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by Theresa Dardanell

Photos by Theresa Dardanell

“Something for everyone” is a perfect way to describe the Clothes Closet, run by the Thurmont United Methodist Church (TUMC). It also describes the church, itself. When I arrived early for a 10:30 a.m. Sunday service at the church, I spent a few minutes reading the December newsletter. Along with information about the Clothes Closet and the traditional and contemporary Sunday worship services, there were details about the many weekly Bible studies and various small groups for all ages, as well as Christian education classes for adults and children, several committees, and plenty of family fellowship events.

Sunday morning at TUMC begins with the 9:00 a.m. traditional worship service, featuring beautiful organ music. At 10:30 a.m., the contemporary service begins with a group of singers and musicians leading the congregation in joyful upbeat music. After announcements by Pastor Bob Hunter, members of the congregation share messages of joy and requests for prayers. The service continues with a reading, prayers, a sermon, and communion.   Everyone is welcome to attend the “Sunday school for all ages,” from 9:00-10:00 a.m. A group of dedicated teachers makes it possible to provide seven separate classes each week: babies under two years old; toddlers, ages two to four; students in kindergarten through third grade; children in fourth and fifth grades; students in grades sixth through twelfth. Adults can choose from two sessions led by C.J Cordell and Tim Olsen. Coffee and conversation is the focus of fellowship time between the 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services.

Pastor Bob said that there are two things that the church does best. The first is that 10 percent of all gifts and tithes support Christian charities. Donations help to fund missions and missionaries, as well as local organizations, including the Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, the Catoctin Community Medical Fund, Thurmont Ministerium, the Marriage Resource Center of Frederick, and the Alan P. Linton, Jr. Emergency Shelter.  The second thing they do really well is the Clothes Closet, which has been in operation for over forty years. It began in one small room, but quickly outgrew the space and was moved to a larger area when the church moved to its current location on Long Road. As the need grew and donations increased, the church built the Community Clothes Closet building, which opened in 2012. Donations from the congregation, along with members of the community, fully stock the “free-to-shop” building that is open the first and fourth Monday of each month, from 6:00-7:30 p.m., and the third Tuesday of each month, from 10:00-11:30 a.m. There is a bin outside the building to drop off donations. The mission of the Clothes Closet is to “carry God’s love to the people in the Thurmont community and beyond through love, prayer, and free clothing.”

When I visited on December 2, 2018, the members were preparing for the annual Christmas Open House. One very large room in the church building was filled with donated toys, games, wrapping paper, and decorations to be given for free to families in need. During the open house, Christmas music played in the background and childcare and an interpreter were available.

The Christian education program does not end on Sundays. There are five small groups that meet weekly for fellowship, prayer, and education. Pastor Bob leads Bible study on Wednesdays, the youth group meets on Sunday evenings, and other groups meet at various locations. Tim Olsen said that the participants in the groups support and nurture and pray for one another.

There are also opportunities for members in the kids choir, the secret sisters, and the monthly retired and senior citizens luncheon. The church also supports the Good News Club, an after school activity at Thurmont Elementary School. Monthly family fellowship events provide another way for the members to spend time together. Some of the previous events include a beaded bracelet class and Christmas caroling. The first events in 2019 will be Game Night on January 11 and Movie Night on February 8.

The Thurmont United Methodist Church is located at 13880 Long Road in Thurmont. The church is beautiful; it is large, modern, and handicap accessible.  The site includes a pavilion, the impressive Clothes Closet building, and plenty of parking. Next time you have clothes to donate, remember that everything given to the clothes closet is free to anyone who needs it.

If you are looking for a church that offers “something for everyone,” visit the Thurmont United Methodist Church and see for yourself.

by Anita DiGregory

“New Year, New Beginnings”

January 2019. New year. New beginnings. A blank canvas. A clean slate. A do-over. Perhaps country singer Brad Paisley said it best in referring to New Year’s Day:  “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”

If you have made a New Year’s resolution, you aren’t alone. A poll conducted December 8-11, 2017, by YouGov.com found that out of 1,159 U.S. adults, only 32 percent said they would not be making a resolution for 2018. The top resolutions for the year included eating healthier, getting more exercise, and saving more money.  These were followed by focusing on self-care, reading more, making new friends, and learning a skill.

However, studies consistently show that up to 80 percent of resolutions fail. In fact, Strava, the social network for athletes, conducted research and found that motivation generally fails the second Friday in January, renaming the day as “Quitters’ Day.”  According to a six-month study recorded in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, more than one in three resolution makers will give up by January 31.

