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Apples United Church of Christ Thurmont

by Theresa Dardanell

In 1760, Peter Apple donated one acre of land for a school that was also used as a church on Sundays. This location has been a place of worship for over 250 years and is now known as Apples United Church of Christ.

A log church was built on the same ground in 1765; renovations and additions were made until 1826, when a new stone church was built, with much of the labor provided by churchgoers. For several years, the church was known as Troxells Church; the name was chosen by members of the two leading church families:  the Troxells and Firors. The original name, Apples, was later restored. Renovations continued over the years and an education building was added in 1965. The adjoining cemetery contains the graves of early settlers, as well as soldiers from the revolutionary and civil wars. Many of the headstones are written in German and several list birth dates in the 1600s. The church historian, Roger Troxell, is available to help people with genealogy research.

Keeping the church history alive was only a small part of the conversation with Pastor Laura Robeson and members of the congregation when I met with them after attending a recent Sunday service. They are proud of their commitment to outreach programs. Locally, they support the Thurmont Food Bank and the Ministerium. They also give an annual gift of $500 each to two Catoctin High School (CHS) graduates during the senior awards program; the students are chosen by the CHS guidance counselors. Two international agencies are recipients of their generosity. Through donations to Compassion International, they sponsor a child who is then provided with medical care, food, education, mentoring, and access to the gospel. Donations to Heifer International over the years have provided six ARKs. The gift of an ARK includes two water buffalos, two cows, two sheep, two goats, two oxen, two pigs, two ducks, two guinea pigs, two llamas, two schools of fish, bees, chicks, rabbits, and an animal vet kit. The ARK provides the community with milk, honey, eggs, and wool, and an income from the abundance of goods that they can then sell; it also sustains farming by providing livestock to work the land.

Funds to support the outreach projects comes from direct donations, as well as the very popular fundraiser held on the Friday and Saturday of Colorfest weekend. Volunteers spend many hours preparing apple turnovers, apple pies, cookies, and breads for the bake sale. People in the community donate lots of items for the yard sale. Along with the bake sale and yard sale, food is served in the pavilion on the church grounds. Everyone works together to make this a success. Mike Mathis said that people just do whatever needs to be done. LuAnne Ewing added, “Current members deeply appreciate the members who have passed away who were an intricate part of Colorfest.” Another yard sale is held in the pavilion in May; proceeds from this fundraiser are used to help a family or person in need in the community.  Pastor Robeson said that the members of the congregation are “a loving, generous group of people who really try to act out their Christian faith in the community beyond just the church.”

Visit the Apples UCC Thurmont Facebook page to see how important music is to the congregation. Videos posted to the site show that they love music and they love to sing. However, during the annual Christmas program on December 23, singing is not the only talent on display. Adults and children are given an opportunity to get up on stage, possibly for the first time. Performances are not limited to singing, storytelling, reciting poetry, or playing an instrument.  The real purpose of the event is the guarantee of “thunderous” applause for every performer.

Apples UCC is located at 7908 Apples Church Road in Thurmont. Everyone is welcome to attend the 9:30 a.m. Sunday service. Once a month, during the service, children’s time is held. Weekly adult Sunday school begins at 10:45 a.m.; Pastor Robeson said that they focus on the study of the bible, but they also “talk about how the word transfers to their daily life and how it influences everything around them. It helps to deepen their faith and deepen their ideas about how to conduct themselves during the week.”

Pastor Laura Robeson (front row, right) with members of Apples United Church of Christ.

“Home for the Holidays”

by Anita DiGregory

Snow, twinkling lights, Christmas music playing on the radio. Just like that, the holidays are upon us. I love this time of year! But it can also be a very stressful season, especially for moms and dads. The struggle to meet regular schedules and family needs doesn’t take a holiday; instead, parents must find time for cleaning, prepping, baking, traveling, finding the perfect gifts, attending and hosting parties, and taking part in festivities.

While children may sail happily through the season with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads, parents instead have the countdown time clock ticking loudly in their heads. (Imagine the movie Speed; replace the bus with the family SUV.). Okay, maybe it’s not quite that bad, but with financial strains, extended family friction, crowds, lines, and holiday shopping, it isn’t always the scene painted in T’was the Night Before Christmas, either.

According to The New York Post, this holiday anxiety is termed “festive stress.” Citing a study commissioned by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, 31 percent of Americans classify the season as frantic, with 49 percent of moms suffering stress to create an exceptional holiday experience, and 6 in 10 moms finding it hard to take the time to enjoy the season.

Quality family time may be the cure for “festive stress.” According to the research studies, spending time together reduces stress levels. It also builds self-confidence, creates strong bonds, and nurtures a healthy lifestyle.

Below are some ideas that may help de-stress the season and enable you to slow down and enjoy the little blessings all around you.

Bake together. Cookies, fruit cakes, pies, or whatever your family favorites may be, some of the most delicious memories come from baking with mom and dad.  Family baking is not only fun, it can be educational and informative, teaching children concepts such as measuring, nutrition, food handling, and safety.

Create greeting cards. Get out the scissors, glue, stickers, construction paper, and even pictures or text from last year’s recycled cards. Many kids love to get messy and be creative, and this project can be both. Plus, making cards helps with reading and spelling.  Grandparents, neighbors, and friends will be delighted to receive these priceless, handmade masterpieces.

Make and deliver gifts. This doesn’t have to be costly. Many sites, such as Pinterest, have fun and inexpensive gift-making ideas. Whether it be jars with hot cocoa fixings, homemade candles, or tins filled with candies or cookies, everyone will enjoy these personalized items delivered with love.

Read together. Get a warm blanket, some hot chocolate, and cuddle together as you enter a new land or visit a different time period in your favorite holiday storybook.   Family read-alouds are not only fun, they can foster a love for reading that can last a lifetime. Choose a classic like A Christmas Carol, Dr. Suess’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or an old family favorite.

