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

Issue Date: July 22, 2020

Summer Going Fast...

Can you believe summer is already more than half gone? We're on a downward slide toward the cooler months ahead. Days are visibly shorter than they were a month ago, schools are laying plans for re-opening after being closed since March, gardens are producing, crops are growing, and bugs are having a field day - and field nights.

With the sweltering heat of the past week and the monsoon rains that have been coming and going at will, have begun to wonder if TIMESLand is turning into the tropics. Is it possible that Global Warming wasn't made up after all?

That said, weather has always run in patterns, with variations within variations, and centuries of warmer weather and centuries of colder, like those that brought on the ice age and then sent the glaciers away again.

All in all, only God knows what he's doing, and why, and certainly if this old world ever needed a good flushing, the time is now!

TICK TIME

There are dangers in this world other than COVID-19, and one of them - around here, anyway - involves ticks and the often deadly and more often damaging Lyme Disease that they spread. After effects from Lyme can cause heart problems, mental problems, and physical problems including arthritis and rheumatism years after the bite and often in people who didn't even know they had the disease.

The worst of the tick season is over for this year, but they're still around. Regular old Wood Ticks are bad enough, but the nasty little Deer Ticks are the critters to be afraid of. They are the ones that spread Lyme disease, the itchy welts from their bites can last for months, and they're so small they can crawl right under your skin until only the tips of their little legs are showing. Many are smaller than a grain of pepper, so bedtime searches need to be very careful indeed.

If you're finding yourself with more time at home due to the coronavirus, you may want to spend some of that time making your yard less hospitable to ticks of both varieties.

Ticks easily survive the harsh Wisconsin winters, and can even live for two weeks under water. But they reportedly do not like wandering around in wood chips, for fear of getting lost and dehydrating before they can find water again, so they avoid them altogether.

A 2018 study says that putting a strip of wood chips just a few feet wide around your yard will prevent the ticks from trespassing. They also do not like the scents of lavender, sage or chrysanthemums, so those lovely and useful plants will also help keep them away, as will strips of cedar mulch treated with cedar oil.

If you invest some time, money and effort into the plants and putting down the barriers, particularly the wood chip borders, you can minimize the likelihood of tick bites while enjoying a lovely new landscape. Those same measures also help discourage mosquitoes, so it's work well worth doing.

DRIVE-IN MOVIES

With so much focus today on social distancing because of coronavirus, drive-in movie theaters are having a comeback in some areas. Family groups and friends who are exposed to one another anyway can stay together in cars while enjoying the show, the popcorn and the soda, and vicariously sharing the general camaraderie, especially if the movie is a great comedy.

There are no drive-in theaters around here today, but during my childhood years the drive-in on Hwy. 64 was a major attraction. On family night you could go there with a car packed full of family and friends and get in for $1.

Our family didn't have TV at home, and sometimes Dad couldn't afford the price of admission, especially on weekends when it was full price, so sometimes coming home from "up north" on a Sunday night we'd park on the side of the road and watch the silent movie on the big screen. They weren't really silent movies, of course. Those who paid to get in got to hear the sound tracks, but since we were free-loading, enjoying the music and the dialog wasn't part of the package. It was enough to watch the bright pictures, the cartoon chases, and maybe the dancing, even without the music. Then we'd go home and dream about how nice it would be when we got to really go to the drive-in. Finally we got TV at home, and then those stops at the drive-in were less enjoyable.

Teenagers in those days often - maybe too often - used the drive-ins as a place to get in some billing and cooing, but that's a whole different story. A song, "Wake Up Little Susie," talked about that a bit. We kids saw nothing wrong with the song, but my girl friend's dad said it was "suggestive" and wouldn't let us listen to it.

ON THE SOAP BOX COVID-19 ISSUES

Granted, one unnecessary death is one too many, but am increasingly suspicious of the motives of those who are willing to destroy our entire world economy, and our wonderful American freedoms, to protect us from a pandemic that is about as dangerous as driving or riding in a motor vehicle.

