Cave Dwellings: July 2010
Cave Dwellings

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

Saturday, July 31, 2010

You Asked About My Childhood in a Cemetery……

   Many of you commented about my spending my teenage years growing up in a cemetery…I’m sure some of you figure this accounts for some of my strangeness…It probably was the reverse…My strangeness allowed me to find some humor and lots of fun living amongst the tombstones….(pretend there is some scary music playing now…like the theme from the Movie, “Halloween”.…would you believe I have that as a ringtone on my cell phone?? Of course you would!!)

   We moved to Sandwich In 1960, when I was 12.  My Dad was a milkman for Modern Dairy in Elgin, IL. (Yes, I AM the proverbial “milkman’s daughter”…) Dad got a chance to manage a skating rink in Sandwich.  You must be told here that my Dad was a huge roller skater…we all grew up on skates and frequently went to the local skating rink in South Elgin, where my Dad was a floor guard.   My older sister, Darlene, had her wedding reception there……I know I have probably lost most of you …Sometime I will give you some more history of our roller skating family…


   At any rate, the skating rink thing went belly-up in 1962, and we lost all our money.  Dad needed another job…FAST…He tried factory work, but didn’t like it…So when someone told him the local cemetery needed a “live in” caretaker, he looked it over …and took the job.(Does the movie “The Shining” come to mind…caretaker…haunted…??)  We (myself, my little brother, and Mom and Dad) moved into the caretaker’s house at Oak Ridge Cemetery on the edge of Sandwich..I was 14 years old…At first I was not really fond of the idea, but I got the room with the balcony, so I was pacified. I also thought living in a cemetery would give me some cool, chilly and daring status as a High School Freshman. High School Freshman need all the help they can get!!!


I lived there until Den and I married in 1969.  Let me just tell you it is a major problem to get a boyfriend to come pick you up at the cemetery….What I really found neat was that in the spring, the workers who mowed the grass and trimmed the place were mostly teenage boys who needed a summer job. I kept a watch from my balcony to see the new crop of boys every spring…I also tried to screen the ones who were not “hot” looking ..but my Dad put the kibosh on that .  He knew my ulterior motives..

   I had an awesome Jr. Class Halloween party out there….Oh my God it was fun!!!! My parents helped me decorate the garage all creepy inside. Cobwebs hanging everywhere..  I was good friends with the girl whose Dad owned the monument business (you know, tombstones).  Between her dad , my dad and the local undertaker, we managed to scrounge up a casket…Patsy, that was her name, put on the ghoul /zombie make up and we laid her out in the casket down in the crypt…My Dad gave ghost walks to the crypt, and when he took the unsuspecting kids inside, Patsy would pop up out of the casket and scare the  _____ out of them!!!

I am in the process of organizing some old AND new photos so I can put them on my blog…It is taking longer than I thought, but I am digging through our archives in the basement…Rest assured I WILL post them soon! In case you are wondering, the photos of today’s post were taken in Gilham ,Arkansas at an Army Corps campground…We had NO cell phone service, but lots of great wildlife!!!!

I figured if I was talking about a cemetery, I had better lighten it up with some LIVING photos!!

I am sorry I haven’t commented on anyone’s blog in a while…lots going on..more bad news on my sister and it seems there are not enough hours in the day to do what I!! Hang in there..I’m trying to find my way back to “bloggersville”…..Thanks for hangin’ in and hangin’ on!!!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Fine Art of Empty Headed Blogging..At It’s Best…..

  Today was a pretty quiet day…for Dennis. That’s because I  wasn’t around..I went shopping at 9AM and didn’t return until 2PM….I left Den home, guarding the computer by having a marathon day of “surfing the net”, reading RV forums, and playing some serious Spider Solitaire.  He wouldn’t say it, but I think he secretly likes it when I “disappear” for a few hours…Wait just a minute..He TELLS me he just sits in front of the computer…How do I know he isn’t bringing in the “dancing girls”, busting out the disco music and “getting down”???

Where do you suppose I was when I took the next picture?? Clue: I was behind the wheel of the GMC, getting some money. No, I wasn’t holding up a bank….but……



……Would you believe I was at the drive up window of our bank??? Yep, our branch bank is surrounded by a cornfield.   Ya just gotta love rural Americana!!  I like this drive-up because it’s much higher than the others, made for big rough and tough trucks.. and it is easier  for short me to reach the little canister thing .  Even at this window , I have to open the door and hang half way out of it to reach that stupid tube money holder!  I try to get as close as possible when I pull up, and I imagine myself ripping out the entire drive up if I turn too sharp when I pull away. That would be just my luck.