There are many scientific theories out there as to why so many resolutions are abandoned.  These include, but aren’t limited to, making too many resolutions, setting unrealistic goals, making commitments based on other’s expectations, or not having the proper mindset or motivation. 

Although many resolutions go unmet, the positive effects of making a resolution are undeniable.  According to many mental health professionals, resolution makers are often successful in evaluating areas of their lives in which they see the need for change. Additionally, resolutions often center on healthier lifestyle choices.

So how can we make more successful resolutions? Here is some advice from the experts. Reflect on what is important to you, where you are in life, and where you would like to grow. Choose one specific, attainable goal. Realize that it is not so much about keeping a New Year’s resolution, as it is about meeting small, important goals throughout the year. Accept that you will stumble, but don’t allow that to cause you to lose your motivation.  Assess the reasons for the stumble and make necessary changes to keep them from reoccurring. Stay accountable; use a journal. Utilize the “buddy system” by enlisting a friend to keep you on track while you help them. Celebrate small victories.

Here are some family-friendly ideas for mom resolutions; pick one to work on or devise another that suits you and the needs of your family. Smile more. Pray more.  Practice patience. Stop comparing.  Use your phone less. Work on organization. Practice gratitude.  Regularly take the kids and perform a service for someone in need. Slow down. Get stronger. Make healthier choices. Spend more quality time together.

Here are nineteen quotes to inspire you to become the best version of yourself in 2019.

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.

                —Edith Lovejoy Pierce

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things.

            —John Burroughs

Comparison is the thief of joy.” 

                —Theodore Roosevelt

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.

                —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.

                —Tony Robbins

The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.

                —G.K. Chesterton

I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the years.” 

                —Henry Moore

Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.

                —Louisa May Alcott

Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.

                —Benjamin Franklin

Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.” 

                —Cavett Robert

Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.

                —Helen Keller

Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.

                —Muhammad Ali

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

                —C.S. Lewis

What the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year.

                —Vern McLellan

Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, “It will be happier.”    

                —Alfred Lord Tennyson

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.

                —T.S. Eliot

I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall.” 

                —Serena Williams

The beginning is the most important part of the work.

                —Plato

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.

                —Winston Churchill

by Valerie Nusbaum

You probably just read my column title and thought to yourself that unless one gets the flu, it’s nearly impossible to lose ten pounds in one week, not to mention that it could be unhealthy to diet and exercise to such an extreme. You’re absolutely correct, but now that I have your full attention, let’s discuss some other important issues.

First of all, did I tell you that I bought myself an elf costume? It was in a moment of weakness. I was shopping at the The Village Outlets in Gettysburg, and I wandered into a lingerie store and saw the elf outfit. Randy was sitting outside on a bench waiting for me; he refuses to go into a lingerie store ever since I gave him a hard time for buying me padded hangers in Victoria’s Secret.  Seriously? All that sexy, seductive stuff hanging there and I get hangers? And this was back in the days when all my parts were perky. 

Anyway, the elf suit is really fleece pajamas, but I figured, “What the heck?” Randy has a Santa suit, and since he insists on walking through our neighborhood at midnight on Christmas Eve with me forced to accompany him to keep him from being arrested, I thought that maybe I should dress up, too.  As I said, it was in a rare moment of weakness.

I brought the costume home and forgot about it until one night when Randy was standing at the sink and rinsing some dishes. I scooted upstairs and slipped into my elf jammies, complete with hat, and walked back into the kitchen, announcing that I’d done a dumb thing. Evidently, my dear husband wasn’t expecting that dumb thing to be me buying an elf outfit, let alone me actually putting it on. The look on his face was priceless. To his credit, he tried hard not to laugh, but he couldn’t look at me. I don’t think it dawned on him that I could see the reflection of his face in the kitchen window. As of this date, it remains to be seen whether I’ll wear the outfit on Christmas Eve or any other time.

Last year we went away for Christmas. Since it was just going to be the three of us (Randy, Mom, and me), we decided that staying at home and staring at each other was not sounding like much fun, so we booked a suite and an adjoining room at The Dunes Manor in Ocean City, Maryland. The old hotel was decorated beautifully, and most of the other people staying there for Christmas were in the same boat that we were, and they were glad to have some company. Everyone was merry and friendly, and having the bar just off the lobby didn’t hurt for some of them. We left home on Christmas Eve, stopped for brunch on the way down, did a little shopping just for the fun of it, and checked into the hotel in time to judge the gingerbread house contest, write a letter to Santa, and have afternoon tea. We went out for dinner and had Italian food, which is kind of a tradition in my family, at least when we’re not celebrating Christmas Eve with my aunts and cousins in West Virginia.

