Friday, September 30, 2005


It's lonely.

Hubby Steve is gone this weekend - - up to Joliet for the drag races.

I don't mind him going, because I know he really enjoys them and had made many good friends there. And it's best that he goes without me, because I am totally, absolutely NOT into the races . . .

Oh sure, there are other things I could do up there, like go on a little further up the road to the Fox River Valley area (St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia - - my favorite places in the whole world!). But then there would be that whole scheduling thing of working out who needs to be where and when . . . So he goes on up by himself.

Which is fine. We have good friends in Chicago that he stays the night with, so that also gives him time to catch up with them. They have lots of fun together.

And I'm busy also - - I get to work tomorrow, helping proctor an LSAT exam here on campus. It's a long process, but hey, I get paid for it. And LSAC pays their proctors well. More spending money for the new house!

But I still miss him . . . *sigh* . . . can't wait for Sunday when he's back home!!! :-)

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Had a dental appointment yesterday. Turned out to be more extensive than anticipated. I'm doing okay now, but my jaw STILL feels like someone sucker-punched me!

It's not the dentist's fault - - I'm not blaming him at all! It just getting the shot at the lower back part of your jaw made that muscle a bit sore, and then spending that much time in the chair with your mouth propped wide open . . .

Just a tad bit uncomfortable, ya know?

I mean, getting a temporary crown placed and two teeth filled all at one time is bound to be uncomfortable, right? (Right, Liz!)

The only good thing about it is that I absolutely adore my dentist. He is the ONLY dentist I have EVER trusted - - EVER! I honestly don't mind going to him, regardless of what needs to be done. He's THAT GOOD. Gentle, compassionate, kind, GREAT sense of humor (ever tried laughing with someone's fingers in your mouth? Umm - - on second thought, don't answer that . . . ).

He and I had a talk one day when I was there for a routine check-up, discussing our personal experiences with "Nazi Dentistry" - - he told me he decided when he started his practice that he was determined not to cause his patients any pain. And he doesn't. There is only one time he caused me any pain, and it absolutely could not be helped. But he felt terrible! He kept apologizing to me over and over, and really felt awful!

I just adore this man.

Dr. Hastings, thank you.

And just for future reference - -
you CANNOT EVER move away - -
you CANNOT EVER retire - -
AND - -
don't even THINK of kicking the bucket - -
I need you around for a LONG, LONG time, doc. Just remember that, okay?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Feeling Better

Well, the Tylenol and ibuprofen are doing their job.

I'm feeling MUCH better today!

Not 100% yet, but on the mend slowly but surely.

At least I can walk without grimacing in pain! :-)

More later . . .

Monday, September 26, 2005

Turkey Run, Part 2

One thing I forgot to mention about Turkey Run - -

There was a whole group of square dancers staying there at the Lodge this weekend. Nice people!

BUT - -

We were checking out around 9:30 Sunday morning, and they were already square dancing in the conference room - -

But not to the country music you would expect . . .

I NEVER EVER imagined that you actually COULD square dance to "Montego Bay".

Un-freakin'-believable. :-)

Oh well - - they were STILL nice people!

Agony - - A - GON - YYYYYY . . . . .

I am in pain.

SERIOUS pain here, folks - -

Can't believe my body hurts this bad.

And it's all my own fault.

Or hubby Steve's - - all depends on how you look at it . ..

I mean - - when he suggested a weekend at Turkey Run State Park in Indiana to walk the trails, I COULD have said "no" - -

I COULD have . . .

I probably SHOULD have . . .

But dumbass me - - I said, "Sure - - sounds like a lot of fun!"

I am SUCH an IDIOT . . . *sigh*

I had in mind walking through the woods and over little bridges over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house we go - - quiet, serene, wandering aimlessly down paths similar to Rock Springs and the bike path.

I was SO wrong. And I'm really paying for it now.

I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into.

A word of advice to anyone planning a trip over there - - Be prepare to hurt. Pack the Ben-Gay and the ibuprofen. LOTS of each.

Don't get me wrong - - the trails are BEAUTIFUL!! I have never walked through anywhere like this - - I saw a waterfall - - climbed up and down ladders and flights of wooden stairs - - climbed over rock and boulders and walked the creek beds - - watched chimpmunks playing - - saw fishies and froggies and all kinds of beautiful flora and fauna - -

But NO ONE told me the extreme ruggedness of the trails I was going to be navigating - -

Including dear, sweet hubby Steve who is supposed to LOVE ME and TAKE CARE OF ME.


