Breezy Readers

Flash Fiction from Allison Spooner

Flash Fiction from Allison Spooner

Flash Fiction from Allison Spooner


Senior Newsline

Flash Fiction from Allison Spooner

Flash Fiction from Allison Spooner



Flash Fiction from Allison Spooner

Now Here's a Tip!


Now Here's a Tip!

Now Here's a Tip!

Now Here's a Tip!


Comfort Foods

Now Here's a Tip!

Comfort Foods


Paws Corner

Now Here's a Tip!

Comfort Foods



Flash Fiction from Allison Spooner

All That Was Left

The fog was thick that morning as Lana made her way to the church. It began as a slight haze but slowly thickened as the moments ticked by, gradually dimming the rising sun. It was strange, she thought, nearing the church, usually fog dissipated when the sun gained strength. But today was an unusual day in itself. A day for goodbyes, for moving on, for letting go. 

Everyone was already in the church when she reached the doors but, unlike every other day, she knew her mother wouldn't chide her for being late, not today. Even the last time they'd talked, she'd pleaded with her only daughter to just be on time for once in her life. Today though, Lana wanted to be late. She wanted to slow down. But there was no delaying the inevitable. When she entered the church, the fog seemed to creep in behind her, rolling across the marble floor, pawing at her feet like a kitten.

The vestibule was empty and organ music was already pushing its way out into the hall. She noticed, before joining the mourners in the sanctuary, that the mirror on the wall beside her was covered with a sheet. A Welsh death tradition her family still honored when a loved one passed.

She made her way down the center aisle, eyeing the pews filled with friends, family, neighbors...but she didn't pause her progress toward the open casket. A small favor, she'd heard her mother say just after the accident, that we can see her beautiful face one more time.

Her mother sat in the front row, quietly sobbing into her handkerchief. The same one she'd tried to give Lana on her eighteenth birthday but she'd refused because who used handkerchiefs anymore? She also wore pearls, because, she said, every woman should own a nice pair of pearls. More than likely, she smelled like lavender, but Lana's senses were already too dull to know for sure. The rest of the church, all the mourners, were enveloped by the fog that had followed her down the aisle. She didn't have much time.

"I told her not to be late," her mother whispered to her aunt through her tears. "She was rushing because of me."

"It's okay, Mom." Lana tried to speak but the fog stole her voice. "It's not your fault." She tried to reach out to her mother, but the black dress faded, the bright pearls dulled, the handkerchief disappeared.

"Mom…" Lana whispered. The words came out as a breeze and tickled her mother’s hair. The older woman gasped and then the fog pulled her away. All that was left was goodbye.

"The Problem With Humans: And Other Stories"

One of Mid-Michigan's brightest authors, Spooner’s stories have been called “unique works of art,” “brilliant, disturbing, and thought-provoking,” and her latest book is a “truly fantastic collection of short stories.”

In her second collection, she offers something for both lovers of humanity and those who are entirely fed up. From deadly mistakes and crass crimes to the sweet moments that once again give us faith in humanity, the stories in this collection will both break your heart and make you smile. 


Our team of professionals is here to assist you for all of your real estate needs and guarantee a smooth and enjoyable real estate experience.

Establishing a team means working together to ensure all of our clients receive the best representation possible. As a team with Listing Specialists, Buyer Specialists, Transaction Coordinators, and Marketing Specialists we are able to enhance the quality of service we can deliver to our clients. With our combined real estate experience we can dramatically improve the speed and efficiency for your real estate transaction. We can help you sell your home, buy your next home, or both! Most Real Estate Agents operate as a one-person show. They’re probably breaking their backs trying to do a good job for their clients, and cannot work any harder than they are already are. .

We know, because we used to do it this way; then we found that our clients suffered from our good intentions. We have built and continue to expand our team of professionals to help us stay one step ahead of our competition.


Senior NewsLine by Matilda Charles


Remembering Our Music

Have you ever tried to remember all the words to a song from your childhood or teenage years, or something you heard your parents sing? If you can remember one or two lines of a verse or the title, you can find the whole song on the Internet.

Here's an example. I put one line of a song in Google, and there it was! Not only did all the lyrics pop up but there were links to videos of groups singing the song. There were links, too, to more information. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the song was written in 1911. 

World War II was full of good music, and chances are you remember at least parts of some of the songs. Search online for World War II songs or any other era you're interested in. Wikipedia even has categories such as "Songs of 1950s." Or search Wikipedia by singer and click on their discography for all the songs they released.

Remember "Any Bonds Today?", the 1941 song written for a war bond drive and presented in a Bugs Bunny cartoon? Or for younger seniors, how about "Blowin' in the Wind," Bob Dylan's 1962 song. How many verses do you remember?

When the weather warms up, you might consider haunting garage sales and antique marts for old sheet music. If you no longer have a keyboard, look on Amazon for compact 54-key electronic keyboards for less than $100. 

And what do you do once you've collected all the music from your youth? Consider sharing it. If you play well enough, ask about visiting a retirement facility and playing for the residents. Make copies of the lyrics and hand them out for a sing-along. For Alzheimer's patients, hearing or singing music can animate silent patients, reduce stress and strengthen memory.

