Saturday, May 31, 2014

Weekly Geocaching Round-Up #3

My weekly post about Geocaching.

My boyfriend and I each hit 100 finds this week.   I have found six without him, so I hit find 100 at a guardrail.  I was so excited I wanted to stop at the closest geocache!  His was much cooler.

His find #100:

This was at a place called Lincoln Motor Court, and it is just charming.  I want to spend the night there sometime.  Cute retro cabins, what's not to love?  Reminds me so much of when I was growing up, we'd always stay at mom and pop hotels on vacation to Pennsylvania.

One cache we got this week that I thought was really cool was this one.   In this photo you can see three states (Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia) as well as seven counties.  My geography isn't good enough to tell you which counties you can see, but I can tell you they are in the above states! 

This was one of our DNFs this week.  It was labeled as terrain 1, but a local geocacher told me because it's one of the oldest caches in the area, terrain was graded a bit differently back then.  Now a "1" should be handicapped accessible, but this "1" you have to walk down to the wheel and underneath the building.  Now that she helped us in knowing where it is (we were having GPS bounce), we can get it sometime.

This was my favorite cache of the week.  It was at a church built in 1804.  So much history here.   My parents sold tombstones when I was growing up, and I have always enjoyed walking through cemeteries reading gravestones.

This man fought in the Revolutionary War.  To him, and every other Revolutionary War Veteran in this cemetery, I thank you for your service to this country.

Less than a half mile from the cemetery was Little Boy Blue -- and my boyfriend pretending to be Little Boy Blue!

Next week is going to be a huge geocaching week for us, so stay tuned!

This week's stats:

Saturday: 2
Sunday: 2
Monday: 3

Did Not Finds:   3

Total:  106

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Seven Quick Takes Friday: RCIA, a BBQ, and guest book

Since I started a new Thursday series, Weekly Geocaching Round up, I won't be adding geocaching adventures to my Quick Takes Friday any more.  So that cuts out a lot of my news I'd been relaying here as that is our biggest out of the house hobby.

Last week was our last class of RCIA.   We learned all about the end times.  While that's not something that is stressed much in Catholicism, it's a huge focus in evangelical churches, so our priest thought it was important to cover.  I did not join the Catholic Church, and I talk about that in a previous post.

Our priest is moving.  This upset me greatly (and I even cried because of how much I like him.)  It is very difficult for me to trust clergy, and this man has both my respect and trust.

We invited the RCIA class over for a BBQ on Monday evening.  It feels like forever ago we started the class.  That was in September.  My life has been turned upside down since then.  I'll  never forget the night I got the phone call while in class.  The phone call that changed my life forever.  I'll never forget me walking back in the room with a friend who came into the hall to check on me, and I said, "We have to go.  I think they lost her."  I'll never forget what a good friend that boy was through the next few days.  He called our priest who came after class to to a prayer of committal of Mom's spirit to God.  I feel like this group of people have helped me through the roughest time of my life and I'll be forever thankful for them.

On a lighter note, a friend of mine bought a guest book for their home when he and his wife were married.  I always thought that was the coolest idea.  So since I have my own place, I bought a guest book.   I loved it when my friend who I got this guest book idea from pulled it out a couple years ago when I visited with someone he had never met.  I was able to look back 15 years and see when I had first visited him and his wife!  I hope for this to become a treasured possession for us!  We have nearly a dozen signatures in it since March.

I set the date of my annual party in the park.  I was debating if I wanted to have it this year or not, because Mom died.  Jewish tradition says no parties for a year after the death of a parent.  I'm not Jewish, but I have better days and worse days, but the better days seem to be a little better  as well as more frequent and the worse days not quite as bad.  So I booked  a place in the park in September.  That still gives me a few months to heal as well.

Don't forget about the U.S. Cellular iPhone 5s Giveaway   that is currently going on here on my blog!

Visit for more Quick Takes Friday.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Weekly Geocaching Round-up #2

This was a slower caching week for us (at least compared to the last couple ones!)  There was a lot of rain that kept us inside!

This week we mainly stayed in West Virginia.   My boyfriend's favorite cache of the week was in Grafton WV.  We didn't find this one as someone who wasn't a geocacher came along to check on the paint job that was done on the caboose that day.