Have a movie night. Light a fire, pop some popcorn, and settle in together to enjoy a family favorite holiday movie.

Take a drive. With Christmas right around the corner, many homes and businesses are decorated with lights. Put on some holiday music and take a family drive to explore the sights and sounds of the season.

Teach a lesson. Often, Christmas can be a time of the “gimmies.” Take the opportunity to teach your children the joy of giving.  Help them collect some of their own toys and clothes to donate to others.  Many churches or businesses offer opportunities to sponsor families in need or to collect for the homeless or Toys for Tots. Talk to your children about the importance of giving and helping others. Perhaps they may even enjoy taking some of their own money to the store to purchase a gift for donation. By encouraging them to think of others, children learn compassion and empathy, virtues that are extremely important, especially in today’s world.

Make a visit. The holidays can be a very lonely time for many. Take the kids to visit a local hospital, an elderly neighbor, or a retirement home. Sing carols, play a board game, or just chat. Just having a visitor can bring some Christmas joy and brighten someone’s day.

Get outside. Studies show that physical activity helps reduce anxiety and stress. Bundle up and take a holiday walk and look for Christmas decorations. Go for a hike, or, if possible, go play in the snow together.

Help someone. Talk to your kids about the importance of helping others in need. Shovel a neighbor’s sidewalk. Help an older relative decorate their home.

Reflect together. Talk to your children about the true meaning of the season. Many churches host special holiday events, such as live nativities or Christmas concerts or pageants. Take time to pray together and celebrate special holiday traditions.

This season, like most, will be gone in the blink of an eye. By counting our blessings and spending quality time with our children, we can create memories and instill virtues that will last a lifetime. Taking time to breathe, remembering what is really important, and celebrating the true reason for the season will turn any Scrooge’s “ba humbugs” into a “Merry Christmas, one and all!”

 

by Valerie Nusbaum

It was quiet inside the toy factory. Oh, Santa insisted on calling the wood and glass facility a workshop, but everyone knew it was a factory with assembly lines, conveyor belts, and noisy machines that belched and snorted and spit out toys. The elves still did some of the work by hand, but times had changed and heavy demand for product had meant that new ways of manufacturing needed to be implemented. Fewer and fewer elves were applying for jobs that didn’t pay cold, hard cash, so the machines were building more and more of the toys.

It was early December. Snow was blanketing everything at the North Pole, and the white flakes were still falling hard and blowing around outside. At least it was warm inside the factory and there was plenty of food and drink. Poor Mrs. Claus and her elf kitchen staff could barely keep up with the baking. Hungry factory-worker elves ate a LOT of cookies and drank a lot of cocoa, at least the boys did. Thank goodness the elves had had the good sense to unionize and strike until Santa implemented a dental plan. All that sugar was ruining their teeth.

Most of the boys were outside in the snow “testing” out a new remote-controlled flying contraption that promised to make life easier, while providing hours of mindless entertainment for children. The drone-like device had a hidden camera so that parents could monitor their children from their phones, but, more importantly, the new toy flew over a designated target and sprayed a stinky-smelling vapor that lasted for a very long time. The elf designer was tentatively calling the new toy the “Stink Bomber,” but he realized that the name needed some tweaking. Apparently, the toy needed tweaking as well because the odor was way too strong and offensive, and it was leaving some of the elves gagging and running for cover.

The girls sat inside where it was warm, dry, and sweetly scented, and cautiously nibbled and sipped. A steady diet of cookies, candy canes, and hot cocoa didn’t do wonders for tiny elf hips and thighs.

“I’d give almost anything for a salad,” said Bernice. “I mean, it’s lovely of Mrs. Claus to bake special sugar-free cookies for me, but I need something healthier.” Bernice was diabetic and all those carbs weren’t good for her. “Besides, these things taste like cardboard.”

The other girls rolled their eyes and ignored Bernice’s griping. It seemed that Bernice was always unhappy about something. She’d even changed her elf name. You see, whenever a new elf came to work at the factory, Mrs. Claus had the task of assigning a new name, one which appropriately reflected the Christmas season. Some of the other girls were now called Merry, Holly, Ivy, Joy, and Carol, which were all very lovely, Christmas-y names. Bernice was given an elf name, too, but she promptly changed it back to her old name, exclaiming that no one wanted to be called “Ho.” And truthfully, Mrs. Claus did kind of miss the mark with that one.

Jolly, the elf shop foreman (and also Holly’s twin brother), glanced out the window and yelled, “Oh no!” The boys were lying on top of the snow, prone and unconscious.  Clearly, the spray from the drones had been toxic and had caused the boys to pass out. Jolly screamed for the medics and quickly and efficiently had all the boy elves transported to the medical facility.

Luckily, Jingles had stayed inside during the break. Jingles was the elf who had designed the drone. “I told you it wasn’t ready to be tested yet.  Now, what do we do?” cried Jingles.

The machines were ready to begin production on thirty million drones that very day. “We’ll never have all these orders ready by Christmas Eve without our full staff. Plus, I have to redesign the drone.”

Bernice piped up and said, “We girls can help, you know. We can do more than paint pretty doll faces and sew plush animals.”

At that point, Santa strode into the room and announced that all of the sick elves would make full recoveries, but they’d need plenty of rest and fluids for the next week or so. “We’ll all have to work double shifts to get the toys ready by Christmas Eve.”

Jingles set about refining his drone design but it was no use. He didn’t know how to fix it. He sat down hard and put his little head in his hands.

Santa had never seen his elf staff so discouraged, so he asked if anyone had any ideas of how to make sure that good little boys and girls around the world had a wonderful Christmas.

Since Bernice was always ready with a suggestion, she said, “Children don’t need a lot of fancy toys, Santa. What they want most is to connect with their parents.  Everyone is so busy these days.”

“That’s it!” yelled Jingles. “We’ll reconfigure the drone so that the kids can watch their parents and they can listen and talk to each other through microphones and recorders!”

