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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Where's Lady Magpie?




I know all you readers have been wondering what happen to that mad pensioner Lady Magpie, that used to write on this blog. Has she finally gone on to caches new or just faded away in the lost valley of Geocaching. Well I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm live and well and still kicking, although perhaps at a reduced rate.

It was way back in November 2012 and I had just completed an arduous 7 cache walk along a very a rugged green track, approx. 5 miles all together solo. Well who needs men to get the GPS wrong anyway.

The following morning I awoke in discomfort having discovered an abscess in a place that you really wouldn't want an abscess. A visit to the old doc followed, where he poked, prodded and generally made me more uncomfortable than when I arrive. It's incredible how all those years of training can give them the medical knowledge to utter the words "You've got an abscess", when in fact that's just what I said when I walked into his surgery. A prescription was issued and I hoped that was that.

Gloucester Hospital Tower.
Well by the time that abscess disappeared another had entered my world of ailments, thus curtailed my caching activities once again. Suddenly I discovered that I was having problems sitting on any chairs due to a serious pain that had started in my groin, and also an infection was starting right through my stomach, liver etc. By Christmas I had become very ill with nobody able to find what was wrong. Suddenly, on Boxing Day, I was rushed into Gloucester Royal Hospital by ambulance after being found by my brother in distress, Santa Claus had to wait this year.

I have hated this hospital since both my parents died here in the 90's and 00's. Not that I'm blaming our brilliant NHS (National Health Services), but the ward I was in was so understaffed it was ridicules, similar to when they were in there.

My room of gloom,  everyone else had left.
OK they were treating me with antibiotics, but within a few days they had kindly given my a serious bout of the Nora-virus. Now I don't know if any of you have had this, but for a few days it felt as if the world had dropped out of every orifice in my body, I will say no more. Due to this virus being so contagious our ward was shut down. We therefore had no visitors and even the nursing staff wouldn't come in, they just left what food they could by the ward doorway for us to pick up. I was not a happy Magpie, because I had no internet, no good television and was just lucky enough to get a slight signal on my mobile phone.

I was really fed up by now and all I wanted to do was get home again which I did after ten days. Yes they had stopped all the infections in my stomach, liver etc, but they had not found the reason why I felt I had on one of Tiger Woods' golf balls in my groin (Don't you dare say it must have been a hole in one).

Mo will be remembered by many.
The following year has been one of hospital visit, followed by more hospital visits, as they searched for the problem, I'm certain Mystic Meg would have solved my problems quicker.

Unfortunately I was also taking my my beloved Sister Mo to a cancer hospital every 4 weeks (chemotherapy) as she battled with the disease for a second year. Mind you, although the long journeys back and forth was teddious, I did sneak in a few geocaches in when I could. Her hospital was in the famous town of Cheltenham with many splendid Georgian Terraces, The picture below shows just what Cheltenham is all about and the cache I found was one of those little magnet nano's on the fencing.

My dear Sister Mo, who was my life, lost her battle and past away peacefully at home in October 2013. As you can imagine it was hard to actually get through each day let alone go out caching, but this did show one thing to me, my medical problems were nothing in comparison to what she had to go through.

The Spender of Georgian Cheltenham
By now the doctors have given up and decided what I needed was lots of medication. Now I'm sure the amount they have given me could kill all the buffalo on the prairies of North America. let alone ease my pain. I'm also sure that I now rattle as I walk around with the amount of pills I'm taking. This has caused me even more problems, well being such an old fart, I keep forgetting to take the flipping things. My Niece, Kernowboo, that's her caching name, came up with a fantastic idea. She has made me set up my mobile phone with an alarm that goes off every time I have to take some tablets. Very clever, but she didn't appreciate me asking if she could now ring me up to remind me to switch my phone on.

So where am I now in terms of geocaching after being limited to only 59 during 2013. I do plan to get back as much as I can, even if muggles can hear me rattles as I walk along. I have also started getting into photograph, combined with the caching, and have a few websites where my photos have been viewed. I leave you with a few of them and a reminder, look out THE MAGPIE IS BACK.

A few examples of what an old pensioner can do if found with a camera in hand, enjoy.




Monday, November 24, 2014

2014 Big Game Hunting Season








Well folks another PA Big Game Hunting season is upon us. I want to make sure everyone takes this into consideration when they are out caching. The statewide firearms Bear season just opened up on 11/22 and runs until 11/26. Then our statewide firearms whitetail deer opens up on 12/1 and runs until 12/13. These are the times when there are the most hunters in the woods. If you decide to cache during any of these dates please be cautious and follow a few simple rules.



