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Volume 11      Number 8

August, 2009
 

INSIDE BHM

We always seem to be on deadline for something at BHM.

Once we finished sending Jackie Clay's new canning book to the printer, we had to finish and send off The Coming American Dictatorship by John Silveira, then Harvesting the Wild, our latest mini-anthology. Now we're back to deadline for the upcoming November/December issue.

The November/December issue has an update on the progress Jackie Clay is making with the addition to her house, as well as Part 2 of Dorothy Ainsworth's series called Building Eric's house. Eric is Dorothy's son and they, along with Eric's Dad, are making a family project of building Eric's house. We'll "lead" the issue with Dorothy's article, which has some outstanding photos. The first part of the series appeared in the July/August issue of last year.

Most subscribers just received the latest issue, September/October, 2009. If you're one of them, you'll notice in Annie's Note from the Publisher that we've decided not to produce a digital issue. This decision came after six months of preparing for it. The six months of work gave me an education about what the future held for digital publishing. I came to the conclusion that BHM's website, with its Forum, blogs, and all around liveliness, was already on the cutting edge of publishing, and that a static digital issue, for which readers would have to pay, was a step backward, not forward. Instead we'll be enhancing the free website even more, soon adding a "cooking" component along with a new "cooking" blog.

My reasons for doing this have to do with the old saying: The more good you do the more good comes back to you. This saying illustrates a successful business model, as far as I can tell, that works especially well in this internet age. If you give people a lot of useful stuff for free, they will eventually find a way to return the favor by purchasing a product. BHM now offers a variety of products for sale, the most important of which is our print issue, which accounts for 85% of our revenue. The BHM website has been large and free for many years, and each year we have added more useful stuff. The more useful free stuff we put on the website, the more it seems our online orders increase.

I've decided not to tamper with this successful mechanism, but to continue enhancing it.

—Dave

SELF-RELIANCE TIPS

Recovering from Identity Theft

Information courtesy of the Federal Trade Commission. This article links extensively to pages and items on the FTC website and to other sites.

What are the steps I should take if I'm a victim of identity theft?

If you are a victim of identity theft, take the following four steps as soon as possible, and keep a record (PDF) with the details of your conversations and copies of all correspondence.

1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports.

Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name. Contact the toll-free fraud number of any of the three consumer reporting companies below to place a fraud alert on your credit report. You only need to contact one of the three companies to place an alert. The company you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report, too. If you do not receive a confirmation from a company, you should contact that company directly to place a fraud alert.

TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013

Once you place the fraud alert in your file, you're entitled to order one free copy of your credit report from each of the three consumer reporting companies, and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your Social Security number will appear on your credit reports. Once you get your credit reports, review them carefully. Look for inquiries from companies you haven't contacted, accounts you didn't open, and debts on your accounts that you can't explain. Check that information, like your Social Security number, address(es), name or initials, and employers are correct. If you find fraudulent or inaccurate information, get it removed. See Correcting Fraudulent Information in Credit Reports to learn how. When you correct your credit report, use an Identity Theft Report with a cover letter (DOC) explaining your request, to get the fastest and most complete results. 

Continue to check your credit reports periodically, especially for the first year after you discover the identity theft, to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.

2. Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

Call and speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each company. Follow up in writing, and include copies (NOT originals) of supporting documents. It's important to notify credit card companies and banks in writing. Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when. Keep a file of your correspondence and enclosures.

When you open new accounts, use new Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.

If the identity thief has made charges or debits on your accounts, or has fraudulently opened accounts, ask the company for the forms to dispute those transactions:

  • For charges and debits on existing accounts, ask the representative to send you the company's fraud dispute forms. If the company doesn't have special forms, use the sample letter (DOC) to dispute the fraudulent charges or debits. In either case, write to the company at the address given for "billing inquiries," NOT the address for sending your payments.
  • For new unauthorized accounts, you can either file a dispute directly with the company or file a report with the police and provide a copy, called an “Identity Theft Report,” to the company. 
    • If you want to file a dispute directly with the company, and do not want to file a report with the police, ask if the company accepts the FTC’s ID Theft Affidavit (PDF). If it does not, ask the representative to send you the company's fraud dispute forms.
    • However, filing a report with the police and then providing the company with an Identity Theft Report will give you greater protection.  For example, if the company has already reported these unauthorized accounts or debts on your credit report, an Identity Theft Report will require them to stop reporting that fraudulent information. Use the cover letter (DOC) to explain to the company the rights you have by using the Identity Theft Report.  More information about getting and using an Identity Theft Report can be found here.

Once you have resolved your identity theft dispute with the company, ask for a letter stating that the company has closed the disputed accounts and has discharged the fraudulent debts. This letter is your best proof if errors relating to this account reappear on your credit report or you are contacted again about the fraudulent debt.

3. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

You can file a complaint with the FTC using the online complaint form; or call the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261; or write Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.  Be sure to call the Hotline to update your complaint if you have any additional information or problems.

