Currently viewing the category: "Columns"

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 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 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.

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo

Depression is a serious mental health condition, and women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with it. Depression is not a normal part of being a woman. Most women, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment.

So What is Depression?

Depression is when you feel sad (including crying often), empty, or hopeless most of the time (or losing interest in or taking no pleasure in daily activities) for at least two weeks. Depression can affect your ability to work, go to school, or have relationships with friends and family. Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States. It is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It can affect the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you think about things and others.

Depression is different from feeling “blue” or “down” or just sad for a few hours or a couple of days. Depression is also different from the grief that we can experience over losing a loved one or experiencing sadness after a trauma or difficult event.

Depression is Categorized in Different Ways

Major depressive disorder, also called major depression, is a combination of symptoms that affects a person’s ability to sleep, work, study, eat, and enjoy hobbies and everyday activities.

Dysthymic disorder, also called dysthymia, lasts for two years or more. The symptoms are less severe than those of major depression but can prevent you from living normally or feeling well.

Other types of depression have slightly different symptoms and may start after a certain event. These types of depression include:

Psychotic depression — a severe depressive illness, happens with some form of psychosis, such as a break with reality, hallucinations, and delusions.

Postpartum depression —diagnosed when a new mother has a major depressive episode after delivery. Depression can also begin during pregnancy, called prenatal depression.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — a depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight.

Bipolar depression — the depressive phase of bipolar illness and requires different treatment than major depression.

Who Gets Depression?

Depression is more than twice as common for African-American, Hispanic, and white women compared to Asian-American women. Depression is also more common in women whose families live below the federal poverty line.

What Causes Depression?

There is no single cause of depression. There are many reasons why a woman may have depression. Here are a few of those reasons: (1) Women with a family history of depression may be more at risk, but depression can also happen in women who don’t have a family history of depression; (2) In someone who has depression, parts of the brain that manage mood, thoughts, sleep, appetite, and behavior may not have the right balance of chemicals; (3) Changes in the female hormones estrogen and progesterone during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, postpartum period, perimenopause, or menopause may all raise a woman’s risk for depression. Having a miscarriage can also put a woman at higher risk for depression; (4) Serious and stressful life events, or the combination of several stressful events, may trigger depression in some people. Examples of stressful events may include trauma, loss of a loved one, a bad relationship, work responsibilities, caring for children and aging parents, physical or mental abuse, and other life circumstances; (5) Dealing with a serious health problem, such as stroke, heart attack, or cancer, can lead to depression. Some medical illnesses, like Parkinson’s disease, hypothyroidism, and other diseases can cause changes in the brain that can trigger depression; (6) Women who feel emotional or physical pain for long periods are much more likely to develop depression. The pain can come from a chronic (long-term) health problem, accident, or trauma.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

Not all people with depression have the same symptoms. Some might have only a few symptoms, while others may have many. How often symptoms happen, how long they last, and how severe they are will likely be different for each person.

If you have any of the following symptoms for at least two weeks, you may want to talk to someone who can help you: Feeling sad, “down,” or empty, to include crying often; Feeling hopeless, worthless or useless; Losing interest in hobbies and activities that you once enjoyed; Decreased energy; Difficulty staying focused, remembering, or making decisions; Sleeplessness, early morning awakening, or oversleeping and not wanting to get up; Lack of appetite that leads to weight loss or eating to feel better, leading to weight gain; Thoughts of hurting yourself; Thoughts of death or suicide; Feeling easily annoyed, bothered, or angered; Symptoms can also be constant physical symptoms that do not get better with treatment, such as headaches, upset stomach, and pain that does not go away.

Can Exercise Help Treat Depression?

Researchers think that exercise may work better than no treatment at all to treat depression, and they think that exercise can help make depression symptoms happen less often or be less severe. People with depression often find it very difficult to exercise, even though they know it will help make them feel better.  Walking is a good way to begin exercising if you have not exercised recently.

Are there Other Natural or Complementary Treatments for Depression?

Researchers continue to actively study natural and complementary treatments for depression. They have found that natural or complementary treatments that have little or no risk, like exercise, meditation, and relaxation training, may help improve your depression symptoms and usually will not make them worse.

