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Country Cousin

Bluebirds...

Hi Folks!

Rejoice! Spring has finally arrived! Got here Saturday, accompanied by sunshine and balmy breezes, and apparently it’s here to stay. Predictions of an entire 10 days of rain this week alone have already been proven wrong. Sun was out intermittently in at least parts of TIMESland on Monday and Tuesday despite weather forecasts that called for 10 days of pretty much solid rain. Now that May is here there should be many more fine days to come. Maybe we won’t have to build Arks after all!

BEAUTIFUL BLUEBIRDS

Bluebirds have to be the absolutely prettiest little birds to grace our northern landscape. The little beauties used to be regular summer tenants in our bird houses but they quit showing up several years ago, during the era when the land was vacant and the houses on it started going to ruin. Maybe the birds sensed that, or maybe they enjoyed human company. Come to think of it, maybe they enjoyed that we cleaned out their houses every fall.

Imagine that! Free rent with room service.

Anyway, Saturday morning, the first really nice morning this year, spotted a bluebird perched just outside the window. First one we’ve seen in years. What a way to start the day! Hope he finds a suitable place on our old homestead to nest and raise his family.

Somewhere rattling around in this old head is a notion that bluebirds are signs of good luck. If they aren’t, they ought to be!

Did some research, hoping to find ideas that might encourage the prospective tenants to settle in. Learned they like a well-constructed nest box specifically designed for them. It needs to be weatherproof, and should face east, away from prevailing winds. There should be perches nearby, but not too close. It should be 50 to 100 feet from brushy areas, but have some shade. Mounting the box on a metal pole with a predator guard below it is a good idea. Don’t use pesticides near the nesting box.

Bluebirds apparently like to have white pines nearby. If you don’t have one handy, find one and scoop up a bucket of needles from under it to scatter around the base of the bird house pole. The needles are handy fir nest construction.

Now, here’s the fun part. Paint the front of the box white, so the dark entry hole is easy to spot. Some advisors say there should not be a perch outside the hole. The bluebirds will fly directly in, and predator birds might use the perch as an attack point. Then hang some blue trimmings near the box, perhaps by tacking a blue cloth strip to the roof, or attaching some blue ribbons to decorate the house. Decorate the house with a life-size picture or profile of a bluebird as a decoy. The bird people claim this has attracted bluebird neighbors within a few hours.

Finally, if you’re lucky enough to have bluebirds spend the summer, give their nesting box a good house cleaning when they leave for the year. They love coming home to a clean box in the spring. Wouldn’t you?

FINE WEATHER RULES

Speaking of wonderful weather, was amazed when a visiting 12-year-old grandson promptly turned on the TV when he woke up on Saturday. Never mind that outside the sun was shining, birds were singing, and chores were waiting to be done. He was preparing to retreat into his winter routine as a couch potato.

Turned off what we used to call the “boob tube” and informed grandson of a new rule - no TV until after supper on summer days unless it was raining.

He gave up and went outside to find other entertainment. Some of it was productive and some of it was not, but that’s okay.

He was outside, doing whatever it is that boys should be doing on a fine spring day, instead of being inside watching imitation people pretend to be doing whatever it is that the show calls for.

Guess what?

At supper time the young man thanked me for the no TV rule!

GRANDMA RULES

That reminds me of another Grandma who has some issues with the electronic age. Her pet peeve is trying to carry on a conversation with a room full of people busy with text message conversations on their cell phones. Finds it extremely insulting.

Now there’s a small basket on a shelf near her front door. Youngsters old and young are to deposit their cell phones in the basket when they enter and pick them up when they leave. If their phone rings during the visit to Grandma’s house they can answer it, but extended text conversations are verboten.

“I’m not going to compete with that while we’re visiting,” Grandma declares.

MAY DAY DISTRESS CALL

Always considered May one of the finest months of the year - not counting September and October - and wondered how it happened that the name of a holiday that in earlier days called for exchanging posies came to be the international call for help.