By sharing your identity theft complaint with the FTC, you will provide important information that can help law enforcement officials across the nation track down identity thieves and stop them. The FTC can refer victims' complaints to other government agencies and companies for further action, as well as investigate companies for violations of laws the agency enforces. 

Additionally, you can provide a printed copy of your online Complaint form to the police to incorporate into their police report.  The printed FTC ID Theft Complaint, in conjunction with the police report, can constitute an Identity Theft Report and entitle you to certain protections.  This Identity Theft Report can be used to (1) permanently block fraudulent information from appearing on your credit report; (2) ensure that debts do not reappear on your credit report; (3) prevent a company from continuing to collect debts that result from identity theft; and (4) place an extended fraud alert on your credit report.

4. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.

Call your local police department and tell them that you want to file a report about your identity theft.   Ask them if you can file the report in person.   If you cannot, ask if you can file a report over the Internet or telephone.  See below for information about Automated Reports.
If the police are reluctant to take your report, ask to file a "Miscellaneous Incident" report, or try another jurisdiction, like your state police. You also can check with your state Attorney General's office to find out if state law requires the police to take reports for identity theft. Check the Blue Pages of your telephone directory for the phone number or check www.naag.org for a list of state Attorneys General.

When you go to your local police department to file your report, bring a printed copy of your FTC ID Theft Complaint form, your cover letter, (PDF) and your supporting documentation. The cover letter explains why a police report and an ID Theft Complaint are so important to victims.

Ask the officer to attach or incorporate the ID Theft Complaint into their police report. Tell them that you need a copy of the Identity Theft Report (the police report with your ID Theft Complaint attached or incorporated)to dispute the fraudulent accounts and debts created by the identity thief. (In some jurisdictions the officer will not be able to give you a copy of the official police report, but should be able to sign your Complaint and write the police report number in the “Law Enforcement Report” section.) 

What is a fraud alert?

There are two types of fraud alerts: an initial alert, and an extended alert.

  • An initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for at least 90 days. You may ask that an initial fraud alert be placed on your credit report if you suspect you have been, or are about to be, a victim of identity theft. An initial alert is appropriate if your wallet has been stolen or if you've been taken in by a "phishing" scam. With an initial fraud alert, potential creditors must use what the law refers to as “reasonable policies and procedures” to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name.  However, the steps potential creditors take to verify your identity may not always alert them that the applicant is not you.  When you place an initial fraud alert on your credit report, you're entitled to order one free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies, and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your Social Security number will appear on your credit reports.
  • An extended fraud alert stays on your credit report for seven years. You can have an extended alert placed on your credit report if you've been a victim of identity theft and you provide the consumer reporting company with an Identity Theft Repor. An automated Identity Theft Report, such as the printed ID Theft Complaint available from this Web site, should be sufficient to obtain an extended fraud alert. With an extended fraud alert, potential creditors must actually contact you, or meet with you in person, before they issue you credit.  When you place an extended alert on your credit report, you're entitled to two free credit reports within twelve months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. In addition, the consumer reporting companies will remove your name from marketing lists for pre-screened credit offers for five years unless you ask them to put your name back on the list before then.

To place either of these alerts on your credit report, or to have them removed, you will be required to provide appropriate proof of your identity: that may include your Social Security number, name, address and other personal information requested by the consumer reporting company.

As mentioned, depending on the type of fraud alert you place, potential creditors must either contact you or take reasonable steps to verify your identity.  This may cause some delays if you're trying to obtain credit. To compensate for possible delays, you may wish to include a cell phone number, where you can be reached easily, in your alert. Remember to keep all contact information in your alert current.

What does a fraud alert not do?

While a fraud alert can help keep an identity thief from opening new accounts in your name, it’s not a solution to all types of identity theft.  It will not protect you from an identity thief using your existing credit cards or other accounts.  It also will not protect you from an identity thief opening new accounts in your name that do not require a credit check – such as a telephone, wireless, or bank account.  And, if there’s identity theft already going on when you place the fraud alert, the fraud alert alone won’t stop it.  A fraud alert, however, can be extremely useful in stopping identity theft that involves opening a new line of credit. 

What is a credit freeze?

Many states have laws that let consumers “freeze” their credit – in other words, letting a consumer restrict access to his or her credit report. If you place a credit freeze, potential creditors and other third parties will not be able to get access to your credit report unless you temporarily lift the freeze.  This means that it’s unlikely that an identity thief would be able to open a new account in your name.  Placing a credit freeze does not affect your credit score – nor does it keep you from getting your free annual credit report, or from buying your credit report or score.

Credit freeze laws vary from state to state.  In some states, anyone can freeze their credit file, while in other states, only identity theft victims can.  The cost of placing, temporarily lifting, and removing a credit freeze also varies.  Many states make credit freezes free for identity theft victims, while other consumers pay a fee – typically $10.  It’s also important to know that these costs are for each of the credit reporting agencies.  If you want to freeze your credit, it would mean placing the freeze with each of three credit reporting agencies, and paying the fee to each one. 

You can find more information about credit freeze laws specific to your state by clicking here, including information on how to place one. 

