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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: December 22, 2020

Joy to the world...

Christmas is almost here, and so far only the faintest sprinkling of white. Just enough drizzle Monday evening, Dec. 21, to stop us here in TIMESland from seeing what may have been a re-visit of the Star of Bethlehem, it's first appearance in nearly 800 years. That was the conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the western sky, their closest appearance to each other and to Earth since March 4 of 1226. Some say that's the "star" the three wise men from the East followed to Bethlehem.

Would have been nice to get a look at it.

GLORY SHONE AROUND!

Words to remember:

"And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were so afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." From the Gospel by Luke, Fourth Book of the Bible's New Testament.

JUST WONDERING"

Wonder what the owners of that Inn in Bethlehem thought when they heard the angels, and then saw the shepherds, angels and finally the obviously very wealthy wise men and their camels converging on their lowly stable?

Wonder if they came out to see what all the fuss was about?

Wonder if they worshipped too?

Wonder if they regretted not offering the expectant mother their room at the Inn, even if it meant sleeping in the stables themselves?

Wonder if they told that story to other guests who came to their Inn in the days, months and years that followed?

Wonder how long Mary, Joseph and Jesus stayed in that stable before moving on to better lodgings, or did they stay right there until the followed the angel's warning to flee into Egypt?

And by the way, did you hear about the Sunday School youngster who wasn't sure what airline carried the Holy Family to Egypt? The boy did know, however, that the pilot's name was Pontius.

LONGER DAYS

Monday, Dec. 21 also was the official first day of winter. Ironically, that means it was the shortest day of the year, and now winter has actually started to go away, at least in terms of hours of daylight and darkness. It will certainly continue to get colder for a while, but from now until June 21 there will be a few more minutes of daylight each day and a few less minutes of darkness.

Guess that's something to cheer about.

CHRISTMAS RIDDLES

Looking for something to spark conversation around the Christmas tree?

Spring these riddles on the family, and see what they come up with. Answers are the names of Christmas Carols, and they can be found right after Cookin' Time.

1. Listen, the harbinger spiritual beings make musical sounds with the voice.

2. Christian natal celebration devoid of color.

3. Embellish the interior passageways.

4. Nocturnal time span of unbroken quietness.

5. Twelve o'clock on a clement night witnessed its arrival.

6. Listen, the celestial messengers produce harmonious sounds.

7. Make the announcement from a specific geological alpine formation.

8. Tintinnabulation of vacillating pendulums of inverted, metallic, resonant cups.

9. Jovial yuletide desires for others from more than one sender.

10. Witness osculating of a maternal figure with the red suited visitor.

11. Impending arrival of masculine perennial gift giver.

12. Obese male personification fabricated of compressed creations of minute ice crystals.

ON THE SOAP BOX

GRINCHES IN MADISON


It's not bad enough that we have government officials telling us to stay away from the ones we love this Christmas season to avoid spreading coronavirus, and making us wear masks so we can't share Christmas smiles, the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) is apparently bent on doing even more to help that old Grinch steal Christmas.

They and Gov. Tony Evers - used the coronavirus as an excuse to ban the traditional Christmas tree from the Wisconsin State Capital in Madison, and then removed one that was put up anyway.

Do they think trees spread viruses? Would looking at it make anyone get sick?

Shame, shame, shame on those who made the decisions to insult Christians by downplaying the importance of our Christian traditions and our long held Wisconsin family values.

Understand it was Gov. Evers who first decided there would be no towering Christmas tree decorated with ornaments made by children around the state in the Capital this year. Excuse was that the public isn't being admitted anyway due to corona virus. Guess the legislators and state employees who come there to work every day don't matter.

Maybe it never occurred to him that kids would be honored to have their ornaments on the tree and could have had photographs of it even if most folks couldn't get in to see it in person.

Or was Gov. Evers' decision an excuse not to offend the agnostics and non-Christians by allowing observance of a Christian tradition? By the way, he also has steadfastly refused to call the traditional "Holiday Tree" a "Christmas Tree," and most of us know that under his leadership as head of the Department of Public Instruction schools began having "Winter vacation" instead of "Christmas vacation," and "Winter concerts" instead of Christmas concerts, often with singing of the most beautiful and traditional Christmas carols also banned.

Guess to some folks it's okay to offend Christians and it's okay to offend God, but it's not okay to offend non-believers.

Anyway, hats off to a couple of Republican state legislators who were offended enough by Gov. Evers' decision to take matters into their own hands.

According to state-level news reports, the Representatives Republican Paul Tittl and Shane Sortwell applied for a permit on Dec. 1 to place what they described as an "historical display" in the rotunda of the capital from Dec. 1 through Jan. 6, without saying that it would be a tree.

Dan Blackdeer, chief of the Capitol Police, which is an extension of the DOA, reportedly denied their request the next day, writing that the DOA can issue permits for events and exhibits, only the State Capitol and Executive Residence Board could approve decorative items, state law prohibits the DOA from permitting any exhibits on the rotunda's ground floor, a permit request must be filed at least 72 hours in advance, and the DOA was denying all permit requests for the interior of Capitol since the building is closed to the public.

DOA Assistant Deputy Secretary Olivia Hwang sent an email to the two legislators explaining that since the DOA owns the building, it doesn't need a permit for the traditional holiday tree, but all permit requests had been denied since the building is closed. She said they could still display a tree or other holiday decorations in their offices or any space in the building controlled by the Assembly.

Tittl and Sortwell put up a seven-foot artificial tree in the rotunda anyway. It was sitting there on Monday morning, complete with signs that read, "The magic of Christmas is not in the presents but in His presence" and "This tree belongs to Representative Tittl and Representative Sortwell. Do not move without prior written approval from these Representatives."