My favorite cache was the one at the Mother's Day Shrine in Grafton, WV.  (Just up the street from the caboose.)  It was a micro, but I loved the location.

The funniest thing this week happened at a cache along the WV Civil War Trail.  There was a toddler whose mother was working in the gift shop by the cache.  The toddler was in a toy battery powered police car, and when we got out of our car, he turned on the siren, followed us to the cache and said he was giving us a ticket for walking on freshly mowed grass.  We played along.

This week's stats:

Friday: 2
Saturday: 9
Tuesday: 8

Total:  91

Travel Bugs registered as collectable:  2
First to Find caches:  1

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Weekly Geocaching Round-up #1

I've decided to try and post every Thursday about my geocaching that week because Friday starts the weekend and it's a good way to keep it in my mind what geocaches I grabbed that week.

Last Friday, my boyfriend had the day off and we went to a Geocaching event.  One word of warning -- e-mails give distance as the crow flies, so it was a bit more of a trek than we expected, but we hit some thrift shops along the way and also found a few geocaches.  That evening we met some great people who I expect will be "distant friends"  (not the type you can ask to come over for an evening, but ones you might see a few times a year.)  One couple even told us to let them know when we'd be in the area again and they would go geocaching with us, even revisiting caches they have already visited.

Sunday was Mother's Day, and that's a difficult day for me.  We were going to spend the day doing Urban caches, but it was graduation at WVU, and we didn't want to be in Morgantown that day, so we headed out and kind of just ended up where we wandered.  We found some great caches.

My boyfriend's favorite of the day was one we had to log "Did Not Find" because it was so difficult.  But being male, he thought a tank was just cool!

My favorite one was the toll house at Addison, Pennsylvania.  I am not sure when they levied fines for those entering Pennsylvania but a sheet was a 3 cent toll.

We're new at geocaching, and this weeks stats were:

Friday: 6 (includes event)
Sunday: 14
Wednesday: 2
Weekly total: 22

Total:  73

Travel bugs found in the wild:  2
Travel bugs discovered at an event: 2
Travel bugs registered to release:  3

The weather (and work schedule) wasn't  as cooperative as we'd hoped, but unfortunately for finances, my boyfriend has five days off out of the next seven (unfortunately there's one work day thrown in there so we can't go too far away if we would decide to!)  I expect we'll have a lot more to report next week than we did this week.  We met someone last week who once logged 120 finds in one day.  Wow.  We have a long way to go to get to that, and we've even met someone who has logged 10,000 geocaches, so we are really newbies. But we're having fun and finding some cool places I never knew existed in our area.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Geocaching: Seven Quick Takes Friday

If you aren't aware what Geocaching is, it's using GPS to find "treasure" hidden in the woods.  If you don't have a GPS you can find many caches by downloading the app to your phone.  (And a shameless plug, if you don't have an iPhone, I am giving one away that is good only on the U.S. Cellular network.  Just click here to visit the giveaway.)

And back to geocaching. . .

Here are some notable finds of mine in the last week.  Because I don't want to give away TOO much information just in case you are a geocacher near me, I will just describe some of the locations.


My favorite find of the week was on Tuesday.  My boyfriend and I were in a town about 10 miles from here an we saw one located near a cemetery.  I suggested we find it, and we went up the side of  a mountain that reminded me slightly of those pictures I've seen of the mountain paths in China.  Okay, so I'm exagerating, but it was quite the road.  What I didn't realize when we started out that it was at the cemetery where my great-great-grandfather and his wife are buried.  If I had known, I would have brought flowers.  I never had been to where they were buried before.   He was a Union Soldier in the Civil War, born in 1845. 


One we are still talking about is one someone planted right outside their house.  As we pulled up, someone asked if we were geocaching, and told us we were about 30 feet too far away.  The person who hid the cache was home and waved to us.  And since we were being watched, wouldn't you know it took us a good five minutes to find what should have been seen in seconds.    


I think one of the most interesting things in my area is a rocket.   I can't help but wonder why, but it's there, as is a geocache.