Who can access my credit report if I place a credit freeze?

If you place a credit freeze, you will continue to have access to your free annual credit report.  You’ll also be able to buy your credit report and credit score even after placing a credit freeze.  Companies that you do business with will still have access to your credit report – for example, your mortgage, credit card, or cell phone company – as would collection agencies that are working for one of those companies.  Companies will also still be able to offer you prescreened credit.  Those are the credit offers you receive in the mail that you have not applied for.  Additionally, in some states, potential employers, insurance companies, landlords, and other non-creditors can still get access to your credit report with a credit freeze in place.      

Can I temporarily lift my credit freeze if I need to let someone check my credit report?

If you want to apply for a loan or credit card, or otherwise need to give someone access to your credit report and that person is not covered by an exception to the credit freeze law, you would need to temporarily lift the credit freeze.  You would do that by using a PIN that each credit reporting agency would send once you placed the credit freeze.  In most states, you’d have to pay a fee to lift the credit freeze.  Most states currently give the credit reporting agencies three days to lift the credit freeze.  This might keep you from getting “instant” credit, which may be something to weigh when considering a credit freeze. 

What does a credit freeze not do?

While a credit freeze can help keep an identity thief from opening most new accounts in your name, it’s not a solution to all types of identity theft.  It will not protect you, for example, from an identity thief who uses your existing credit cards or other accounts.   There are also new accounts, such as telephone, wireless, and bank accounts, which an ID thief could open without a credit check.  In addition, some creditors might open an account without first getting your credit report.  And, if there’s identity theft already going on when you place the credit freeze, the freeze itself won’t be able to stop it.  While a credit freeze may not protect you in these kinds of cases, it can protect you from the vast majority of identity theft that involves opening a new line of credit. 

What’s the difference between a credit freeze and a fraud alert?

A fraud alert is another tool for people who’ve had their ID stolen – or who suspect it may have been stolen.  With a fraud alert in place, businesses may still check your credit report.  Depending on whether you place an initial 90-day fraud alert or an extended fraud alert, potential creditors must either contact you or use what the law refers to as “reasonable policies and procedures” to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name.  However, the steps potential creditors take to verify your identity may not always alert them that the applicant is not you. 

A credit freeze, on the other hand, will prevent potential creditors and other third parties from accessing your credit report at all, unless you lift the freeze or already have a relationship with the company.  Some consumers use credit freezes because they feel they give more protection.  As with credit freezes, fraud alerts are mainly effective against new credit accounts being opened in your name, but will likely not stop thieves from using your existing accounts, or opening new accounts such as new telephone or wireless accounts, where credit is often not checked.  Also, only people who’ve had their ID stolen – or who suspect it may have been stolen, may place fraud alerts.  In some states, anyone can place a credit freeze. 

What is an Identity Theft Report?

An Identity Theft Report is a police report with more than the usual amount of detail. The Identity Theft Report includes enough detail about the crime for the credit reporting companies and the businesses involved to verify that you are a victim—and to know which accounts and inaccurate information came from identity theft. Normal police reports often don’t have many details about the accounts that were opened or misused by identity thieves.

The printed copy of your ID Theft Complaint Form can provide additional details for the police report. The police are not legally required to use the FTC’s ID Theft Complaint Form as part of their report. Your police department may have another way to incorporate the details of your crime. In these cases, the police report by itself may serve as an Identity Theft Report.

When you file your Identity Theft Report, the credit reporting companies will permanently block fraudulent information from appearing on your credit report. Filing an Identity Theft Report with the credit reporting companies or with the companies where the thief used your information should ensure that these debts do not reappear on your credit report. An Identity Theft Report can prevent a company from continuing to try to collect debts that result from identity theft, or sell those debts to others for collection. It also allows you to place an extended fraud alert on your credit report. The credit reporting companies may decline your Identity Theft Report if it does not contain enough detail for them to verify that you are a victim of identity theft. In that case, the credit reporting companies have certain timeframes for responding to your Identity Theft Report with requests for additional information.

Creating and using an Identity Theft Report may require two steps:

Step One begins with filing your report with a local, state, or federal law enforcement agency. These agencies may include your local police department, your State Attorney General, the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, the FTC, or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Some state laws require local police departments to take reports, but there is no law requiring federal agencies to take a report.

In your report, you should give as much information as you can about the crime, including anything you know about the dates of the identity theft, the fraudulent accounts opened and the alleged identity thief. It may help you give the necessary level of detail if you file an online complaint with the FTC, and then ask your local police department to incorporate a copy of the printed ID Theft Complaint into its police report. 

Step Two begins when you send the businesses involved and the credit reporting companies a copy of your Identity Theft Report, which you should do by certified mail, return receipt requested. The companies may ask you to give them more information or documentation to help them verify your identity theft. They have to make their request within 15 days of receiving your Identity Theft Report. The credit reporting company or business then has 15 more days to work with you to make sure your Identity Theft Report contains everything they need. They are also entitled to five days to review any information you give them. For example, if you give them information 11 days after they request it, they have until day 16 to make a final decision.

