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Country Cousin

A Little Bird Told Me...

Spring is finally here! Despite the continuing chill, it has to be true. A little birdie told me so. In fact, hundreds of little birdies, but in particular the resident whippoorwill that cries for his fate at all hours of the day or night. He’s not fussy. Do actually enjoy hearing his call, reassuring us that despite his plaintive call, all is well in the North Woods. For some years it seemed the Whippoorwills had disappeared. It’s good to have them back.

Roadsides are bursting into the bright greens and yellows of Spring. Buttercups bloom in sunny ditches. Daffodils and forsythia are in bloom. Lawns are green, and fields are turning. Weeping willows are donning their spring finery.

Most of the snowbirds are back in their summer nesting places, both the winged and the opposable thumb varieties. Welcome home everybody!

BEWARE OF BLOOD SUCKERS!

And the wood ticks are awake. Got into a whole nest of them the other day. Mosquitoes are sure to be out in full force soon, if the ticks haven’t sucked them all dry. One of the ticks the other day - a deer tick - was so tiny that four or five could easily have dined off one healthy mosquito. Don’t think they really do that, but wouldn’t it be a good plan? Maybe then they’d leave us humans alone.

On the subject of ticks, those nasty little deer ticks really are often so small that one doesn’t cover the sharpened tip of a pencil. And they love to burrow in quickly, so only the tips of their hind legs are showing.

If you’ve been outdoors in tick country, or if you have a dog, cat or friend who has, don’t just ignore an itchy black dot. Have someone check for you if you can’t see it well enough yourself. Could easily be one of the little blood suckers who sometimes carry Lyme Disease.

Good idea to apply some tick repellent before you venture out into tall grass or woodlands.

Mama always said God put ticks and mosquitoes here in our beautiful Wisconsin northland so we’d know we aren’t already in Heaven. And Mama knows best!

MOTHER’S DAY

Speaking of Mama, Mother’s Day has come and gone.

Comedian Joey Adams said on Mother’s Day the whole family got together for a big dinner. Afterward, when Mom started to clean up, the son said to her, “Don’t bother with those dishes, Mom. Today is Mother’s Day. You can always do them tomorrow.” Adams thought that was a joke. Guess he doesn’t know much about kids.

Speaking of kids, one veteran parent of grown and flown offspring offered a bit of advice to parents whose oldest was graduating: “You want to help Joey go off on his own and make something of himself? The best way is to change the locks on the house doors. Or move and don’t leave a forwarding address.”

Just kidding, kids! We love you all. And we wish you all the best. But it is true that you do better in life if your parents don’t try to do too much for you.

On the other hand, if they - or some other kindly relative - want to introduce you to the right people, by all means accept.

It’s the bitter truth that in the business world of today, and probably all the days that came before it too, it’s all too often not what you know, but who you know, that holds the key to success!

Of course, being willing to work hard and be reliable once you get introduced to those right people is the graphite that makes that key work! And if you aren’t hard working and reliable, you’ll embarrass those who love you most, and that you certainly don’t want!

GLOBAL WARMING

Some folks just can’t leave things alone. And they think most of us are too dumb to believe our own eyes. Global warming. After the winter we suffered through, and the balmy days of Spring that we haven’t had, they keep proclaiming Global Warming.

Ice caps are melting in places.

How much would you like to bet that somewhere else the ice caps are getting thicker?

PARTY TIME

This is the season for weddings, wedding showers, family reunions, anniversary parties and graduation parties.

Here in TIMESland, from now until the cold weather sets in, life becomes a dizzying round of parties, benefits, fund raisers, celebrations, and community events that we really don’t want to miss.

As one visiting travel writer once said of our area, “The party starts in the middle of May and doesn’t end until after Deer Season.”

He forgot to mention that it doesn’t end quite then either. There are still Christmas and New Years to celebrate. After that, we tend to settle in for a while. Except for snowmobiles, ATVs and ice fishing, of course.

This summer should be particularly busy and fun.

In addition to all the normal festivals, the City of Niagara, Village of Pound, Town of Pembine and some other towns will be hosting gala centennial celebrations this year. Check the ads, talk to friends, search the web, but don’t miss any of the fun!

WORST FOOD

Heard about a long-wed couple who were attending a seminar on the dangers of certain foods.

One of the speakers told them, “You have to be aware of hidden dangers. Hydrogenated fats are killers. Soda pop melts your tooth enamel and eats away your stomach lining. Most prepared foods are high in sugar, salt, and MSG. Even our drinking water can be harmful if not pure enough. But there’s one food that’s the most dangerous of all. Can anybody tell me what food causes the most grief and suffering even years after consuming it?”

The audience was silent until hubby suggested, “Wedding Cake?”

His wife still isn’t speaking to him.

SORT OF ON THE SOAP BOX

SPEAK SOFTLY


Watched national news with dismay in recent weeks and months about the scoldings and threats American political leaders have been administering to some less than friendly heads of government in other lands, mainly Russia, North Korea and most recently, China.

All shouting that while the powers that be in our good old USA are busy cutting back our military to pre-World War II levels, and more and more of our nation’s capacity to manufacture goods for national defense gets shipped overseas, lots of it to China, in fact.

Words without action cause us to become laughing stocks to the world, and there’s every reason to believe that is happening.

“Speak softly and carry a big stick,” was the byword of the late President Teddy Roosevelt.

Whether in politics or everyday life, that’s good advice, then and now. But we’re not listening. We as a nation seem to have bought into the notion that you can lay down that stick and shout the enemy to death.

There’s a saying, “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.”