There is an overlook near where I live with a cross.  I have always thought, "How high!  I'd never be able to climb that!"  But I did!  


This one was sad to find in the condition we found it in.  We think some non-geocachers got into it and left it like this.  But not the way to leave a geocache for others.  I thought it was cool because some school kids left it for others to find.  There is also a neat bush near the geocache, and my boyfriend posed by it.


A more unusual container I ran across this week was a mailbox.   It was on the side of a building and they received their mail at the road so there is no confusion.


There was nothing too notable about this one. . . unless you count the beauty of nature.  

For more Quick Takes Friday, visit and learn more about Jenifer Fulwiler's book  Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found Itthat was recently published.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spring Clean Your Cellphone

FTC disclaimer:  I am part of the U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade and this is a sponsored post.

For a FREE U.S. Cellular Parent Child agreement about cell phone and Internet usage click here. This is a great guide to start talking to your tween or teen about the responsibilities that come with having a cell phone such as limits, safety, and more.

Everyone knows spring is when you should clean, right?  The sun starts warming the earth and the whole world comes out of hibernation.  People are cleaning their yards getting them ready for the coming summer.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Sting of Mother's Day

I can remember when I was growing up Mom used to talk about the church she grew up in.  On Mother's Day every woman got a flower.  (Bravo!   Do you know how many women  hate Mother's Day because they want children and can't have them?  That church was doing something right to celebrate ALL women on Mother's Day.)  Except -- if your mother was alive you got a flower of one color.  If she was deceased you got a flower of another.  Can you imagine the first year you had to choose a flower of the "deceased" color?   That would bring the pain of her death right back to you.

photo courtesy of

Then there are the churches who give a gift to a mother.  I visited a church a few years ago on Mother's Day and was handed a Mother's Day gift.  I hung my head and said I wasn't a mother.   (I have always wanted to wait until marriage for children.  Because I am not married -- in a huge part because I was taking care of my mother as her health failed -- I am dismissed on Mother's Day.)  The greeter smiled at me and said, "Take it anyway."  Know how happy that made me?  It wasn't the trinket he pressed into my hand, but it felt like he was saying, "It's okay.  You're valuable, too.  And I don't want to make you remember the pain of a loss you never have had."

What about the gifts of "Oldest mother present" (Who likes to tell their age), "Youngest mother present" (often times a baby herself), "Mother with the most children"  (remember there are those who have lost children either by miscarriage or by childhood disease or accident -- please don't bring up that pain).  

Another time I was in church on Mother's Day and the pastor was giving a sermon about how mothers are so important and they can influence their children.  He was emphasizing this just a little too strongly, I thought.  Yes, mothers have influence, but sometimes the best mothers can have a wayward son.  During the sermon -- until she left because she was sobbing -- was the mother of a child who wasn't in church.  The sermon made her feel like a failure.

Is it important to honor mothers?  YES!  It it important to honor women?   YES!  Are there women who want to be mothers who aren't?  YES! 

So, please, as you are thinking of Mother's Day celebrations at church, remember those who might be feeling pain on this day and plan your celebration accordingly.  Why not give a small gift to all women and talk about the mothering spirit?  Or even not mention earthly mothers and make the focus on Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  Even if we don't have children, she is someone all women could aspire to be more like her. 

Just please remember those who might find pain in this holiday.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

When the Dash is Too Short

I have heard the saying that all that matters in a cemetery is the dash between the birth and death dates.  Then it is explained that how you live is more important than how long you live.  While there is a grain of truth in that, it was obviously said by someone who wasn't grieving.

Yesterday, I stopped at the cemetery for the first time since Mom died.  I needed to find the way the date was written on the stone so I could get it cut.  The stone is hard to miss.  Mom and Dad sold tombstones until 1986 and before they sold the business, they purchased one for themselves.  It's a bit like Dad -- over the top -- at least in my opinion.  Or it was in 1986. Some of today's stones are a bit fancier.

The dash is too short for both of my parents.   Yesterday morning, I was at a wellness checkup with a new health care provider.  I was asked history, and I realized that both with Mom and Dad, I said they were "only" and then the age when they died.  Mom was only 69.  Dad was only 62.  Only.  Only. Only.  I'm so sick of saying only.

