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

Here Comes The Cold...

No doubt about it! Autumn arrived right on schedule Sunday, Sept. 22. In fact it came a bit early, and we’ve had several frosty nights to prove it. Furnaces were kicking in, and fireplaces were being lit. Global Warming surely doesn’t seem to be having much of an impact here!

FALL COLORS

Leaves are starting to change all over TIMESland, but we’re still a long way from the peak.

However, right now watchers of the night sky may see some fall colors of another sort. This is supposed to be a good year for aurora borealis light shows - also known as the northern lights - to be seen from northern California to the Texas Panhandle to the Virginia coast and points north.

Skywatchers tell us every 11 years, the sun’s magnetic-field activity peaks, causing the lights to blaze farther south. Time for the autumn aurora borealis spectacle to start was about Sept. 22, but it should still be going on nightly. NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center scientist Joseph Kunches says it’s worth staying up late to see.

FROZEN FOREST

Speaking about Global Warming, or lack of it, recently read that a forest in Alaska that has been frozen for 1,000 years is emerging upright from the glacier that buried it all those eons ago.

Okay. Global Warming is causing that glacier to recede. Question is, what caused the Global Cooling that buried it under the ice back in the days of the Vikings. Or was it some kind of earlier Global Warming that allowed it to grow in the first place?

Certainly don’t think either of those climate changes were caused by exhaust fumes or factory emissions!

Think, and have always thought, that those who pretend we humans are causing global warming should study history a bit before they collect funds from an unsuspecting public and promote ridiculous laws to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.

HISTORY LESSONS

Speaking of history, some recent surveys seem to prove that schools need to do a better job of teaching it, or we Americans need to do a better job of learning it.

A 2010 survey found that more than 25% of Americans didn’t know that we had gained our independence from Britain. China, Japan and France were all given as incorrect answers.

The results were even worse in a study by the U.S. Mint, which found that only 7% percent of Americans could name the first four U.S. Presidents in order. Can you? See the answers just before Cookin’ Time.

In 2011, Newsweek magazine gave the official U.S. Citizenship Test to 1,000 Americans and found that only 27% of Americans knew which country we fought in the Cold War ( the Soviet Union). Even fewer, 25%, knew the name of the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which is John Roberts.

In a few weeks we’ll be celebrating Columbus Day, and sadly instead of recognizing what a courageous adventurer Columbus was, some educators lately have been portraying him as a villain who delivered shiploads of European illnesses to the unsuspecting and innocent original residents of the Americas.

As if he meant to do it!

Do suspect those early explorers caught a few strange germs from the natives they visited as well, but the bleeding hearts don’t talk about that.

At any rate, one web blogger commented our unique American government might never have happened if Columbus hadn’t sailed across the ocean on the Titanic. At least, I think that’s the ship he took. I’m a little rusty on my U.S. History, he wrote.

Oh, well!

ON THE SOAP BOX

NOT MONSTERS?


Read on a recent web posting that a 4-year-old British boy who was with his mother and sister in that despicable terrorist attack on the Nairobi shopping mall had the courage to confront one of the militants, and apparently kicked up at least a little pang of guilt.

Four-year-old Elliott Prior, who had been shopping with his mother and sister at the Westgate mall in Nairobi when it came under attack on Saturday, confronted one of the militants, telling him you’re a very bad man, his uncle, Alex Coutts, reportedly told newsmen. Coutts said the attacker took pity on the family and allowed them to escape, handing the children candy bars as he told them: Please forgive me, we are not monsters.

Elliott and his sister Amelie, both clearly distraught, were later pictured outside the mall, clutching the chocolate as a dead body lay behind them, the Sun newspaper reported.

One of the militants told the children’s mother he only wanted to kill Kenyans and Americans, The Sun quoted her as saying.

He told me I had to change my religion to Islam and said, ‘Do you forgive us?’ she said.

Forgive them? If they feel the need for forgiveness, why are they doing what they’re doing? If they don’t want small children thinking they’re monsters, why are they doing what they’re doing?

They are monsters!

Wonder if God forgives them for using His Holy Name to murder innocent people in brazen attempts to spread their autocratic Medieval form of government?

Forgive them? I can’t! If that little boy can forgive the Islam murderers, more power to him. Maybe God can. Forgiving is what He does best. But somewhere in their black hearts the terrorists must know they’re doing wrong. Or maybe the Allah they to worship is nothing like our Christian God of love, mercy and forgiveness, even though they claim their religion is based on the Old Testament.

Our God never ordered us to kill infidels. He just told us not to worship with them. He said He would take care of their punishment Himself in His own due time. And we can be confident that He will!

Oops. Forgot! To the Muslims, we Christians are the infidels.

Just had a thought. What would happen if all of us Christians put as much effort into praying as the terrorists put into killing us Infidels? What if we sent up a mighty chorus, asking God to enlighten the hearts of the murderous Islamists and turn them from their evil ways?

If we really, really pray, He always listens. For reasons of His own that we aren’t privy to, He doesn’t always do what we ask, but isn’t it worth a try?

Think maybe, in this day of ever increasing acceptance of Sin, praying is exactly what He wants us to do?

WINTER CHORE TIME

Have always thought Fall Cleaning makes much more sense than Spring cleaning. In Spring, we can’t wait to get outdoors and work on yards and gardens and just plain enjoy.

In spring, we’re getting ready for the season when the little ones are out of school and underfoot. When they visit grandparents they tend to distribute quantities of beach sand, chalk dust, bug collections, and cookie fallout.