The Flu and You

Here we are, halfway through winter, and the flu season is in full swing. As of now all 50 states have widespread levels of flu. And at this point far too many people still haven't gotten their flu shot.

The senior version of the shot (for those over age 65) has four times the amount of vaccine of three of the four types ... two A and one B. While this isn't ideal (it's still missing one B), it's what we have. The high-dose vaccine was created to give our bodies a high immune response. Because of our age, we're in the high-risk group for complications, even if we don't have any medical concerns. Seniors had more hospitalizations from flu than any other age group.

At this writing there have been more than 6,000 deaths from the flu. How many of these could have been avoided by getting the flu shot? One big concern is that it's possible to be contagious and pass the flu to others days before someone starts to feel sick. Going to the grocery store, attending church, reading to kids at the elementary school ... there are too many opportunities to give the flu to others (or have them give it to you) before anyone even suspects they have it.

But it's not too late to get the shot. Even if it doesn't keep you from getting the flu, it will keep you from getting as sick as you might have. A delay can arise in areas where they've temporarily run out of the flu vaccine. Don't let that stop you. To get your flu shot, call your doctor's office, call the local pharmacies and call the closest senior center. You'll find the vaccine somewhere.

No matter what, wash your hands frequently and keep them away from your face.

Revisit the Books of Our Childhood

There really is something to be said for going back to a simpler time, even for a little while. For those of us who work with people who have dementia, or if we just want to take a break from the current crop of books on bestseller lists, here is an idea: revisit the books of our childhood.

Wikipedia can be a great place to remind us of the titles we might have forgotten. Put "books of the 1940s," or whatever decade you'd like to explore, in its search box,. You'll find hundreds of books from our childhood, most with links to information about the books themselves, such as: "Lassie Come Home" (1940), "Curious George" (1941), "Pippi Longstocking" (1945) and "Scuffy the Tugboat" (1946).

From the 1950s we have "Henry Huggins" (1950), "Charlotte's Web" (1952), "Horton Hears a Who!" (1954), "Danny and the Dinosaur" (1958) and the "Brains Benton Series" (1959-61). To jog your memory, in 1942, Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny Alden were orphans living in a boxcar in the woods until they are introduced to their grandfather, who has the boxcar moved to his backyard in "The Boxcar Children."

In 1946, "Scuffy the Tugboat" ended up floating down larger and larger waterways until he was rescued and was put back where he was happiest -- the bathtub.

In 1959, Brains Benton and his sidekick Jimmy Carson solved the mystery of "The Case of the Missing Message," and continued solving crimes for the next five books in the original Brains Benton series.

If you want to find the old books of your childhood, it's not as difficult as you might think. Some of the books are still in print. Check Amazon.com or AbeBooks.com. Some of them might be found at your library. If you're very lucky, a few of them might even be on your own bookshelves.

You're Never Too Old to Try Something New

There's something to be said for continuing to learn as we get older. Not only does it keep our brains active, but sometimes learning new things is just plain interesting and fun.

I've made a goal of learning or investigating at least one new thing per month this year. Here are some ideas:

New Authors: Librarians have a "what to read next" reference book resource that offers suggestions about what authors someone might like based on previous books they've read. Tell a librarian what author you've enjoyed, and you'll get suggestions for others to try. If there isn't a library near you, you can do this online. Go to www.whatshouldireadnext.com and put in the name of one author you like. It will list several books by that author. Click on one and suggestions will appear below.

Foreign Language: If you spoke a foreign language as a child or just took the required two years in high school, how much do you remember? Duolingo (www.duolingo.com) is a great, free online tool with exercises tailored to you. There are 35 languages to learn! You can study online or on a phone app. If you get serious, you can pay $6.99 per month to remove ads, but you don't need to.

New Tech Skills: Our senior center has a weekly tech hour where a knowledgeable geek from the college comes in to solve any computer problems and answer how-to questions. I'll be going at least four times to ask about photo-editing software with the goal of learning to manipulate photos I've taken.

Try Some New Things: Shop at the new grocery store in the next town. Knit something that isn't a scarf. Sample an exotic selection of teas. 

What about you? Do you have any goals for 2020?


Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association VALUE. VISION. VOICE.

 The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) is the recognized leader of Michigan's hospitality industry, providing essential services to its members.  The Michigan Restaurant Association was originally founded in 1921 to serve, enhance and nurture the growth and development of Michigan's food service industry. 

In 2018, the MRA expanded its reach to become the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association to advance the entire hospitality industry. The restaurant and lodging industries play an integral role in Michigan’s economy, employing nearly 600,000 Michiganders and generating $40 billion in revenue statewide.  

Hollywood! by Tony Rizzo


2/10 HOLLYWOOD, CA -- Bradley Cooper will follow his "A Star Is Born" success with Guillermo del Toro's "Nightmare Alley," co-starring Cate Blanchett, then direct himself in the title role in the upcoming Netflix bio-picture of Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein is best remembered for his groundbreaking score of "West Side Story," which Steven Spielberg has just completed remaking for a December release.