I was listening to K-Love yesterday and hearing stories about how people were healed.   Not all people are healed.  I think it's the exception rather than the rule.  I was listening to this person on K-Love talking about how he was diagnosed with cancer and sent home to die -- and he gave a date that will forever be ingrained in my memory.  The same day the doctor said to me that in 48 hours I would have to make the decision to pull the plug on Mom.  I don't understand why some people are healed and then some aren't.  And some, like my mother, seem to be healed for a time, but then are so sick and go downhill until one day we find her gone -- when nothing seemed amiss that morning except she was in a health decline.

I stopped at the cemetery and saw the words at the top of the stone, "He Hideth My Soul".  That was played during her funeral.  Seeing the freshly dug grave, I was in tears.  My mother was in that cold ground.  I know this is when I "should" be saying that she is walking along the streets of gold or with Jesus, but right then, all I could think was Mom was right there.  And I am alone.  I know, I know, I have my boyfriend, and I love him dearly, but he's not my mother.  I love my "Nancy-in-law" (his step mother), but she's not my mother.  No one is my mother except my mother.  She is irreplacable.

From there, I decided to go out to her home place.  It's five miles out of town.  As I was driving to the church my great-grandfather built, I was wishing someone would be there so I could go inside.  I never remembered being in it, and I felt like it would make me feel a lot closer to Mom.  She had so many stories of the church, including one that was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Answered Prayers: 101 Stories of Hope, Miracles, Faith, Divine Intervention, and the Power of Prayer about how my great-grandmother prayed for her son during WWII in that church.  Family legend says that hair stood up on the back of people's heads as they heard my great-grandmother plead for her son's life.  After a few minutes of desperate pleading, she got up from her knees and said her son was okay.  Mom related this story so well, it was published in detail.  I've heard so many stories growing up that I feel like I was there for some of them.  But when I got to the church, it was locked and empty.  I figured as much for a Monday afternoon.

This is the church at Freeport near Terra Alta WV.  It once was the Nordeck Evangelical United Brethren Church, but is currently the Freeport King James Bible Church.  

I spent some time just walking around the church.  Remembering the picnic we had with my grandmother who passed away in 1995.  Remembering how a few times each summer Dad would announce, "Let's go for a drive" and many times we'd end up in Freeport, Mom telling me stories.  I am not sure if the tears were happy or sad -- or both.  The dash was well lived, but too short.  I never knew my mother's father, her beloved uncle, or her grandparents.  I was at "home" but also with strangers I've never met except for my mother and grandmother.

I decided to stop at the beaver dam.  When I was growing up, I loved skipping rocks across what is now swamp land.  I loved looking at the ripples and seeing how they resounded.

The farm she grew up on is now private property, but I have been granted permission by the current owners to visit.  It was the first time in years I had walked up to the house (which is now abandoned.)  I always loved the milkhouse, it always seemed like a clubhouse type building to me as a child.  Unfortunately it's beginning to fall in.  The barn is still standing, and the house collapsed years ago.  I walked around the foundations thinking of the generations of my family who lived there (my great-great-grandfather built that house!)  I saw a washtub in the rubble of the house and wondered how many hours my grandmother stood by that doing chores and belting out "Amazing Grace"  (She wasn't the most talented singer, but she made up for it in volume!) 

I sighed as I left and looked out at what my mother would have seen every time she looked off the front porch.  It's no wonder she always missed it.  The view, which I had never really noticed before, is beautiful.  Mom used to joke my grandfather said about the song "Lord Build Me A Cabin", he would state, "Why a cabin in the corner of Gloryland?  I want a mansion in the middle."  But I'm hoping they don't have a cabin -- instead I hope they have a two story farmhouse with a view like they did on earth.  It's beautiful.

There were some raindrops starting to fall as I left.  It felt so fitting.  

As I started back to town, I was still crying.  I felt like I reconnected with my past, with people who love me -- some I've never met.  As I rounded the corner to the church, there was a lady on the porch wiping down a stand, and the door was open.  I stopped, introduced myself and got a tour of the church.  Our church.  The Nordeck Church.   Only it's not ours anymore.  But part of us will always be there.