The elves rejoiced and worked all day and night right up to December 24, Christmas Eve. They loaded Santa’s sleigh with the new drones, and Santa left one at every house.  The kids didn’t know what to do with them, and the parents hated them. Jingles was sent back to the kitchen staff. Bernice changed her name to Noel and got a job at the North Pole Panera. Santa got rid of the machines and started paying his elves in cash, and the elves went back to making simple toys by hand.  Mrs. Claus started a side business selling her cookies on Amazon.

Randy and I hope your holidays are wonderful!

Winter Greens: A Prescription for Health”

by Christine Maccabee

Are you eating your greens this winter? I ask this question because years ago in the winter, I neglected to eat as many greens as I did during the summer.

During the growing season, I could easily go out to the garden and get my hands full of fresh organic kale and collards, not to forget beet greens and my very favorite wild edible: lambs quarters. However, in the winter, store bought greens just didn’t make it for me, so I stopped eating my greens and wound up in the hospital. Tests revealed I was low in potassium and calcium.

Dark green leafy vegetables have high levels of potassium, calcium, and vitamin A, too. I have learned that bananas have far less potassium than greens, so I rarely eat them, except to flavor my cream of wheat. At the hospital, I learned that lack of potassium can contribute to irregular heart rhythms and can lead to an imbalance of inter cellular fluids, creating nervous and muscular irritability. I had all the symptoms; sickness has a peculiar way of educating us.

Spinach is a great green, with more potassium than kale and also rich in iron. Over many years of planting spinach and a few other greens in my cold frames out back, I eat greens well into the new year. However, with the onset of extreme cold, temperatures remaining in the twenties for weeks, the plants do stop growing, but they come back with gusto in the early spring!

I highly recommend growing greens in a cold frame. The frames I have cost me nothing. Back in the early 2000s, I saw long glass windows and shower stall glass, by someone’s curb, with a sign saying “TAKE”… so I took. With the help of a skilled handyman friend, I now have nice, long cold frames that at this very moment have lettuce, tah tsai (an oriental, slightly spicy green), purple mustard, and spinach growing. I plant in a French-intensive gardening manner, meaning all plants grow tightly together due to scatter sowing, which I believe contributes to their ability to survive even in very cold weather. Of course, when it gets below thirty degrees, I cover the cold frames with quilts.

Every other day, no matter the weather, I go out and selectively thin the tender plants, breaking off the roots and placing them in a container to eat with dinner. I also have created a small hutch (with the skill of a dear friend with engineering background), over an area of lush edible chickweed. Chickweed? You ask. Yes, wild edible chickweed, with its smooth leaves, is wonderful with an earthy flavor and delightful crunch. Ground cherry is another wild favorite of mine, which I allow to grow anywhere it appears. It is encased in a small Chinese lantern-like husk and the berry inside is exquisite. They ripen with colder weather, so they are not to be eaten until golden in color in autumn. For me, they are nature’s vitamin pill. Sweeeet.

I find there is nothing more satisfying then growing your own food, even if it is just a pot of tomatoes on the porch. However, for me, the more the merrier. Gardening of all sorts gets me outside to listen to bird songs; watch the hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies on my flowers; and breathe deeply the fresh air. I also believe in stretching now and then to get rid of any pain from leaning over. For me, gardening has become my prescription for health, with greens as the centerpiece.

“Try it. You might like it,” I say to my grandson about eating his winter greens, but he might have to learn the hard way, like I did. I hope not.

 

Frederick County hides a wealth of natural resources underground. It is mined for iron, copper, gold, lead, silver, zinc, aluminum, stone, limestone, silica, calcium, and clay. At one time, Frederick County also had a short-lived coal mine or did it?

In October 1877, coal was discovered on the farm of Mary Ann Cretin near Motter’s Station. This was an amazing find. Maps of Maryland coal resources with the Maryland Department of the Environment show the state’s coal deposits are in the Western Maryland mountains, beginning beneath the mountains that run along the border between Garrett and Allegany counties.

After the mine opened, the Catoctin Clarion announced that it “is really amounting to something and coal in large quantities is being taken from it.”

People were apparently visiting the farm just to see the coal mine in operation. They said that the coal seam being mined was about a foot thick.

Samples of the coal were tested by a blacksmith whose last name was Weaver “who pronounces it equal to any he ever used for his purposes. All who have seen the specimens taken from the vein pronounce it genuine coal and the owner of the land is in high glee in anticipation of a big fortune,” according to the newspaper.

Many people were comparing it to the high-quality bituminous coal mined in Allegany County. Coal mining was a major industry in that county, and some hoped it could become so in Frederick County.

“This will be a big thing in Frederick County and the cost of coal in the future will be lessened a great deal,” the Catoctin Clarion reported. “It will also cause others to make an examination of their lands and probably bring to light some richer minerals, which must be about in this region so close to the mountains.”

Despite the hoopla, the newspaper announced that mining on the property had ceased in November after less than two months in operation.

“The proprietor is still hopeful, however, that a big let lies buried under the ground, but he doesn’t feel justified in digging for it just now,” the newspaper reported.

A letter that appeared later in the Catoctin Clarion suggested the coal mine might not have been what it seemed. The letter writer said that a man named Harris Bush had been hauling coal to Emmitsburg years ago when the load proved to be heavy to pull. Bush unloaded much of the coal to make it easier for his horses to pull the remainder. The letter writer believed this to be the source of the coal mine. Although the letter writer said the coal had been dumped near Motter’s Station, it doesn’t seem likely that it would have been the coal mine on Cretin’s farm. For one thing, the coal wasn’t found near a road. Also, witnesses saw the coal seam and coal being dug from the ground. Bush’s excess coal would have sat on top of the ground.

However, the Motter’s Station coal mine is improbable. It was found in a region where coal has not been found, even today. The coal seam also petered out quickly.

So, was there a coal mine in Northern Frederick County?

