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

Storm...



Hi Folks!

Certainly hate to admit it, but Winter is definitely coming on. We may have a few golden bonus weeks, but face it, they will not last!

Why does beautiful, golden Autumn come and go so quickly, while the ugly, dreary drizzly days of Fall seem to hang on forever?

If we’re not experiencing a reprieve as you read this, we soon should be. Remember last year when we had fine weather most of the time all the way to Christmas?

Right. Me neither!

STORM TIME IS COMING

While we in TIMESland enjoy some wonderfully reliable electric service, prolonged power outages remain a distinct hazard in winter. Blizzard-blocked roads and ice storms are also hazards that can keep us from leaving home.

ATC, the company that provides the wires from which WPS and other utilities buy the electricity that ends up at our homes, is in the process of adding some lines to improve the reliability of their service. Electric service has been very dependable, but lines are sometimes downed by fallen trees, flying branches, snow and sleet overloads and errant vehicles.

Until ATC gets its new lines up and running so electricity can be looped in from another direction, their service won’t be as reliable as they would like it to be. And the improvements won’t be done until sometime in late 2006.

If the downed line is a high power transmission line rather than a local service line, repairs could take a while. That doesn’t happen often, but it can and sometimes does happen, and it’s a lot better to be prepared.

Not too many years ago a critter - possibly a bird - got too close to both a transformer and a high power line in Peshtigo and caused a chain reaction that shut off the lights (along with radio stations, land line telephones, refrigerators, TVs, furnaces and such) all through our corner of Wisconsin and the UP. Repairs took a while.

PREPARE FOR THE WORST

Anyway, incidents can happen, and FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, recommends keeping an Emergency Supply Kit ready just in case.

They suggest keeping on hand, in a safe and handy place, one gallon of water per day per person for at least three days (that would be three gallons per person) for drinking and sanitation; at least a three day supply of non-perishable food per person; a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both; flashlight with extra batteries, first aid kit, a whistle to signal for help; dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct take to construct an in-place shelter (that’s more for other types of disasters, but good to have in any case); moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation, wrenches and/or pliers to turn off utilities, a can opener for food, and local maps.

FEMA doesn’t mention it in the initial list, but that kit really should also include matches or a cigarette lighter, and some candles, which throw heat as well as light. Essential medications also need to be kept handy, and if you’re traveling somewhere, be sure to take along a supply in case weather and road conditions leave you stranded.

Anyway, FEMA suggests adding a few other items to your emergency kit, such as prescription meds and extra glasses; infant formula and diapers; pet food and extra water for your pet; important family documents, insurance papers, etc. in a sealed waterproof container (again, this is more to protect against a flood or tornado); sleeping bag or warm blanket per person, a complete change of clothing per person, including long sleeved shirts, long pants, sweaters, jackets and sturdy shoes; household chlorine bleach and a medicine dropper (16 drops of pure unscented bleach can purify a gallon of water and leave it safe to drink, at least as far as bacteria are concerned); a fire extinguisher; personal hygiene items; mess kits including paper towels and eating utensils like plates and cups; paper and pencils, and books, games and puzzles for the kids.

An AgCenter article advises that if the temperature will be very low for an extended period and the power may not be coming back on, it might be better to drain the water pipes than to let them freeze. As to keeping the family warm, heat only the area you are staying in, and make that area as small as possible. Keep drapes closed at night and open to let the sunshine in during the day. If your drapes aren’t insulated, you might cover windows with extra blankets.

Be careful with fire and heaters, and keep a window open a bit if you’re using a space heater that burns fuel and isn’t vented to the outdoors.

(Kind of reminds me of the old bomb-scare days in the ‘50s, when we were all supposed to be ready to survive after a nuclear attack. Actually, that probably isn’t a bad idea today, either, given the current world political climate. Some of us might make it!)

Anyway, if certain things are kept handy, a prolonged power outage, whatever the cause, will be far, far easier to take than it might have been otherwise.

NUCLEAR POWER

Now, to survive after a nuclear attack, you really should have a few more things, mainly guns and ammunition, to shoot the game you may need to eat, possibly also to shoot the looters who may try to take the food away from you, and eventually, to shoot the enemy at whatever cost, so they are never able to really take over our land.

