Cave Dwellings: April 2010
Cave Dwellings

Buckhorn Creek, Lake O' The Pines, Jefferson, TX

Friday, April 30, 2010

A Whole Lot Of “Nothingness”…

  Yesterday morning started out warmer and mild, and then…the dreaded WINDS began…They were predicting wind gusts to 50 mph…are we back in Arizona? At least our old house doesn’t do the “rock and roll” when the Wind Gods give us a blast! I decided to drive to a few garage sales, and left Den sitting on the living room floor starting the tedious process of putting together our new TV stand.  There were about 5 pages of instructions, so I figured the best thing I could do was to “exit, stage right”.

  I returned about 1 hour later and found the TV stand, still in 1000 pieces, and no Dennis.

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Hmmmm….Ol’ Blue was still in the garage.  I looked in the basement, and still no Den. We have enough house and land for him to wander anywhere, and he frequently does.  Just when I was beginning to worry, he walked in the front door.  Apparently one of our elderly neighbors, who lives one block behind us, locked herself out of her house. She is 90 years old, and her husband died about 5 years ago.  She is getting a little “forgetful”…Hey! You don’t have to be 90 to have CRDT disease (Can’t Remember a Damn Thing)…for you ‘youngins. She has lived in the neighborhood most of her married life and remembered Dennis because he went to high school with her son…So, she wandered over, knocked on our door, and asked him for help. “There but for the grace of God…..”  I love this neighborhood.

  After Den told me that warm and fuzzy story, he gave me the bad news about the TV stand… that 2 panels of it were damaged in shipping.Probably happened when they drop kicked the box off the Fed Ex truck at WalMart. One more thing to return …and wait for…whatever!

  I was on duty to pick up our 5 year old grandson, Campbell, from school.  His mom had a doctor’s appointment, so Grandma ran to McDole Elementary School in Sugar Grove to be his chauffeur.  You have to get special dispensation from the Pope to pick kids up from school if you are not the mom or dad.  And then  you ring bells, buzzers, show ID’s, and try not to look too weird. (The “looking weird “is my biggest problem..if they only knew about my uniforms, they would never release Campbell to me in a million years..HA!)


The winds were now really blowing. When I got back home, there were branches down in our back yard .  We have a police scanner, and I heard the Fire Dept. paged out for a field fire, which was spreading to a barn and home on the North side of town out in the country.  They had tanker trucks coming in from communities all around us. ( Remember, there are no fire hydrants in the country.You have to haul water in.)  They even called my son’s fire dept. in Oswego, about 25 miles from here. Fire plus wind….not a good combination. Hope nobody is hurt.

  Today I got up at 6AM, picked up some donuts as requested from my granddaughter, and drove to Sugar Grove to help Terrie with her garage sale. I spent most of the morning there, and then left to get some groceries on the way home. I managed to purchase a lamp and a rug from Terrie at her sale.  Dennis says that every time our family has a garage sale we just  buy each other’s junk.  I did get a good deal on a Stiffel lamp, though…It was sitting in Ter’s basement and I have had my eye on it ever since I first saw it.  I didn’t realize it was a Stiffel until I was cleaning it up today .  It said so on the globe…It had belonged to Tim’s parents and they gave it to him when he got his first apartment.  I snagged it for $20. SCORE!!!!

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  Yesterday evening our skies had some high wispy clouds…reminded me of an X-Ray of someone’s ribcage…..But then, I do have a strange spin on things.


  This evening our wind gusts are back to 50 mph, and we are under a tornado watch until 8PM this evening…I ran out and got our Noah weather radio from the Hiker to put upstairs by our bed..Upstairs is the key word..You don’t want to be there in a tornado, unless you want to end up in Oz…

Well, that’s enough for this blog….I get so long winded about tons of nothingness, eh? I’ll try to do something more exciting by Sunday……(Fat chance!)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Den resurrects Ol’ Blue…One More Time!