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, held at the office on rotating Tuesdays and Thursdays. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road, Suite 107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at


*Resource for the article was the Office on Women’s Health (OWH).


Deerfield United Methodist Church


Once a year, a little country church with a small congregation hosts an event that is standing room only. Joined by members of several churches and the community, Deerfield United Methodist Church brings a 2000-year-old event to life. “The Journey to the Cross”, a live passion play, is performed on Palm Sunday and Good Friday every year. The production covers miracles and other events in the life of Christ through his last days and resurrection.

During the rest of the year, members of the congregation worship together at 10:15 a.m. on Sunday mornings. Along with readings, prayers, hymns, and a message by Pastor Ray Dudley, everyone enthusiastically participates in “passing the peace of Christ” with handshakes and hugs. A communion service, held on the first Sunday of the month, is followed by refreshments.

Community service is an important part of their ministry. Pastor Ray said, “If there is a need that arises in the community, we go ahead and help as much as we can with it. There was a need for a chair lift and we gave funds to help buy that chair lift.” Several families in need are provided with food for a meal at Thanksgiving and gifts for children and the elderly at Christmas. Teachers at Sabillasville Elementary school, which is located less than a mile from the church, are treated to a “back to school” luncheon each year. Kate Krietz, Sabillasville Elementary School Principal, said that the staff is very grateful for the annual home-cooked luncheon and they appreciate the generosity of the church. Deerfield United Methodist also supports families doing mission work. Colorfest gives the church members the opportunity to raise funds to support these outreach programs. With the help of friends, they not only have a food stand, they also park cars and rent spaces to vendors.

The tight-knit group enjoys social activities throughout the year. The Mother’s Day Tea is a family event. Appetizers, soup, scones, sandwiches, tea and desserts are served to the ladies by husbands and children. Of course, there is a Father’s Day breakfast for the dads. The annual summer picnic is held in the Thurmont Community Park. In the fall, everyone enjoys a hayride and bonfire complete with hot dogs and marshmallows. During the Christmas season, they go Christmas caroling at nursing homes and at the homes of shut-ins. During the cold winter months, there are movie nights in the church hall.

The history of the church began in 1878 with revival services held in a log school house in Smithfield (which later became Deerfield). In 1879, the Smithfield United Brethren Church was built on land purchased for the sum of $25. The church became the Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1946. The final name change occurred in 1968 when they joined with the Methodist Church. The Deerfield United Methodist Church is located at 16405 Foxville Deerfield Road near Sabillasville. Join them for the 10:15 a.m. Sunday service. You will feel very welcomed.

Pastor Ray Dudley (back row on the left) with members of the Deerfield United Methodist Church.

by Anita DiGregory

“Lessons Learned from the Chicken Guy”

It was one of those horrible, awful, no good, really bad days. I was rushed, not Mary Poppins “spit spot” rushed, more like Dirty Harry “make my day” rushed! The day was a recipe for disaster…start with a frazzled, working mom of six…add in hosting a get-together at the house…mix in that the house is already a huge mess…stir in some extended family drama brewing in the background…top it off with no idea of how many guests will be arriving the next day for said event, and you have the recipe for my day:  the perfect storm!

I was more than just a little stressed when I headed off for the day, my giant to-do list in hand. I had to drop off my daughter at work, shop for gifts, shop for food, pick up my daughter, drop the carload of supplies off, get to Mass, and get home to resume cleaning and prepping, all within a matter of hours.

Well, drop-off and gift shopping didn’t go as planned, so by the time I arrived at the store, I was focused on getting it all done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Grabbing a cart, I mapped out in my head each stop I would make, the last one being the meat department where I would grab the rotisserie chickens for the gluten-free chicken salad.  And that, my friends, is where it happened…right there in the meat department.