HALLOWEEN TRIMMING

Halloween decorations are blossoming all over, and they put a lot of fun into what otherwise would be some dreary errand runs. Thanks, folks, for cheering us on our ways. Bright and happy decorating for any season is one of the most neighborly things anyone can do. When you decorate your homes and yards, you can’t see your handiwork from the inside, but the neighbors and passers by can, so we’re really the ones who get enjoy everyone’s yardscaping the most.

Since we live far in on a dead end road there isn’t much opportunity for sharing our decorations, but we most certainly enjoy those of our neighbors!

HALLOWEEN FUN

The staff of Marinette County’s UWEX office is once again promising some Halloween fun at Harmony Gardens on County E off Hwy. 64 just a few miles west of Marinette.

Kids, and their parents, are advised to dress in warm Halloween costumes for the event, which runs from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20.

There will be nature crafts, games and pumpkin carving for both adults and kids, plus a chance to vote for hour favorite scarecrow in the “Make a Scarecrow” competition. The super-size “chipmunk’s tunnel” will be spooked up for Halloween, and a nocturnal animals program plus a hands on nature table are part of the evening’s fun.

Refreshments will be available at the event, and admission is free, so why not enjoy an extra take on Halloween?

FORCE FEEDING

Speaking of Halloween, we don’t hear much about UNICEF in connection with Trick or Treating any more, but back in the day, youngsters were urged to forego collecting candy and other goodies for Halloween in favor of collecting money for the United Nations-sponsored charity.

There was a story about a pirate-costumed eight-year-old boy soliciting funds for UNICEF on Halloween in suburban Minneapolis. When offered a “treat” by the householder, the boy firmly replied, “We are not supposed to accept candy.”

Again the offer was made. Again the Keeper of the Door declined to make the charitable contribution but offered candy instead.

Still the lad stood firm. “We can’t take candy from anybody,” he declared.

Then, just as the front door began to close with awful finality, the young pirate added hopefully, “But a lot of people are forcing us to take it.”

He got his treat, and a UNICEF donation too.

Never did approve of that fund raising campaign that tried to rob the kiddies of their Halloween fantasies. Let the kids have their fun. Us old folks can dress up in costume and go out collecting for worthy causes if we want to!

GROWIN’ THINGS

Why wait to work on the beautiful garden you’d like to see blooming next Spring?

In addition to the fall plantings of tulips, iris and daffodils, seeds for some perennials can go into the ground now so you get earlier blossoms because they have a head start when the winter snows melt.

Some seed varieties to try would be phlox, painted daisies, alyssum, bee balm and bleeding hearts.

Just learned that trilliums, which grow wild in our forest, can be planted from seed or from roots, and can be purchased from various sources. Planted from seed, they might not produce flowers for about four years, but their deep green foliage is attractive anyway, and some things are worth waiting for.

To get that head start, select a sheltered site, sunny or shady as your plant choice prefers. Work up the soil somewhat deeply, and then work in peat moss or leaf mold in a ratio of 1 to three parts of soil. Then spade in 5-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of two pounds per 100 square feet.

Rake the garden area smooth and sow seeds according to package directions, generally barely cover them with about a quarter inch of soil. Tamp this down and cover with a thin layer of mulch so the seeds don’t blow away.

Now, wait for the first hard freeze. That will be when the soil actually freezes to at least the quarter inch depth. After that happens, cover the beds with about four inches of mulch, which can be compost, decomposed leaves, or even newspapers topped with raked-up pine needles. Then lay evergreen boughs on top and let the snow fall. The seeds will sleep for the winter and hopefully be ready to pop up in spring.

Come spring, remove the boughs as soon as you can, but leave the mulch in place until the danger of frost has passed.

Finally, in late spring, after they’ve been growing, you might want to carefully work in more fertilizer into the top few inches of soil around the plants.

PACK RAT PROBLEMS

I’m a dedicated pack rat, and sometimes this can create problems. Was going through a pile of old magazines recently and came across an article about vacationing in Door County. It listed amenities and gave costs for some of the restaurants and hotels I’ve often dreamed of visiting. Thought, “Wow! These prices aren’t bad at all!”