    Yesterday we found out that  yet one more thing had broken…Den’s old truck, which we recently renamed Ol’ Blue.  She is a 1989 Chevy Silverado short bed pickup truck that we bought brand spankin’ new.  Oh, it was a sharp looking ride back then…deep metallic blue, with a 4 speed on the floor…very sporty. I love a manual shift vehicle…it’s what I learned on and guys thought it was cool that “a girl” could drive one (back in the day). We also had a Pontiac Bonneville, that I ended up with most of the time. I actually preferred the truck!   Whenever we took a vacation, just the two of us, we took the truck.  It made many trips over the years.  Gradually, the paint began falling off in fairly large chunks.  The joke around here was that our Silverado was “a peeling”…I know..very lame.  So now poor ol’  thing is a mess, just a junker, but Dennis won’t let it go.

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He has resurrected it a trillion times. And yesterday, the brake line broke…not a good thing, right? I figured this could mean the truck graveyard for Ol’ Blue, but Dennis is making it another “do it yourself” project, buying a new brake line and installing it himself.  Den’s exact words…”That truck doesn’t owe us a thing!”…Sometimes I think it would be more merciful to “put it down”, but that will only happen if the wheels fall off and the engine catches fire.

We worked in the yard yesterday afternoon. When I was out there,  I took a photo looking at our house from the end of the backyard.  You can see the ‘Hiker waaay in the distance beside the garage..God, I miss that thing!


Den was mowing, which takes about 1 1/2 hours for our yard,  and I trimmed. We enjoy having no neighbors right behind us, and our kids had many a baseball game back there.

Our neighbors to the West are a divorced gentleman, Mike, and his 2 kids.  His son, Nathan, returned from Afghanistan last summer, after serving with the National Guard. Nathan writes and plays his own music.  Mike’s daughter, Sarah, is 16, and is about to get her driver’s license. (Ahhhh..the memories come flooding back…and the terror!!!) These are great people, and have been our neighbors for 10 years or more. Well, yesterday was a big day for Nathan.  He is leaving for California, striking out to look for work and hoping to play his music in Los Angeles, CA. His car was loaded and he was really excited….

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Mike was a little sad, but very proud….I remember when our daughter Chris left to move to Indianapolis to pursue her dreams. She was 19 years naive …I cried for days.  Ya just gotta let ‘em try some things on their own, bite your tongue and smile. As it turns out, she still lives there, finished college, married to a great guy and has a sweet little boy.  Guess things happen for reasons.

Today I helped my oldest daughter set up for a garage sale.  I loaded up some tables, clothing and LOTS of junk to that WE needed to be shed of.   Dennis managed to find some stuff in our garage to contribute, and I could barely fit my own self into our truck when I left our house for Sugar Grove. When I got back, Dennis was still working on Ol’ Blue, so I decided it was time to drag out the fountain for the summer.


  When this puppy comes out of the garage, and gets it’s innards working, it is officially May at our house, and summer can’t be far behind!  My next big project will be cleaning the HitchHiker, inside AND out!   As Al puts it, there is a winter’s worth of Southwest sand and dirt everywhere…not to mention the millions of bugs who committed suicide on the front of it as we zoomed down the road.  Thanks again for checking in with us Cave People.  We’re all good, and I’ll blog more Friday…   

Monday, April 26, 2010

Toads Should Be Forced To Wear Red Hats!

Today I got ambitious, got out the hoe, wheelbarrow, kneeling pad ,(no, not for praying, for gardening on my old knees), and started digging in the dirt.  I have to tell you, I have a phobia for toads….and toads seem to enjoy seeking me out when I am in the garden..”OK, here she comes.  Let’s hide behind these dead leaves in the dirt till she reaches in, and just sit here look ing as hideous as we can.” I must have scared up 4 toads today…OK, maybe it was the toads who scared me up 4 times. I think toads should be required to wear bright red fedoras, so I can spot them waaaaay ahead of time….No??…Oh well, I thought it was a GREAT idea.