On Christmas morning, we spent some time on the balcony, gazing out at the ocean. Then, we exchanged some presents and had a light breakfast from room service.  Afterward, Mom rested and made phone calls and read, and Randy and I went out for a drive. We went back to the hotel, changed into our dress-up clothes, and headed down to the dining room for a fabulous buffet that none of us had to cook.  This might sound like a lonely holiday to some of you, but it was really quite nice. As I said, everyone else there was in the same situation, and it was very cozy and warm. The staff was exceptional, especially considering that they were all working on Christmas day. We even found filled stockings hanging from the doorknobs of our hotel rooms.  After dinner, we joined some others in the lobby for a carol sing-around-the-piano. I can’t sing at all, but I didn’t care one bit.

We drove home the day after Christmas, stopping to do a little more shopping (sales!) and for crab cake sandwiches at Kent Island. No, we didn’t spend the whole holiday alone. Randy and I threw a party just before New Year’s, and we had a house full of family and friends. We even did a Yankee swap. It was such a lovely time that we’re thinking of doing it all over again this year—the trip to the beach, not the party. We had a Halloween party this year, and we’ve been going out with friends and family a lot lately. The hubby and I are not party animals, and we’re both pretty worn out, not to mention that we’ve been eating all the wrong things. Too little rest and too much food can’t be good for us.

Which begs the question: Does anyone know how I can lose ten pounds by next week? I have to fit into my elf costume!

Happy New Year to all!

by Christine Maccabee

The Beginning of Wisdom

Some things don’t come until late in life, such as Wisdom, if it comes at all. If it is true that the better fruits of life are born with age, then perhaps the same thinking can apply to the Earth and our aging understanding of our relationship with it.

The Wisdom has always been out there, written in ancient books such as the Bible, the Jewish Kabbalah, and many others. More recently in our history were the eloquent words of Native American elders as they passionately expressed their values of reverence for the Earth and simplicity of living to the white man over and over, seeking to preserve ancestral lands for their people and all living entities. (See the book Touch the Earth.)

However, much as parents try to share their knowledge of life with their children, hoping the children will learn from their experiences without making the same mistakes they did, most children will go out and learn from their own experiences, forsaking the guidance of their elders.

So it is with us, the Children of the Earth. Ancient wisdom and guidance was ignored and mistakes have been made. Materialism and greed have run rampant, and the Earth, our only true home, is suffering.

Perhaps now the time is ripe for humanity to grow up, having learned from its experiences, having grown old with the Earth. Perhaps it is the beginning of a new relationship with the Earth, a greater corporate, and individual, knowledge of our place in the Universe. Perhaps it is time to become humbled and to live more lightly on, more gently with, our precious gift of a planet.

It is not too late. It is the beginning of Wisdom.                      

by James Rada, Jr.

In November of 1973, flocks of blackbirds, grackles, cowbirds, and starlings discovered the 60-acre white pine forest owned by Edgar Emrich of Graceham. Emrich had no trouble sharing his trees with the birds.

There were thousands of trees that he had originally planned to sell as Christmas trees when he had planted them in 1957. He hadn’t, and the tree farm had turned into a forest.

“I remember we’d go outside and make a game of trying to dodge the droppings,” Mrs. Austin Young told the New York Times about the birds. “Of course, there were only thousands of them then.”

As the months passed, more and more birds decided to call Graceham home, and by March 1974, an estimated ten million birds had migrated there. Graceham was becoming known as Bird Land.

“Their problem apparently stems from a quirk in the migratory patterns of the birds. They flew south from their warmer-weather homes in New England and southern Canada, but something about Graceham suited them perfectly—Mr. Emrich’s pine trees or perhaps the rolling acres of fields nearby—and they settled in,” the New York Times reported.

And the birds were causing problems. Dead birds abounded, droppings could be measured in inches, and the whole area had a foul odor. Residents had trouble sleeping because of all the chirping and shrieking from the birds at night. “Their flappingly thunderous comings and goings are frightening the children, unsettling the dogs, and scaring the cows,” according to the New York Times.

“Our dog, Herman, shakes when they fly by,” Clare Myers told a reporter. “They go into his dog house, chase him out and eat his food. We need help to stop this or otherwise we’re going to turn into the world’s biggest bird cage.”    

The birds ate the chicken and cattle feed before the animals it was meant for could get to it, and they even got into fights with cats and dogs. The birds also affected the local flora and fauna.