In addition, Bernstein scored the classic Marlon Brando film "On the Waterfront," the Broadway musicals "Candide," "Wonderful Town" (for which he won a Tony Award), "Peter Pan" and "On the Town" (for which he earned his only Oscar nomination when it was made into a movie with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly). He also won 16 Grammys and seven Emmys. Even though Bernstein was married and fathered three children, the film will deal with his extramarital affairs with men. He died five days after retiring, at 72. Because of the pre-release success of "The Irishman," Netflix will give it a limited theatrical release before making it available for streaming.


Once upon a time in Hollywood there were five major studios: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Warner Brothers, Columbia, Paramount and 20th Century Fox. Between them they created the majority of the greatest films made from the 1935 through the 1960s (when the studio system began to decline due to the success of television). MGM claimed they had "More stars than in the heavens." Warner Bros. had Bette Davis, Olivia De Havilland, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Columbia made "It Happened One Night," "From Here to Eternity" and "On the Waterfront." Paramount had Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, and the "Road" pictures with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Fox gave us Marilyn Monroe, "All About Eve," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "M*A*S*H," "The King and I," "The Sound of Music" and the "Star Wars" saga.

When the crash came, MGM sold its backlot to condo builders. Sony acquired Columbia, then bought what was left of the MGM lot and moved Columbia there. Warners and Paramount had no backlots but retained their studios, while 20th Century Fox sold its backlot, which became Century City.

Now Disney has acquired 20th Century Fox and stripped it of the Fox name, calling it 20th Century Studios. When I moved to Hollywood, in 1967, I was able to explore and wander around the still-great studios, then more into TV production, such as "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" at Fox, and "Dr. Kildare" at MGM. I was in heaven. The five major studios paved the way for the new wave of movie-making today, operated by five streaming services: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Apple. Time marches on ... either love it or don't stream it!

2/3 HOLLYWOOD, CA -- Lucille Ball, who died in 1989, will be the subject of an Amazon film written by the great Aaron Sorkin and starring two-time Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett as Lucy. The film follows Lucy's marriage to Desi Arnaz and has the blessing of their children, Lucie and Desi Jr., who are two of the producers. 


Another "Ghostbusters"? The 2016 female reboot grossed only $229 million against its $144 million cost. "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," however, is written and directed by Jason Reitman, son of original "Ghostbusters" director Ivan Reitman (now 73). Paul Rudd, Carrie Conn, Finn Wolfhard and McKenna Grace star, with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts returning in more than small cameos. "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" was filmed in Calgary, Canada, in 15 weeks and is due in theaters July 10.

Nicholas Hoult, last seen in "Dark Phoenix," will co-star with Tom Cruise in the next two "Mission: Impossible" films, shooting back to back for a July 2021 and August 2022 release. Hoult will first be seen in "The True History of the Kelly Gang" (in theaters Feb. 28), "Those Who Wish Me Dead," with Angelina Jolie and Tyler Perry (due out Oct. 23) and "The Banker," with Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson, for Apple TV.


Josh Hartnett, who scored big in 2001 with "Pearl Harbor" and "Black Hawk Down" then disappeared while he raised his two children, is making a BIG comeback. He's upcoming in "Inherit the Viper," with Bruce Dern; "The Long Ride Home," directed and starring James Franco, with Timothy Hutton, Courtney Love and Ashton Kutcher; "Valley of the Gods," with John Malkovich, John Rhys-Davies and Keir Dullea; and "Gut Instinct" with Jim Gaffigan and Stephen McHattie. Hartnett will next be directed by Guy Ritchie in "Cash Truck," starring Scott Eastwood and Jeffrey Donovan. 

Donovan, who disappeared after "Burn Notice" (2007-15) until a 10-episode run in "Fargo," also is fighting his way back with "Let Him Go," with Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, and "Honest Thief," with Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh and Jeffrey Wright.


Going in a different direction is Michael Damian, former "The Young and The Restless" soap star (1981-2013). Damian, now 57, has directed 12 films, including the Hallmark Channel film "The Sweeter Side of Life" (2012), with his father-in-law, former "Dukes of Hazzard" sheriff James Best. He's signed to direct three Christmas movies for Hallmark, "Much Ado About Christmas," "Christmas in Transylvania" and "The Christmas Waltz."

Oscar-winner Jared Leto co-stars with Denzel Washington and Rami Malek in the crime thriller "Little Things" and will be the vampire Morbius in the Marvel Comic-based superhero film of the same name, with Michael Keaton and former "Doctor Who" Matt Smith. Sounds like a role Leto can sink his teeth into!