100_6697 I told you that it seemed everything broke when we got home from our winter trip this year. Today was the final straw. We have a very old Seth Thomas mantel clock that was Den’s Great Grandpa Cave’s.  Den’s mom gave it to us when his Dad died, (after she had a clock repairman get it cleaned up and back in working condition. ) This was in 1974.  It has been ticking away on our fireplace mantel ever since.
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In the right hand photo you can see there are two places to wind it, and I wind them both every night before we go upstairs to bed. And you can see the patent date of July 30, 1878. Also,in the photo below left,  inside where the pendulum is, it says “Manufactured By Thomas Clocks”. Some of it has been worn away from years of hands reaching in to get those keys, including ours. I have this feeling I am channeling history when I reach in to get them.  In the right hand photo below, you can see the ST, initials for Seth Thomas. So, you see why I was devastated when this clock suddenly stopped.
I knew McGuyver was a wizard, but clocks were something he had never tackled. Never the less, he took the clock apart, took the works out of it, and, decided that maybe it needed cleaning, because the parts seemed to be sticky.. He then took some carburetor cleaner and sprayed in on the insides.  No, REALLY??…Yes, really. The clock is now back in one piece and ticking away on our mantel…
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McGuyver’s next project was our daugher-in-law’s slot machine, which, for some reason, wouldn’t take the coins. They are building a bar/family room in their basement and want to put the slot machine in it, but they want it to WORK!  Below is the coin feed part that Den removed from it today. He then proceeded to work on it in our kitchen for about an hour while I was gardening.100_6695 I know, it have no clue how this damn thing works either.  However,  Dennis figured it out. He “jury rigged” it , and thinks it should now work, and he is taking it back to their house to try it out.  Not to brag, but, the man in uncanny. He’s like a Houdini with fixing stuff…. I’m constantly amazed.
We had a busy Saturday and Sunday.  It was our son-in-law’s 40th birthday, and he and Terrie were going in to Chicago to tour Wrigley Field and meet some friends for dinner. We volunteered to watch their three kids  Saturday afternoon and overnight.  We drove about 25 miles to watch Peyton play soccer at the Kaneland High School.  Peyton is 9 years old and this is his second year playing..
We met his mom and dad there with Peyton’s little brother, Campbell.  Their older sister, Taylor, was at rehearsal for the musical “Annie” at the Presbyterian Church in Aurora.  We then took Campbell and Peyton with us and drove about 35 miles to attend a birthday party for our son’s step grandchild, Landon, who lives in Earlville, IL.  We arrived there about 12:30PM…( after sitting outside their apartment before we figured out where the back entrance was..DUH! ) We left there about 2PM and drove another 45 miles so we could pick Taylor up from rehearsal at 3PM, and bring her back to our house…Talk about a “round robin” drive about!!! What we all do for our grandkids, right??
  When we had all of our grandkids finally collected and on our turf, Papa lit a campfire and we tossed footballs, kicked soccer balls and just ran around. I tried to sneak in a little spinach dip and crackers (trying to be somewhat healthy with the spinach), but those darn kids saw the green stuff and acted like we were trying to poison them, soooo Den and I ate it!!
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We ended up with an extra overnight guest when Jessica, the little girl next door, ended up in the mix.  This is no problem, she is a great kid.  They all slept in the same bedroom upstairs, Taylor and Jess got the big bed and Peyton and Campbell crashed on the floor…This only works until someone hits puberty, and that is a ways off, thank God. Sunday morning I was the “line chef”, frying up sausage, bacon, pancakes and eggs for the hungry crew, and our home once again got quiet when Terrie and Tim collected their 3 munchkins, and Jessica walked home across the backyard.
  Well, I have yet again gone on way too long….Sorry….Lots of craziness at the Cave’s these past couple days….And I just couldn’t resist McGuyver’s latest escapades…. If you stuck with it until you got here…you’re a more focused individual than I am…THANKS FOR READING!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Homes with a history

When I was on my photo session/bicycle ride around Sandwich, I took note of how many old and lovely homes we have here.  First of all is the home down the street from us that we use to call “The Mansion”.  It is now home to Center Street Clay, where a couple have converted the 1885 “Second Empire” style home into a learning facility for those who want to learn to make pottery.  The first floor is a dormitory for students, the middle floor is a gallery, also a living room and dining room. 



This home was once owned by the Von Kleinschmidt family, then, after it was sold, it became apartments.  There was even a murder committed there back in the early 1980’s….I won’t ever forget that! Police running around, warning all of us who lived along Center Street to stay inside our homes until the bad guy was caught, and he finally was….Exciting times and tragic times for a small town.