In typical anti-conservative fashion, the Associated Press "news" article about the Christmas tree commented, "The move by Tittl and Sortwell is another example of the defiance that Republicans have shown Evers since he defeated GOP Gov. Scott Walker in 2018. Among other things, they passed lame-duck legislation weakening Evers' powers and convinced the state Supreme Court to strike down his stay-at-home coronavirus order."

What does lame duck legislation have to do with a Christmas tree???

Somehow none of the mainstream media ever seems to recall the shameful behavior demonstrated by Democrats after Gov. Scott Walker took office in 2011. Many of those legislators took pay for their elected offices, but refused to report for duty. Some of them even ran away to hide in Illinois in hopes of preventing Walker and the Republican legislators from doing what the majority of Wisconsin voters elected them to do.

How easily they forget!!!

COOKIN' TIME

It's count-down time for holiday treats, but it's not too late until New Year's Day. Some of us love to cook, others do it only because they and their families love to eat. Hats off to all those who love to cook, and love to share their creations with those who do not.

CRUSTLESS MINI QUICHE

Perfect to serve for Christmas breakfast, to have on hand for busy mornings, or to give to friends who hate to cook so they can enjoy them for their busy day breakfast. As variations, replace the bacon with 1/2 pound bulk breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled, or 1 cup finely diced cooked ham.

6 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup diced canned tomatoes and green chilies

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

5 slices smoked bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper until the eggs are broken up. Stir in everything else. Grease a metal cupcake tin (or use buttery flavored cooking spray) and spoon or pour in the egg mixture, filling about 3/4 of the way. Be sure to distribute the solids and liquids equally. Bake for 17 minutes, or until a knife inserted just off center comes out clean. Eat now, or refrigerate for future breakfasts. Heats well in the microwave if you don't overdo it. By the way, they're very good if you heat the rest of the can of tomatoes and chilies (or another whole can) with salt, pepper and butter. Put a slice of buttered toast on a deep-sided saucer and place a mini quiche on top. Spoon on the tomatoes and chilies as a sauce.

BARB'S PRETZELS

You've heard of Shake "n' Bake? Well, these are just shake. No baking involved at all. I don't usually like pretzels unless they're coated with chocolate, but do love these. The recipe was given to me years ago by Coleman School Board Member Barb Krause-Klug years ago when she ran the school office, but she gave the credit to another district employee, Faye Tress, who was good enough to share the recipe with her. They keep fresh a long time in zipper bags, so they make great gifts. They're so good and so easy that I simply must re-run this recipe now and again, in case you lost the original like I did. The recipe calls for straight pretzels, but you can make them with the small twisted ones too.

40 to 50 ounces thin straight salted pretzels

1 12 ounce bottle Orville Redenbacher buttery flavored popcorn oil

1 package ranch seasoning (salad dressing mix)

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 tsp dill weed

Put the pretzels in a large plastic bowl with a tight fitting lid. Mix together the oil and all the seasonings and pour this mixture over the pretzels. Put the cover on the bowl and shake. Turn upside down if the cover fits tightly enough. During the next hour shake four or five more times - maybe once every ten to fifteen minutes. They're done. Store however you want - even in the bowl you made them in. Or put into plastic bags to be stored in the cupboard and served as needed.

EASY CHEESE DANISH

2 cans ready to use refrigerated crescent rolls

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

Glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13X9-inch baking pan. Lay a pack of crescent rolls in the pan and pinch the openings together. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and egg together until smooth. Spread the mixture over the crescent rolls evenly and then lay the second pack of crescent rolls on top of the cheese mixture and brush with egg white. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the top is golden brown. Top with glaze after cooling for 20 minutes. For those on restricted diets, this treat can be made with low fat cream cheese and Splenda (sugar substitute) and still be delicious! The amount of filling called for makes a heavily filled danish, which our family thinks is a good thing, but some people claim they like it better half as full. Just use 1 package of cream cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 whole egg, and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and then bake for 30-35 minutes.

JELLO YOGURT BITES

Simple, totally yummy, pretty to look at, and even high protein, low fat and low carb if you make them with diet Jello and low carb yogurt. How's that for an almost too easy sweet treat that can't be beat? Mix and match flavors to make everyone happy.

1 1/2 cups vanilla or other flavor yogurt

1 package Jello (regular size)

Mix the yogurt and Jello. Microwave it for two minutes, stirring after each minute to be sure the gelatin and sugar get dissolved. Once all the graininess is gone, scoop the mixture into cupcake liners or Jello molds and chill for at least an hour. If you are feeling fancy, top the Jello cupcake with sprinkles before it fully hardens, and maybe top with a little whipped topping at serving time. Jello molds could be served on a cloud of whipped cream, so each dessert gets a serving of whipped cream when it's served. A really, really pretty Christmas version is to use blueberry Jello in star shaped Jello molds and sprinkle with edible iridescent sprinkles after unmolding on your serving tray. Making with orange Jello creates one of my personal favorite flavors - that of Orange Dreamsicles.

ANSWERS:

1. Hark The Herald Angels Sing

2. White Christmas

3. Deck The Halls

4. Silent Night

5. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

6. Hark The Herald Angels Sing

7. Go Tell It On A Mountain

8. Jingle Bells

9. We wish You a Merry Christmas

10. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

11. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

12. Frosty The Snowman

Merry Christmas to all from Yours Truly - The Country Cousin



Thought for the Week: As George Washing Truett very accurately observed, "Christ was born in the first century, yet he belongs to all centuries. He was born a Jew, yet He belongs to all races. He was born in Bethlehem, yet He belongs to all countries." Truett was an American clergyman who was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, from 1897 until 1944, and the president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1927 to 1929.


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