“Now, virtually every tree is dead or dying. The droppings, at least three inches thick after the last five months, have deadened the trees’ roots,” the Abilene Reporter noted.

Dr. Kenneth Crawford, a veterinarian with the Maryland Department of Health said, “No robins, no pheasants, no rabbits—no wildlife of any kind is left in the grove. Those birds chased everything else away.”

More importantly, the millions of birds represented a possible health hazard for the four hundred residents of the town. The excessive droppings could cause histoplasmosis, a fungal disease that occurs in the soil where there is a large amount of bird or bat droppings.

Dr. Charles Spicknall, Frederick County chief public health officer “toured the bird roosting area at sunset just as the flock of an estimated several million blackbirds, starlings, and grackles soared and swooped in from daytime feeding grounds up to fifty miles from the little hamlet of Graceham,” the Frederick Post reported.

The town held a meeting in Graceham Moravian Church to discuss what to do about the birds. Poison was suggested, and Emrich even volunteered to dig a mass grave for the bodies.

Ornithologists said that birds would head north again during the spring and summer, but they also said they would probably return in the fall.

Graceham wasn’t the only town experiencing problems with large numbers of birds. Hopkinsville, Kentucky; Albany, New York; Frankfort, Kentucky; and New York City were all having problems to one degree or another.

However, Graceham had another problem besides millions of birds, and that was dozens of media. Reporters, photographers, and the wire services were all driving to Graceham to report on the invasion of birds, and their cars and trucks blocked the roads in the small town. Graceham was written about in newspapers all over the country.

A county meeting held on March 20 laid out a three-phase plan for getting rid of the birds. Phase 1 would use loud noises and explosive devices to scare the birds away. Phase 2 involved thinning out the pine grove to make it less attractive to the birds. Phase 3 was to develop a long-range program to ensure the birds didn’t come back. Poison was once again mentioned, but only as a last resort.

Frederick County Commissioner Don Lewis said, “I’ll not be a part to the mass killing of birds. We don’t want to create a slaughter ground in Graceham.”

Phase 1 was put into play the next evening. It began around 5:30 p.m., with shotgun blasts and explosive devices sounding off around the perimeter of the pine grove. Loud recordings of bird distress calls and high-frequency sounds played in the grove. Around 7:30 p.m., it appeared that the birds were being discouraged and flying off elsewhere. “Within twenty minutes, the tide shifted as the birds caught Crawford short of firepower on the southeastern perimeter and larger numbers of them began flying through the break,” the Cumberland News reported.

Not to be discouraged, Phase 1 continued for five days. Crawford reported a 90 percent success rate, although residents were skeptical.

“We’ve won the battle but not the war,” Crawford said. “We won’t win the war until we eliminate the unbelievably dense forest that’s there.”

For Phase 2, every third row of trees in the pine grove was removed.

By the end of April, the birds were gone, though whether it was the natural time to leave or they had been driven off by the noise was unknown.

Unfortunately, the birds returned again in October.

Emrich said, “The birds are returning to my trees in increasingly large flocks. We don’t have the big, long streams we had last winter but they’re increasing. They started coming back about two months ago, and it looks like they’re young birds who were born here last winter.”

Luckily, they did not return in the millions, and fewer returned each season as the migratory patterns returned to normal.

This shot from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds, typified how Graceham looked in 1973.

Courtesy Photo

by Jeanne Angleberger

The Value of Eating More Vegetables

Every new year gives us the opportunity to begin a healthy lifestyle. It is an individual choice.  What can I do to improve my health?

Let’s start the new year researching the value of eating vegetables. We know vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet; they supply us with vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and phytochemicals, which are naturally occurring compounds.

There are many benefits when increasing your daily intake of vegetables: they are low-calorie (only about 25 calories per cup, raw); they are low in sugar; and they provide a rich source of antioxidants.

Research recommends we aim to consume two to three cups daily. Studies show that people who eat more vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases, as well as a reduced risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.

Variety is the key. It’s better to include several types of vegetables since each one contains a unique combination of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Making colorful vegetables (red, yellow, green, orange, purple) a regular part of your diet ensures a good variety.

You can also up your vegetable quota simply by adding them to prepared food. Soup recipes are a great way to get more in your diet. Pizza, casseroles, burgers, meat loaf, and scrambled eggs are more nutritious when adding your favorite vegetable.