According to Answerbag.com, it turns out that “Mayday” is an anglicized version of a French term, “m’aidez” (help me) or “m’aider” (to render help to me).

The ‘Mayday’ distress signal was devised by the late Frederick Stanley Mockford, born in 1897 in the East Sussex village of Selmeston in England. While he was senior radio officer at Croydon airport in 1923, he was asked to think up a word that would indicate distress and be easily understood by all pilots and ground staff in an emergency. Since much of the traffic at the time was between Croydon and Le Bourget (Paris), in France, he proposed the word ‘Mayday’ derived from the French m’aidez’. It is easy to say, easy to remember and easy to understand.

Mockford is buried in Selmeston churchyard where his contribution to humanity is remembered on his headstone.

WHO DOES THE BREWING?

Heard that a minister and his wife had an ongoing dispute about who should brew the coffee each morning.

The wife argued: “You should do it because you get up first, and then we don’t have to wait as long to get our coffee.”

“You are in charge of cooking around here and you should do it, because that is your job. I can just wait for my coffee,” friend hubby insisted.

Wife had the last word though. “It is in the Bible that the man should do the coffee,” she told him.

Husband, who after all was the Bible expert, severely doubted that.

So she fetched the Good Book, opened the New Testament, and showed him. Sure enough. On the top of several pages, it does indeed say: “HEBREWS.”

GOOD DEEDS

Once in a while we catch someone secretly carrying out a hidden kindness, not for any hope of recognition, but just out of the goodness of their hearts.

One such event happened on the evening of the Marinette High School prom on Saturday, April 20.

Part of the whole prom experience is going out to eat before the dance starts. The young couple didn’t have a lot of money to pay for dinner at any of the fine supper clubs in the area, so decided to enjoy their pre-prom dinner at the less pricey Hometown Family Restaurant.

There they enjoyed a fine meal, and then didn’t have to pay for it at all.

When it came time for their bill the waitress told them it was taken care of. An elderly couple from a nearby table had paid for the young lovers’ meal and then left. The waitress had instructions not tell them anything about it until their benefactors were gone.

The young prom goers were thrilled, and would have liked to say “thank you,” but that was not possible, so they passed along the story to be printed here with a big thanks to the people who cared so much about helping a couple of teenagers have a wonderful evening.

ON THE SOAP BOX

GIVE UP THOSE GUNS


Some billboards put up by some anonymous gun control opponents in Greeley, Colo. show three men dressed in traditional Native American attire and the words “Turn in your arms. The government will take care of you.”

Right on! Boy, government sure did just that! And they’ll do it to us too, if we give up our constitutional rights and turn in our guns.

Naturally some folks have chosen to take offense. They always do. Some of them claim the billboard belittles the tragedies that befell the Native American forefathers.

Nevertheless, the fact remains the Indians... oops, Native Americans ... did not generally have guns, while the white invaders did, and that is the major reason they eventually were pushed off their ancestral grounds and onto reservations.

Oh yes, there were promises that the government would take care of them, but for the most part those promises were not kept.

Surprise, surprise!

Sort of like today, when Big Brother government is urging us to give up our weapons, give up our money in the form of higher taxes, and give up our Constitutional rights under various pretexts.

We certainly ought to know that the wiser heads in Washington want only to do what’s best for us, or is it what’s best for them?

History proves it!

Right???

OFF THE MARKET

Speaking of gun control, something seems to be happening out there, and apparently not as a result of any law.

For months, the once cheap and plentiful .22 shells have been “sold out” at many places in TIMESland. Before they disappeared from the markets the price had risen through the roof. Remember when a box of 100 cost 99 cents? Now they apparently can’t be bought by common folks for any price.

Don’t know if there’s any truth to the rumor, but have been told told the .22 shells are all being bought up by the Federal government as fast as the manufacturers can make them. Also have been told there are bills in the hopper to force that program to stop. Sure hope the second rumor is true if the first one is!

Our family views having a supply of weapons and ammunition as a hedge against everything from government tyranny to foreign invasion to starvation from galloping inflation. And .22 ammunition always was cheap enough to maintain a supply for protection from varmints and the fun of target shooting.