How do I get an Identity Theft Report?

The officer taking your police report can attach or incorporate your ID Theft Complaint into their police report to add more detail. Ask the officer to give you a copy of the official police report that incorporates or attaches your ID Theft Complaint. In some places the officer will not be able to give you a copy of the official police report, but should be able to sign a copy of your ID Theft Complaint and write the police report number in the “Law Enforcement Report” section. Be sure to keep a copy of the police report number
The police are not legally required to use the FTC’s ID Theft Complaint Form as part of their report. Your police department may have another way to include all the details of your identity theft information in their police report. In these cases, the police report by itself may serve as an Identity Theft Report.

Because the detailed Identity Theft Report is required for you to get many important protections, you may wish to use the Law Enforcement Cover Letter (PDF) to explain to the police department how important it is for you to get a police report – as well as the legal protections that a detailed Identity Theft Report gives you.

How do I submit my Identity Theft Report to the credit reporting companies, or to businesses where the thief used my information?

When you send a copy of your Identity Theft Report to the fraud departments of the three major credit reporting companies, include a copy of the credit reporting company cover letter, (DOC) along with copies of your supporting documentation. Send your information by certified mail with return receipt requested. The mailing addresses for sending Identity Theft Reports to the three major credit reporting companies are on the cover letter.

When writing to the fraud departments of each of the companies where the identity thief has committed fraud using your personal information, include copies of the Identity Theft Report, your supporting documentation, and the appropriate cover letter: for fraud on your existing accounts, (DOC) or for fraud on new accounts. (DOC) Always send this information by certified mail, with a return receipt requested.

The credit reporting companies have certain timeframes for responding to your Identity Theft Report with requests for additional information.

What do I do if the police only take reports about identity theft over the Internet or telephone?

The FTC ID Theft Complaint has a special section for police reports that are not filed face-to-face, to help you use it to supplement an automated police report. If you file a police report online or over the phone, complete the “Automated Report Information” block of the ID Theft Complaint. Attach a copy of any filing confirmation received from the police.  

If you have a choice, however, you should file your police report in person and not use an automated report.  It is more difficult for the consumer reporting company and information provider to verify the information in an automated report, and they will likely require additional information and/or documentation. 

What do I do if the local police won't take a report?

There are efforts at the federal, state and local level to ensure that local law enforcement agencies understand identity theft, its impact on victims, and the importance of taking a police report. However, we still hear that some departments are not taking reports. The following tips may help you to get a report if you're having difficulties:

  • Provide the officer with a copy of the Law Enforcement Cover Letter (PDF) that explains why the police report and the Identity Theft Report are so important to both victims and industry.
  • Furnish as much documentation as you can to prove your case. Debt collection letters, credit reports, a copy of your printed ID Theft Complaint, and other evidence of fraudulent activity can help demonstrate the legitimacy of your case.  Provide the police a copy of "Remedying the Effects of Identity Theft ", (PDF) which shows that police reports are necessary to secure your rights.
  • Be persistent if local authorities tell you that they can't take a report. Stress the importance of a police report; many creditors require one to resolve your dispute. Remind them that consumer reporting companies will automatically block the fraudulent accounts and bad debts from appearing on your credit report, but only if you can give them a copy of the police report. In addition, a police report may be needed to obtain the fraudulent application and other records the company has.
  • If you're told that identity theft is not a crime under your state law, ask to file a Miscellaneous Incident Report instead.
  • If you can't get the local police to take a report, try your county police. If that doesn't work, try your state police.

Some states require the police to take reports for identity theft. Check with the office of your State Attorney General, which can be found at www.naag.org, to find out if your state has this law.

How do I prove that I'm an identity theft victim?

Applications or other transaction records related to the theft of your identity may help you prove that you are a victim. For example, you may be able to show that the signature on an application is not yours. These documents also may contain information about the identity thief that is valuable to law enforcement.  By law, companies must give you a copy of the application or other business transaction records relating to your identity theft if you submit your request in writing, accompanied by a police report.  Read more about getting information from businesses, and use this model letter to request this information.

Should I apply for a new Social Security number?

Under certain circumstances, the Social Security Administration may issue you a new Social Security number - at your request - if, after trying to resolve the problems brought on by identity theft, you continue to experience problems. Consider this option carefully. A new Social Security number may not resolve your identity theft problems, and may actually create new problems. For example, a new Social Security number does not necessarily ensure a new credit record because credit bureaus may combine the credit records from your old Social Security number with those from your new Social Security number. Even when the old credit information is not associated with your new Social Security number, the absence of any credit history under your new Social Security number may make it more difficult for you to get credit. And finally, there's no guarantee that a new Social Security number wouldn't also be misused by an identity thief.

COMMENTARY

The following letter was sent by BHM Senior Editor John Silveira to several of his "city" friends. We share it without further comment.

Gang activity in Gold Beach, Oregon

Dear friends,

I know there are plenty of people out there who think I'm lucky to live in a small town because they think we who live rurally have fewer of the problems than those of you who live in urban environments. It's not so. Let me tell you that the problems you are facing have now reached small town America, and it isn't pretty.

