Great niece Lily, shown here on a recent visit to great grandma's, turned two. Low key party since Kristine is expecting Lily's sister to arrive sometime in the next two weeks.
Our little miracle boy Wyatt had his first birthday! His grandparents and parents had a open house to celebrate and thank their prayer warriors. According to my sister, they expected maybe 50 people but had maybe 300 well wishers. Standing room only and people lined up waiting to come in.
This guy, my youngest brother Phil turned 50 making me officially OLD! The best recent picture I could find of him was on his last trip to Land Between the Lakes, KY. Yep, he's the fisher person. Also niece Beth turned 21! Lots of July events.
AND, DJ's grandson Josh, shown here with his mom LuAnn for the mother-son dance, got married to his long time love Lauren! I've got a picture of the couple too---later in the post.
That was just the introduction to the post, LOL. Obviously I have not posted since early in the month and 4th of July weekend. I was getting the house cleaned up, doing laundry, last minute errands so I could pack and packing, printing off driving directions. You know how it goes!
I took off about 6:30 on Friday the 8th thinking "Paducah or Bust". This trip was not undertaken without a bit of trepidation on my part. I have only driven back to Illinois once in 19 years all by myself. If I drove, it was switching off with DJ or like in December, go as far as my brother's home in TN and ride the rest of the way up with them. Mostly I have flown back. This time I needed to get up to my parent's home in central Illinois but I also needed to be down in Edwardsville, IL later in the week for the wedding. Plus there was the treadle sewing machine to carry back if possible and a big roll of quilt batting Mom was passing on to the Bama Belles. I had to have my car this time. Suck it up, Buttercup and drive!
While the roads are basically familiar to me, parts were not. I hate driving in most of TN specifically around Nashville though I am not crazy about the I-59/I-24 W exchange as you merge in from the left and I almost got hit there one trip. Next trip I may try going towards Chattanooga east and then turn around at the first exit to head back towards Nashville, LOL. I-65 is not too bad till you get up near Franklin, TN and you just feel hemmed in by vehicles. I can take two lane, mostly familiar roads to get over to the interstate. This time I took a slightly different road which angled up towards Priceville instead heading into Cullman at a right angle. It worked out well and put me on the interstate just slightly south of Decatur, AL---about 30 some miles to the TN line from there.
So I drove, and drove some more, white knuckling through Nashville and all the merging and surprisingly, not a lot of road construction. I knew from my maps to stay near the left lane and just hung on. I was in Clarksville, TN for lunch--just like DJ and I always did. I drove right past the Hancocks of Paducah exit and kept driving. Finally I stopped for the night in Mount Vernon, IL. 450 miles behind me.
Saturday I did the stretch from Mt. Vernon to Lexington. 197 miles though I stopped at my brother's home since he is just a few blocks off of the blacktop you take to get in the back way off I-74. I had not told them I was coming. I had only decided what days quite recently, moving two appointments so I could go to see my family first and do the wedding on the way back to Alabama instead of the other way around. Apparently my parents had not said anything either. I caught Jen and Laura by surprise then. She invited us to come back the next day for supper as my nephew John was home from Missouri State that weekend. He was not going to summer school but stayed down in Springfield to work. Teddy will be attending there come fall.
Sunday my parents and I went off to my dad's family reunion in his hometown at a local restaurant. At one time there were 42 first cousins in his generation, now down to 6. I didn't know anyone there until two of my 2nd cousins arrived with their spouses. Paul and Karen are close in age to a couple of my younger siblings. Dad was the youngest in his family and my grandpa was the 2nd oldest child. We never lived close to his family till my senior year in high school. Visits back did not coincide with family reunions very often. Large families, lots of cousins you never met or don't remember if you did. Still, it was fun, the food was good. The restaurant packed up the leftover chicken etc in carryout containers so folks to take home if you wanted. Less cooking in coming days!
That evening we went back to Phil's for dinner. Ted was working at the pizza place and Jen ordered a small pizza just so he would come home to deliver it and we would see him, LOL. The main menu was grilled hot dogs and brats but she had all the toppings for making them Chicago style or chili dogs if you preferred. She had watermelon salad, a pasta salad and made my favorite Rhubarb Meringue dessert. We were playing a sharing your memories type game after we ate and had the best time! Jen packed up leftover containers for us to take--my parents said she often does this---definitely less cooking!
Monday we went to Peace Meal for lunch and that evening I went down to my sister's for supper. Filets, baked potatoes, salad and creamy blueberry pie using a recipe she says she got from me. (It is on allrecipes, LOL from someone names Susan Meyer. I just sub lemon yogurt for the sour cream is all).
Tuesday I was trying to make connections with a friend for lunch but he came by the house to say that he had to make a delivery out of town and we rescheduled for Wednesday. At the time Dad was trying to figure out how we could get the treadle machine in the car so we were out on the driveway looking at the car. The cast iron base and the cabinet were on the garage rafters while the Singer machine was in the attic. He climbed up the ladder to get up there somehow and used a block and tackle to lower it down. No way would it go in either direction because of how the car trunk sloped. I said "too bad the sides won't come off or will they?" I spotted a couple of screw slots and using a pair of vice grips, Dad got them off and into the car. This was taken when I returned but you get the idea.
One roll of batting went in the trunk---that machine was not going anywhere!! I was afraid to open the trunk for fear the thing would start puffing back out from being crammed in there, LOL.
You don't dare take the twine off either for the same reason. This is 96 wide 4 oz. poly batting, a partial roll.
Two shots of the back seat---the cabinet for the treadle went on the back seat with a 2nd roll of batting in that big yellow bag, tied down and crammed in behind the seats. I add two more bags on the way back home as Jennifer the long arm quilter had called to tell me my quilts could be picked up the first day of the trip!! One bag has the two quilts and the other the leftover batting.