Think outside the box! Start searching the vegetable category. You’ll be surprised how many vegetables await your discovery.

by Buck Reed

The Year of Beer

When people would ask me where I am from, I usually responded with Frederick County, where brewers walk like gods on earth. It would have been difficult to argue my statement about our county in the past, but now it would be almost impossible. As the United States grew into the brewing revolution, our county can brag that we were right there at the forefront. We have a number of craft breweries, where you can get delicious craft beer made practically in your own neighborhood: a Brew On Premise shop, which was one of the first to offer anyone over twenty-one the opportunity to walk in off the streets and learn the art of brewing your own beer; a homebrew club with over one hundred members; and more than a few restaurants with a beer-centric theme. What better way to celebrate our love of brew than to have a glass of well-crafted beer. The only dilemma is what to drink and when. So, in 2019, if you want to know what to drink, here is a guide to international, American, and local beer celebration days.

Starting off the list is International Beer Day, which is celebrated on September 28, and which also coincides with Sir Arthur Guinness’s birthday. Perhaps the world’s favorite stout should be in your glass.

International Stout Day is observed on the first Thursday of November.

International India Pale Ale day can see you drinking a glass of hoppy goodness on August first. 

In Belgium, where beer is a way of life, they celebrate beer with a weekend of drinking, music, and shows. Held in Brussels on September 6-8, and with over four hundred beers in the mix, is it any wonder there is a movement to extend the festivities to a two-week event?

Not to be outdone, British Beer Day is June 15 and boasts the motto “Cheers for Beers!” And of course, they too would like to extend the affair to a one-week celebration. My thought is that there is someone on the tourist board pushing these initiatives.

In the United States, National American Beer Day is celebrated on October 27, but National Beer Month is in July. If you drink a beer sometime in this timeframe, I am certain you can consider yourself covered, but in case you miss those, National Drink a Beer Day is September 28. Funny, I thought every day was National Drink a Beer Day.

On the homebrew front, we have National Homebrew Day, which is observed the first Saturday of May. If more than one homebrewer gets together to make a beer, it is called a Big Brew Event. Our local club, Frederick’s Original Ale Makers (FOAM), gets together for the event, and if you ask nice, you might be allowed to crash the event.

Finally, we have the Big Kahuna of all beer drinking events: Oktoberfest. In Munich, they hold the mother of all beer bashes from September 26 through October 6, where copious amounts of food are washed down with oversized steins of German beer, all while singing drinking songs at the top of your lungs. Can’t make it to Munich? Frederick has more than a few of our own Oktoberfest celebrations. The Rotary Club holds theirs the weekend of September 27-28, and really shouldn’t be missed by anyone. And, better late than never, the Oktoberfest at Schifferstadt is held on October 19-20.

If you really need an excuse to enjoy a beer, by all means use these or any other beer-inspired holidays to enjoy a glass of craft beer goodness. And maybe you can say a little prayer in the name of St. Arnold, the patron saint of beer who we celebrate on July 18.

Need a recipe or an idea for any of these Beer Day Celebrations, drop me an e-mail at RGuyintheKitchen@aol.com.

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo

Your thyroid produces hormones that control many activities in your body, some of which are metabolism, body temperature, and how fast your heart beats. The two main thyroid hormones are T3 and T4. Diseases of the thyroid can cause it to make either too much or too little amounts of these hormones. Women are more likely than men to have thyroid disease. One in eight women will develop thyroid problems during her lifetime.

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid gland is located in front of the trachea in your neck. The gland is divided into two lobes (right and left) and is connected in the middle by a thin bridge of thyroid tissue, known as the isthmus. Because of the two connected lobes, the thyroid is described as being shaped like a butterfly or a bow tie.

How do thyroid problems affect women?

In women, thyroid diseases can cause many issues, including problems with your menstrual cycle making your periods very light, heavy, or irregular. Your periods may also stop for several months or longer, a condition called amenorrhea. Thyroid disease also affects ovulation. This can make it harder for you to get pregnant. Sometimes thyroid problems can even be mistaken for menopause.

What kinds of thyroid disease affect women?

The thyroid disorders hypothyroidism; hyperthyroidism; thyroiditis, especially postpartum thyroiditis; goiter; thyroid nodules; and thyroid cancer tend to affect more women than men.

What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism means your thyroid does not make enough thyroid hormones, also called underactive thyroid. This slows down many of your body’s functions, like your metabolism. The most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States is Hashimoto’s disease. In people with Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid. This attack damages the thyroid so that it does not make enough hormones. Hypothyroidism is also caused by hyperthyroidism treatment (radioiodine), radiation treatment of certain cancers, and thyroid removal.

What are the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism?