The biggest problem we have here in Gold Beach, Oregon, is the infiltration of GANGS. Yes, young thugs wandering our streets with impunity. They have the temerity to just walk into our yards as if they belong there; as if they OWN them.

Just a few mornings ago, I took a photo of some of the unruly thugs that hang around just outside my door. Sometimes they stand between me and my car as if they own the place.

Yesterday, it was a whole damned family. See the arrogant look on their mother's face. Look at the way she brazenly sticks her tongue out at me. And where are the fathers? These are all single-mom families who allow their children to run amok. It's a national disgrace.

Notice the markings the children wear. I believe they're gang colors because ALL the young ones in town wear them. Some of them brandish pointy things on their heads that serve as weapons. Do you think any of them carry permits for them? No, they DON'T! I've heard the locals refer to them by what appears to be their gang's name: "The Town Deer." Just mouthing the name sends shudders through me.

Whole families of them, none of them with any visible signs of gainful employment, walk our streets day and night, and none of them speak English.

I tremble to think that they lurk out there all night, right next to my car, while I sleep. I never know what their intents are.

So, those of you who think I live in Eden, behold the terrors I must face EVERY MORNING. Bear witness to the thugs who wait for me just outside my door. Imagine what it would be like for you to wake up in the morning, to step out in the cold light of day, and have to find these monsters waiting for you.

John



RECIPES

Last month, we asked our Newsletter readers to share an unusual recipe. While we were not exactly inundated with resonses, those we did get all look great! Except for the last one, we're presenting them in the order they were received

Thank you to all who contributed.

Pantry Guacamole

Contributed by Cheryl Driggs from Spring, Texas, from her book Pantry Cooking II

1 tablespoon dried onion
1 can (15 ounces) peas, drained
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup medium salsa or picante sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons medium salsa or picante sauce

Soak dried onion in warm water for 5 minutes. Drain.

In a blender or food processor, blend peas, garlic powder, salt, lemon juice, 1/3 cup salsa and chili powder until smooth.

Stir in remaining salsa and the onion.

Serve with chips or on tacos, fajitas, nachos or quesadillas.

NOTE: For a spicier guacamole, use a spicier salsa and/or add more chili powder.


Melon Moons

Contributed by Mrs. Michael Sabo from Illinois

Mrs. Sabo writes: "At some point, successful gardening can sneak up on you. A few years ago we were deluged with melons and so were all of our neighbors. Looking though my cookbooks, I spied Melon Moons in Fancy Pantry by Helen Witty. While a little time consuming, these certainly make beautiful holiday gifts. By mixing the two colors of melon, one creates a lovely kaleidescope of summer in a jar."

1 quart water
1-1/2 teaspoons calcium hydroxide U.S.P. (or 1/4 cup pickling lime)
6 cups melon balls (or cubes) cut from 4 - 5 pounds firm-ripe cantaloupe or muskmelon or a mixture of both
2-1/4 cup cider vinegar
1-1/2 cups water
3 cups sugar (which can be replaced with 2 cups honey)
2-1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
1-1/2 teaspoons broken whole cinnamon

Stir the water and calcium hydroxide (or lime) together in a ceramic or stainless-steel bowl (no aluminum) and let the mixture stand for an hour. (It might not dissolve completely)

Prepare the melon balls, scooping them with a ball-shaped cutter or cube

Add the melon balls to the lime mixture, stir well, cover bowl, and let the melon stand 4 - 5 hours. Drain off the solution the rinse the melon balls well in three successive bowlfuls of fresh water; drain them again, then cover them with fresh cold water and let them stand for 3 to 4 hours. Drain thoroughly.

Combine the vinegar, water, and sugar in a preserving pan. Tie the cloves and Cinnamon loosely in a square of cheesecloth and drop the bundle into the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the melon balls, bring the syrup again to a boil, cover the pot, and adjust the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook the melon until the pieces look somewhat translucent around the edges and feel tender-firm when probed with a skewer. (1 hour or so).

Spoon the melon balls into hot, clean pint or half pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 to 3/4 inch of head-space. Fill the jars with the hot syrup, leaving 1/4 inch of head-space; remove any bubbles and add more syrup, if necessary. Seal the jars and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. Cool, label and store the jars.

Ready in 2 weeks or so, but it improves over time.

Chill before serving.


Eggplant Pizza

Contributed by KelleyJane Kloub from Ipswich, Massachusetts

KellyJane writes: "One of my favorites, and my husband's too! It's great for kids to help make because they make their own pizza...and you get them to eat eggplant!"

2 large firm eggplants
Bread crumbs
2-3 eggs, beaten
Flour
Pizza sauce
Mozzarella cheese or any of your favorite cheeses
Pizza toppings

Slice the eggplant into 1/2" discs, lay flat on a cookie sheet, and sprinkle kosher salt lightly on both sides of eggplant disks. This is to remove some of the moisture to keep the pizzas from becoming soggy. Allow eggplant to sit for about 1 hour then rinse.