I think this little bird is an Indigo Bunting, unusual for our area…and…Do you think we have enough firewood??? FYI, there is another stack behind that one by the bricks…and just as big.


You may notice I am bouncing around with pictures as much as I am segueing back and forth with random thoughts. It may seem that I am somewhat bipolar…. somewhat sane, then nuts…thoughtful, then manic. I do have some issues that would probably warrant commitment . Fortunately, I think it is just a bit of cabin feveritis…..IS IT TIME TO PACK YET??? 



I must apologize to our followers for not being very demonstrative of how very much I appreciate all of you staying with me. I am also lax in doing a shout out to you all. Today is one of those days when my imagination is flat as a pancake.  Right now our life is about as exciting as watching paint dry. As promised, here is an update on the progress of the train car restaurant.


They have begun digging underneath the train, uncovering an old brick foundation.  Dennis says he thinks they will pour a new cement one . Also, not the concret steps and front door are now gone. I think the main entrance will be around the front of the train car, where the bar entrance was when it was Kelly’s Bar and Grill. I can’t wait for this place to be restored!!

I think I told you I spent most of my teenage years living in a cemetery. (This could account for my very strange sense of humor.) Well, I took a bike ride out there a few days ago and got some pictures .  I want to organize and post them in the near future… I have some old photos that I scanned to show what it used to look like when I lived there.  As for today…I am spent, boring, HOT….and in need of a tall, cool one….No, I didn’t mean Dennis, although he IS both of those things….I promise I will try to be more creative in the future….I am not sure what the definition of a “blue funk” is …But I think I am caught up in one….

Here is a shout out to our loyal and fearless followers….The Bayfield Bunch, John Souva Jr., Mark & Teri, Kenny & Angela, Bob Nilsen, Sam and Donna, Maryann & William, Jerry & Suzy, Rick,  Nellie & Jonathan, Rick & Paulette,  The Warners, Margie M., Marion Parker, Eileen Fitzpatrick, Susan Bidniak, and our newest brave souls, Happy Trails, FD5, and Hembree..If I left anyone out….chalk it up to dementia.

If  you read this to the bottom, you are probably in need of a tall, cool one too!!!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010


  Saturday evening we sat outside by the campfire…As I said once before, Dennis  would sit by a campfire if it were 110 in the shade and he had to sit in his skivvies.. We had been to the Moose Lodge for a beer and a wine….OK, maybe it was 2 beers and 2 wines..At any rate, we came home to enjoy the warm evening outside..The clouds were like cotton puffs ….and there were storm clouds to the South….


Sunday morning, Den worked on putting in an extra outlet in our Hiker bedroom.  He wanted a designated outlet for plugging in our heater when we are hooked up to 30 AMP..It seems we use the heater lots in Texas, especially in the mornings of December and January. Sometimes I forget it’s on and go and start the fireplace/heater in the living room…not good..Also, you have to be careful about the coffeepot, microwave and the electric hot water heater when running our little heater…Electricity- shmicity..I don’t understand Ohms from WATTS from AMPS.  I DO know that if you stick your finger in a socket it is like getting a lobotomy!!!


So now you know how I feel about electrical stuff.  I really prefer not to get involved, but, alas, I have smaller hands than McGuyver…and that means fishing cable through itsy places, like under the drawer in the kitchen. This is my contribution…Sometimes working together in tight places can be fun…But….NOT with electrical stuff…

About 11AM ,we took a ride up to Uncle Jr’s and Aunt Jeanette’s home in Montgomery.  Den had purchased a cap to install on their fireplace chimney to help keep out the Raccoons..When we got there, we found that they had caught 2 raccoons in the live trap they had set by their house…Den asked Jr. what he did with them and he smiled and said,” I dropped them off at your house”…NOT FUNNY UNCLE JR!!!


No, that isn’t Karnack in the turban..That would be Aunt Jeanette, fixing us some snacks…She is 95 years young and can work circles around me..Are those wine glasses on the table??? Yes….and she can drink me under the table, too. After a full day of visiting with our Aunt and Uncle, we got home, cooked outside and fell into bed…They can do that to ya.