Cretin believed so, but when she died in 1899, no other coal had been found on her farm or in the county for that matter.

Although coal seams are only known to be found in Western Maryland, Motters Station once had a short-lived coal mine in the late 1800s.

by Buck Reed

Holiday Baking

Most cooks believe good baking is nothing more than accurately measuring the ingredients, mixing them up, and throwing the finished product in the oven. And, of course, those of us who do bake know these people are wrong in this belief. Armed with nothing more than a good recipe and a few ingredients, these people are like kamikazes; they may get the results they want, but it probably won’t work out too well for them along the way.

What most people who bake do realize is that baking takes a mastery of a few basic mixing methods, along with some special techniques and a little finesse. Like anything worth doing well in this world, good baking takes a little knowledge and practice. Until you get these techniques down, you will need to practice. Bake sales, parties, picnics, any excuse you can come up with, is a good time to try your hand on what might become your signature holiday sweet.

Next is getting organized. Of course, you will need a clean kitchen with the equipment you need in easy reach. Make sure the equipment you don’t need is put away or temporarily taken out of the kitchen. If you are working in batches, then get a system down where you can do the different steps at the same time.

Make a list of the ingredients and how much you will need. Purchasing extra isn’t a problem if you can properly store it and it has along shelf life; think flour and sugar over eggs and milk. Purchasing bigger lots or packages can save you money, but only if you can use most of them up completely.

Coming up with an idea of what you want to bake depends on your comfort level. It also depends on the reasons you are baking. If you are making holiday gifts, you might want to make cookies, while others might want to make a quick bread. If you are entertaining, a cake or some pies might fit the bill. Or, if you are going to party or dinner at someone else’s home, you might want to throw together a yule log cake or a bread pudding. Feeling bold? Try a Panettone (an Italian type of sweet bread loaf, originally from Milan), if you think you can manage the yeast-raised Italian confection. It even has a great story to go with it.

Another idea that can make the right statement is making fudge. For the novice fudge maker, you must have your act together tight. There are more than a few steps, but only three or four must be done with any real accuracy. Cooking sugar to a candy stage is not for the faint of heart, but once you get it down, you may well find it could become your signature dish that you can whip up with little or no effort.

A final thought is that you may not need to bake something at all. Try your hand at measuring and make a signature baking mix you can put in a jar, decorate, and add a recipe for the recipient to bake it up for themselves. There just might be something to this measuring thing.

Baking something up for someone takes time and effort, but if done with love and care, it can brighten someone’s holiday.

Need a recipe or idea for any of these holiday ideas, drop me an email at RGuyintheKitchen@aol.com. Otherwise, have a great holiday.

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo

As you age, you are likely to find that your sense of taste starts to decline. You were born with 10,000 taste buds, but after age fifty, that number gradually starts to decrease.

Loss of taste can be permanent or temporary, depending on the cause. As with diminished vision and hearing, people gradually lose their ability to taste as they get older, but it is usually not as noticeable as loss of smell. Medications and illness can make the normal loss of taste worse.

Problems with taste can be caused by anything that interrupts the transfer of taste sensations to the brain, or by conditions that affect the way the brain interprets the sensation of taste. Some people are born with taste disorders, but most develop them after an injury or illness. Some causes of taste problems are listed below.

Medications

Taking medications can affect your ability to taste. Some antibiotics and antihistamines, as well as other medications, can cause a bad taste in the mouth or a loss of taste. One type of taste disorder is characterized by a persistent bad taste in the mouth, such as a bitter or salty taste. This is called parageusia and it occurs in older people, usually because of medications or oral health problems. If you are taking medications such as certain antibiotics or antihistamines or other medications and notice a persistent bad taste in your mouth, talk to your doctor. You may be able to adjust or change your medicine to one that will not cause a problem with taste. In many cases, people regain their sense of taste when they stop taking medications or when the illness or injury clears up.

Upper Respiratory and Middle Ear Infections 

Respiratory infections, such as the flu, can lead to taste disorders. In many cases, people regain their sense of taste when they stop taking medications or when the illness or injury clears up. You can help prevent respiratory infections, such as the flu, with proper hygiene by washing your hands frequently, especially during the winter months. In addition, if you work and it is feasible, you may want to consider staying home until you recover.

Radiation for Treatment of Head and Neck Cancers

People with head and neck cancers who receive radiation treatment to the nose and mouth regions commonly experience problems with their sense of smell and taste as an unfortunate side effect. Older people who have lost their larynx or voice box commonly complain of poor ability to smell and taste.

Exposure to Certain Chemicals

Sometimes, exposure to certain chemicals, such as insecticides and solvents, can impair taste. Avoid contact with these substances, and if you are exposed to them and experience a problem, see your doctor.

Head Injury

Previous surgery or trauma to the head can impair your sense of taste because the taste nerves may be cut, blocked, or physically damaged. To reduce the risk of injuries to the head, everyone should wear a seat belt when riding in a car. People who participate in sports where they may incur a head injury, such as bicycling, should wear protective helmets and gear.

Surgeries

Some surgeries to the ear, nose, and throat can impair taste. These include third molar—wisdom tooth—extraction and middle ear surgery.

Poor Oral Hygiene and Dental Problems

Gum disease can cause problems with taste, and so can dentures and inflammation or infections in the mouth. If you take several medications, your mouth may produce less saliva. This causes dry mouth, which can make swallowing and digestion difficult and increase dental problems. Practice good oral hygiene, keep up to date with your dental appointments, and tell your dentist if you notice any problems with your sense of taste.

Smoking

Tobacco smoking is the most concentrated form of pollution to which most people are exposed. Smokers often report an improved sense of taste after quitting. For free help to quit smoking, visit Smokefree.gov.

Other Causes

Other causes of impaired taste may include Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes dry mouth and dry eyes. Also nutritional deficiencies, especially vitamin B-12 and zinc, can cause impaired taste.