Put flour and bread crumbs on a flat plate, and eggs in a shallow bowl. Coat eggplant with flour, dip in the eggs, then coat with breadcrumbs. Brown in a skillet.

Place eggplant on a baking sheet with parchment paper. (Keeps the cheese from burning on your pan and makes clean up a snap!).

Top the eggplant with your favorite pizza toppings!

Bake until cheese melts.

Enjoy!


Shirley May from Exeter, California was kind enough to send along two recipes. They both sounded good so here they are!

Pork and Bean Salad

3 sm. (15 oz.) cans of pork and beans
1 sm. Can of green chilies diced
6 slices of bacon cut into sm. pieces diced
1 sm. onion cut into sm. pieces diced
¼ Cup of chopped cilantro
¼ Cup of salsa and
¼ Cup barbeque sauce your flavor
3 shakes of hot sauce (optional)
Garlic powder, season salt, pepper to taste

Put chopped onion, & bacon in fry pan cook till bacon is crisp. Then mix all together in a big bowl.

Chill at least 2 hours. Overnight is best.

Million Dollar Spoon Cake

1 Deep Dish Lasagna Tin Pan
1 Betty Crocker super moist Carrot Cake mix
2 Cans (20 Oz.) of crushed pineapple
1 Apple
1 Carrot
2 tubs of Cool Whip
3 package (small) of Instant Cream Cheese pudding mix
3 ½ Cup of milk
3 Large eggs
½ Cup of Oil
1 Cup of pineapple juice

Open cans of pineapple and put them in a strainer over a bowl and let them drain very well. Set aside and save the juice. Grate or in a mini chopper the apple and carrot, set aside.

In a bowl put in 3 lg. eggs, then the cake mix, ½ C. of oil, now add 1 C. pineapple juice (from the pineapples that are draining), mix all of this until well blended, when done add the chopped apple and carrot fold this in with a rubber spatula, then pour into the pan you will have to spread this around with spatula to get it in the corners and bake for 30 minutes.

When cake is done let it cool completely (I put mine in the fridge for about 15 minutes)

Now in a bowl (I use the same bowl from the cake mix after it has been washed out) add the 3 boxes of pudding mix and add the 3 ½ C of milk. Beat with electric mixer on high until thickened about 10 min. When this is done spread this on the cake.

Now add the very well drained pineapple spread evenly. Then add cool whip. Decorate the top of the Cool Whip in any way you like.

Refrigerate overnight.

Do not cut this cake! Instead, use a big serving spoon to dish this out. Hence the name Spoon Cake.


Orange and Almond Cake

A cake with no flour! That's what Sylvia Sterling contributed. We can't wait to try this!

2 large oranges
2-1/3 cups almond meal (ground almonds)
6 eggs
1 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon baking powder

Place the oranges in a pot of water, bring to a boil and then simmer for two hours, until they are completely tender. Remove the oranges and let cool (can be done one day before).

Preheat the oven to 375, grease an 8 inch round pan, Halve the oranges and remove any pips. Place the oranges in a food processor and process to a chunky pulp. Add the remaining ingredients and process to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes to one hour, until golden brown and set.


Polish Skillet

Contributed by Candi from Mabscott, West Virginia

2 teaspoons canola oil
2 pounds polish sausage
4 medium potatoes, chopped
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 hot banana pepper, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 small head of cabbage, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet brown polish sausage in oil. Remove sausage from oil, add chopped potatoes and sliced carrots and cook covered over medium heat for 15 minutes.

Add cabbage, bell and banana peppers, and onion. Cover and cook 15 minutes.

Add polish sausage back into skillet and salt and pepper to taste. Cook uncovered an additional 15 minutes.

Serve with cornbread muffins and fresh sliced tomatoes.


Fresh Cranberry Salsa

Contributed by K & C Overholt from Puyallup, Washington

Ken writes: "This salsa has a wonderful rich red color to it and pleasantly surprises people the first time they taste it. It is a very flexible recipe if you need to substitute items - such as green bell peppers for the red ones or yellow/white onions for the red onion. I normally remove the Jalapeno seeds to make a more mild salsa."

A one pound bag of fresh cranberries
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 a large red pepper - chopped
1/2 large red onion
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup Apple juice (or any other sweet fruit juice you have on hand) I have used cranberry
3 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
the juice of 1/2 lime
1 small Jalapeno pepper - minced (you can remove the seeds if you want less heat)


Wash and remove any bad cranberries. Pulse cranberries, apple, red pepper and red onion in food processor. Transfer into a glass bowl.

Add sugar, apple juice, cilantro, lime juice and jalapeno.

Chill for at least a couple of hours. Can be kept in the fridge for several days.

Serve with pita crisps or tortilla chips as an appetizer or snack.


Black Jack Stew

Contributed by L.A. "Buz" Wick from Laramie, Wyoming

Buz says: "This makes a very hearty meal" and we believe him!

