before she lost her nerve and before anyone could talk her out of it, she swallowed the powder.

Almost immediately the impact of what she had done hit her, and hit her hard. She believed she had killed her child! She believed God would never forgive her, and knew she would never forgive herself!

She prayed for forgiveness, launched into near hysterics, became physically ill, and, perhaps due to the miracle she was praying for, urped up the powder. It blew out of her mouth complete, still dry.

The baby she did not kill was born prematurely, after a somewhat shortened but very difficult pregnancy. The mom suffered agonies of guilt, believing she had brought on some of the problems of her little one.

But the baby who started life so small and ill overcame those problems. He grew into a fine strapping boy, baby of the family and the apple of everyone’s eye, particularly his mother and father. Today he is a fine man that any parent would be proud of.

She has repeated the story many times over the half a century that has passed since it all happened. She believes that God granted her prayer, that He forgave her for nearly committing murder.

Anyone considering an elective surgery should be given all pertinent information, including alternative solutions and possible mental and physical after effects before it takes place.

So then, how can anyone possibly object to legislation that insures anyone considering abortion first gets all the information she needs, and then gets time to think about it, a cooling off period, so she makes an intellectual and not an emotional decision?

Most states still require a few days, a cooling off period, between purchase of a marriage license and actual exchange of vows. Is not the need for a cooling off period before an abortion even more pressing?

Marriage in today’s world is reversible. Abortion is not.

BABY NAMES

Speaking of babies, according to the United States Census Bureau, there were 166,148,800 boy babies and 163,307,183 girl babies born in the United States in the century between 1912 and 2011.

Most popular names, averaged over the 100 years, were, for boys, in order, James, John, Robert, Michael, William, Charles and Thomas, and for girls, also in order of popularity, Mary, Patricia, Elizabeth, Jennifer, Linda, Barbara, Susan, Margaret, Dorothy and Jessica.

Fads in names change over the years, just like fashions. The birth rate also has changed very drastically over the past 100 years.

In the decade between 2000 and 2010 there were 21,238,147 male births and 20,285,168 female births. Most popular names for boys, in order, were Jacob, Mason, William, Jayden, Noah, Michael, Ethan, Alexander, Aiden and Daniel. For girls the most popular name was Sophia, followed by Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Ava, Emily, Abigail, Madison, Mia and Chloe.

In the wartime decade of the 1940s there were 15,148,708 boy babies and 14,891,907 girl babies born in the United States. Most popular names for boys were James, Robert, John, William,Richard, David, Charles, Thomas, Michael and Ronald. Girls were named Mary, Linda, Barbara, Patricia, Carol, Sandra, Nancy, Sharon, Judith and Susan. The name Shirley appeared on the list, probably because of the popularity of lovely little Shirley Temple, but it ranked only number 14 In the popularity polls.

By contrast, there were only 1,467,521 boys and 3,106,384 girls born in America in the first two decades of the 20th Century, 1900 to 1919.

Many of the boy names have remained consistently on the top 10 list, but only a few of the names for girls.

The 10 most popular names between 1900 and 1919 were, for boys, John, William, James, George, Charles, Robert, Joseph, Frank, Edward and Thomas. Girls were being named Mary, Helen, Margaret, Anna, Ruth, Elizabeth, Dorothy, Marie, Florence and Mildred.

Incidentally, Biblical names seem to be making a comeback in America, especially for boys, but not quite making it to the top of the list. Ranked from 11 to 20 in popularity as boy names for the first decade of the 21st Century are Anthony, Matthew, Elijah, Joshua, Liam, Andrew, James, David, Benjamin and Logan. Girl names do not seem to reflect the same Biblical influence. In the same popularity order, girl babies were named Elizabeth, Ella, Addison, Natalie, Lily, Grace, Samantha, Avery, Sofia and Aubrey.

LOVE THAT BATH

To soften skin suffering from the winter blues, prepare a comforting bath by pouring in two to three tablespoons of baking soda before you step in. Add a few drops of your favorite perfume if you want the luxury of a scented bath. Environmentally friendly baking soda costs next to nothing to use and will inexpensively soften your skin, brighten your complexion, and relieve the itching that dry winter air can bring on.