This home on the left is also located on our street. It belonged to two sisters, the Hotte sisters.  I once asked if I could pick some cherries from their tree . I wanted to make my family a pie and told them I would make them a pie too.  They let me pick the cherries, but I only had enough for one pie, and guess who got it…Yup, it sure wasn’t our family! It is really a nice house and right now it is “For Sale”.

  We have a street here in town, Elmwood Place,. It is just off the Main Street and is known around here for it’s lovely, big old homes…Here are a few..

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And here are a few more great, well kept homes in our little town…..

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Below are the first two homes we lived in after we were married.  We had an apartment for 4 months immediately after we “tied the knot”…then we suddenly needed a bigger place, I was expecting our first child, so we rented this little house on the left.  We stayed there for about 1 1/2 years and decided we needed to join the ranks of the “indebted”, so we purchased our first home for the sum of $14,000..putting $2000 down and borrowing the rest.This is our first home, on the right.  Trust me, it looked nothing like this when we went into hock for it!!

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..When we bought that little house, it had a partial dirt basement, and only  one heat register, in the middle of the linoleum floor downstairs..Dennis tore out the old furnace and put in a new one. We put a big rug on the linoleum floor, wall papered the crooked walls, poured a cement patio in the back.…God, how much fun we had in that little house….It wasn’t long and suddenly we had 2 little“Cave women” to add to our only son….and that was when we  bit off a bigger chunk of debt and bought the home we are in now.  When we bought this house it had been owned by an older German couple who owned the meat market in town. They had since both passed away, and we bought  it from the estate in 1974.  We thought we were getting robbed when we paid $30,000 for it…. There wasn’t a drain that would work, every wall was painted pink or blue ( including all the woodwork), and there was a back porch that was falling off the house…..However….it was structurally VERY sound, good foundation, good wood frame and great neighborhood…right across the street from where Den’s Grandma and Grandpa lived….(and subsequently where his mom and dad lived.) So you see, we have always worked on our houses and tried to make them better.  Hence the nickname “McGuyver” was earned by Dennis. We have been in this house 35 years, raised our 3 kids here…lots of memories here, yes there are.

  We still have a few brick sidewalks left in town…and a granary that is no longer in use… When I say “in town”, I mean the granary is actually in a business/residential area on the West end of Sandwich…right next to the railroad tracks, like most businesses here.

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OK….so now you get an idea of just how lucky we are to have raised our children in this small town atmosphere..  Dennis is having his 50th class reunion this year, Sandwich High School class of 1960.  He is a “born and raised” Sandwich-ite…I, on the other hand, moved here when I was 12. My dad had a job as a milkman for Modern Dairy in Elgin…(I AM the milkman’s daughter!! ) We moved to Sandwich so my parents could run the Sandwich Roller Rink (yes, that would be “roller” as in skating).  After we lost our money there, my dad got another job… Caretaker of the local cemetery, which meant we had to live there. I almost had a stroke when all 4 of us, ( I had a little brother), moved into the house at the Oak Ridge Cemetery .  I spent age 13-18 growing up there.  Let me just say that I had the MOST AWESOME Junior Class Halloween party there….but that is worth at least another 2-3 blogs….

This blog has been waaaay longer than I intended it to be. If you hung on to read far, you are a history buff of some sort. Thanks for hanging out with us in our hometown… Hope you enjoyed the tour.   I was proud to show it off to all of you, and may find some more stuff about Sandwich to share..Did I mention that amid all of this old stuff, we have a real 7 screen movie theater and a Best Western Hotel??? Lots left to blog about….

Thursday, April 22, 2010

“My Kind of Town”

I’m sure not many of you have every heard of Sandwich, IL, or have any idea where it is. So yesterday, I hopped on my bicycle and pedaled around our town taking pictures of things you may find interesting. I got a couple stares from quite a few people. I think they were wondering what this goofy ol’ lady was doing taking pictures of the train tracks, houses, brick sidewalks and our water tower.  So here is a brief history…

“The first plat of Sandwich was recorded by a man with the last name of Beveridge. At that time, though, the town was not called Sandwich. It was in 1855, four years after the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroad first surveyed land through Almon Cage's property. Cage gave the land to build a depot on, knowing that would attract development of a town. It did, and the town was named "Almon" after its first settler. Cage proceeded to offer free lots to anyone who would build in the newly-platted town, and a number of people took him up on it, including A.R. Patten, James Clark, Myrlin Carpenter and James Clark.”