BAN THOSE PRESSURE COOKERS!

Understand there’s a new law being proposed in Washington to require a three-day cooling off period and serious background checks before any housewife can purchase a pressure cooker, and a license in proper use will be required.

It is said that another provision in the proposed law would ban the manufacture and sale of high capacity pressure cookers.

COOKIN’ TIME

The traditional Mexican/American holiday Cinquo de Mayo happens on May 5, which is a Sunday this year, and therefore a perfect excuse for a fiesta with some wonderful Mexican treats.

GRILLED JALAPENO BOMBERS

Very much like Jalapeno Poppers, but not deep fried. For a change, beat half a cup shredded cheddar or Nacho-style cheese into the cream cheese and stuff the peppers with that instead of the plain cream cheese. If you aren’t using the grill, roast the peppers in a 450 degree oven in a shallow roaster with a wire rack. By the way, if the peppers are nice and ripe you can save the seeds and plant them. They’ll grow!

6 jalapeno peppers

1/2 cup Philadelphia cream cheese

6 thin slices uncooked bacon

Wash the peppers. Split them in half lengthwise and remove the seeds, along with most of the membrane. The more membrane removed the milder the finished pepper. Also works well in the oven in a shallow roaster with a wire rack. If you soak the jalapenos in water after splitting them in half and removing the seeds it seems to take away some of the “heat” - the longer you soak them the milder they get, in case some of your guests don’t like it hot. Scoop enough cream cheese into each jalapeno half to fill it level (like a canoe). Cut each slice of bacon in half and wrap one half around each cream cheese filled jalapeno. Secure it with a toothpick. Try to be sure the bacon covers the cream cheese to prevent leakage. Grill over direct heat for about 10 to 12 minutes or until the bacon is cooked to your liking. Flip the jalapenos at least once to be sure the bacon cooks on all sides. Remove the jalapenos from the grill. Serve immediately and kick yourself for not making more than 12 of these.

Tip: The oils and seeds from jalapenos can be very hot and can irritate the skin and eyes, so either wear rubber gloves when preparing them, or wash your hands well after handling them.

PUERCO ADOBO

This recipe, from the National Pork Council, is quick to fix but packed with spicy Mexican flavor. Cook in a pan or on the grill. Makes four servings, and only takes about 10 minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to cook, but it’s best if you let it marinate for a day before cooking. Serve with refried beans, seasoned buttered rice and the Grilled Jalapeno Bombers above.

4 boneless pork loin chops, 1 inch-thick

12 ounce jar jalapeno peppers, undrained

4 teaspoons oregano

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons ground cumin

4 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon salad or olive oil

Combine jalapeno peppers, oregano, garlic, cumin and vinegar in blender container. Pure. Marinate chops in this mixture 4 to 24 hours. Heat oil in large skillet; remove chops from marinade and panbroil or grill over hot coals for about 5 minutes on each side.

Mexican Wedding Cakes

We used to make these for Christmas, but understand they are a traditional Mexican celebration dessert. A nice thing for serving outdoors is that they will not melt in the sunshine.

2 cups butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4-1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups chopped pecans

Additional powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325. Grease cookie sheets. With an electric mixer, cream the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat in the flour, salt and pecans. Roll stiff dough into bite-sized balls. Place 8 across and 9 down on a cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. After cooling for 5 minutes, roll still-warm cookies in a bowl of powdered sugar. Allow to cool. Roll again to cover completely. Makes 6 dozen cookies.

EASY PARTY PUNCH

2 packages Kool Aid

2 cups sugar

2 quarts water

46 ounce can pineapple juice

1 quart ginger ale

Mix everything well together except the ginger ale. Chill until serving time. Pour over ice in a punch bowl, add the ginger ale and serve at once.

Thought for the Week: “Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that, “The buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership...Americans deserve better.” - spoken by Senator Barack H. Obama, in March of 2006. Has something happened to change his opinion?

(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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