Taste is one of our most robust senses. Taste helps us recognize when food is good or bad for us. However, even more important, loss of taste can cause a loss of appetite, especially in older adults, which can lead to loss of weight, poor nutrition, weakened immunity, and even death.  Be sure to see your doctor if you have had a taste problem for a while or if you notice that your problem with taste is associated with other symptoms. Let your doctor know if you are taking any medications that might affect your sense of taste. You may be able to change or adjust your medicine to one that will not cause a problem with taste. Your doctor will work with you to get the medicine you need while trying to reduce unwanted side effects.

Loss of taste can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Not only can it lead to decreased appetite and poor nutrition, but it can also contribute to depression. Loss of taste can also lead you to use excess salt or sugar on your food to enhance the taste, which could be a problem if you have high blood pressure or diabetes.

If you are struggling with some of the symptoms listed above and would like a free evaluation, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650. Dr. Lo uses a non-invasive way to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. We also offer free seminars that are held at the office on rotating Tuesdays and Thursdays. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107 in Frederick. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

 

St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ, Cascade

by Theresa Dardanell

How does a church with a small congregation not only exist — but thrive — for over 125 years? St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ has continued to flourish, because it’s not only a place to worship but also a place where the community comes together.

The church celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2017. Originally named St. Stephen’s Reformed Church, it was built in 1892. Over the years, there were additions and renovations. Stained glass windows were installed, and a new organ was purchased; the kitchen, bathroom, and offices were remodeled. These improvements added to the beauty and functionality of the church. The addition of a community prayer room and a pavilion, complete with an additional kitchen, transformed the church into a community gathering place.

The annual Fall Festival, which features food, music, games, and an auction, is a popular community event. The pulled pork and beef sandwiches, homemade soups, French fries, ice cream, and baked goods receive great reviews on Facebook. After current renovations are complete, the community prayer room will be open day and night to provide a quiet place for prayer and meditation. The facilities are also used by a local group for A.A. meetings. Vacation Bible School is usually held at St. Stephen’s; this year, a joint Vacation Bible School was held at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rouzerville, Pennsylvania. Christmas is a special time for children attending Cascade Elementary School (CES); a Santa shop is set up either at the church or at the school. Members of the congregation provide sweet treats and inexpensive gifts that the children can purchase in secret for loved ones.

Members of the congregation are generous with contributions for local and worldwide needs. They donate food and household items to the CES food pantry; they purchase Christmas gifts for residents at Homewood and also for families in need at CES. Donations from local businesses and members of the congregation were assembled in emergency clean-up buckets that were sent to Church World Service and distributed to areas affected by natural disasters. A bake sale at Sabillasville Elementary School during Mountain Fest weekend provides some of the funds for these contributions.

Pastor Beth Firme said, “The people in this church truly have a heart for the work that God is giving them to do. They don’t let their numbers or lack of numbers stop them. They’re not afraid to work. They’re not afraid to share. They’re welcoming, they’re kind, and they want to include people in what they’re doing. They don’t always talk about what God does but you see it in what they do.  Their actions speak louder than anything else.”

Everyone is invited to join them for the 10:00 a.m. service on Sundays; there is communion on the first Sunday of each month.  St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ is located at 25445 Highfield Road in Cascade, Maryland. Check out its Facebook page for information and lots of photos.

Pastor Beth Firme (front row, on left) is pictured with members of St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ.

Photos by Theresa Dardanell

“Importance of An Attitude of Gratitude”

by Anita DiGregory

 “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” ~William Arthur Ward

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the spirit of gratitude is typically celebrated in the month of November. However, increasing scientific studies are verifying the importance of fostering and demonstrating an attitude of gratitude year-round.  Science continues to confirm the myriad of benefits from gratitude, including, but not limited to: improved health, happier disposition, career boosts, better sleep, and longer life, as well as increased energy, spirituality, relaxation, self-esteem, and positive feelings, and decreased anxiety, depression, self-centeredness, and envy. Remarkably, scientists studying gratitude have witnessed the correlation between thankfulness and better marriages, stronger friendships, deeper relationships, better decision-making, productivity, and overall management. With so many positive effects, gratitude is a simple, yet powerful, characteristic we can strive to practice, emulate, and model, not only for ourselves but also for the benefit of our families, children, and communities.

“It has been said that life has treated me harshly; and sometimes I have complained in my heart because many pleasures of human experience have been withheld from me…if much has been denied me, much, very much, has been given me.” ~Helen Keller

 

Of course, life isn’t always easy, especially in today’s climate.  In fact, in today’s world, an attitude of gratitude can almost seem counterintuitive or even countercultural; however, here lies the powerful paradox. In a time when there is so much anger, discontent, judgement, and pain, this humble, seemingly inconsequential virtue becomes a powerhouse of healing.

In his article “3 Reasons You Should Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude,” Adam Toren states, “Adopting a gratitude practice takes you out of a problem and towards a solution. It removes you from complaining mode and into a best-outcomes mindset. That’s a skill you need in your life and in your business decision-making. Whole companies and industries have been created from seeing solutions where others only saw obstacles.”

 

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Focusing on gratitude is a life skill that benefits not just the person practicing the virtue but also that individual’s community. The proven benefits are so numerous that companies are providing gratitude workshops to their employees.

 

“I am happy because I’m grateful. I choose to be grateful. That gratitude allows me to be happy. ~Will Arnett

 

Gratitude is contagious. People who practice thankfulness tend to be positive individuals. As a result, others want to be around them.  Those who demonstrate gratitude tend to create an encouraging ripple effect, which can be felt by those around them. This is even more evident within families and among children.

 

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ~A.A. Milne

 

Fostering gratitude and instilling this virtue in our children is beneficial to all. Practicing thankfulness helps children develop a positive outlook. Teaching our kids to reflect on the day’s blessings helps them to appreciate more and to stop taking life’s gifts for granted. Practicing gratitude can also foster increased compassion and altruism. Teaching the art of gratitude can be quite simple and rewarding.