“Cage did not like his first name used to name the town, so Almon was quickly scrapped in favor of Newark Station. But this only served to confuse the town with Newark to the south. Still, residents pushed to have the railroad stop in Newark Station - originally, the railroad only had a flag stop there. But it was not until "Long John" Wentworth went to Congress that Sandwich became Sandwich, and hit its stride. Wentworth used his influence to get the trains to stop in town, and also gave Sandwich its name - after his home town of Sandwich, New Hampshire. After 1855, the town grew quickly. In 1857, there were 107 families in town; by 1860, there were 203 families.”

Now I would like you to see our downtown area first.  It is really quite unique and the town sprung up right along the railroad tracks as a railroad stop. Remember to “clik if you want to see it larger….


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Top is “Railroad” Street, literally. It runs most of the way through town from Rt. 34,  and is there our town “hub” of local businesses is located. The next two photos are in Main Street, running North and South from Rt. 34.We have many old buildings. The one on the right used to be a hotel, but , as you can see, it now houses one of our local pubs on the main floor.  The rooms are all still upstairs, but no longer used.


Of the photos below, the one on the right is our Gazebo, where they have carolers at Christmas, and bands at any time.  Unfortunately, this gazebo is right next to the tracks also. Basically, it really sucks when a train comes through and temporarily overtakes the entertainment…(and there are a lot more trains than use to be..I know this because our lot backs up to them…)

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Above left is our Opera House, built in 1878.  There is a beautiful stage inside, and we have a local theater groop who perform plays..There have been quite a few weddings performed there too. On the right is Stone Mill, erected in 1856, and is now a museum of Sandwich.

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On left is the old “pants factory”, where ladies worked in the upper 2 floors, sewing overalls.  I know this because my mother worked there. They have put all new windows in it with the hope of making it into a restaurant..That was before the economy took a dive…now it just sits empty waiting for someone to come up with some money….fat chance!

We have a neat fairgrounds where each September they hold the DeKalb County Fair. This is the oldest county fair in Illinois and one of the prettiest fairgrounds. During the spring, summer and fall they have an Antiques Market the last Sunday of every month. This is just about 2 blocks from our house…

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I couldn’t get into the fairgrounds, they have a chain link fence all the way around it, and I wasn’t in the mood to be handcuffed and locked up today. We do have some fairly big name entertainment at the grandstand, if you count Brenda Lee (if you are under 40, you don’t have a clue), Eddie Rabbit ( another one you may not remember), Trace Atkins ( if you love country music this one will ring a bell). They have harness races and demolition derbies, and the picture top middle is a building called the Woman’s Hall. It has been there almost since the beginning, 1888.  This is where you take your homemade jams, cakes, quilts, needlework, etc. to be judged… just like the old fashioned county fairs.

  A few years ago, Sandwich built a big new fire department. Our family has quite a history of firefighters.  When they built the new department, they laid a brick pavement around the flagpole and put the names of every person who has served on the Sandwich Fire Department and the dates of the years they served.  I proudly present 3 generations of “Cavemen”..left to right, Dennis’s father, then Den, and lastly our son, Kelly.  Dennis was a hose captain and Kelly has moved on the become at Lieutenant with the Oswego Illinois Fire Department, about 30 miles from here.


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Here are a couple photos of the day Kelly got promoted to Lieutenant…

Left is Lt. Cave and his wife, Cindy…and then with us…proud moment.


  Also, Dennis’s cousin, Donald Bark was a Deputy Chief on the department…and, Den’s Uncle, Ray Anderson,(deceased since 1982) also was a firefighter, but I forgot to get a photo of his brick..Sorry, Uncle Ray. (I know he would forgive me, he was a peach of a guy.)



I have to say, as I was pedaling my derriere around Sandwich with my camera around my neck, I realized what a wonderful little town we have here.  Like everything else, the suburbs are creeping upon us, but the history remains in every old building that is still standing.  In my next blog, I will include some of the beautiful older homes that line our streets here….More on Saturday!!