ANYWAY - - we started walking Trail 5, which was not too bad. They we started on Trail 3, which was quite a bit more rugged terrain. It wasn't too bad, though, until - -

Trail 9. *shudder*

The whole damn thing.

Walking in places where there shouldn't even BE a path - - 50-60 foot drops with no guardrails (and I'm no mountain goat, I assure you - - more along the lines of "clumsy ox") - -

Then connecting with parts of Trail 10.

THREE AND ONE-HALF HOURS LATER - - we are back at the truck for lunch . . .

Fell asleep in the back of the truck in the cool breeze afterwards - - Woke up too stiff to move.

My. Whole. Body. HURT.

I have muscles hurting that I never knew existed!!

So the past 2 days I have been living on Advil or Extra Strength Tylenol.

Tomorrow will be better. I hope . . .

New Blog

Since we are going to be building the new house, I decided a new blog was appropriate for that. So anything to do with the house will be posted in my other blog, "Escape From the Money Pit". I will use the new blog to chronicle the "escape" from the present house that has been sucking us financially dry for the past 10 years. No matter what happens, good or bad, will be discussed here. Not only will it be a good resource for any other poor fools who decide to try this little endeavor, but it will also be good therapy for yours truly.

Cheaper than a shrink.

And cheaper than booze.

And I won't have a hangover in the morning. :-)

Stay tuned - - the fun is just beginning . . .

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

House Plans

We are going to build a house.

I am excited as all get-out - - and scared shitless all at the same time!

But I'll get through that - - somehow . . .

Anyway, let me tell about the house plans - -

We moved to our present home 10 years ago. We thought it was a good place, but over the years it has turned in to a bad parody of the Tom Hanks movie "Money Pit." It has finally gotten to the point of being totally ridiculous. With all the structural problems, wiring problems, and everything else that could POSSIBLY go wrong, we decided it was time to give up and go another direction. With all the problems this house has, it would cost nearly as much to fix it up the way it needs to be as to build a brand new house. So instead of having an old fixed-up house . . . we have decided to concentrate our efforts on a new one.

A few years later, we bought the empty lot behind our house from a neighbor, mostly to keep anyone from building behind us. Our current house is sitting lower than the back lot, and we already have enough water problems; if someone built back there it would just increase the problems. But now it has turned out to be a blessing - - the lot is already ours AND paid off; so that part is out of the way. Now time for the house plans.

Steve checked with the local lumber yard that he has dealt with for years. They are really good guys and totally reliable. He asked them to suggest someone to draw house plans. The man they recommended, Rob, used to live locally, but has since moved to Indianapolis. But he still has family ties back here and still draws plans. They gave Steve his number.

So - - hubby calls him up and talks at great length with him. He is willing to do the job! Now OUR part begins.

We start going all over Central Illinois looking at homes to see what we like and what we don't. We take pictures and point out certain features of homes we would like or want to avoid. Steve drew up a rough floor plan of what we would like the inside of the house to be. We took pictures of the back lot from every conceivable angle, complete with dimensions and lots of narrative about the lay of the ground. We scanned in all the pictures, typed up all the narrative, zipped up the file, and sent it email to him. In addition, we mailed additional pictures, narrative, and the rough floor plan to him.


Now the waiting begins . . .

A couple of weeks ago, we got an email from Rob. The preliminary plans were finished, and he was mailing them to us that day! Wow - - that was a lot faster than I thought it would be! Can't wait to see them!

A few days later, the plans arrive. They are amazing!! Somehow, with the jumble of pictures, magazine articles, narrative, dimensions, and the rough floor plan Steve had drawn, Rob came up with a totally AMAZING set of plans! Steve and I sat down and went over them, and were very pleased with what we saw. There are a few things we need to have changed, of course - - but overall they are fantastic!

Steve called Rob and talked to him about the changes he saw that we thought may need to be made, and he said there would be no problem with that.