 

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.” ~Maya Angelou

 

Model thankfulness. Children are always watching. By mindfully exhibiting thankful behaviors day-to-day, we can teach our children the virtue of gratitude. Looking someone in the eye, smiling, and saying “thank you” are all ways to exemplify gratitude. Allowing our children to observe us leaving a positive review, completing a complimentary comment card, or even informing a local business manager of their employee’s helpful service empowers our kids to become grateful as well.

Count your blessings. Take some time, perhaps in the evening, to reflect on the day. Set aside in your mind those blessings, small and large, from the last 24 hours.  Help your children reflect on their day and center on three things for which they are thankful. Teaching our children how to take time each day to do this helps them to not only focus on the positives, but to also celebrate them.

Create a journal of blessings.  Journaling can help in the articulation of feelings. It also reinforces memories, emotions, and feelings of thankfulness. A gratitude journal does not require a huge time commitment. Studies have shown positive results from merely five minutes a day of journaling.  Journals can be handwritten or typed.  Even young children can participate by illustrating in a sketchpad their thoughts on the day’s blessings.

Form a habit. Practice makes perfect, so practice the attitude of gratitude. By making thankfulness a daily practice, it becomes an automatic behavior and part of who we are.

Have share time. Gratitude is contagious. When parents model gratitude, children will be positively influenced, learn how to be grateful, and mimic that behavior.  By setting a regular time each day, such as at dinner or before bed, for each family member to share their blessings, parents can help foster the spirit of gratitude, its importance, and its positive effects.

 

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~John F. Kennedy

by Valerie Nusbaum

This column is for the November issue, so it should be about Thanksgiving and/or being grateful for what we have. In truth, I’m writing this in early October and Thanksgiving is just a blip on my radar at this point.

I’m in the middle of getting things ready for Randy’s and my 24th wedding anniversary (October 15), and I’m hoping the weather will cooperate enough for us to get away for overnight or at least for a day trip. I’ve bought a couple of things for Randy and I got him a nice card, but remembering where I’ve put them is something else entirely, and I fear that the hunt will involve me cleaning up my studio.

Writing this column, I know Catoctin Colorfest is coming up and the town is busting loose, so I need to be aware that I can’t come and go as usual for the next few days.

I’m planning a Halloween get-together for my cousins and extended family, and we’re also preparing for trick or treat. Trick or treat would be a no-brainer for most people, but we have between 300-400 little goblins that descend upon us each year and that takes a lot of candy, not to mention that we try to do some yard decorating and that Randy wears a costume while he passes out treats and takes abuse from the little darlings.

It’s been a crazy week, and I haven’t had much time to get things done at home. Mom, Randy, and I have all had doctor’s appointments this week. I also made a pilgrimage to a new dentist because I will most likely need a root canal. The exterminator was here on Tuesday and the air conditioner repairman came on Wednesday. In between all of this, there was work, the yard guy was here, and I took Mom to Walmart. If the mailman is Randy’s nemesis, Walmart is mine.

Maybe that’s why I was thrown for a loop when I ordered a Southwest salad at the McDonald’s in Brunswick and was given a spoon for eating it. Seriously? The store was out of knives and forks. The kid at the cash register couldn’t think to tell me that when I ordered my salad? Needless to say, this didn’t end well and I can’t go back to that McDonald’s.

Sensing that I was gearing up for a meltdown, Randy thought he’d distract me with an episode of the Halloween Baking Championship on the Food Network. I love those shows. One of this season’s contestants is a young man with a lovely Carribbean accent. As we watched this guy bake, Randy looked over at me and said, “Well, that makes no sense at all.”

I asked what he meant, and he said that he’d been sure this particular contestant was from Jamaica. I still didn’t understand what he was getting at, so he explained. “The guy just said, ‘We don’t do dat in Ireland.’”

The guy actually said, “We don’t do that on our island.” And this is how we watch television at our house. One of us interprets for the other, and we take turns doing it.

Now, I wouldn’t want you to think that I’m not even contemplating Thanksgiving. I have given it some thought. In fact, I posed a question to my Facebook friends and asked them to tell me their preferred way to cook a turkey. More than one person responded that they prefer their turkey to be cooked by someone else. A few offered up smoking as a method of choice, but most people told me that they’ll do a turkey the traditional way by roasting it in the oven with something stuffed in the cavity. A lot of us do a covered roaster method to make broth for use in gravy and dressing.

I also asked people to name their favorite Thanksgiving side dish. A surprising number of people said sweet potatoes. I like sweet potatoes done many different ways, but my favorite way is mashed up in a casserole with a crunchy, sweet pecan topping. Randy prefers them on someone else’s plate, but he’ll eat them if I go to the trouble of making them. The sweet potato casserole I like best takes two days to make from scratch, or I can buy a very similar one for $3.49 at Aldi.  It fits perfectly in my fancy white casserole dish, and no one knows the difference.

We had a debate over the difference between dressing and stuffing. Dressing wins out at our house. I don’t stuff my turkey.  Randy and I like dressing with lots of celery and onions. If you’re in a pinch and can’t make your own, Mountain Gate has a delicious stuffing/dressing.

Also, I can’t stress enough that a fresh turkey tastes best.  For us, part of the tradition of Thanksgiving is standing in line on the Wednesday before the holiday at Hillside Turkey Farms to pick up our fresh bird. I have nothing against a frozen turkey. I’ve cooked my share of them, but once a year I like to go for broke.

No matter what your food preferences are or how frantic or unsettling your lives have been recently, I hope you’ll join me in taking a few minutes to realize that we all have things for which we are grateful. For me, it’s family, friends, and all of you who read my words each month.

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S.  Thank you, Barb, for the delicious banana crème pie!