After running all over the place, adding this and that to the cart, I stopped by to grab the chickens.  The few that were left had been hanging out for a while. So, I grabbed a couple more groceries from here and there and came back…still no fresh chickens. The checkout lines were growing, and it was getting dangerously close to my daughter’s pick-up time. I zoomed around and made a couple additions to the cart. I returned and still no chickens! Now, by this time, I was pretty confident that the store employee tasked with preparing and stocking the chickens, whom I affectionately shall refer to as “the chicken guy,” had seen me in my harried trips back and forth through the store. I was also pretty sure I had unintentionally irritated him on past shopping expeditions by sifting carefully through the chickens, looking for the most well done bird. But, today, with the time clock clicking loudly in my head and visions of my daughter standing out on the street waiting for me, today after he carefully and methodically prepared the chickens for sale and placed them out and I scooped up the first four without delay, TODAY was the day he chose to counsel me on my chicken-choosing strategies.

Well that, my friends, was it. Mic drop, game over. That quick little interaction was the proverbial straw that broke this harried mother’s back. As I pushed my overloaded cart to the register and waited in line, I played the interaction over again in my head.  By the time I had everything in the car, I was wondering why, out of all the customers this store must see, why did my chicken choices frustrate this person so much he chose to counsel me. Having safely retrieved my daughter, I continued to focus on the day’s dramas and felt increasingly insecure and upset.  There was a huge backup on the way home; we had to take a detour and just barely made it to Mass on time.

Silent and still for the first time that day, I felt the tears well up and then the insecurities circled round; “You are a mess…even the chicken guy hates you!” Okay, this was definitely not my finest moment, but true nonetheless. Now, in reality, the chicken guy had probably had a bad day, and I had definitely had a bad day. But in those moments, all my insecurities and baggage that I carry from other hurts translated in my mind to, “Everyone hates me!”

God and my family helped me sort through things and see the truth. But here’s the kicker: Later that very evening, I ran into a good friend who happens to be a new mom. After talking for a while, she confided through her tears that she felt like she couldn’t do anything right, and she believed no one liked her. It broke my heart that this sweet, loving, devoted mom was feeling this way. Having felt this exact way just hours earlier, I understood how she was feeling and convinced her that her assertions could not have been further from the truth; in fact, she is a wonderful mother and friend, and people really do care about her.

I am not sure why we moms fall into this trap so often. It isn’t like this mom thing isn’t hard enough!  Maybe we need to do a better job of building each other up and supporting one another. Sometimes, we need to work on changing how we look at things, our paradigm.

Dr. Stephen Covey said, “Paradigms are powerful because they create the lens through which we see the world… If you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. But if you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigm.”

So, sometimes, we might have to force ourselves to realize that maybe the chicken guy was just having a bad day, too.

by Valerie Nusbaum

The year was 1993. The air was turning cooler and the leaves were changing from green to vivid shades of orange, yellow, and red.  Apples were ripe for picking, and the holidays were just around the corner.  We were happy to pull out our sweaters.

I remember it well. The month was October, and I was dating a strapping young man named Randy. We were excited to discover that we both loved Halloween, so we decided to throw a party. Not just a regular party. We were hosting a costumed murder mystery party for our friends and families. What could go wrong?

We spent the entire month planning the murder and making decorations. Food was easy. We’d have orange punch and Halloween-themed sandwiches (pimento cheese on pumpernickel bread, cut into the shape of bats; cream cheese on white bread, cut into ghost shapes; mini pizzas decorated with pepperoni Jack o’lantern faces; and all manner of gory, bloody treats).

I rented the recreation center in the park. It was a big building so we had a LOT to do. My friend, Roxann, helped me shred paper to fill orange plastic “pumpkin” bags and to fill the giant black spider.  Randy picked up bales of straw and corn shocks from the farms around Walkersville. Mom and Mary baked cupcakes and made candy. We planned our costumes and worried over the guest list.

Party day arrived. Randy and I loaded his Bronco and my car and headed off to the park. I had already picked up the key, so we went inside the building to get it ready. We didn’t realize that we’d have to clean the entire building, including bathrooms, before we could put up our decorations. Luckily, we’d gotten there earlier than planned and we were young, energetic, and enthused. My, how things have changed in 25 years.