COOKIN’ TIME

Winter is the perfect time for those who aren’t dieting to enjoy some healthy, hearty meals that cook slowly in crock pot or oven. The aftermath of Christmas is also a time when most of us would enjoy eating out but find our entertainment allowances pitifully short.

PAN FRIED ASIAN DUMPLINGS

Hungry for Asian flavors, but pocketbook won’t handle dinner at the Chinese buffet? Here’s an uncomplicated and inexpensive dish you can make at home. Takes a little time, but hubby and older kids can help assemble the dumplings.

For the dumpling cases:

1 package purchased wonton wrappers, 24-count or higher

2 tablespoons cooking oil, like Omega Smart Balance

water, as needed

Filling:

1/2 pound ground chicken

1/2 cup finely chopped Bok Choy

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/2 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Dipping sauce:

3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sugar

Combine filling ingredients and set aside. Combine dipping sauce ingredients and set aside. Using a cookie cutter or glass, cut wonton wrappers into three to three and a half inch circles. Spoon a scant tablespoon filling in center of each wonton wrapper. Use the water to moisten edges, then fold the dough in half and crimp edges together to seal. Place dumplings on waxed paper until ready to cook. To cook, heat a tablespoon of cooking oil in a 10-inch nonstick frying pan over medium high heat. Add dumplings in a single layer. You should be able to cook about 10 at a time. Fry for a minute or so, until golden on the bottom. Do not turn over. Add half a cup of water to the skillet. Cover with a tight fitting lid and steam the dumplings for three minutes or so. Remove lid and cook until the water cooks away. Continue cooking about a minute after the water has evaporated, but do not let the dumplings get too brown. Remove from skillet and keep warm while you cook the next batch, adding the second tablespoon of oil. Serve hot with the dipping sauce.

CROCK POT STUFFED CABBAGE

This isn’t totally an economy meal but it comes pretty close. Cabbage is a vastly under used vegetable, very healthy and very inexpensive. This sounds like work at first glance, but requires very little kitchen time for an impressive and satisfying meal. You serve it over boiled wide noodles, so prepare for those too. As an alternative, if there’s room in your crock pot, tuck a few peeled potato halves into the bottom of the slow cooker before you abandon it for the day. Carrots and onions are good additions too, in which case you have a sort of stuffed cabbage boiled dinner. If you do that you don’t need to make the sauce if you don’t want to.

1 head cabbage

1 can beef broth or 2 cups prepared beef bouillon

Stuffing:

1/2 pound bulk pork sausage

1/2 pound hamburger

1 egg

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Sauce:

1/2 pint sour cream

2 tablespoons tomato paste

garlic salt and pepper to taste

Cut the center out of the cabbage head and save it for tomorrow’s cole slaw. You don’t have to be fancy about the cut, just make room for the stuffing. Maybe do this part the night before to save time in the morning. In frying pan brown the sausage and hamburger. Drain off excess fat and mix in the rest of the stuffing ingredients. Pack the mixture into the cabbage head and set the whole thing in the slow cooker. Pour the broth or bouillon around the outside of the cabbage. Cover and cook at low all day, 6 to 8 hours. About 15 minutes before serving time boil wide noodles, remove cabbage from the crock and mix sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Heat but do not boil. (Sour Cream will curdle if it boils.) Serve with buttered noodles and pass sauce to pour over all.

NO PEEK CHICKEN OR CHOPS

Remember this good old standby? Sometimes we get too cozy with a recipe for a while, then neglect it so long we forget about it.

2 cups raw rice

2 1/2 pounds or so of raw chicken, cut into serving pieces, or equal amount of pork chops or lean pork roast, sliced across the grain

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 package dry onion soup mix

Butter a sizable casserole dish, one with a cover if possible, but if not you can use aluminum foil. Mix the 2 cans of soup with the soy sauce. Mix half of this with the rice and put into the casserole dish. Put the chicken or pork on top. Over this pour the remaining soup, then sprinkle the packet of dry soup over the top. Cover tightly and bake for 2 1/2 hours at 350 degrees. Do not peek!

Thought for the week: John Adams, second president of our nation, said in a statement addressed to the officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts on October 11, 1798: We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion... Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people . It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. Lord, help us once again become the moral and religious nation our Constitution was designed to govern. 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 715-927-5034 or by e-mail at shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo. com.)

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