 

“Amazing Insect Migrators”

by Christine Maccabee

Most commonly, we think of migration as a ritual birds and Monarch butterflies undertake, but a surprising variety of insects also migrate hundreds, even thousands, of miles to spend winters in warmer habitats. Like most people, I was unaware of these amazing aeronautical feats until I read an article about it in the National Wildlife Federation magazine, which I receive due to my membership in this great conservation organization (to read the entire article and see photos of these heroic insects, look up its August-September issue).

In the article, I learned that two of my favorite and regular visitors to our flowering plants here in North America are the painted lady and the common buckeye, which are both in the same family of brush-footed butterflies. They are considered inconsistent migrants, as some die with early onset of cold weather. In more southern states where the weather is a bit warmer, they can successfully winter over in log piles, old sheds, and loose bark on trees. However, brave painted lady butterflies (which weigh less than a paperclip), flying south from frigid northern climates, such as Canada, have been detected on radar to be traveling together in massive clusters of thousands!

Reading on, I learned that the large milkweed bug, which we commonly see on milkweed seed pods and which have the same coloration as monarchs, develop wings as they mature and fly south to Mexico in the autumn. In the spring, their progeny return north following the emergence of milkweed, along a pathway similar to the Monarchs. Such amazing journeys earth’s small, beautiful, orange and black winged insects travel in order to survive treacheries of weather. I cannot help seeing parallels between them and our southern human neighbors migrating north in order to escape danger, all of us together enduring impediments such as wind and rain of hurricanes, hunger and fatigue, even other human predators. In the case of insects, unfortunately many will die from the inordinate amount of pesticides and herbicides we use on our fields to grow our food.

The champion of insect migrants is the Wandering Glider which is a small dragonfly or damselfly which I see frequently around my pond and fields during the summer; they are busy all day feeding on airborne plankton and smaller flying insects such as gnats and mosquitoes. This amazing insect has been known to cover 11,000 miles in the Eastern Hemisphere, 2,200 miles of that while crossing the Indian Ocean.  It is the only transoceanic insect migrant. Are you blown away yet?!

There is not yet, and may never be, a complete record of all the insects which migrate, but researchers have compiled a list of at least 71 species ranging from butterflies and moths to grasshoppers and even some beetles. So far, butterflies are the largest group at 27 species, followed by 20 species of moths and 15 different dragonflies, according to entomologist Mike Quinn.

The diversity of lifeforms on our planet is astounding and all of them require natural habitat and have patterns of behavior which we as human caretakers/stewards should not only be amazed about, but also should protect to the best of our abilities. So, as I continue my research and work at providing habitat on my own property, I hope you too will join me and many others in this great, important effort to preserve precious life on our planet.

Go to www.nwf.org/nw and become a member in order to help their efforts and to receive their great magazine.

 

Clifford Stitely Died Helping Others 100 Years Ago

by James Rada, Jr.

On November 6, 1918, the peace talks between the Allies and Germans had been completed. Men who had fought so hard for years looked forward to the peace that would take place on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive had started on the Western Front on September 26, and it continued as peace fast approached. It was the largest in United States military history, involving 1.2 million American soldiers. It was the largest and bloodiest operation of World War I. The men were worn down and tired. Over the forty-seven days of the battle, more than 55,000 soldiers lost their lives, including 26,277 Americans.

Clifford Stitely of Thurmont was a young private in the Army. He had been inducted into the 79th Division at Camp Meade just four months earlier.

“The departure of 110 Sammies for Camp Meade on Saturday wrung tears from many women and men alike,” the Frederick Post reported. “They tried bravely to put up a cheerful front to their sons, brothers and sweethearts, but many eyes were red and many cheeks wet before the final goodbyes had been said.”

The newspaper reported that a crowd of 3,000 showed up to see the draftees off at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad depot.

With less than a month of training at Camp Meade, Private Stitely boarded a ship in Hoboken, New Jersey, and headed overseas to France as part of Company B, 312th Machine Gun Battalion.

In France, he fought in the Avocourt Sector and Troyon Sector of the Meuse-Argonne. His great-nephew Bill Bollinger said that on November 3, 1918, “He was on a detail picking up the wounded, and he was killed by artillery fire.”

Records show that Stitely didn’t die right away. He was taken to a field hospital where he died three days later, with less than a week to go before peace was declared.

His parents, Jacob and Mary, must have wondered why they hadn’t heard from their son, especially after peace was declared. As the days turned to weeks, they might have suspected the worst, but luckily confirmation did not arrive until after Christmas. A telegram arrived on December 28 with the news that Clifford had died “under honorable conditions,” trying to help others.

Clifford is one of eleven men that Thurmont lost during World War I. His name is inscribed on the WWI Monument in Memorial Park.

 

Roll of Honor

Thurmont’s lost heroes of WWI:

  • Louis R. Adams
  • Murry S. Baker
  • Benjamin E. Cline
  • Edgar J. Eyler
  • William T. Fraley
  • Roy O. Kelbaugh
  • Jesse M. Pryor
  • Clifford M. Stitely
  • Raymond L. Stull
  • Stanley M. Toms
  • James Somerset Waters

Photo Courtesy of Bill Bollinger

Get Out of the Thanksgiving Box

by Buck Reed

If Thanksgiving is a celebration or thanks for the bounty of the season, then why do we limit the foods we eat to the same thing every year? Why not add a dish or two to your table? A new dish might add a little pizzazz to your holiday and get you into the mood for a fabulous fall. Just don’t mess with the turkey or screw up the gravy.

Keep the traditional stuffing next to the turkey, but maybe think about adding another bread-based dish to your meal: bread pudding. It’s easy to add a bread pudding with pumpkin or maybe cranberries or apples to your dessert table, so take the plunge and give a savory bread pudding a try. Make a standard custard and pour it over some stale bread cubes laced with onions and filled with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, or cooked and mashed winter squash. With a little imagination, you can put a grand spin to this idea.

Another dish that could make its way as a new tradition is roasted apples stuffed with sausage. Let’s face it, “anything” and sausage is welcome on my plate. Also, consider roasted Brussel sprouts or cauliflower to add a different flavor. For the beer lovers on your guest list, try a beer and bacon vinaigrette drizzled on your roasted vegetables.