We set up tables and covered them with cloths and centerpieces. Electric candles and strings of lights were hung everywhere, along with spider webs and ghostly masks. We made a bunch of life-size scarecrows and monsters by stuffing newspapers into clothes and attaching masks to balloon faces.  They looked pretty darned scary, if I do say so myself. We had eerie music and haunted house sounds, strobe lights, and black lights, along with furry, slimy creepy-crawly things scattered all around. We set up a graveyard on the stage for people to wander through. I can’t say this often enough: It was a big building.

I ran home to clean up and change into my costume. Aunt Shirley had loaned me her Elvira, Mistress of the Dark wig, and I was wearing ghoul makeup and a white flowing gown and cape—and fangs, of course. Randy was a headless man. We’d covered his head with a cardboard box, leaving breathing room, naturally, and covered the whole thing with a black robe. He was carrying his “head” under his arm.  The head didn’t look at all happy. Randy wasn’t happy either because the box kept falling off his shoulders.

My dad was wearing a glow-in-the-dark “Scream” mask and black robe, and we’d stationed him outside the building to usher guests inside with a flashlight. Lauren was our tour guide, and she welcomed people to the party and guided them on their tour of the building. Lauren was either Peter Pan or Robin Hood.  I’ve never figured out which. During the tour, Randy was stationed in one hallway in his headless costume, and Harry was in the other hallway. Harry was covered in blood and had a knife sticking out of him. Roxann was a witch, inviting people to stick their hands in her cauldron. Mind you, this was all done in the near-dark. My mother was a gypsy fortune teller, and as guests passed her table, Mom looked into her crystal ball and told their futures. Everyone had a rosy future according to Mom, mostly because the crystal ball was a snowglobe with a big rose inside it, but that’s neither here nor there.  I was waiting inside the storage area, and I managed to make a few people shriek.

Mary came as The Great Pumpkin, Bill was the Lone Ranger, and Linda was a witch. Pat was a witch, too, and so was Vicki. We had a plethora of black hats that night. Anita was a football player, Johnny was a nerd, Gail was a leopard, and Emma was a cat. Cindy showed up wearing a trench coat, and we thought she was a spy until she opened her coat and we saw that she was wearing big, rubber body parts in the appropriate places. They were BIG parts in case you didn’t catch that part. I can’t remember who else was there that night. People were wearing costumes and I didn’t see all their faces. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I asked Randy and he can’t remember either. It was a long time ago.

I do remember that we opted not to bob for apples. Randy had a better idea. He hung powdered-sugar donuts on strings and had the guests put their hands behind their backs and eat the donuts while he jiggled the string. Randy thought the donuts would be less messy than apples in a tub of water. He was wrong. Cindy won the contest and the rest of the donuts as her prize. Great big carpenter ants had found their way into the box. Luckily, Cindy didn’t see that and we were able to get rid of it without her finding out.

Suddenly, there was a scream and a shout. Someone had been murdered! Honestly, it took our crew two hours to solve a simple murder because they all wanted to eat and drink.  My dad (the “body”) took a nap while he lay on the floor. The guy who was supposed to play the part of the murderer hadn’t shown up and the fill-in forgot his lines. Vicki knocked the head off one of the witches. I think it was one of the fake ones. A good time was had by all, or most. I don’t know. I can’t remember.

Wishing you a happy and memorable Halloween.

by Christine Maccabee

“Survival Time”

There are so many issues and problems in our faces every day that it is nearly impossible for us to navigate them all, either mentally, physically, or spiritually. I say “nearly” because, personally, I need to know what is happening in the world, and I believe most people do as well. However, the clamor of TV news and radio talk shows can become oppressive after a while, so I simply turn them off. Then, they go back on in short order, so I can keep up with problems related to Florence, such as toxic waste in the water from coal ash and hog farms; or the latest problems in Syria, our own refugee problems, the inner workings of our government, etc. etc.