Steve and I are going to be at Turkey Run State Park in Indiana this weekend - - get away for a couple of days, walk the trails, stay overnight in the Lodge, and just have a nice relaxing time. Before we head back to Illinois, though, we now have a little side trip to make. Rob lives over by Indianapolis - - we will have the plans he sent us with some revisions marked on them, some magazine articles and other house information, and also some more pictures and measurements on the lot, and will be going to Rob's with all of this. He said he may even be able to finalize the plans before we head back home that day! WOW - - this is incredible.

But now the real work on our part begins - - NOW we need to start talking to contractors, plumbers, electrical contractors, etc. If it all works out - - and we are determined that it will - - ground will be broken next Spring.

Like I said - - excited, but SCARED TO DEATH!!

As this goes on, I plan to chronicle the whole thing, complete with pictures.

Wish us luck!

Have a good evening, and thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The brownies worked . . .

I knew they would. They work every time.

Today we got to see Travis and meet his girlfriend, Renee. I knew she was nervous about meeting us (especially ME, thankyouverymuch, Nephew!!!) - - so of course that meant dragging out the heavy artillery - - massive amounts of chocolate.

I don't think she's scared of us anymore. :-)

We like her. She's a good find. Travis, you done good. Hang on to this one!

It's been a running joke with me and Travis that I kept a baseball bat handy for the time he brought a girl home - - just in case we felt she wasn't good to him. Haven't had to use it yet - - so today I brought it with us! It's just a small plastic bat, with foam rubber padding around it (Steve told him that is so it wouldn't leave marks!). It turned out to be a surprise hit with Renee! She actually took it over and has threatened to use it on Travis if he doesn't behave!

I think I like this girl! :-)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Brownie Time!!!

Ah yes - - Brownies - - my all-time favorite! Today I am going to bake 3 batches for a very special occasion: Tomorrow my nephew Travis is going to be at my mother-in-law's house for dinner.

AND - - he's bringing his girlfriend Renee. Whom I have not met yet. And I've heard that she's really nervous about meeting me.

SO - - I figure chocolate is always a good "ice-breaker" for situations like this . . . and maybe it will show that Mean Ol' Aunt Liz's bark is WAY worse than her bite. Sometimes.

So today I am making my World Famous Killer Brownies, which consist of dark chocolate chips stirred into the batter, and Chocolate Cream Cheese frosting on top. Then I am also making Caramel Brownies, with a thick caramel swirl through them, Chocolate Fudge frosting and Heath Bits sprinkled on top, and Peanut Butter Cup Brownies, with chopped up peanut butter cups stirred in the batter, Chocolate Fudge frosting, and chopped peanut butter cups sprinkled on top.

Oh my . . . chocolate Heaven . . .

Any that are left over I am sending back up to College with Travis, so that he can share the joy of chocolate with his roommates.

Maybe Aunt Liz isn't so bad after all . . . .. :-)

Friday, September 16, 2005

A little bit about me and mine . . .

I guess the best way to start off would be to let you all know a little bit about the Jackson clan.

I work at a Community College in an Admininistrative Support position. It's a very challenging job, but working at the College level is always interesting - - the young people out here working on their education, the activities, the problems and possibilities - - it all pulls together to make the day go fast.

Husband Steve works at Caterpillar, assembling the 797 Mining Truck, billed as the "largest truck in the world." I will try to get him to help me post some pictures of it soon.

The rest of the Jackson household consists of two very spoiled cats - - Callie, who is 15 years old and most definitely is the "Queen" of the house, and Carmichael, who is 5 years old, and the young teenage "brat." The two of them are a never-ending source of amusement at our house. I will post pictures of them also.

I have a son, Keith, who is married to Dawn, and they have been so kind as to give us two wonderful grandsons - Alex, who is 6 years old and in first grade, and Jonathan, who will be 3 this month. They are our "buddies"!

Well, that is the Jackson clan in a nutshell - - I will let you know more about us and what's going on in life in future posts.

I hope everyone has a good evening!

Monday, September 12, 2005


Well! This is something new for me - - I've never tried blogging before - - so bear with me, and we'll see how this all works out!

I live in the Midwest (Central Illinois to be exact) with a husband and two spoiled rotten cats. I hope to be able to entertain you with stories of the life and times of the Jackson clan . . . sometimes hectic, sometimes funny, ALWAYS crazy!

So please feel free to check back often. I plan to post at least three times a week, maybe more if things are really interesting.

Hope to see you all soon!