Let's get real!

For example, Oconto County, population 37,556, has had 125 positive cases tested since testing began in March. Of those tests 4,547 were negative, and there have been zero deaths. There is no information as to how many of the 125 people with positive were either a-symptomatic or have since recovered.

Marinette County, population 40,537 has had 189 positive tests and 5,581 negative, with three deaths since reports began in March.

By contrast, there have been five traffic fatalities in Oconto County and seven traffic fatalities in Marinette County since Jan. 1 of this year. Based on that information, we certainly should insist on saving lives by prohibiting motor vehicle travel!!!

Now am mystified to learn that the Wisconsin Department of Health has declared Marinette and Oconto counties as particularly dangerous - red counties, in terms of coronavirus - at least partly because they compute the number of positive tests in relation to the number of intensive care beds available in hospitals located within the counties. Never mind that for whatever serious illnesses come along, a majority of patients from our area are regularly sent to the larger hospitals in Green Bay, or in the case of northern Marinette County, to the hospital in Dickenson County.

Why do health authorities not simply pass along simple information by percentages - number of people tested vs number of positive tests? Why do they not subtract the number of people who tested positive and recovered from the total number of cases, unless of course once you test positive you always test positive, for example you have the anti-bodies but are no longer contagious. As it is, they just keep adding the number of positive test results since day one of testing, so of course that number keeps growing. How could it do otherwise?

Also, why don't they tells us how many of the 189 people who tested positive in Marinette County and the 11 who tested positive in Oconto County were not ill, how many were slightly ill, how many were seriously ill, how many have recovered, and how long their illnesses lasted? That would be meaningful information. What we are being given now is useless!

Also wonder why authorities are hiding the names of those who do test positive for COVID-19. There's nothing shameful about it. It is not a venereal disease, and it certainly cannot be attributed to lack of personal cleanliness, although frequent sanitizing is a way to help keep from spreading it to others.

In a free country, we are supposed to be treated as intelligent adults, capable of making our own decisions, not as dependent children forced to respectfully obey the dictates of our "superiors".

If our nation is to remain free - or in today's context, get our freedom back - our government leaders should be hiring health experts willing and able to provide us with the information we need to make wise decisions, not those who want to act as dictators with authority to impose their decisions on us! And the news media should be providing us with real information, not just the news that fits their agenda.

STILL ON THE SOAP BOX - TEACHERS, BEWARE

Teachers perhaps need to be careful what they wish for. They might get it. Teacher's unions in many areas are deciding not to go back to the classrooms until the coronavirus pandemic ends. In the meantime, students are denied the socializing and education they need, and parents are doing more of the educating than teachers.

Madison Teachers Inc. on Thursday, July 16 called for the Madison School District to not reopen buildings until Dane County reports zero coronavirus cases for 14 consecutive days. Would they close them again if one case is discovered after that? Do they keep people out of cars because traffic accidents do happen?

Have long thought many students would do better with a great on-line educational program than with an in-person classroom instructor they may dislike.

Once students become successful at learning at home, and once parents learn to deal with keeping them there, taxpayers may realize that big fancy school buildings are no longer needed. One great teacher, or a team of great teachers could put together web-based instructional programs that would go out to thousands of students as a time, just as text books already are the same for thousands and thousands of students all over the land. Even test results could be assessed and graded through distance learning and computer programs.

Not saying that would be a good thing, just saying it could happen, and then thousands and thousands of teachers might be out of a job and our children would be losing a lot of what makes our society human.

Think about that, teachers, before you decide your own physical health is more important than educating our young people!

COOKIN' TIME

Cucumbers and zucchini are coming in, raspberries and blackberries are ready to be enjoyed.