Survival is definitely different things for different people. I am not hungry, while others are starving. I have a comfortable bed while others are sleeping on hard concrete. I have clean well water, while others have no water at all, except if they are lucky enough to have bottled water from some charity. You get the gist. Basically, most of us are spoiled by our comfortable lifestyles; yet, I believe everyone struggles with something. Everyone has personal problems they must deal with in order to survive. Rich or poor—and everyone in between—we all can count on something to happen to throw us off-kilter, and then we must be strong or clever enough to survive our capsizing boat.

I am a great admirer of creatures other than human, and I am guilty of worrying as much about them as I do people. I wonder how this last hurricane Florence affected the populations of bees and butterflies and rivers, which are so vulnerable and yet so essential for the health of Earth’s ecosystems. Fluctuations in weather affect them as much as humans, and yet all of us are resilient to varying degrees. A young child or a Veteran living through wartime trauma may or may not overcome it according to their own inner resources or whether or not they get help from others.

So, survival is variable, and messy. I have seen bumble bees drowning due to torrential rain, and I have saved some. Then there are the larva of certain butterflies rotting in their pupae beneath cold, month-long precipitation, which I cannot save. I weep for children separated from their parents at the border, and the parents who will never recover due to the loss of those children. Somehow, however, life goes on. The sun comes out and a few bees smart enough to hide out during the onslaught of rain can be seen buzzing and feeding on golden rod flowers. Then, my heart rejoices when I see a lone swallowtail flying gracefully and gratefully from flowers that I provide, flowers which also survived the storm. As for people, well…

A friend of mine said that survival of people in difficult situations mostly depends on others to reach out to them, or to reach back when they reach out for help. This is a mutual give-and-take that takes a lot of heart and courage. It takes courage to reach out and humility to receive. It takes courage to survive together, but it takes heart to even want to in the first place.

I suppose I am a survivor for sure. It has been a long, rocky life, and even though my boat is still unsteady, I have friends—and even angels—who come, and have come, to my rescue. All of us have, I hope. Now, however, it is more important than ever to help others in this fragile web of life to survive, be they human or bee or sea turtle or so many other entities in deep trouble. It heartens me to read about efforts being made to rid the oceans of plastic, or people challenging the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides, or people eating lower on the food chain. Happily, I am allergic to pork and beef.

The will to survive even our own inventions, not all of which are life giving, must remain strong. The north pole is melting, so what are we going to do about it? Drive less perhaps? Maybe there is not a whole lot we as individuals can do to change the ways of the world, but we can try by joining with others who also care. It is never too late to reach out.

It is survival time.

The Catoctin Outlaws and the Origins of Blue Blazes

Years before the Blue Blazes became part of Thurmont’s history due to the 1929 raid on the county’s largest moonshining operation, it made the newspapers for another raid, but this one was to capture wanted criminals.

In 1913, the Catoctin Clarion reported “a gang of this character has been in our midst for some time; walking around town, making purchases at our stores, talking freely to citizens, and making trips through the country at night relieving people of feed, poultry and other articles.”

The “outlaw gang” turned out to be two men, but “one of them known as a desperate character.”

They were camping on Catoctin Mountain in a heavily wooded area to the right of Blue Blazes and a mile from the old Harman Mill. “It is said that so dense was the growth of small trees that it was almost impossible to see the camp up until within a few feet of it,” the Clarion reported.

In nearly every local story, Blue Blazes refers to the massive still that county deputies raided in 1929. The still is said to have been named Blue Blazes after the color that moonshine burned when it was ready. The 1913 story does not involve a still, and it is before Prohibition. Blue Blazes was the name originally given to a section on Hunting Creek in the mid-1800s.            As the story goes, a group of men was “gigging” in the creek using torches to see by since it was nighttime. One of the men slipped, and his torch fell into the water. The Clarion reported, “the party was terrified at finding that it had set on fire the entire surface of the stream as far up and down as they could see and that it burned with a Blue Blaze.”

In 1888, the Clarion asked its readers what could have caused the phenomenon. Some readers suggested it was burning coal oil from beneath Chimney Rock that leaked into the stream. One reader wrote that coal oil wouldn’t have burned that color. He suggested “the party might have broken its jug or decanted its keg of whiskey, which the torches ignited, and in their condition of exhilaration, the flames seemed more extended than they actually were.”