1/27 HOLLYWOOD, CA -- Regina King, who won a supporting actress Oscar for "If Beale Street Could Talk," announced she'll direct the civil-rights drama "One Night in Miami," based on the book and stage play by Kemp Powers. The film, set in 1964, will have Malcolm X, Cassius Clay (pre-Muhammad Ali), Jim Brown and Sam Cooke played by actors. King has come a long way since playing Marla Gibbs' daughter, Brenda Jenkins, for 107 episodes in the 1985-90 TV series "227." She's directed TV shows such as "Southland," "Being Mary Jane," "Scandal," "The Catch," "Animal Kingdom," "This Is Us" and "The Good Doctor." In addition to her Oscar, she's won a Golden Globe and three prime time Emmy Awards for acting.


"Bombshell" is a bomb, and "Cats" is a CATastrophe! Despite having multiple Oscar winners Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Allison Janney and nominees Margot Robbie and John Lithgow, "Bombshell" could only recoup $26.6 million of its $32 million cost. What happened? It could be the seven-episode Showtime miniseries, "The Loudest Voice," which won a Golden Globe for Russell Crowe's portrayal of Roger Ailes, stole their thunder and made people lose interest. Or perhaps women are just not into watching films about the "Me Too" movement.

"Cats" is a different matter. I saw the Broadway production three times and can say there was a fascination watching catlike actors moving through the audience and on stage. But getting up close and personal with them on film, with inadequate CGI, made them seem creepy. Perhaps they should have considered doing it like the "Lion King" remake, which used CGI animals. It's sad they've only recovered $58 million of their $90 million investment.


Also sad is Lana Wood, 73, sister of the late Natalie Wood, whose biggest film role was in the 1971 James Bond epic, "Diamonds Are Forever." She sent out an "SOS" via Facebook: "Please ... I don't have much money monthly, but I really feel to be able to live a peaceful life ... I must leave my home. I must take my dog and go. I would like a small private place, and I can pay rent. I really can't handle this abuse any longer. Help?" Our prayers are with you Lana ... and hope you find the peace you're seeking.


In happier news, some of your favorite TV stars are returning to television. Pauley Perrette ("CSI") has her own mid-season comedy series on CBS in "Broke." Kim Cattrall ("Sex and the City") and "Simon & Simon" star Gerald McRaney preem in May in "Filthy Rich" on Fox. "Nurse Jackie" Edie Falco returns Friday, Feb. 6, on CBS in "Tommy," and "The Nanny" herself, Fran Drescher, becomes "Indebted" with "Wings" star Steven Weber, at NBC. And the horses are at the gate ... 

1/20 HOLLYWOOD, CA-- Once upon a time in the mythical kingdom of Las Vegas, superstars' names lit up the Vegas Strip in neon lights. Stars like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Elvis Presley, Prince, Wayne Newton, Tom Jones and Barbra Streisand, and the great comics like Redd Foxx, Phyllis Diller, Totie Fields and Rich Little. Sinatra left us at age 82 in 1998, Dean Martin at 78 in 1995, Sammy Davis 64 in 1990, Elvis 42 in 1977 and Prince 57 in 2016. Great stars such as Rich Little, 81, Wayne Newton, 77, Tom Jones, 79, and Barbra Streisand, 77, hardly appear anymore.

They have been replaced by pop singers, classic-rock acts and country superstars: Santana, Jan. 22-Feb. 1; Foreigner, Jan. 24-Feb. 1; Van Morrison, Jan. 31-Feb. 8; The Doobie Brothers, Feb. 7-22; Chicago, Feb. 28-March 14. The singers include Keith Urban, January-November; Shania Twain, March 13-28; Gwen Stefani, Feb. 7-22; Mariah Carey, Feb. 14-29; Christina Aguilera, Feb. 27-March 7; Rod Stewart, March 6-21; Kelly Clarkson, April 1-11; Lady Gaga, April 30-May 16; Sting, May 22-June 6; and showgirl replacements in RuPaul's Drag Race Live, Jan. 30-Aug. 1.


Once I drove from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, across the desert, during 100 degree heat, in July 1969, for Elvis Presley's grand opening in Vegas. He gave the most spell-binding show ever seen to this day. But you couldn't get close to Elvis because he had six or eight guys called The Memphis Mafia who were his bodyguards and surrounded him wherever he went.

I knew his chauffeur, and one night I tore a $100 bill in half and gave it to him, saying he could have the other half if he'd let me know when Elvis was going somewhere without his bodyguards. I returned to L.A., and five days later he called and promised me that The King was going on a secret date that Saturday, alone. I drove across the desert again, without air conditioning, and arrived at the secret exit, which was like a "Star Wars" location without windows and doors. I gave him the other half of the $100 and waited for Elvis.

Earlier at his press conference, I had asked Elvis, "As the survivor of twins, some of your closest friends say you act like one twin on stage and the other off stage, can you comment?" He was stunned and offered, "I've often wondered about that!" My frontpage Vegas newspaper story read, "Elvis Presley, One Man or Two People." When he finally came out, I asked to photograph him and he said, "Great story man, I really liked it!" I was thrilled. They'll never be a Vegas like that again!


NOW HERE'S A TIP by JoAnn Derson



* "For uniform cookies, roll and freeze your dough for 10-15 minutes. Most doughs will harden enough to slice into perfectly even slices, and the freezing doesn't really affect cooking time too much. (Watch your first batch, though.)" -- R.L. in Missouri

* If you are reattaching a button to shorts or pants, try using dental floss, the unwaxed kind. It's much stronger and can hold the button better than regular thread. Use a marker to darken it if the color is an issue.