I had stuff in the front seat too but not near as crammed full as the back seat! No way I could have had a passenger or any kind or size!
We knew it was all going to go after packing the car and a few small packages of batting are buried up there atop the cabinet. I could see out the back mirror easily which is all that mattered at that point.
I tried to get my old wi-fi device hooked up to my parents computer without much success. The software installed but I must have missed a step or key component. My chromebook recognized it but then it was the one I used to use but no internet to be had. I just made a daily stop at the public library to clear my mail and the like. Thankfully, they provide that service. I did try though and hooked it back up like they had it.
Wednesday I met Tom for lunch at the local Kemp's Upper Tap. He would have taken me there last August when I was back but they were not quite ready to open. Good burger! Good visit with Tom. That evening Diane, her husband Rick, Kristine and Lily and I were planning to meet for dinner at Schooner's in Bloomington but there were severe thunderstorm warnings about the time we were to leave. We postponed till Thursday. We shared their King tenderloin and beer battered onion rings that I crave since I can't get anything like it down here in Alabama.
I went down to Bloomington a little early on Thursday to do the "nostalgia" tour. I went by the places I used to live and work, minus one stop in Normal. I even drove out to the mobile home park where DJ had lived for a time. I may have turned down the wrong street at first and was a little confused since there is more housing there than used to be along the route but I found the lot. I had gone right past the home he had built near Downs when I went through the country to my sister's on Monday. I picked up a couple of Avanti's gondolas for our supper (and my Friday breakfast, LOL) on the way back from lunch.
I left for Edwardsville on Friday morning--the wedding was at 5 and the hotel was near there. I-55 is familiar road after all those trips to St. Louis to baseball games though I had never been in the town. Josh and Lauren had both attended and graduated from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville last year. Josh is working on his masters and they were both working at a local restaurant but they are moving down to Florida soon to be closer to his mom and dad. I got myself all turned around driving to the wedding and wound up several stop lights north of where I needed to be. I had time earlier and should have made a trial run, kicking myself. No one knew where the venue was at the two places I stopped to ask. My phone map was little help and was not talking to me when I messed up either. I finally spotted it after my 2nd goof-up and could tell the road access was behind the building. Then I couldn't figure out where the entrance was as the first two doors were locked. I was not the only one who was 5 minutes late! We found the correct door together. (Her husband had a sock snafu so they were running late). We were seated just before the bride was about to be escorted down the aisle.
I was seated with the best man's parents and grandmother. I had meet Bruce and Nadine several times over the years but not met Grandma Grace. Scott and Josh had been best friends since age 5 and t-ball. Scott and groomsman Cole were friends of Lauren's from school and actually introduced her to Josh at a party when they were 15. It took! After 8 years together as a couple, they are now wed. DJ would be so proud of him and so happy that Josh has a soulmate.
Coincidentally, July 15 which will be their anniversary marks the anniversary of DJ and I moving to Alabama in 1997. Yep, the 19 years I mentioned earlier. Wow! Where does time go?
Saturday was the big driving day again. I took some backroads out of Edwardsville to get to I-64. My parents and I had poured over the maps before I had left and avoided some confusing google directions. Nashville was huge traffic jam where 1-24 E hits the turn off for I-65 S. I was going to go back on I-24 to Chattanooga but there are spots where the two routes and even parts of I-40 run together. Had I known what I was doing and not been in a far left lane I could have exited on Briley Parkway and saved some of that hassle. It took well over an hour to get past the bottleneck. I kept driving, thinking maybe I would stop in Manchester or Monteagle for the night. I hit the "Sammy Snake" section just about 4 miles from Monteagle and it was pouring down rain. That clinched it! I knew the windy steep downhill section that followed was best done the following day and I had driven one tenth of a mile shy of 400 anyway and was about 40 miles from Chattanooga.
Sunday it was just 147 miles to drive---I needed to stop in Attalla to pick up my quilts before I headed home. I had to laugh though. Both times Jennifer has had to call me I have been out of town, like WAAAAAY out of town. Last time I was in Florida visiting Tracy and Luann and this time sitting at the Clarksville, TN Steak and Shake. I hardly ever really go more than a couple county area away but this spared an extra trip to meet up with her.
After a quick stop for gas and a few groceries, I was home in time to go to Emily's (my former neighbor/Glynda's daughter-in-law) baby shower that afternoon with Miss Kathryn, Miss Esther and Carolyn. After the shower, we drove over to Paul's to drop off Carolyn but came in to say hello. We were joking with him that we were ready for supper and whatever he was fixing, LOL. It was a joke but next thing we know he is out grilling hot dogs, I'm helping with the french fries and Esther went to get some buns.
Yesterday I met Aline and her husband, Jane and her husband at the Oxford I-Hop for breakfast. I was able to drop off the one roll of batting at the meeting place and run a couple errands since I was close to the exchange. The laundry is done, car is all unloaded thanks to Paul last evening. He is going to refinish the cabinet part for me but we put it in the shed for now since he can't get to it till sometime next month. Now to re-load the stuff in the car that normally goes in there--what DJ called my quilt shop on wheels, LOL.
Now that I have talked your ear off, I do have some stuff to do around the house. Some things still need to be put away. Some paperwork dealt with, etc. My critters are barely wanting me to get out of their sight. Oscar was under my feet as I have been sitting at the kitchen table and I kept nudging him accidentally with my feet. I finally got his little bed from the living room and he sacked out in it near me. Skyler is being exceptionally meowing and clingy too. I'm guessing they missed me a bit but then I missed them too. I am thankful to Glynda for tending them so I could make this trip and they can stay in their own home.
Till next time-----