Whatever the scientific explanation was, the name stuck to that area, eventually spreading to include the area around that section of Hunting Creek.

Once the authorities located the camp near Blue Blazes, Thurmont Police conducted a joint raid with Waynesboro Police.

“Both men were there, but the fine big bay horse they had in their possession put them wise that some one was coming by neighing,” according to the Clarion.

The men in the camp ran for theirs as the officers rushed in. One man gave himself up. The other man got away.

The captured man was Sparon Gaugher, who, according to the Clarion, “It is claimed he has killed a number of men, and it is thought he and his companion are the ones who assaulted a man at the ‘Blue Goose’ saloon near Pen-Mar a short time ago.”

The other man was named John Toms and was wanted for escaping jail in Gettysburg for stealing chickens and other property.

The police found a stolen horse, buggy, feed, and new clothing at the campsite. The prisoner was taken to jail in Waynesboro.

Gaugher was convicted of horse stealing in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and given a prison term.

His companion turned out to be wanted in three Pennsylvania counties. He had served time in the state penitentiary for shooting a man at the Leland Hotel in Waynesboro.

by Buck Reed

Burgers: The King of Sandwiches

Burgers hold a special place in the hearts of Americans. Whatever way you stack them, they definitely have the numbers on their side. With nearly 50 billion consumed a year, this means we eat about three burgers a week, and about 60 percent of all sandwiches ordered are, in fact, some sort of burger. As far as celebrities, we all know a character named J. Wellington Whimpey, who will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. A not so well known celebrity is 100-pound-competitive-eater Molly Schuler, who holds the world’s record for fastest burger eater, consuming seven burgers in 1 minute 53 seconds. In case you were worried that she was walking away hungry, that included a 20-ounce Coke and side of fries.

As far as who invented the burger, it wasn’t a clown named Ronald. Most credit Fletcher Davis, who owned a lunch counter in Athens, Texas. In the early 1800s, he served a fried ground beef patty between two pieces of bread with mustard and a slice of Bermuda onion, and a pickle on the side. McDonald’s reopened, after closing its first restaurant in 1948, with a hamburger that cost 15 cents and for 4 cents more you could have it with cheese. Today, I have seen people drop a nickel and a dime on the ground and not even bother to pick it up. The McDonald’s menu included nine items, and they were known for speed and consistency.

Today, a burger with the works is dressed with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle, along with a variety of condiments, and is available in any moderately priced restaurant. And, of course, anywhere they offer a burger, you can always get it with a slice of American cheese melted on top, thank you very much. Fancier joints might even offer you a choice of the kind of cheese you would like on your burger, ranging from cheddar to Swiss, as well as almost any other kind that you can imagine. As far as condiments, the basics are ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise, but you can also opt for barbeque sauce, salsa, Thousand Island dressing, bleu cheese dressing, guacamole, or just about anything the chef can imagine. My own Bistro Burger included bistro sauce, which was barbeque sauce mixed with mayonnaise.

In this day and age, everyone seems to be reinventing the burger. Some are looking back to the days when burgers were served with a fried egg on top. Right now, it is chic to come up with a cool name and then come up with the toppings for a unique burger. Like the Big Kahuna might have a grilled slice of fresh pineapple and barbeque sauce on it, or a southwest burger might have salsa, avocado, and a slice of cheddar cheese. Thinking outside the box, some chefs are adding thick-cut fried onion rings to their burger creations. Not stopping there, we are now finding menus that offer fried mozzarella sticks and jalapeno poppers on their burger creations. Onion jam and bacon jam are actually making some appearances that are adding a decadent panache to our burgers.

Let’s not forget the bun. I believe a sandwich is only as good as the bread it is served on, and a good burger is no exception. You can still do well with the cheap hamburger buns that are sold in any grocery bread aisle; but don’t overlook a good Kaiser roll, club roll, or even brioche roll. Now, they are even offering a good Hawaiian bread style roll to add a new dimension to your burger. Start with good bread and you can’t go wrong here.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. You never really know where the next big burger idea will come from. And who knows, you might even become famous…at least in the world of burgers.