CREAM CHEESE CUCUMBER SPREAD

1 small cucumber, peeled and chunked

3 green onions, sliced

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon fresh dill weed, finely minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

Use the entire green onions, white and green parts. Just cut off the roots and clean well. Put into food processor along with the cucumber, salt and dill weed. (If fresh dill weed isn't available, use 1 teaspoon dried dill weed. Some people use a teaspoon Worcestershire sauce instead, but we prefer the dill flavor.) Pulse the food processor until the cucumber is coarsely chopped. You want chunks, not a puree. Add the cream cheese and process until fairly smooth, but still with cucumber chunks. Transfer to serving bowl and chill overnight to let the flavors to blend. Serve with snack crackers or thinly sliced rye bread.

ZUCCHINI "CRAB" CAKES

Makes about 20 cakes. Serve them on plate, like salmon patties, or on a bun with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce. These are good with shrimp sauce too.

3 medium zucchini or sumer squash, shredded

1-1/2 cups bread crumbs

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1-1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 small green or red pepper, finely chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

Shred the zucchini or yellow summer squash into a colander over a bowl. Let it drain for 30 to 45 minutes. Press down to remove excess water and pat dry with a paper towel.

In a medium bowl, combine the zucchini, bread crumbs, eggs, mayonnaise, Old Bay, mustard, onion, green pepper, and salt and black pepper. Using an ice cream scoop, place a portion of the mixture in your hand and form into a ball. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Press down lightly on the balls to form cakes. Pour the olive oil into a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Gently transfer the cakes to the skillet using a spatula. Turn every minute until they are golden brown and crispy. Add more olive oil if the pan gets dry. Serve hot with tartar sauce or shrimp sauce.

RASPBERRY PEACH CRUMB CAKE

This recipe is long, but not really hard.

6 ounces raspberries, fresh or frozen

2 medium fresh peaches, peeled and sliced into chunks

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup butter, cold and diced

1/3 cup sliced almonds

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

8 teaspoons salt

Coarsely ground sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter and flour a 10-inch tart pan or springform pan with a removable bottom. In a medium saucepan, toss raspberries and peaches in cornstarch until thoroughly coated.  Add the sugar and cook over medium-high heat until mixture thickens and starts to bubble.  Remove pan from oven and mash the berries until they form a jam like consistency. Transfer the mashed fruit to a medium bowl, and put through a colander or sieve to remove some of the seeds and any large pulp (it's good to leave some raspberry seeds in the fruit mixture, to give the cake a more authentic texture and taste).  Discard the large pulp, and set fruit mixture aside to cool. In a medium bowl, stir together the sour cream, milk, egg and vanilla, and set aside.  In a separate bowl or the food processor, combine the flour and sugar and cut the butter into the mixture until you have a coarse texture, similar to cornmeal.  Place a half cup of the mixture in a small bowl, stir in the almonds and set aside. To the remaining flour mixture, add the baking soda, baking powder and salt, and whisk together.  Stir together the liquid ingredients.Make a shallow well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the liquid ingredients. Stir everything together very quickly.  The batter should be smooth, but not too thin. Spread half of the batter across the bottom of the buttered and floured pan, and up the sides about 1 inch. Dampen your fingers to make the doughy mixture easier to work with.  Spoon the raspberry/peach filling over the batter, leaving a half inch border at the edge.  Spoon the remaining dough over the fruit layer, leaving some gaps and mounds.  Scatter on the crumb/almond topping until the top is completely covered, then the coarse sugar over everything. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the cake starts to pull from the sides of the pan.  Cool for 30 minutes and serve at room temperature.  Cake keeps fresh in the fridge for three to four days, if it doesn't get eaten first.

Thought for the week: Lord, help us spend more time and effort honoring You and practicing Christ's message of love than we do on condemning and defeating those whose opinions differ from ours. Help us have the courage to stand up for You when others would ban worship services and evict You from public gatherings. Help us be more concerned about the health and well being of our souls and less concerned with the health and well being of our physical bodies. Thank you Lord. 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 715-291-9002 or by e-mail to shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo.com.)


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