But maybe we shouldn’t be putting ourselves as a nation in spots where we might have to either back it up or back off.

The clue is, you don’t challenge the classroom bully unless you’re willing to take the punches that might come from defending your position. And give them back!

Running is not an option when it comes to the school yard bully, and it’s even less of an option on the international scene!

PRAYERS ANSWERED

Came across an Alcoholics Anonymous publication the other day with a letter so poignant it needs to be passed along. Can’t do it verbatim, because the original is copyrighted, but the gist is this:

A young man being sent to prison for multiple drunk driving offenses prayed that he would be allowed to see the sunset each day.

Not only was his prayer answered, he got a whole lot more that he never thought to request.

Through one set of windows in his minimum security prison he gets to watch the sunrise each morning. Through another set of windows he is privileged to view spectacular sunsets each night.

Through those same windows he has enjoyed watching clouds scuttle by, seen a fox family grow up, viewed the habits of deer herds, turkey flocks, rabbits and hawks, and watched groundhogs pop up from their holes, things he never bothered to notice when he was drinking. He also gets a view of the highway that will be his road home when he is released in two years.

“The Higher Power does answer small prayers,” the man wrote. “He gave me far, far more than I asked for!”

God has indeed blessed him. Sure hope that road he sees is more than just the way home. Hope it is in fact the road to sobriety!

BIRDS AND BEES

Planting and growing time is here at last. Farmers have been planting corn and potatoes in fields that are dry enough to support a tractor. (If you can fish in a field, it’s probably too wet to plant!)

Anyway, all the planting in the world would do no good if the little pollinators were all to suddenly disappear.

For whatever reason, honeybees seem to be in short supply, and not only do they produce honey, they are among the busiest of the creatures that carry pollen from flower to flower so the plants can be fruitful and multiply.

Other good pollinators are hummingbirds, moths, butterflies, various types of beetles, bats, and even litty bitty flies known as midges. (Midges are said to be the only critters that pollinate the cacao trees, so without them we’d have a wold with no chocolate. What a horrible fate!)

To attract pollinators and keep them coming back, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides, plant a mixture of flowers in various colors, shapes and scents, leave an old tree stump, preferably with somewhat loose or shaggy bark, and provide a place for them to rest and have a drink at the end of a long, hard day. Or during it.

That place to rest could be a shallow bowl, dish or bird bath with fresh water regularly and partly submerged stones for them to perch on while getting a little drink or even taking a cleansing dip.

Your garden will thank you for it!

BEE SHORTAGE

Some researchers claim the honey bees are disappearing because of certain pesticides that affect their cognitive abilities. They believe the bees get a disease that causes them to forget how to get back to their hives when they go off on nectar collecting expeditions.

Whatever the reason, the US Department of Agriculture this year instituted some programs to help entrepreneurs get started in honey bee raising ventures.

COOKIN’ TIME

It’s time for parties and pot lucks, but this year still too soon for spring treats like asparagus and rhubarb. But be of good cheer. It won’t be long now!

Spring Herb Potato Salad

Enjoy the tastes of spring. If you have no fresh herbs available, use one third as much, dried.

1 1/2 pound small red potatoes, unpeeled, cubed (3/4 to 1 inch)

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons whole grain mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Scrub potatoes and put them in enough cold water (add 2 teaspoons or so of salt) to cover in large saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 10 minutes or until tender. Drain well; cool 10 minutes, but don’t let them get cold. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small skillet over medium heat until hot. Add onion; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Whisk vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in large bowl until blended; whisk in remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Stir in onion mixture, chives, parsley and dill. Add warm potatoes, tossing to coat. Serve warm or cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until chilled. This salad is good either way.

CHICKEN STIR FRY

WITH RED PEPPERS AND ASPARAGUS

If you just can’t wait for the garden, go ahead and buy asparagus for this quick fix dish. It has marvelous flavor and is wonderful to look at. A rare recipe that serves only two, but it’s easy to double. Garlic is mild and fragrant in spring, so you can use more than usual. For extra kick add a dash of Asian hot sauce. If you want to serve this over rice, don’t forget to cook it ahead of time.

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil, divided

8 oz. boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut crosswise into thin strips

6 oz. thin asparagus, sliced diagonally (1 inch) (1-1/2 cups)

1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup lower-sodium chicken broth

1-1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Stir-fry chicken 2 to 3 minutes or until no longer pink in center; remove chicken. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet; stir-fry asparagus and bell pepper 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add garlic; stir-fry 1 minute or until fragrant. Stir in broth, hoisin and soy sauce. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to skillet; simmer 30 seconds or until hot, stirring constantly.

EASY FRUIT COBBLER

Requires an oven, but at this time of year baking something may be just enough to keep the furnace from kicking in.

4 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

2 cups fresh, or 12 ounces frozen, sliced) fruits (peaches, nectarines, whole blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or a combination.

2 tablespoons sugar

Put rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in an 8” square or 9” round non-aluminum pan. When butter has melted, remove pan from oven. In a small bowl whisk the flour, 3/4 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk and the melted butter and whisk to form a soft batter. Pour batter into the pan you melted the butter in, and scatter the fruit or fruits over the top. Sprinkle on the remaining sugar. if you want it more sugary, use more. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the batter browns and the fruit bubbles. Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably with some vanilla ice cream, or the old fashioned way with half and half poured on.

The Country Cousin

Thought for the Week: A special, heartfelt wish for all this year’s graduates: “May your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, the highest of your hopes, the windows of your opportunities, and the most special places your heart has ever known.” - author unknown

(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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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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