Why not put off the deep housecleaning until they’re back in school or at least wearing shoes?

Of course some ambitious housewives deep clean Spring and Fall, and more power to them. Others of us hardly ever do it all, but we won’t talk about that.

In fall, it gets a bit nippy outside so indoor chores aren’t so bad, so that makes it as good a time as any to get things done. Except for raking, covering perennials and digging up tender bulbs, yard chores are pretty much on hold. Once gardens freeze solid there isn’t much canning and putting by left to do.

Fall is, however, the last chance for painting, indoors or out, when windows can still be opened to let the fumes escape.

DOING WINDOWS

Before storm windows go up they need to be washed on both sides, and the outside of the main window needs to be washed too, else we’ll be looking through dull windows all winter. When there isn’t much sunshine to start with, it’s important to let every bit get in that’s out there!

A good cleaning solution for very dirty windows is to mix 1/2 cup clear (non sudsing) ammonia, 1 cup rubbing alcohol, 1/2 teaspoon dish soap and half a gallon of warm water in a bucket. Dip a rag into the solution and wring out until it’s not dripping. Wash the window using a circular motion, taking care to reach the corners. If the window is heavy with grime, you may need to soak the cloth several times. Rinse the rag in the bucket and wipe all dirt residue off the glass; if it’s very dirty you may need to change the window cleaning solution. Drape the window cleaning rag over a squeegee on a long pole for outdoor windows that you can’t quite reach. Polish the glass dry with several crumpled paper towels or sheets of crumpled newspaper. If you’re doing a lot with the crumbled newspaper, wear rubber gloves so the printer’s ink doesn’t stain your hands.

This cleaner works well on glass fireplace doors, oven doors and wood burner windows too. Put some of the window cleaning solution in a spray bottle for quick maintenance cleaning. Some folks swear it cuts down on the amount of frost that clings to the window on icy mornings.

Incidentally, it can be hard to tell if streaks and smudges are on the inside or the outside of the glass. To make it easier to tell, finish with all crossways strokes on one and up and down stokes on the other.

HISTORY QUIZ

Our first Presidents were: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. And yes, it was Britain we fought in the Revolutionary War, and no, Columbus did not sail here on the Titanic. If you truly don’t know what ship he came in on, look it up. Shame on you!

COOKIN’ TIME

The frost is on the pumpkin, but some gardens and roadside stands are still yielding fresh good things to eat, so we’re smart if we enjoy them while we can.

CHICKEN WITH CHERRIES AND KALE

Most of us only think to eat kale as a salad, or just use it as a decoration. It’s very, very good cooked. Try this dish now, and remember it come Christmas, when the red and green color scheme will be lovely for a special meal.

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 tablespoons cooking oil

2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped

1 bag frozen sour cherries (10 ounces)

2 tablespoons balsamic or cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1 bunch kale

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the chicken breast and pat dry. With a met mallet or heavy skillet pound it very thin, perhaps a quarter inch thick. heat the cooking oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sprinkle in some salt and black pepper. When the onions turn translucent add the cherries, then cover and cook for about three minutes, until the cherries are thawed. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and mustard, and then add the kale. Cover and turn heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes or until the kale is nicely wilted. Cover and let it sit. In another skillet heat the olive oil, sprinkle in salt and pepper, and add the flattened chicken cutlets. Cook 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until nicely browned. Put the browned chicken, pan drippings and all, into the pan with the kale and cherries and let it all simmer very slowly for two to three minutes to allow the chicken to soak up some of the flavor. Eat and enjoy. Great with baked potatoes and sour cream and/or baked squash. serves four.

BAKED KALE CHIPS

Almost as easy as buying a bag of potato chips and a whole lot healthier. Great diet treat, but also a great treat if you’re not dieting. Serve on a plate with slices of golden cheddar cheese on Packer Game Day.

1 bunch kale

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a non-insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper. With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner or by wrapping in a nice clean dish trowel and swinging around a bit. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, probably 10 to 15 minutes. Munch away.

MASHED RUTABAGA

This isn’t the way Mama used to make it, but it is good, maybe better than Mom’s

About 1/2 pound bacon or ham, cut into chunks

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 rutabaga

Pinch sugar

2 tablespoons butter

Place the meat in a pot with enough water to cook it. You’ll be adding the rutabaga to this in a bit, so add more than you think. Add a pinch of salt to water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, peel rutabagas and cut into 1/2-inch slices, then into cubes. Add rutabaga to the meat, along with sugar, salt and pepper. Cover pot and cook until tender, about 45 minutes. When done remove some water from the pot. Mash with potato masher or electric mixer, your choice. Add salt, pepper and butter to taste.

OATMEAL APPLE CRISP

7 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (about 7 medium)

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Dash salt

1/4 cup water

1 package (9 ounces) yellow cake mix

3/4 cup quick-cooking oatmeal

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Vanilla ice cream

Place apples in a greased 2-1/2 qt. shallow baking dish, enamel, glass or ceramic, not aluminum. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt; sprinkle over apples. Drizzle with water. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, oatmeal, butter, brown sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Sprinkle over apples. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream. Yield: 8 servings.

COUNTRY COUSIN

Thought for the Week: Dear God, please enter the hearts of the Muslim terrorists. Help them to see that terror and evil are not the ways to enter Heaven. Open their eyes to You. Help them to know that You are a loving and caring God and there is no other God. And help us to turn our faces to You. Amen.


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