1. Cache on Sundays if possible. Hunter's can't hunt deer and bear on Sundays.




2. Hunters are required to wear orange and so should you. Jacket and hat.



3. Don't wear anything that is brown or dark in color.

4. If your only chance to be out is during the week and you see a hunter in the woods it would be a good idea to come back at another time and try for that particular cache.

5. If you don't like hunting don't go in the woods during the season just to "get even" with the hunters. Some of them really are just trying to feed their families.

6. If you are a cache owner consider temporarily disabling your caches that are in areas where hunting is allowed.

If we all try to abide by these rules we can have safer times out searching for caches. I know that there are some people who don't like hunting, but then not everyone caches either. We can all get along and enjoy the sports we love so much and be safe doing them.

If you are a hunter please be aware that there may be folks out caching while you are hunting. Be courteous and don't yell at them. They are just enjoying their sport too.

So happy hunting to all of you hunters and may you fill your freezer with lots of game. And, happy caching to all of you Geocachers and my you fill many FTF while you're doing it.

Big Al

Sunday, November 2, 2014

CEMETERY CRASHING; I MEAN CACHING

Recently I was on vacation with my family and we were visiting my sister in Ohio. What made this trip special was that my oldest sister and one of her son's were going to meet us in Ohio at my other sister's house. This would be a little family reunion. We would also be getting together with other family members we had not seen in a few years.


While we were there my nephew and kids decided to check out some "haunted" places around where I grew up. They had lots of fun and I think the next time we go out there I'll have to join them in the haunt. These are some of the haunted places:
  • Crybaby Bridge - Just east of Troy, this local crybaby bridge is where LeFevre Road crosses Lost Creek before you get to North Children's Home Road. A baby can be heard crying from beneath the bridge late at night. Legend says that in the 1930s a couple were crossing the bridge and were involved in an automobile accident. Their baby was ejected from the car and was never found.
  • Polecat Road - This old country road was the site of a motorcycle accident years ago. The man was not wearing a helmet and was killed when he veered off the road and hit a tree. Driving down the road at night, you can sometimes see a small green glowing orb off to the side of the road in the trees. On the same road, about a mile away from the accident site, is an old roped-off trail. Supposedly this is where KKK members hold meetings and sometimes hangings.
Since this trip was "just for fun" meaning there were no school activities planned since we homeschool, we decided to check out a lot of cemeteries where some of our departed family members have been laid to rest. My nephew was able to come up with all of the cemeteries we needed to visit in Ohio as well as into Indiana. This was a neat idea because some of these relatives we had never met since they passed on well before any of us were ever born.

We were able to find grandfathers, great grandfathers, great-great- grandfathers, and great-great-great grandfathers and so on. We were able to take pictures of the headstones and even get information from some of the cemetery workers, as well as lots of info from some good websites like Ancestry.com and FindAGrave.com. If you're looking for info for your Ancestors be sure to check these sites out. I know it sounds a little weird that folks would take a vacation just to check out cemeteries, but it sure was fun.

As we drove by our first cemetery we noticed that someone had crashed through the fence. We drove around and into the cemetery and then began the drive through it trying to find our first headstone. We parked at the correct lot marker and began looking. It didn't take us long to figure out that where the car had crashed through the fence was the spot we were looking for. It was all taped off with caution tape. Low and behold there was the headstone we were looking for right in the middle of the crash site. Whoever did this really did a lot of damage to the headstones even moving some of them off of their bases. We took a number of pictures and then headed on to the next place.






Well being a Geocaching family I knew there had to be several caches either in the cemeteries or at least near them. Bingo! One of the cemeteries landed us two nice caches even though the GPS was really acting strange. Does your GPS act strange in a cemetery or is it just me?  Now mind you that each cache we find draws my nephew into the game even more. (He later signed up for a GC account.) Hooked another one.


No Carl is not dead. He is showing where one of our relatives is buried.

While in Indiana we stopped at a historical museum and saw that they were closed. But then there was a guy who came out and talked with us. After telling him what we were doing he let us in to take a personalized tour. It was lots of fun.






                   This is an actual wreath made of human hair. It was a little creepy.
                     President Roosevelt on the train in Connersville, IN. He arrived just a little bit before we did.


                        Here's a nice display. I was interested in the flintlocks.