Maybe a great corn dish could find its way to your home. Corn bread (yawn) is a good start, but spoon bread is another southern favorite, or perhaps a corn soufflé or pudding could be an elegant, yet easy, dish to prepare. Don’t overlook grits, as you can add to them almost anything to transform them into a fantastic side dish. Or take a lagniappe from our Cajun friends and try corn Maque Coux.

Maybe you want to finish your meal with a bang. Got an ice cream machine collecting dust? Break it out and try your hand at making a pumpkin or cranberry ice cream. Or make a cheese cake with a cranberry curd. If we are pushing cranberries away from being a mere side dish next to turkey, let’s try a cranberry pecan trifle or a parfait featuring this berry. A sweet potato cake with spiced whipped cream might even break you out of the cranberry funk I just put you in. Note to self: Cranberry Funk would be a great name for a band.

You don’t have to make an extraordinary effort to add another dish. Perhaps you can make something that can be set up a few days in advance, or better, put your slow cooker or grill to work for you. Ladies, what better way is there to get the man in your life involved than to have him fire up the grill? For especially large families that require more than one turkey, perhaps a grilled turkey could fit the bill.

With a little planning and some thinking outside the box, you can perhaps add a little spark to an otherwise dim holiday meal. Heck, forget outside the box, step out of it and kick it away. Or if you really want to be different, head to the local Chinese restaurant for some Peking turkey.

Need a recipe for any of these Thanksgiving ideas drop me an email at RGuyintheKitchen@aol.com. Otherwise have a great holiday.

My View of the Honor Guard and Why I Am Proud to be a Part of It

by Jim Houck, Jr.

I am a member of the Sons of AMVETS Squadron 7 Thurmont, and I really enjoy the welcoming feeling the people at the post have conveyed to me since I joined. I consider myself a part of the family of Veterans, Auxiliary, and Sons, who work together to make our post one of the best in America.

The different factions and functions of our family make whatever we choose to venture into almost always a success. I say almost because we are not perfect; but, we are working on it. The officers of the post are always thinking about ways to improve our post and you can see the improvements with each visit.

We strive to help our Veterans and our community every day. AMVETS Post 7 has an award-winning Honor Guard, led by Ed McKinnon, who are invited to post colors at many events and to participate in several parades. The members stand guard at Veteran’s funerals and do graveside services, such as the folding and presentation of the flag to the next of kin and a rifle volley with the playing of taps at the end of the firing. I was asked to join the Honor Guard and, at first, I thought they were joking, because I was sixty-six years old and I thought they would not want an old overweight codger like me on an award-winning team. Boy, was I wrong, as they already had men older than I am on their team. So, I said yes and attended my first meeting with them, not knowing what to expect. I have to say, I was hooked after that meeting and never again thought about not joining.

Ed McKinnon was, and is, a very patient man, who will teach, with the help of all the other great guys on the team, everything you need to know. He doesn’t expect you to learn everything all at once, which is why he holds practice each month or as often as needed. I know without practice that I would get rusty and forget things when I needed them, and I want to do the best job possible. I remember when Ed told me to go get fitted for a uniform. I went to the tailor shop to get fitted; it really didn’t take as long as I thought it would. They told me the uniform would be ready in about two weeks and they would call me. I called Ed, explaining what they had said. He said he would call them and tell them to call him first, so he could take them the things they needed to sew on the uniform that they would not have.

I waited and I waited. It was three weeks and I had heard nothing from them. I called Ed and he said he would give them a call, which he did. They told him the uniform got lost in shipping. I had never heard of such a thing, but the only thing I could do was wait. I was told by Billy—one of the team—that Omar the Tent Maker was on strike, and they couldn’t make my uniform until he returned. I mumbled under my breath a few syllables and went merrily on my way. I had to go for another fitting, and they stated they would call me when it was in so they could make adjustments. They didn’t give me a time frame this time, so I waited and finally got the call. I went immediately down there, and I walked out with my uniform in hand. I think Ed probably had a little talk with them when he took the patches and things down to them. I think he probably threatened to take his brother Donnie down for a visit if they didn’t have the uniform soon.

When I got home, I tried it on and had a picture taken—I was so proud. I was so proud, not of the way I looked in it, but the way I felt in it.

Then came my first parade to march in and, boy, was I ready for it—all 5 feet 8 inches, 270 pounds of me. I was carrying a rifle on the left side of our Flag. I was marching and stepping right along for about four blocks, and then it happened: I could feel my pants starting to fall. I tried hearing marching orders, while handling my rifle with one hand and pulling up my pants with the other, but it got too frustrating and I had to drop out. I was humiliated and upset at myself for having no butt or hips to hold up my belt and pants. I was offered a chair and some water from a kind lady watching the parade, who told me she knew as red as I was, the heat was just too much for me. I didn’t have the heart to tell her my pants were falling down, and that was the reason I was so red.

The next parade, the same thing happened, and, again, a lady offered me a seat and water and made the same remark to which I again offered no explanation and just said, “Thank you.”

Ed came looking for me after the parade each time and walked me back to meet the rest of the team. He is a thoughtful and caring person who watches everything and who will not put his men in jeopardy.

I feel the Honor Guard Team has accepted me for who I am, and I certainly have accepted them. I truly believe the Honor Guard of Post 7 to be a vital part of the AMVETS organization. By the way, Billy had his pants fall down in one of the biggest parades of the year, falling all the way down to his ankles. Omar the Tent Maker, indeed!

I am seventy-five years old now and still a member, and still as proud of my teammates as I was the very first day I joined. We are also the Honor Guard for the Department of Maryland, and we are really proud of that as well. Ed McKinnon is still our captain, and as far as I’m concerned, the best Honor Guard leader in our AMVETS Organization!

God Bless the United States of America, God Bless the American Veteran, and God Bless You.