1 pound stew meat
1 large yellow onion, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 to 1-1/2 cups brewed black coffee
1 c. Jack Daniels Whiskey

Dredge the stew meat in flour, add salt & pepper and brown in cast iron skillet with some olive oil.

Sauté chopped onion and add to browned meat.

Pour in coffee and whiskey and add sliced mushrooms.

Simmer for two to four hours (the longer you simmer, the more tender the meat). Season to taste.

If the liquid in the stew pot evaporates, add more coffee.

Serve over mashed potatoes and alongside fresh garden salad.


As you've seen, several of the recipes came with comments. But only one came with a story...a history of sorts of the recipe. We thought we'd save it for last.

Sam Wellington's Pancakes

Contributed by Jim Labyak from Kettle Falls, WA

Jim writes:

Who the heck was Sam Wellington?

Well, the story is...

He was a captain of an Army tug boat during WWII. He was also a shirttail relative of mine.

During the war, much of the freight moving around the Puget sound was often moved by barge and he was one of the tugboat captains. On military tugboats, the cooking was wonderful and you just ate good. Sam and his wife, May, lived in Seattle. My mom was a cousin to May. There are some history books of the Puget Sound that talk of Sam and his role during the second world war, though I don't have one.

In 1943, my parents moved to Seattle in two stages. Dad moved west from Michigan first and stayed with May and Sam, going to work at Todd shipyards as an electrician. Mom and the three kids, my two sisters and I followed a couple of months later and we, too, moved in with May and Sam.

The pancakes you say?

I am not sure if Sam did the cooking on the tugboat, too (he was the skipper) or if the recipe was from the cook on the tugboat. About all I can remember from the time we stayed with them, was the dumbwaiter that moved wood from the basement to the kitchen for the cook stove (I would ride up and down on it when May would turn the crank) and Sunday morning breakfasts of these wonderful delights. Sam would do the cooking and I remember he would just start stirring the ingredients and in a short time he would be spooning batter in the pan. He was a jovial sort, laughing and kidding and cooking the pancakes. They were so light they would almost float from the pan to your plate. They were the best. So, that was how I was introduced to his wonderful pancakes.

Well, the other day, I was making pancakes from a mix and something made me think of the wonderful breakfasts of his pancakes and how good they were. I wrote my sister to see if by any chance, she would have the recipe. As luck would have it, she did. I have tried it and you know what, they are just like I remember them. They are so good that I thought it would be a shame to have the recipe die, especially with today's quest for fat-free, favor-free food and cooking.

Sam is long gone now but just for his memory, I am passing it on. Here it is.

Sam Wellington's Pancakes

1 egg
3/4 cup oil (you now have to go to the store and get the original Wesson vegetable oil for this. Don't use today's fat-free oils)
5 Tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder (heaping)
1 cup milk (I use half and half)

Put sugar and salt and egg in a bowl and stir (don't beat, use a whisk). Add oil and milk and whisk some more, then flour and wisk some more.

Just before cooking, add the baking powder. Mix well and fry slowly. They burn very easily. (On my stove, medium to medium-low.)

Makes about 10, four inch pancakes. They should stay with you all day, too.

Well, that is it and that is who Sam Wellington was. He died in Veterans Hospital in Seattle, I think in the last of the 70's or first of the 80's.

I hope you enjoy these. Try them once, at least.

HUMOR


Be careful what you ask retired people

Yesterday I was at my favorite local supermarket buying a large bag of dog chow for my loyal pet, Biscuit, the Wonder Dog and was in the checkout line when woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

What did she think I had, an elephant?

Well, since I'm retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn't have a dog, I was starting the Dog Chow Diet again. I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is to load your pants pockets with chow nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so it works well and I was going to try it again.

I added that I probably shouldn't, because I ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

(I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story.)

Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me.

I told her no, I stepped off a curb to sniff an Irish Setter's butt and a car hit us both.

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard.

And now the market won't let me shop there anymore.



Advice From A Retired Husband:

It is important for men to remember that, as women grow older, it becomes harder for them to maintain the same quality of housekeeping as when they were younger.. When you notice this, try not to yell at them. Some are oversensitive, and there's nothing worse than an oversensitive woman.

My name is Ron. Let me relate how I handled the situation with my wife, Esther. When I retired a few years ago, it became necessary for Esther to get a full-time job along with her part-time job, both for extra income and for the health benefits that we needed. Shortly after she started working, I noticed she was beginning to show her age. I usually get home from the golf club about the same time she gets home from work.

Although she knows how hungry I am, she almost always says she has to rest for half an hour or so before she starts dinner. I don't yell at her. Instead, I tell her to take her time and just wake me when she gets dinner on the table. I generally have lunch in the Men's Grill at the club so eating out is not reasonable. I'm ready for some home-cooked grub when I hit that door. Esther used to do the dishes as soon as we finished eating. But now it's not unusual for them to sit on the table for several hours after dinner.

I do what I can by diplomatically reminding her several times each evening that they won't clean themselves. I know she really appreciates this, as it does seem to motivate her to get them done before she goes to bed.