                     What a lovely couple. Oh, and look, they found a Geocache


We ended up coming home to my sister's house and having a cook out and a campfire. Ummm, I love a good smore.

Tune in next week as I relate how I surprised my wife for our 30th anniversary on our first day of vacation while in Ohio. 




Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WHY NOT WEDNESDAY? - FREE GEOCACHING LOGS

WELCOME TO CACHECRAZY.COM
FREE GEOCACHING LOG PAGE

All logs include the "Congratulations,You Found It! Intentional or not!" information page. You can download and share these logs with your friends on Facebook and Google+.

A special thanks to George (ggggeo) who made these beautiful logs and contributed them to CacheCrazy.Com. Tell him your appreciation in the comments and have fun!
Bloodhounded






Friday, October 17, 2014

Italian Wedding Soup


I was bummed out when I found out that Italian Wedding Soup has NOTHING to do with a wedding at all! In fact, it’s not even really Italian! Madona Mia, in my mind I envisioned Italian chefs preparing the minestra maritata ("married soup") for Italian mobsters daughters weddings and if it wasn’t done just right, minga da faccia, they ended up in the soup!

Actually, The prized Italian Wedding soup derives from Spain where they crafted it out of dried Spanish lettuce, broth and any meat that one could find. They “married “the flavors of the meat and greens to make a meal that would sustain the hard working men and women who made their living the hard way, with their muscles and their hands.

Years ago, when I first learned how to cook, I worked for a true Italian master chef at an upscale, 5 star ristorante named, The Library Lounge and Restaurant. He taught me techniques that I still carry with me today. Even though I do not cook as my sole profession, I still love to make the Italian Wedding Soup from the recipe that he taught me and everyone loves when I do. It has a buttery smooth taste and what I call, “plate appeal”.

 

Over the holiday’s I decided I would put the finishing touch on our “food fest” with a big pot of his mastery. My wife was shopping for ingredients and was surprised how I could just pull the contents off the top of my head (I mean come on, I’ve only made 10,000 gallons of this stuff in my lifetime). She laughed and wrote down the list:



 

I do not use a starch in my soup such as Acini di pepe,  Ditalini or rice as some cooks do but you can if you wish. I also add some “chopped” chicken to the soup in addition to the beef and pork meatballs to get the true “married” effect of different meats. Finally, I use escarole as my green of choice because it adds flavor unmatched by kale or endive and it cooks up tender and holds together nicely for appearance. Whatever you do, do not add spinach! It will ruin your soup and the leaf resembles “seaweed” in texture when cooked, yuck!

 

The very basic cooking instructions are:

 

  • In a 3 gallon soup pot bring 2 gallons of water to boil
  • Add one chicken breast skinned and split
  • Let boil for 40 – 60 minutes
  • Mix 1lb of ground beef with ½ lb of ground pork, parmesan cheese, one egg, 2 teaspoons of quality garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of parsley, salt and pepper. Sound familiar? Yes, your making meatballs without the bread crumbs BUT roll these meatballs nice and small. Remember, they will be part of the marriage not the main course.
  • Remove your chicken breasts and season broth with some good quality chicken base. Not too much, just enough to complement the natural chicken flavor. You can add a little in the end too if it’s not flavorful enough but too much and it’s game over. You're in the soup!
  • Then start to drop your meatballs in the boiling stock. Keep it at a rolling boil by adding them slowly and be careful not to splash. Cook for a short time.
  • WASH YOUR ESCAROLE several times in a full sink of cold water. Cut it into 2 inch section 3 inches from the bottom stalk. Add your escarole to the pot and lower the temperature. It’s time to slow things down. 

  • Remove the chicken from the bone and start to chop. Not slice or dice, chop your chicken against the grain so some of it shreds while some stays intact but not diced. More like shredded or torn by hand.  
  • Cook until the greens are dark and tender. 
  • Taste your soup. Too strong? Add more water. Too weak? Add some base. Go back and forth until the pot is exactly the way YOU want it in flavor and in the quantity you want. 
  • Then add the chicken and simmer for 30 minutes covered. 
  • Let cool before you serve it and if you can resist, wait until the next day to eat it!

 

Serve in a bowl with a nice balance of greens/balls/chicken and broth. Top with grated parmesan cheese and bon app├ętit!


So what does this post have to do with anything outdoors or geocaching? Nutten, but Madona Mia, is that good or what? Enjoy……

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