  I got a call from my brother-in-law that my sister, Darlene, was taken to Sherman Hospital in Elgin.  She is 7 years older than I am (69), and has many health issues… COPD, an enlarged heart, diabetes….and now they think she may have a fractured hip.  So I got in the truck Monday morning and made the drive to see her…I HATE the drive up there, but I LOVE my sis more..The traffic is horrific..lots of nasty, fast driving, lane changing, cell-phone talking, bumper to bumper drivers…I’m getting too old for this stuff!! Maybe I should apply for a handicapped sticker..I could be handicapped..mentally…after driving on this race track!!

  Naturally,  I got lost…..I had the directions on a post it note, stuck to the truck radio…But it isn’t easy maneuvering in and out of traffic, trying to read street signs , all at the same time…I went to the wrong place..OF COURSE!  I was at a clinic, so I figured they could point me in the right direction….and they did.

wrong place, Donna!!!              FINALLY….

All said and done, I got to see Darlene…She was going to have an open MRI today for her hip….We had a visit, and I left when they came to do her tests…I will keep track of her, for sure….To make a long story longer…Monday evening, my daughter, Chris from Indy, called …crying.  This will send chills down any mother’s spine… Their dog, Sara,  jumped the fence in their backyard, ran across the busy highway and was hit by a car and killed…Heartbreaking…That will take the wind right out of ya …been there..done that…losing an animal. No words will console …

I have this feeling about pets, especially dogs….Their time on this earth is shorter than ours, as a rule…In that short time, we grow in many ways and learn sooo much from them.   They give much more to us than they take, and when they leave us, we feel so empty..But I feel like they are at peace,  somehow they know that we are better people for loving them, no matter how short the time was that we had them..Thanks, Sara Jane, you taught us lots….

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Really Do Like Trains…Historic Trains….

  I took a bike ride “downtown”, if you can call it that.  We have an historic train car “diner” in our town that we acquired in the 1930’s.  It originally debuted in the Columbian Exposition (Chicago World’s Fair), in 1893.  It cost $25,000 – old No. 4483, and affectionately named Isabella….by whom, I have no idea.  It was called a “Palace Car”, with it’s wicker, mahogany, velvet and crystal interior.  I have eaten in the train car, and it is beautiful.  When the fair ended, the train car was employed by Burlington to serve as one of their cars on the line’s Crack Flyer, “The Pride of the Burlington”.

  This train car also went on the political campaign trail with Teddy Roosevelt during the presidential campaigns of 1900, 1904, and the “Bull Moose” campaign of 1912.  After that, she was retired..Then, in 1931, Isabella was sold as junk to a gentleman from Sandwich…for $75.00. She was turned into a diner located on the main drag through town. The road the dining car was on was then known as Route 18, which connected Chicago and Denver, extending all the way to California..This route is now called Route 34.  Our little Diner became quite the attraction on our town.  It hosted such names as The Glen Miller Band (come on, I know SOME of you know that band!), Max Baer (you DO remember Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies!), Cary Grant, Guy Lombardo and Princess Grace, just to name a few.

  Bill Wright, and his wife, Betty, ran the train car diner, and it was then called Wright’s Diner.  The Wright family lived in the house right next door to the diner. They were known for their homemade strawberry pie, that Bill made himself…When I was in high school, my friends and I used to go in just to get a pie slice. At that time, it had a counter, stools , and booths, just like a diner..DUH!  In 1977, that house and the diner were sold to Paul and Terry tePoole, a German couple, and they attached the Wright home to the diner, creating the building that exists today, and making it much larger. .  It was then called Kelly’s Pub and American Grill.  However, the train car was just recently sold again…and the new owner is tearing off the metal covering of the train car down to the original wood siding.  He is entirely restoring the train car..I cannot WAIT to see it when it is done…

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Above is a picture of how it looked just one month ago, when it was Kelly’s Pub and American Grill…..Notice the metal on the sides and top..and the door in the middle…


..Above is the work in progress…The middle door is gone, and they uncovered an oval window near the front.  The Railroad Crossing lights were added by the Kelly’s Pub…”clik the pik” to make bigger…(I have a feeling Sam will…)

..There are some beautiful stained glass original windows inside, as you can see from my pictures… and beautiful chandeliers, which you must take my word for…I walked up to the door and found out that it is considered a “Hard Hat” area..I wasn’t wearing one…I wonder if a “Hard Head” would qualify…


They had this sign on the door…See the new name?…Now that you know the history, you get the reason for “The Bull Moose” name??  YOU DON’T??…If you still don’t get why THAT is the new name, you are cheating…You need to re-read the train car history..There will be a quiz later.