* "Here's a use for large plastic jugs: Cut off the bottom and use as a megaphone at sports games. Assemble the younger siblings off field and let each have his or her own megaphone. They can be decorated with stickers. Have the kids make up a cheer." -- T.T. in Texas

* Dampen a paper towel with vinegar and put it into your kid's lunchbox after you wipe it out. Zip up and leave overnight. It absorbs smells.

* "Use a hair dryer on the warm setting to dry out boots that have gotten wet inside. Check often to make sure it's not getting too hot inside. Remove insoles if possible." -- D.E. in Nebraska

* Need an easy substitute for buttermilk? Squeeze lemon juice into milk, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before using.


* A squirt of shaving cream can help release latex paint specks on your hands from using a roller brush. Just rub over hands and rinse.

* Baked apples (or stuffed peppers) will stay perfectly upright if you set them into the wells of a muffin tin.

* Make your own bath oil by mixing a couple of drops of your favorite perfume with a bit of baby oil. Just rub on post-bath or add to your bathwater.

* "Recently I cooked a big batch of broccoli in the afternoon. The house had that cabbage smell. I donÕt like air fresheners because the strong smell gives me a headache. My neighbor told me to boil a couple of cups of vinegar and let it simmer for 10 minutes. At first, the vinegar smell replaced the cabbage smell, but then it totally disappeared and all the smells were gone too." -- E.Y. in Pennsylvania

* "Use your vegetable peeler to make strips of butter if itÕs cold and you need to spread it on bread. The stripsÕ large amount of surface area help the butter to soften quickly, making it easy to spread." -- M.M. in Texas

* "Get king-size pillowcases from a thrift store to cover a diaper changing pad. They are the right size and cheap!" -- D.L. in Florida


* "It's tax season and that means paper season. If you don't happen to have a rubber finger cover to help you leaf through papers quickly, you can always wrap a rubber band around your fingertip to offer a bit of resistance. It's better than licking your finger!" -- R. in Indiana

* If you enjoy puzzles and board games but like to keep them in their original cardboard boxes, be sure to reinforce corners with strong clear tape BEFORE they start to crack and fall apart. Use hook and loop tape to secure bags inside the box cover so that game pieces will stay with the game. There's nothing worse than pulling out a game to find that some pieces have slipped out.

* "This might not be revolutionary, but if you put a tennis ball into a long sock and knot the sock, your dog will really like it. If they play with it outside, you can even put it right into the wash." -- K.R. in Alabama

* Remove the neck end of a soda bottle to create a disposable funnel. Use a 2-liter bottle for a large funnel and individual drink size for smaller ones. Rinse and recycle both parts when you are finished.

* Baking soda can be used as a mild abrasive to clean, but it also can help clean your teeth! Keep a small container in your bathroom and sprinkle a little bit of baking soda on your toothbrush weekly to give your pearly whites a polish between professional cleanings.

* Tuck a couple fabric softener sheets in your luggage. You can use them to combat static cling or freshen the air by placing one over the air conditioner vent. It will keep your suitcase fresh-smelling between uses, too. 


* Before removing a splinter, ice the area. There will be less fussing, and a wooden splinter might absorb some liquid, causing it to swell enough to pop out a bit more.

* "I used the mileage counter in my car to come up with several 2-mile routes for walking. Now I can vary my routine and be assured that I've walked 2 miles, which is my goal. I just drive from my house until I hit a mile on the trip odometer, and then I walk to that spot and back." -- I.L. in Nevada

* Use a tea infuser ball for aromatherapy. Apply several drops of essential oils to a cotton ball and place it inside the infuser basket. Then simply hang it to distribute the scent. You can hang it from a light bulb or even in front of the air handler for your air conditioning or heating intake.

* "If you're looking to give yourself a bit of traction on icy sidewalks, be careful what you use. While kitty litter is a much-recommended solution, when it melts, you're left with a slippery pile of clay. Salt can de-ice a sidewalk, but it definitely will kill plants, so be precise, and don't use too much of either. I carry a baggie of sand in my bag and keep a small bucket for the steps. It's not perfect, but it works." -- T. in Pennsylvania

* "The knob came off my pot lid because it cracked. I grabbed a wine cork and threaded it on the screw. It stays in place and is never hot when I need to remove the top. Plus it looks cute." -- E.T. in Alabama

Moments in Time from The History Channel



* On Feb 24, 1868, the U.S. House of Representatives votes 11 articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson, nine of which cite Johnson's removal of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, a violation of the Tenure of Office Act. He was the first president to be impeached in U.S. history.

* On Feb. 25, 1873, Enrico Caruso, the greatest tenor who ever lived, is born. Caruso recorded scores of arias of three and four minutes in length -- the longest duration that could fit on a 78 rpm record.