Symptoms of hypothyroidism develop slowly, often over several years. At first, you may feel tired and sluggish. Later, you may develop signs and symptoms of a slowed-down metabolism, which may include feeling cold when other people do not, constipation, muscle weakness, weight gain, even though you are not eating more food. Joint or muscle pain, feeling sad or depressed, and feeling very tired can also be symptoms. In addition, other symptoms can include pale, dry skin; dry, thinning hair; slow heart rate; less sweating than usual; puffy face; hoarse voice; and more than usual menstrual bleeding.

What is hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, causes your thyroid to make more thyroid hormone than your body needs. This speeds up many of your body’s functions, like your metabolism and heart rate. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease is a problem with the immune system.

What are the signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism?

At first, you might not notice the signs or symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Over time, a faster metabolism can cause symptoms such as weight loss, even without changing your eating habits; rapid or irregular heartbeat or pounding of your heart; feeling nervous or anxious, and feeling irritable. You may have trouble sleeping; experience trembling in your hands and fingers or increased sweating; feel hot when other people do not; have muscle weakness, diarrhea, or more bowel movements than normal; have fewer and lighter menstrual periods; experience changes in your eyes that can include bulging of the eyes, redness, or irritation. Hyperthyroidism can raise your risk for osteoporosis. In fact, hyperthyroidism might affect your bones before you have any of the other symptoms of the condition. This is especially true of women who have gone through menopause.

What is thyroiditis?

Thyroiditis is inflammation of the thyroid. It happens when the body’s immune system makes antibodies that attack the thyroid. Causes of thyroiditis include autoimmune diseases, like type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis; genetics; viral or bacterial infection; and certain types of medicines. The two common types of thyroiditis are Hashimoto’s disease and postpartum thyroiditis.

What is postpartum thyroiditis?

Postpartum thyroiditis, or inflammation of the thyroid after giving birth, affects 10 percent of women. It often goes undiagnosed because symptoms are much like the “baby blues” that may follow delivery. Women with postpartum thyroiditis may feel very tired and moody.

Who is at risk for postpartum thyroiditis?

If you have an autoimmune disease, like type 1 diabetes, your risk is higher. Your risk is also higher if you have a personal history or a family history of thyroid disorders, had postpartum thyroiditis after a previous pregnancy, or have chronic viral hepatitis.

What is a goiter?

A goiter is an unusually enlarged thyroid gland. It may happen only for a short time and may go away on its own without treatment. Goiter is more common in women before menopause. Some common causes of goiter include Hashimoto’s disease, Graves’ disease, thyroid nodules, thyroiditis, and thyroid cancer. Usually, the only symptom of a goiter is a swelling in your neck. It may be large enough that you can see it or feel the lump with your hand. A very large goiter can also cause a tight feeling in your throat, coughing, or problems swallowing or breathing.

What are thyroid nodules?

A thyroid nodule is a swelling in one section of the thyroid gland. The nodule may be solid or filled with fluid or blood. You may have just one thyroid nodule or many. Thyroid nodules are common and affect four times as many women as men. Researchers do not know why nodules form in otherwise normal thyroids.

What are the signs and symptoms of thyroid nodules?

   Most thyroid nodules do not cause symptoms and are not cancerous.  Some thyroid nodules make too much thyroid hormone, causing hyperthyroidism. Sometimes, nodules grow so big that they cause problems with swallowing or breathing. You can sometimes see or feel a thyroid nodule yourself. Stand in front of a mirror and raise your chin slightly. Look for a bump on either side of your windpipe below your Adam’s apple. If the bump moves up and down when you swallow, it may be a thyroid nodule.

What is thyroid cancer?

Thyroid cancer happens when cancer cells form from the tissues of the thyroid gland. Most people with thyroid cancer have a thyroid nodule that does not cause any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you may have swelling or a lump in your neck. Some people get a hoarse voice. Most thyroid nodules are not cancerous.

Who is at risk for thyroid cancer?

About three times as many women get thyroid cancer as men. The number of women with thyroid cancer is also going up. By 2020, the number of women with thyroid cancer is expected to double, from 34,000 women to more than 70,000 women. Thyroid cancer is more common in women who are between the ages of 25 and 65, had radiation therapy to the head or neck to treat cancer, have a history of goiter, or have had a family history of thyroid cancer.

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

by James Rada, Jr.

James E. Shankle

James Shankle of Woodsboro began life behind the eight ball, as they say. He was born in Frederick on November 21, 1925.

“My mother abandoned me on the streets of Frederick,” Shankle said. “I was found by a policeman and taken to the hospital.”