Unfortunately, the magazine was from 1987. For curiosity, checked a few current prices. Times certainly have changed!

COOKIN’ TIME

Chilly days call for oven treats, and Tarawa Kellam of http://www.LivingOnADime.com/ generously shares her recipe for homemade baking mix. If you make it with real butter, keep it refrigerated. Use half white flour and half whole wheat flour if you like. From time to time you’ll find recipes here to use this mix, or use it in any of the recipes for the regular store bought baking mixes,

BAKING MIX

9 cups flour

2/3 cup dry milk powder

3 tablespoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup shortening or 1/2 cup shortening and 1/2 cup butter

Mix flour and other dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. Use a food processor or electric mixer on low to cut in the shortening to save time. Store in an airtight container up to 6 months, in the refrigerator if you used butter, which is far better, by the way. If you double this recipe it uses a 5-pound sack of flour, but it’s awfully hard work with such a large volume with home equipment. Better to make two single batches.

MINESTRONE

Nothing better on a chilly, dreary day than a hot bowl of soup, especially if you serve it with crusty Italian bread, or better yet, the Cheese Biscuits below. Trick for heating purchased Italian or French bread: Preheat oven to about 400 degrees. Slip the unsliced loaf of bread quickly under the water faucet to dampen it all over. Put directly on the oven shelf and heat for perhaps 10 minutes, until it gets nice and crusty. The soup is easy to make, and doubles nicely if you want twice the soup for the same amount of time, effort and fuel. The soup even freezes well, but without the macaroni. For the best texture, don’t add the macaroni until you’re ready to serve it.

1/2 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups onions, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

6 ounces tomato paste

2 quarts beef broth

1 quart water

1 cup cabbage, shredded

2 carrots, sliced

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground sage

1 whole medium size zucchini, sliced

10 ounces fresh or frozen green beans

1 can kidney beans

1 cup macaroni pasta, uncooked

In a large soup pot, saut garlic, onion and celery until soft. Stir in tomato paste, broth, water, cabbage, carrots, salt, pepper and sage. Mix well, bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer slowly 1 hour. Add remaining ingredients. Cook 10-12 minutes until macaroni is tender. Serve hot.

CHEESY BISCUITS

These are very close to the wonderful biscuits served at Red Lobster. Do give them a try. Use a prepared, purchased biscuit mix (like Bisquick) or the mix above.

2 cups Bisquick baking mix

2/3 cup milk

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, coarse shredded

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or several cloves garlic,

chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Using food processor or electric mixer, mix the baking mix, milk and cheese slowly until a soft dough forms and then beat vigorously for 30 seconds. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Mix melted butter and garlic powder and brush over warm biscuits as soon as they come out of the oven and before removing from the cookie sheet. Serve warm. If you prefer to use the fresh garlic, melt the butter in a small pan or dish before you start mixing the biscuits and add the chopped garlic. Let this sit while the biscuits bake, and then brush on as above.

BREAKFAST PUFFS

Substitute margarine for the butter in this recipe only if you’re forced into it for budgetary reasons!

2 cups baking mix

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoon butter, softened

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1/2 cup butter, melted

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 24 mini muffin cups. Mix baking mix, sugar, nutmeg, margarine, milk and egg. Beat vigorously for 30 seconds. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake 10 minutes. While the muffins bake, melt the butter and mix the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Quickly roll the puffs in melted butter, then in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Makes 24 puffs.

Thought for the Week: The push for government to divvy up the wealth and take care of all its citizens is nothing new. It’s a bad idea, but like all bad seeds, it keeps popping up. Thomas Jefferson, back in the 1700s, when he was trying to finish creating our nation, had a few comments on the subject, among them: “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them,” and “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”

Nearly 200 years later, the late, great President and General Dwight D. Eisenhower shared some of the same sentiments toward those who want government to do everything for everybody: “If you want total security, go to prison. There you are fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking is freedom.”

(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.)

COUNTRY COUSIN


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