* On Feb. 26, 1564, poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe is baptized in Canterbury, England, two months before the birth of his fellow playwright William Shakespeare. Historians believe Marlowe served as a spy for Queen Elizabeth while at Cambridge. He was nearly denied his master's degree in 1587, until the queen's advisers intervened.

* On Feb. 27, 1827, a group of masked and costumed students dance through the streets of New Orleans, marking the beginning of the city's famous Mardi Gras celebrations. Early French settlers brought the tradition of Mardi Gras to the U.S. Gulf Coast at the end of the 17th century.

* On Feb. 28, 1983, the celebrated sitcom "M*A*S*H" bows out after 11 seasons, airing a special two-and-a-half hour episode watched by 77% of the viewing audience. It was the largest percentage at the time ever to watch a single TV show.

* On Feb. 29, 1940, "Gone with the Wind" is honored with eight Oscars, including one for Hattie McDaniel for her portrayal of "Mammy," a housemaid and former slave. She was the first African American actor ever to win an Oscar.

* On March 1, 1961, President John Kennedy issues Executive Order No. 10924 to establish the Peace Corps, which would send trained American men and women to foreign nations to assist in development efforts. 


* On Feb. 17, 1947, with the words, "Hello! This is New York calling," the U.S. Voice of America begins transmitting its radio broadcasts into the Soviet Union. The VOA began in 1942 as a radio program designed to explain America's policies during World War II and to bolster the morale of its allies.

* On Feb. 18, 1885, Mark Twain publishes his famous -- and famously controversial -- novel "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." Twain first introduced Huck Finn as the best friend of Tom Sawyer, hero of his novel "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1876).

* On Feb. 19, 1878, the technology that made possible the modern music business comes into existence in a New Jersey laboratory as Thomas Edison creates the first device to both record sound and play it back: the phonograph.

* On Feb. 20, 1998, American Tara Lipinski wins the gold medal in women's figure skating at the Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, becoming the sport's youngest gold medalist at age 15. 

* On Feb. 21, 1970, national security adviser Henry Kissinger begins secret peace talks with North Vietnamese representative Le Duc Tho at a villa outside Paris. The North Vietnamese were demanding an unconditional U.S. withdrawal on a fixed date.

* On Feb. 22, 1732, George Washington is born in Westmoreland County, Virginia. As leader of the Continental Army in the American Revolution, his success was due in part to his shrewd use of the "ungentlemanly," but effective, tactic of guerrilla warfare against British armies used to close-formation battle-line warfare.

* On Feb. 23, 1958, Formula One champion Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina is kidnapped in Cuba by a group of Fidel Castro's rebels. Fangio was taken from his Havana hotel the day before the Cuba Grand Prix and was released unharmed after the race ended.


* On Feb. 10, 1957, Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the best-selling "Little House" series of children's novels, dies at age 90 in Missouri. In 1932, Wilder, then in her 60s, published her first novel, "Little House in the Big Woods."

* On Feb. 11, 1990, in a major upset, Buster Douglas defeats Mike Tyson, the undisputed world heavyweight champion, in 10 rounds at a boxing match in Tokyo. The loss was the beginning of a long, downward spiral for Tyson, which included jail time and license revocation in Nevada.

* On Feb. 12, 1972, the release of American POWs begins in Hanoi as part of the Paris peace settlement. The first 20 of 591 U.S. POWs arrived to a hero's welcome at Travis AFB in California.

* On Feb. 13, 1915, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is founded to "assure that music creators are fairly compensated for the public performance of their works, and that their rights are properly protected."

* On Feb. 14, 1989, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini calls on Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie, author of "The Satanic Verses," and his publishers. Booksellers the world over refused to sell the novel for fear of retribution. Many who did sell it were bombed.

* On Feb. 15, 1961, the entire 18-member U.S. figure skating team is killed in a plane crash in Belgium. The team was on its way to the 1961 World Figure Skating Championships in Prague. U.S. women's figure skating champion Laurence Owen, 16, was featured on the Feb. 13, 1961, cover of Sports Illustrated.

* On Feb. 16, 1878, supported by Western mining interests and farmers, the Bland-Allison Act, which provided for a return to the minting of silver coins, becomes law. It required the U.S. Treasury to resume purchasing silver and minting silver dollars as legal tender.


* On Feb. 3, 1950, Klaus Fuchs, a German-born British scientist who helped develop the atomic bomb, is arrested in Great Britain for passing top-secret information to the Soviet Union. His arrest led authorities to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and their subsequent execution.

* On Feb. 4, 1913, Rosa Parks is born Rosa Louise McCauley in Tuskegee, Alabama. Parks' name has become synonymous with her refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus in 1955.

* On Feb. 5, 1934, Henry Louis Aaron Jr., the baseball slugger who broke Babe Ruth's legendary record of 714 homers, is born in Mobile, Alabama. 

* On Feb. 6, 1928, a woman calling herself Anastasia Tschaikovsky and claiming to be the youngest daughter of the murdered Russian czar Nicholas II Romanov arrives in New York City. It wasn't until 1994 that Anastasia's DNA showed her to be Franziska Schanzkowska, a Polish-German factory worker.