The police officer took the baby to Montevue, which served as the city’s hospital at the time. An advertisement was placed in the newspaper, seeking a foster family for James. Mildred Roddick answered the ad and took the child home to live with her and her husband in Montgomery County.

Shortly after, Mildred’s marriage broke up, and she moved back in with her parents who lived on MD 550, north of Woodsboro. James suddenly found himself with a larger family, as Mildred’s mother, Minnie Nichols, became his primary caregiver. She would be the woman that James would come to call his mother.

He lived happily as Minnie’s foster son until the Children’s Aid Society got involved in James’s life. The organization, which was established to take care of foster children and assist with adoptions, had other ideas for James.

“That wasn’t very good,” James said. “They farmed us out to work.”

At the age of eight, James was told he would have to get up each morning at 4:00 a.m. and walk to a nearby farm to milk the dairy cows. After, he would hurry home to eat breakfast and go to school.

When James was twelve years old, a fourteen-year-old boy named Bill showed up from Thurmont and told James, “I’m your brother.”

James also learned that he had three sisters, that not only had he never met but didn’t even know he had.

“Two weeks later, after meeting him (Bill), my sister got killed on a farm,” James said.

James’s siblings had also been farmed out to work, as he had been. His sister, Betty, who had been sixteen years old at the time, had been working as a cook on a farm in New Market. Part of getting the cook fire ready each morning was to add coal oil to the stove.

“She got up late one morning and picked up the wrong can,” James said.

Betty picked up a can of gasoline and added it to the fire. The resulting explosion burned the girl over 80 percent of her body, killing her.

It was only at her funeral that James first met his mother, Edith Shankle. He never did meet his other sisters, Alma and Gladys.

When James finished the seventh grade—all the schooling required by the State of Maryland at the time—he wanted to go to high school. The Children’s Aid Society didn’t want to allow this, but James persevered. Finally, he was told that he could attend Walkersville High School, but he had to “earn his way.” He began doing any and all jobs that would pay him, such as setting up pens and mowing. When he turned sixteen, he got a job at a bakery in Walkersville, where he worked after school until 11:00 p.m. each evening.

By the time he turned seventeen, the United States had been fighting in World War II for nearly a year. James tried to enlist in the Navy. Since he was underage, he was told that he would need a parent, not a foster parent or guardian, to sign his enlistment form.

So, James set out to find his father, Irving Shankle. During the search, James discovered that his father was “a drunk and a criminal.”

“I found him in a bar someplace on West Patrick Street,” James said.

He told his father what he needed. The man was a WWI Veteran, so he had no problem signing the enlistment form. James then bought his father a beer and left.

While James had been working to enlist, his brother Bill had been drafted into the Army.

“I saw him off at the train station on a Sunday, and I left by bus on Monday,” James said.

He reported to Bainbridge Naval Base at Port Deposit, Maryland, in 1943. The base was on the bluffs, overlooking the Susquehanna River. Originally a boys’ school, it had become a Navy training camp only months before James had enlisted. During WWII, 244,277 recruits trained at the camp in ordnance and gunnery, seamanship, firefighting, and military orders. When it was discovered that James had lifeguard training, he was given a job of training other sailors to swim.

During his basic training, he recalled once having to jump off a 70-foot-tall tower into a pool while wearing a life vest. Another training exercise was held in a repurposed theater. A large screen was set up, and planes were projected onto it flying in different directions. Recruits got behind a special .50-cal. gun connected to the screen. They were given 1,000 shots each, and they had to see how many times they could hit the planes.

“I scored 800 and something,” James recalled.

His accurate shooting earned him his first assignment. He was sent to North Carolina to patrol the coastline in a blimp, searching for enemy submarines. When he would sight a submarine off the coast, which “looked like a big cigar underwater,” he would notify the Coast Guard. James would track the submarine until a Coast Guard ship arrived to drop depth charges on the U-boat.

Once, a U-boat surfaced, and a small boat left filled with men. “They picked the guys up when they hit the beach, and we sunk the sub,” James said.

Landing a blimp was not easy. It involved a lot of men grabbing onto cables dropped from the gondola and pulling the blimp down to the ground. During one landing, a storm was approaching and brought with it high winds. The winds made it too difficult to land, and the order was given for the men to release the cables.

One serviceman got caught in the cables, and the wind lifted him and threw him across the landing field into high-tension lines. He was electrocuted.

The accident so scared James that he decided he needed to transfer someplace else. The amphibious force had been formed and was recruiting. James didn’t realize that it was a forerunner to the Navy Seals. He and his friend just wanted out of the blimp patrol.

