Thursday, September 24, 2009


Some of my most favorite Illinois memories as a kid centered around Aunt Judy and Uncle Moose's PIZZA NIGHT! Back then, their house wasn't as roomy as it is now.  In fact, it was downright tight when you added all the relatives to the mix!  As you came in the door, you had to SQUEEEEEZZZE  around the table to get anywhere!   But that didn't matter to us kids. We always had a blast running around with all the cousins outside while the adults (+ cousin Gena, who was never a child) hung out in the house. It's true that you always remember the "smells" of your childhood. I never smell pizza cooking, that I don't think of those wonderful times in Illinois.

These days, the pizza is still as yummy as ever.

Before the pizza, though, we spent a lot of the afternoon cutting up all the peaches we picked.  Oh, and shucking more corn.  While we were up to our elbows in peach juice, cousins Sue and Gerald Glasco from Marion dropped by for a visit.  Gerald and my mom were first cousins.  It's been fun getting to know them over the past few years..especially through Sue's blog.  They brought their granddaughter (who I had read so much about I felt like I knew her!) and some of her friends from college.  Gerald was in a big hurry to get back on the road until he started showing me albums of pictures he had taken of various family, folks and stuff.  That was so much fun looking through and figuring out who all those people were!

This year, Uncle Moose and his granddaughter (my cousin) Cora were in charge of making the dough (from scratch), rolling it out and pouring on the pizza sauce.  Aunt Judy's flour container would last me about 10 years.  They say at Christmas it might last HER a week!  Whew!

This picture is actually the LAST pizza being started.  They ran out of their homemade pizza sauce, so they improvised with homemade salsa!  The salsa was wonderful with was yummy on pizza, too!

By the way, that is not a mini-fridge.  Uncle Moose is just THAT big!

Here is my cousin, Gena and Aunt Judy putting on pizza toppings.  As a kid, we grated the cheese from a huge block....but now they've resorted to "bagged" shredded cheese.  {For SHAME!} The meat toppings were store-bought, too.  Pretty much everything else was freshly cut from the garden -- tomatoes, peppers, onion, etc.  Actually, I spent a good bit of time cutting up those tomatoes being layered on that beauty! They were soooo good!

Here's some pizza ready to go in their oven.  Its a commercial oven, but for some reason you couldn't put 8 pizza's in at the same time!

If I didn't mention it before, these folks COOK.  They COOK A LOT!!!  And when they COOK, it is soooo GOOD!!!

I must be adopted.

Here are some of the menfolk enjoying after dinner talk.  There were a whole bunch more folks there that night...but they must have been spread out letting their supper settle.  Bex was in charge of taking these pictures... Maybe she could have done better?  She didn't get a picture of all the peach cobbler, the peach pie, the peach and blueberry pie, the peach salsa, the brownies....I'm just sayin.

Here are most of the "little" ones these days.  All cousins kids that live within a few miles of each other.  This was taken right before Bex was told to leave because they wanted some "privacy."

That's all the pictures of the pizza night.  There was a BUNCH of folks there.  There was a BUNCH of pizza eaten and a BUNCH of peaches eaten.  All was well with MY world!!!

Stay tuned.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Giant City State Park

On Saturday morning, after arriving in Illinois on our little road trip, my aunt and uncle treated me and Bex to breakfast at the Giant City Lodge located in a beautiful, 4,000 acre Illinois State Park.  I had requested this little side-trip to show Bex the lodge because my grandfather helped build it as part of the CCC back during the Depression.  Also, my Uncle Moose worked in the park for many years and he gave us the "real" tour!  Here are a few pictures from this beautiful place.

This one is taken inside the great room at the Lodge.  It sports beautiful brick-work and wood-work...oh and several dead animals.

Here's a picture of Bex standing beside one of the HUGE poles that hold up the main part of the building.  This is ONE log!  It's REAL!  Not like those fake ones you see at Disney.
The other end of the great room.  The archways are so pretty with the sun shining in.  Kind of reminded me of an old castle.  I have no idea what "part" of this building my grandfather helped build...doesn't really matter...but I wish I knew.
The next few pictures are taken on the trail TO the Devil's Standing-Table....which we never actually saw.  (These old bones can only hike UP so far!) 

Of course, my monkey-child has no problem climbing ANYTHING!

These bluffs are so pretty!

A look up the trail we were following.

An interesting tree hanging off the bluff.

Believe it or not, the trail goes right through here.
Yes...Climb OVER the rock and through the creek.