Above left, you are looking North from what used to be our only stoplight in Sandwich, IL, on the corner of Route 34 and Main St. The center picture is the front of the train car..This is NOT the original front..I wonder what they have planned for that, if anything…Right pik is the house where the Wrights used to live, and is now part of the restaurant. There was an outdoor patio there, as you can see.  Word has it that the guy who bought the restaurant has a bazillioin dollars AND is a train aficionado…(I AM getting pretty good at the fancy words, eh??)

I will update you as the construction progresses..I may even steal a Hard Hat so I can snoop around when they are working. I haven’t been naughty for a very long time, and I feel the need to “push the envelope”…you know… ,see how much trouble my detective son-in-law can get me out of.

Friday, July 23, 2010

“Up On The Roof….” I go…jumping headfirst into the new version on Windows Live Writer…I should be able to figure it out, right?…I’m alive, and I’m a writer wanta’ be. Here goes nothing!!

  I decided a good way to get myself out of the ol’ camping withdrawal would be to pay some attention to the Hiker..She has been sitting on her pad, getting absolutely NO attention from me.  McGuyver has been doting on her since we got back…cleaning the fireplace, fixing the wiring for the TV, putting together a new HD satellite receiver…I, on the other hand, have only washed the rugs and piled them up inside the camper door.

  It was a pretty hot day, and I figured I may as well involve the garden hose in this project.  The Hiker was a sad sight, what with all the black streaks from her runny mascara, (crying from neglect)…I filled my bucket with RV washer stuff, added a little bleach, and climbed up on the roof.  This is no easy task for a little ol’ 62 year old who has an aversion to heights.



At this point I must warn you…DO NOT CLICK TO ENLARGE !!!

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Actually, it was the perfect day to “play in the hose”.  The roof of the Hiker was pretty groaty (is that even a word?).  McGuyver put my wash bucket and long handled brush on top for me..He knows what a klutz I am using a ladder and carrying stuff.  After I hauled my sorry behind up to the top of the ladder, I then made a precarious step onto the roof…(I’ll just be  that was quite a view from the street.)  McGuyver proceeded to toss me a scrub brush to use on the edges…just in case I wanted to…Mighty big of him, I’ll say.

I don’t want to give you the impression that Dennis never scrubs the roof…he does.. Today I figured it was a good way for Donna to catch some rays AND get some work done at the same time..After about 2 hours, the roof was done ( and I was melting). But, OH NO, I couldn’t be satisfied with a clean roof and dirty sides…. I decided I hadn’t had enough punishment yet.  I climbed down and proceeded to wash the rest of her. Washing an RV is akin to “diapering a dinosaur”..Before I climbed down ( which was another interesting mess of legs and arms), I had Den hand the camera UP for a few shots from aloft…







Why is it they have to put an icky, nasty yellowed plastic stove vent cover on a nice, fresh white HitchHiker??…Can they not SEE that that thing isn’t WHITE???…IT DOES NOT MATCH!!!This is almost reason enough to trade it in….

Our 3 grandkids were going to stay over with us that same night.  It was Tim and Terrie’s 15th wedding anniversary, and he was taking her for dinner and a tattoo.  Yes, you read it right…(she didn’t fall too far from the Radical Mom tree). She got the “tat” on her ankle,( to look like an ankle bracelet), with all 3 of their kid’s names..Come to think of it, she got some really cool stuff for their anniversary…dinner, a new tattoo,,AND…. an I-phone!!  I thought crystal was the gift for your 15th wedding anniversary..I think mine was styrofoam…just kidding ,Den. 

The rugrats hit the door about 3PM….and I was well armed with frozen ice pops, popcorn, pizza, deviled eggs, french fries and cherry coke…( I never said I was a health food freak!)


You may observe that one of the children has dark hair, and looks nothing like the other 3, who are of German dissent… Remember Sesame Street??…”One of these things is NOT like the other..” That would be our neighbor, Jessica, age 10..She magically shows up when Peyton (age 10) does …(It’s a known fact girls mature faster, right?? ) Notice I left Dennis outside for babysitting duty…yea, right.


Left is Sister Mary “Campbell” Margaret, who escaped from the convent to join us for breakfast…Everyone, including Grampa, got into the waffles, sausage and scrambled eggs…If  any of these kids ever shows up with high cholesterol, I’m going to be the first one they point the finger at I’m sure…

And so it goes…another exciting???? day in the life of Cave Dwellers…..
I actually made it through Live Writer without uttering ONE profanity…Day’s not over yet…