“We jumped out of the frying pan into the fire,” he said.

He trained in Little Creek, Virginia. At the end of his advanced training, he left Boston Harbor on a landing ship tank (LST). It was a ship built for amphibious assaults because it could carry tanks, vehicles, and cargo. It had a large door on the bow that could be lowered and used as a ramp to unload or load whatever was aboard. It was not a fast ship, though, and James traveled across the Atlantic at 6 knots, which is just under 7 mph.

His ship took part in the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. More than sixty years later, he still teared up as he told how his ship lost 110 men out of a crew of 180 to land on Omaha Beach.

Following that mission, he transferred to another LST that was tasked with delivering tanks to the French Riviera. His ship was one of three to be sent in to make a landing on the beach. The other two ships snagged on sandbars, but James’s ship not only hit the beach, when the ramp lowered, the tank was able to roll right out onto a road.

Germans, who were about 100 yards away, peppered the tank with small-weapons fire. The tank turned and went after them. A few minutes later, thirty-five Germans came back to the ship, running ahead of the tank with their hands over their heads.

James served on thirteen missions in Europe and the Mediterranean. They weren’t all troop movements. On one occasion, his ship had to deliver mules that were needed to take supplies over the Alps.

He was part of a mission to deliver supplies to a station in Italy, where PT boats were repaired. He only found out afterward that his ship was the fifth to attempt the mission, but he could believe it. U-boats torpedoed the other four ships. However, James’s captain had removed everything from the boat that he could so that it sat higher in the water.

James was manning a 20-mm. gun during the mission; he saw torpedoes glide toward the boat only to pass beneath it because it was sitting too high in the water for the torpedoes to hit.

They were also lucky because there was a dense fog that they could hide in so that U-boat periscopes couldn’t see the ship.

On his last mission in the Mediterranean, his ship was severely damaged. It was sent back across the Atlantic as part of a 300-ship convoy. His ship only had one working engine and screw, though, and it limped across the Atlantic at a snail’s pace, unable to keep up with the convoy.

They eventually made it to Norfolk Naval Base, only to be hit by a Liberty ship while they were at anchor. The crash damaged the ship’s magazine, and James and his fellow crewmates had to dump their munitions rather than chance fire setting off an explosion. Then the shipyard refused to repair the ship, telling the captain that the ship had to go to New Orleans for repairs.

James did get a thirty-day leave in New Orleans, and he returned home for a visit. When his leave ended, he was assigned to a different ship and sent through the Panama Canal to San Diego, California.

From there, his ship began traveling to various ports: Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, Russia, Alaska, and Iwo Jima.

He took part in one of the later landings to wrest control of the island from the Japanese. He could see the pillboxes where the Japanese holed up and fired on the Marines.

“I don’t think they would have taken that island if it wasn’t for flamethrowers,” James said. The flames could penetrate where bullets couldn’t and forced the Japanese into the open, or they died in the pillboxes.

One night, the Japanese launched an air raid. Five planes tried to sink James’s ship. Four were shot down, but the fifth did a lot of damage. That attack also injured James, who was manning a 20-mm gun. The concussive force of an explosion threw him face first into a bulkhead. He had broken ribs and shoulders, but he also needed to have his nose rebuilt. Unfortunately, the ship’s doctor didn’t have any anesthetic. James had to endure the 15-minute procedure in excruciating pain, being held down by other sailors.

After Iwo Jima, his ship was sent to Saipan to prepare for the expected invasion of Japan. It was a scary time. James could tell by the training exercises, “When we hit the beach, we were probably never getting off.”

However, on August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. When word reached the sailors at Saipan, “You could have heard a pin drop,” James said. “All day long, nobody was talking.”

After the war, he went back to work in Woodsboro, learning to be a Mason, but it didn’t interest him. He used the G.I. Bill to attend York Technical Institute and study electronics. However, he couldn’t find work in his field at first and had to take a job at a sawmill.

He married June Bostian in 1951, and they were together for fifty-six years.

James eventually found work at Fort Detrick as an engineer and worked there for more than thirty years until he retired in 1987.

James died at age 83 on June 24, 2009. He is buried in Rocky Hill Cemetery.

Note: This spotlight is based on an oral history collected by members of the Frederick County Veterans History Project. The group is interested in interviewing any local Veteran for inclusion in the Library of Congress Veteran History Project. If you would like to volunteer to help or know a Veteran who could be interviewed, contract Priscilla Rall at priscillarall@gmail.com or 301-271-2868.

James Shankle, 1943

James Shankle, 2006

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.