This is me and my Aunt Judy.  She's my mom's youngest sister.  She's short like my mom.  She retired from a long nursing career and now takes care of grandchildren and her husband, Uncle Moose!
Do you have any idea what THIS little green thingy is?  It's a Paw-paw.  Remember the children's song about "pickin up paw-paws puttin them in a basket"?  Well, here you go.  Aunt Judy says they taste like rotten bananas...hmmm...I'll probably pass on trying this one!  After a wonderful "truck" tour of the park, we headed back towards home.

But on the way home, we couldn't get past this beautiful peach orchard.  After driving down some of the rows, Uncle Moose just happened to have the telephone number of the guy who owns it.  So, after a quick call, we were given permission to pick some of the beauties!  Did I mention, we just "happened" to have some 5-gallon buckets in the back of the truck?
Some of these beauties were the size of softballs!

I don't know whether I put as many in the bucket as I dropped...but I tried.  It didn't take us long to fill up a couple of buckets!

After picking his bucket full, here Uncle Moose is "testing" the product.  They were YUMMY!
Stay tuned....more Illinois trip coming your way....

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Road-trip Continues!

We were still in Alabama when we left off from the last post.  Today we head north with Southern Illinois dialed into our sights.

On the way, we stopped in Cadiz, Kentucky for a bite to eat at Cracker Barrel.

This pig was in the front of the store.  I couldn't resist getting a I insisted  ordered encouraged Bex to take a ride!  Isn't this a cute pig?

HINT:  You can really see the beauty of the countryside in these pictures if you "click" the picture (it blows them up full size).  Then to come back, just use the "back" button on your browser.

We arrived at my Aunt Judy and Uncle Moose's home around 4:30pm.  The weather was absolutely beautiful!  Here are a few pictures showing the view from my Aunt's home.  I don't think I would ever get tired of looking at the beauty surrounding this home.


The beautiful rolling "hills" are so gorgeous.  It was great just sitting and enjoying the scenery.

We had not been at my aunt's for more than 15 minutes when cousin, Cora, swooped in and carried Bex off to a local rodeo.  You know she REALLY had to twist her arm to get her to go!  (We had been away from home more than 24 hours --so Bex was in need of a horsey-fix!)

When my aunt got home from town, she commenced to planning dinner.  The number of mouths to feed quickly grew from 4 to about 15 by the time all the family had been informed of the arrival of the "Florida folks"!!!  It was quickly decided that we didn't have enough corn for everyone.  So....Aunt Judy said "Come on, lets go up on the hill and pick some corn.  You can ride a 4-wheeler, can't you?"  "Ummmm...sure!" I answered.

Okay... TRUTH time here!  Yes, I have ridden a 4-wheeler.  NO, I have never DRIVEN a 4-wheeler.  But the thought goes through my head, "how hard can it be?  I used to drive my brothers' mini-bike (35 years ago!!!), surely this can't be too complicated."

So, I mount up on this huge machine.  My uncle graciously gives me a quick lesson on how to make it go-- and more importantly, how to make it stop!  During this class time, my aunt has loaded up and is heading out on another 4-wheeler.  She leads the way up the gravel road to the "hill" which looks very much like a mountain to me.  After a shaky start, I follow her.  This particular scene was captured on video by one of my dear cousins.  Because of the video, I was able to see my skills (or lack thereof) and my backside from a different perspective AND to hear the "remarks" made by the elders still back on level ground!  Bex thinks this video is priceless.  (Thanks a LOT, Jon!)

Anyway, I made it up the hill to the corn field.  Here's the beautiful scenery that met me on the hill.  You can see the cornfield in the distance.

When I finally arrived at the field, my aunt was riding down the corn rows on her 4-wheeler, leaning over picking ears of corn and throwing them in the bucket on the back.  THIS is the way to pick corn!

After picking a sufficient amount of corn, we headed back down the hill.  The folks that live around there might not consider this a daunting task...but for this flat-lander-Floridian it was pretty scary!  But I DID make it down without embarrassing myself in front of the pile of folks gathered at the bottom.

Now...let me tell you about the corn...oh, my!  This stuff was so good!  In fact, when the meal was over I KNEW Bex would kill me if she didn't get some, so I wrapped up a left-over ear in foil and stuck it in my bedroom, in my suitcase just to make sure it would be kept safe and sound for BEX.   Let me repeat!  It was for BEX that I did that...not myself!

But when the passle of kids that were running IN and AROUND and THROUGH everything spotted that corn, they thought it was too funny that this crazy lady from Florida would put CORN in her suitcase!  Thus, the appropriate pictures were taken.

Next time, I'll make sure to CLOSE the suitcase!

Did I mention they also have a tomato patch??  Makes my mouth water just thinking about those HUGE, sweet, juicy tomatoes.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

That Brings Us to August!