Another symptom of aging is complaining, I think. For example she will say that it is difficult for her to find time to pay the monthly bills during her lunch hour. But, boys, we take 'em for better or worse, so I just smile and offer encouragement. I tell her to stretch it out over two or even three days. That way she won't have to rush so much. I also remind her that missing lunch completely now and then wouldn't hurt her any (if you know what I mean). I like to think tact is one of my strong points..

When doing simple jobs, she seems to think she needs more rest periods. She had to take a break when she was only half-finished mowing the yard. I try not to make a scene. I'm a fair man. I tell her to fix herself a nice, big, cold glass of freshly squeezed lemonade and just sit for a while. And, as long as she is making one for herself, she may as well make one for me too.

I know that I probably look like a saint in the way I support Esther. I'm not saying that showing this much consideration is easy. Many men will find it difficult. Some will find it impossible! Nobody knows better than I do how frustrating women get as they get older. However, guys, even if you just use a little more tact and less criticism of your aging wife because of this article, I will consider that writing it was well worthwhile. After all, we are put on this earth to help each other.

Signed,

Ron

EDITOR'S NOTE: A few weeeks after sharing this advice, Ron died suddenly of a perforated colon. The police report says he was found with a Calloway extra-long 50-inch Big Bertha Driver II golf club jammed up his rear end, with barely 5 inches of grip showing, and a sledge hammer laying nearby. His wife Esther was arrested and charged with murder. The all-woman jury took only 10 minutes to find her Not Guilty, accepting her defense that Ron, somehow without looking, accidentally sat down on his golf club.



Cinderella turns 95

After a fulfilling life with the now dead prince, Cinderella happily sat upon her rocking chair, watching the world go by from her front porch, with a cat named Bob for companionship.

One sunny afternoon, out of nowhere, the fairy godmother appeared.

Cinderella said, "Fairy Godmother, what are you doing here after all these years"?

The fairy godmother replied, "Cinderella, you have lived an exemplary life since I last saw you. Is there anything for which your heart still yearns? If so, I will grant you three wishes"

Cinderella was startled, but overjoyed, and after some thoughtful consideration, she uttered her first wish.

"The prince was wonderful, but not much of an investor. I'm living hand to mouth on my disability checks, and I wish I were wealthy beyond comprehension."

Instantly her rocking chair turned into solid gold.

Cinderella said, "Ooh, thank you, Fairy Godmother."

The fairy godmother replied, "It is the least that I can do. What do you want for your second wish?"

Cinderella looked down at her frail body, and said, "I wish I were young and full of the beauty and youth and vitailty I once had."

At once, her wish became reality, her beautiful young body returned and Cinderella felt stirrings inside her that had been dormant for years.

The fairy godmother spoke once more. "You have one more wish. What shall it be?"

Cinderella looked over to the frightened cat in the corner and said, "I wish for you to transform Bob, my old cat, into a kind and handsome young man."

Magically, Bob suddenly underwent so fundamental a change in his biological make-up that, when he stood before her, he was a man so beautiful the likes of him neither she nor the world had ever seen.

The fairy godmother said, "Congratulations, Cinderella, enjoy your new life."

With a blazing shock of bright blue electricity, the fairy godmother was gone as suddenly as she had appeared.

For a few eerie moments, Bob and Cinderella looked into each other's eyes.

Cinderella sat, breathless, gazing at the most beautiful, stunningly perfect man she had ever seen.

Then Bob walked over to Cinderella, who rose, transfixed, from her rocking chair, and held her close in his young muscular arms. He leaned in close, his warm breath blowing her golden hair as he whispered, "Bet you're sorry now that you neutered me."



One morning this blonde calls her friend and says "Please come over and help me. I have this killer jigsaw puzzle, and I can't figure out how to start it."

Her friend asks "What is it a puzzle of?"

The blonde says "From the picture on the box, it's a tiger."

The blonde's friend figures that he's pretty good at puzzles, so he heads over to her place.

She lets him in the door and shows him to where she has the puzzle spread all over the table. He studies the pieces for a moment, then studies the box.

He then turns to her and says: "First, no matter what I do, I'm not going to be able to show you how to assemble these to look like the picture of that tiger."

"Second, I'd advise you to relax, have a cup of coffee, and put all these Frosted Flakes back in the box."


Talk about lazy!


You Know You're Having A Bad Day When...

Your horn sticks on the freeway...behind 32 Hell's Angels motorcyclists.

You invite a peeping Tom in...and he says no.

Your twin sister forgets your birthday.

Everyone avoids you the morning after the company office party.

Your income tax refund check bounces.

It costs more to fill up your car, than it did to buy it.

Your blind date turns out to be your ex.

Your doctor tells you that you're allergic to chocolate.

Nothing you own is actually paid for.

The health inspector condems your office coffee maker.

People think that you're 40, and you're only 25 !

When the doctor says you are in fine health for someone twice your age.

You call your spouse and tell her that you'd like to eat out tonight, and when you get home, you find a sandwich on the front porch.


 

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