* On Feb. 7, 1984, while in orbit 170 miles above Earth, Navy Capt. Bruce McCandless becomes the first human to perform an untethered spacewalk. McCandless flew up to 320 feet away from the space shuttle Challenger while testing a rocket backpack of his own design.

* On Feb. 8, 1587, after 19 years of imprisonment, Mary Queen of Scots is beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle in England for her complicity in a plot to murder Queen Elizabeth I. In 1542, while just six days old, Mary had ascended to the Scottish throne upon the death of her father, King James V.

* On Feb. 9, 1960, Adolph Coors disappears while driving to work from his Morrison, Colorado, home. Adolph, grandson of Coors' founder and the chairman of the Golden, Colorado, brewery, was kidnapped and held for ransom before being shot to death. 


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Comfort Foods by Healthy Exchanges


Chocolate Cherry Cobbler

Even if George Washington didn't cut down the cherry tree, he'd be first in line for a tasty piece of this ultra-easy dessert!

1 (4-serving) package sugar-free cherry gelatin

1 (4-serving) package sugar-free vanilla cook-and-serve pudding mix

1 (16-ounce) can tart red cherries, packed in water, drained and 1/2 cup liquid reserved

1 1/4 cups water

3/4 cup biscuit reduced-fat baking mix

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

Sugar substitute, suitable for baking, to equal 1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons chopped pecans

1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt

1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with butter-flavored cooking spray.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine dry gelatin, dry pudding mix, reserved cherry liquid and 1 cup water. Stir in cherries. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and starts to boil, stirring often and being careful not to crush cherries. Spoon hot mixture into prepared baking dish.

3. In a large bowl, combine baking mix, cocoa, sugar substitute and pecans. Add yogurt, mayonnaise, remaining 1/4 cup water and vanilla extract. Mix gently just to combine. Drop by spoonfuls onto cherry mixture to form 6 mounds.

4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Place baking dish on a wire rack and let set for 5 minutes. Divide into 6 servings.

* Each serving equals: 147 calories, 3g fat, 4g protein, 26g carb., 389mg sodium, 2g fiber; Diabetic Exchanges: 1 Fruit, 1/2 Starch, 1/2 Fat.

Oriental Chicken Express

Today, Chinese dishes are almost as American as apple pie! This filling main dish is no exception.

1 1/4 cups diagonally sliced celery

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/4 cup diced green onion

1 (16-ounce) can fat-free chicken broth

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken breast

1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained

1 (8-ounce) can pineapple chunks, packed in fruit juice, drained

3 cups hot cooked rice

1. In a large skillet sprayed with butter-flavored cooking spray, saute celery, green pepper and onion just until tender. In a covered jar, combine chicken broth and flour. Shake well to blend. Pour broth mixture into skillet with vegetables. Stir in soy sauce.

2. Continue cooking over medium heat, until mixture starts to thicken, stirring often. Add chicken, water chestnuts and pineapple. Mix well to combine. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until mixture is heated through, stirring often.

3. For each serving, spoon 1/2 cup hot rice on a plate and spoon about 1 cup chicken mixture over top. Serves 6.

* Each serving equals: 214 calories, 2g fat, 16g protein, 33g carb., 298mg sodium, 2g fiber; Diabetic Exchanges: 1 1/2 Starch, 1 1/2 Meat, 1 Vegetable.

Swiss Steak Skillet

I don't think there is a "meat and potatoes" man around who won't give this comforting dish two thumbs up. 

16 ounces lean tenderized minute or cube steaks, cut into 16 pieces

1 1/2 cups finely sliced celery

1 cup chopped onion

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (8-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

Sugar substitute to equal 1 tablespoon sugar, suitable for cooking

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

3 cups hot cooked noodles, rinsed and drained

1. In a large skillet sprayed with butter-flavored cooking spray, saute meat, celery and onion for 10 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, undrained stewed tomatoes, parsley flakes, sugar substitute and black pepper. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. For each serving, place 1/2 cup noodles on a plate and spoon about 1 cup meat mixture over top. Freezes well. Serves 6.

* Each serving equals: About 233 calories, 5g fat, 22g protein, 25g carb., 307mg sodium, 3g fiber; Diabetic Exchanges: 2 Meat, 1 1/2 Vegetable, 1 Starch.

Chocolate Mayo Snack Cake

Just one bite, and you'll see why we call this cake a "little slice of heaven."

1 1/2 cups cake flour

Sugar substitute to equal 3/4 cup sugar, suitable for baking

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup fat-free whipped topping

2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8-by-8-inch cake pan with butter-flavored cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar substitute, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda. Add mayonnaise, applesauce, water and vanilla extract. Mix well to combine. Spread batter into prepared cake pan.

3. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place cake pan on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Evenly spread whipped topping over cooled cake and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top. Freezes well. Serves 8.

* Each serving equals: 163 calories, 3g fat, 3g protein, 31g carb., 394mg sodium, 1g fiber; Diabetic Exchanges: 1 1/2 Starch, 1/2 Fat.