Our August started out with a bang!  

On Monday, (July 27) Bex won some tickets from a local radio station to a Rascal Flatts concert in Atlanta on Friday night (July 31).  Now, if you know my Bex --she LOVES her some Rascal Flatts!  FREE TICKETS!!!

Okay, if this had been in Tallytown, they might have seemed more FREE!...but this concert was in ATLANTA, GA -- 5 hours away!  Let's see...ummmm...gas, food, a place to stay...FREE? And the kicker even to that is that she had a volleyball tournament in Albany, GA the very next morning --bright and early!

But did I mention, my girl LOVES Rascal Flatts... "a chance of a lifetime" to hear them in concert!  So, after much coercion coordination, we worked it so that Mr. Fix-It would take her to the concert on Friday night, then get her to Albany on Saturday morning for volleyball.  Did I forget to mention that Mr. Fix-It isn't really a RF fan? Hmmm... But he sure loves his girl!  You can bet there was NO WAY her parents were going to allow Bex (at 17) to drive to Atlanta --even with a friend for such an event.  (We're so mean!)  So, off went Dad and daughter.

Oh, by the way.  The concert was in an amphitheater and it rained...

They had a great time.  It was a bonding experience!

So, after a busy night for Bex and Dad (where they ended up staying the night with wonderful friends in Macon), on August 1, the volleyball team arrived to play in a summer tournament at Sherwood Christian Academy in Albany, GA.

Sherwood is now famous for their church's movies, Facing the Giants and Fireproof!  Much of FTG was filmed at the school (just a little neat trivia--no charge!)  We played against four other teams (I think it was 4!) and didn't lose a game.  Our girls played really well most of the time.  We were undefeated and won the tournament!

Then on August 8, we had our Women's Ministry quarterly event at church (which I help coordinate).  Our theme was "It's A Fruit Festival."  It was a fun look at what IS a fruit of the Spirit and what is not.

Galatians 5: 22-23  "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (NLT)

Each table was decorated with a different fruit (i.e., banana, strawberry, grape, cherry, pineapple, etc.)   The food consisted of lots of yummy "fruity" things like pies, cakes, cookies, breads and a few breakfast casseroles thrown in for fun.  If you're on FaceBook you could see some pictures that somebody else took of the event...alas, I was too busy to take any.

On August 13, Bex and I headed out on a road trip with my dad...Grandaddy CW..from Bronson.  Now let me explain right up front.  Grandaddy CW does not take vacations...but he DOES take road trips.  Once he is away from Levy County, FL he doesn't let any grass grow under his feet.  Don't expect to stay in any one place more than 48 hours--TOPS!  But he can surely put some mileage on a car.  This particular trip was supposed to be...leaving on Thursday and starting for home on Monday or Tuesday.  But remember, if Grandaddy CW is away from Levy County --timetables change drastically when he's more than a 10 minute drive away from home!!!

We started out on our trip heading west to Montgomery, AL...or more specifically, Millbrook, AL.  My dad's first cousin, Billy Carl and his wife, Pat (and their grown kids) live there.  We arrived at their lovely home in the late afternoon.  They took us to dinner at their favorite BBQ restaurant and we had great food!  Then we went home to have some of Pat's homemade Red Velvet cake for dessert...oh my!  I was STUFFED!

This picture is of Pat, my dad and Billy Carl.  I'm not sure why they look so happy.  They really do like each other --a lot!

Did I mention they have a lovely home?  Oh, it is gorgeous!  Bex felt like it was one of the finer hotels she's ever stayed in.  And the service was fabulous!

Now, back to Grandaddy's timetable changes.  Before we went to bed, he had decided we would leave around 7:30 or so and get on the road towards Illinois.  No problem.  We can handle it...but I knew better.

So, the next morning, I get up at 5:30.  Billy Carl and Pat live in such a pretty, quiet, safe neighborhood, I decided this would be a good morning to go for a walk and try to expend some the calories from the night before.  I lovingly SHOOK my daughter awake (did I mention it was still dark outside?).  I conned her into walking with me--with the promise that she could sleep all morning in the car!  I'm thinking, we'll walk for 30 minutes, get back to the house with plenty of time for a  leisurely shower, do my hair and get dressed for the day.

So we walk 30 minutes and get back to the house about 6:15.  Dawn is just breaking....and  my dad is standing in the driveway with all his stuff already in the car READY to go!  Really!  I'm sweaty from swimming/walking through the muggy morning air... so I beg for a few more minutes to get that shower.  Daddy is never belligerent in being ready to go, he's very agreeable to whatever I want to do....but HE IS READY TO GO!  So, being the good daughter, I hurry.

Stay tuned for more Grandaddy, Bex and Meggy adventures!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Our Summer -- July

There was lots of activity around The Pine in July.  It was enough just having Bex back home! But we had some more fun anyway!

Our June ended with a fun party to wish my friend Cynthia a happy retirement.  It was bittersweet, knowing she would be moving to Tampa within a week or two.  As of today, she's happily ensconced in her new home, venturing out to find the perfect grocery store, a church that fits her preferred worship style, and I KNOW she's gathering new friends to be a part of her ever-growing family.  Thankfully, with the technology of today, it takes just a simple phone call to hear that precious laugh!

When Bex got home from camp she had to test the newly created "Rainbow Float" she had heard so much about from CJ!

While Bex was at camp we had a HUGE thunderstorm come through The Pine.  Mr. Fix-It and I stood outside under the carport and watched God's fireworks.  At times, it was too amazing for me and I sat in the van and watched!  We watched lightning strike this tree across the road from us.  It sizzled with a bright pink/purple light for several seconds.  These pictures were taken the next day as we went to investigate the damage.

You can tell where the bark was just peeled off this oak tree.  Absolutely amazing!

So what would July be without fireworks on Independence Day?  This year we went to the Talla Antique Car Museum for the festivities.  The festivities weren't bad for their first year.

A couple of our favorites here.

LOVED this one, it was HUGE!

On July 11, my sweet niece, Natalie, took the plunge into matrimony.  Here's a pix with Natalie, her dad and mom (Mr. Fix-It's sister), and her sister Caroline.  It was a beautiful wedding of fairy-tale proportions.

Natalie married her prince, Stephen, in the Monticello Opera House.  Here are the men from the wedding party before the wedding.  Stephen is the handsome one with the white bow-tie (2nd from left).

Here is the beautiful wedding cake which represents the girlie-girl that Natalie has always been.  She loves anything "Victorian" so the opera house and the cake were just right!

Here's a picture with Bex and Natalie before the wedding.  Bex dress looks weird with the handkerchief don't ask about it.

The next week, we headed off to Gainesville for team volleyball camp at the University of Florida.  As much as I'm NOT a Gator fan, I looked forward to this week because it meant I could visit and hang out with my family.

These girls are part of the team that rode with me and Bex to Gainesville.  (L-R) Sarah, Savannah (Cha-Cha), Emily and Valerie.

The team did well at camp (even though it was NOT a very good camp!) and finished the week earning Third Place in their division.  (That's what their fingers are showing "third"...) The blonde in the gray shirt in the front is Coach Q, she was their coach for the week. (Bex is 2nd from the right)

Another good thing about having volleyball camp in Gainesville is that Mr. Fix-It was able to come, bringing a friend's boat, for the weekend.  We sent the other girls home with another mom and spent the weekend in Chiefland with my crazy brother's family.

Here's a pix as we were on our way to the Suwannee river for the day. Bex with the bug-eyes, CJ, and CJ's oldest sister, Tiffany.

Did I mention that the "crazy" doesn't fall far from the tree?

Couldn't leave this picture out.  Here you see the much drooled over Camo Croc's.  These are Bex's dream shoes!  They finally arrived the week before camp...she was a very happy girl.

Here we are at the Redneck Riviera!  It's a sandbar in the middle of the river, about 3 feet deep so the kids can get out and swim to their hearts content.  You can see our pontoon boat on the right, with our friends (the Feagle's) boat on the left.  Before the skiing started, we had them parked all together so you can easily go from boat to boat.

This is Bex, just getting up on the ski's.

Here's Bex skiing up a storm!  She has such good balance, she's a natural.  As we were headed home, she skiied all the way back to the boat landing (about 15 minutes)...she was TIRED!

Here's Mr. Fix-It relaxing as he is skiing slalom.  You can see the pieced together "ski rope."  Somebody forgot to pack the ski-rope.  Being the resourceful folks we was quickly improvised.  The handle was a wooden dowel someone had.  It was funny because the handle kept getting shorter and shorter as the day wore on because it kept breaking. 

Here's Tiffany skiing.  Don't worry, you won't have to endure a picture of Meggy skiing --that ain't gonna happen!  I'm WAYYY too old for that!

Here's Uncle Chuck, the faithful boat driver for all the skiiers.  Just look at those pink legs!

OOPS!  Another picture of Bex and CJ!  How did that get in there?

Well, a LOT more happened in July...but this hit the high points.  Of course, attending my friend Tammy's baby shower for her #7 was a lot of fun and I got to visit with some friends I don't get to see face-to-face very often...that was a high point too!

Next up will be our August fun...

Stay Tuned!