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Paws Corner by Sam Mazzotta


Trip to Vet Stresses Pet

DEAR PAW'S CORNER: My poodle mix, "Jester," is a sweet and energetic dog -- until it's time to go to the vet. When the carrier kennel comes out, he begins to tremble and whine, and resists being put in. He is always very stressed at the vet office. How can I help him be less scared about visiting the vet? -- Sarah in Chicago

DEAR SARAH: You're not alone in this. Many pets get extremely anxious when they have to go to the veterinarian, and it can be a stressful experience for the owner, too, who knows their pet is so worried and stressed out. 

Talk to the vet for suggestions and strategies to minimize your dog's anxiety on the way to the office.

The day before Jester's checkup, call the vet's office and remind them that your dog will need extra TLC during the visit. This way, the vet is prepared, too. Spend time desensitizing Jester to the carrier cage. This will take a while but will make it easier to place him into the cage for any trip -- not just the vet visit.

Jester strongly associates the carrier with vet visits. You need to help him associate it with other things, like fun and treats. Bring the carrier out periodically and sit next to it, placing Jester's favorite toy nearby. Don't force him into it or, really, do anything -- just have the carrier cage out while you go about your day. Each time he approaches the carrier calmly, without barking or trembling, give Jester a little treat. Ideally, you want him to climb freely into the carrier, expecting a treat.

Don't Wait to Spay or Neuter Your Pet

DEAR PAW'S CORNER: I received a puppy last fall from a friend whose dog had a surprise litter. "Tara" is a super-cute girl of unknown breed, very smart and growing fast. I haven't taken her to the veterinarian yet, but I know she needs to be spayed. When will it be too late to get her fixed? -- Jessica C., Asbury Park, New Jersey

DEAR JESSICA: It's never too late to spay or neuter a pet, but the veterinarian will recommend that the procedure be done soon. Shelter pups are often neutered as young as eight weeks, but with dogs already in a home, vets sometimes prefer to wait a few months until they've developed more. This helps prevent potential problems of early spaying like urinary incontinence, hip dysplasia and even cancer when a dog is older.

You should take Tara into the vet as soon as possible anyway. She needs to start getting some key vaccinations that will keep her healthy as she grows up. She shouldn't be around other puppies until she's had her first few rounds of shots.

Some of those vaccinations are required by your city and state, and she will need to be licensed -- all of which the vet can get you set up with. If you're worried about the cost, check around with different veterinary practices to see if they have introductory specials for new pet owners that include a checkup, core vaccinations and the spaying procedure.

Reconnecting With Your Senior Dog

DEAR PAW'S CORNER: My large mixed-breed dog "Hatchet" is 12 years old, and his discipline has slipped quite a bit in the past couple of years. That's probably my fault, because I've been consumed with running a new business and barely have time to walk him. But this year I've resolved to get back on track with our daily walks. Trouble is, Hatchet will not listen or come when I call him, especially at the park. Can he be retrained? -- Doug L., Austin, Texas

DEAR DOUG: Giving Hatchet refresher training in basic obedience is a great idea! Once you start working with him daily, he should pick those skills right back up -- especially if you use positive reinforcement methods. Committing to that daily walk with him is the best thing you can do to improve his behavior and response to commands.

Because Hatchet is a senior dog, he may tire more easily on your walks and may not respond to commands as snappily as he did when he was a puppy. Be a little patient with him. If he isn't responding well to the "come" command at the park, keep him on his leash during walks and work with him on that command while in the park.

If Hatchet doesn't improve, if he seems lethargic or perhaps a little snappy with other dogs, or if he just seems off, take him to the veterinarian for a checkup. Senior dogs can develop physical issues that distract them from training -- things like arthritis pain or endocrine problems. Make sure those aren't getting in the way of his outdoor time. Best of luck!

Fees Can Be High for Rehoming Pets

DEAR PAW'S CORNER: I'm very sad about this, but I need to find a new home for my two cats. I'm in my 70s and have some chronic health conditions that lately have gotten much worse. There is no one in my family who can take them, so I called the local shelter for help. They said they would take the cats, but I have to pay an $85 fee for each one. I can't afford that. What can I do? -- Deborah J., Portland, Oregon

DEAR DEBORAH: I'm sorry to hear that you can't keep your pets, but I understand it can be tough to take care of them when you're trying to take care of your own health. 

Many shelters around the country take in pets as voluntary surrenders due to uncontrollable circumstances like personal medical problems. They charge what's called a rehoming fee. It's a one-time fee per pet ranging between $45 and $150, depending on the shelter, its location, available funding and other factors. 

The rehoming fee helps shelters cover the cost of food, housing and medical care for surrendered animals, which can be $85 a day or higher.

In your case, it may be worth your while to contact the shelter again and explain your financial situation to a shelter manager, who might be able to work out a payment plan or a discounted fee. You should also put out the word to family, friends, your doctor, your senior center -- anyone you have contact with regularly -- to see if they know someone who would take your cats and help them transition to a new home without a stay in a shelter.