Confessions of a Childhood Home: Branford, FL

So it is time for me to say goodbye to Branford one more time.  Kinda.  You never really say a true goodbye to Branford if you’re from there.  It’s more of a “I’ll see ya after while” to which Branford replies, “y’all come back now, ya hear”.   You see, my parents are moving and while I’m super excited about having a lot more to do each time I visit (Gainesville has infinitely more options), I’m saddened to be bidding adieu to my childhood home. This new house will be great, but nothing can ever come close to replacing the house you grew up in. Man do I have some memories in that house!

It really makes you think that if that house were a living being, boy has it seen some shit.  Oh the stories it could share with it’s new owner!  Well they do say that confession is good for a house’s soul, so I thought we’d give 116 Hillcrest Circle some time in the confessional.

Forgive me father, it’s been quite a while since my last confession, you see, I’m a house.  With a new family coming in I thought it might be good to like, ya know, clean out my attic so to speak.  Yeah, so, how exactly do I do this?

Speak from your heart son.

Heart?  Hmmm, okay, I suppose that’s like a furnace. 

Sure, go ahead.

Well they moved in back in ’87 after watching me grow from blocks of wood and bricks.  They were obviously excited; you could tell from all of the yelling and running around.  That little blonde boy used to ride his bike up and down the big dirt mound out front that they brought in to level out my front yard.  I suppose I was a bit out of balance.  Anyway, the yelling never stopped. 

You mean to say that they fought a lot?  Were angry?

No, just loud.  Very loud!  Especially the girl.  She started talking the moment she walked in and didn’t stop till she left for college.  Apparently she has a lot to say and she likes to say it so everyone can hear. I think she got it from the man.  He was super loud too.   Hello, we can hear you!  Sorry, I got a little sidetracked.  So, yes, they were all quite loud.

Go on.

They boy and girl would wake up each morning when they didn’t have school and burst out of the house.  It was like they couldn’t wait to get out of me.  They’d play in the woods behind me for hours, making trails and forts.  Sometimes they’d climb trees so high that I’d get a bit nervous.  But what could I do?  At lunch they’d come in gobble up a peanut butter and banana sandwich and then they’d rush out again.  Ha ha ha…

What is it?

I was just thinking about this one time the boy didn’t want to eat his sandwich.  So the girl told him to throw it in the weeds.  He did.  Apparently she didn’t want her sandwich either, because the next thing I knew she was tossing out her sandwich as well.  Then you’ll never believe what happened.


She went in and told on the boy for tossing his sandwich!  Can you believe it?  Of course he then ratted her out.  Awwww, but those two were quite the team.  They’d race biked around the neighborhood like maniacs.  Sometimes they’d come back with bloody knees and elbows.  But it didn’t seem to phase them.  I think they liked being dirty.  They sure took many a grubby shower in my bathroom.  Leaves, beggar weeds, thorns, and all manner of stuff would stick to them.  I always liked when it was hot, because then they’d play in the hose and sprinkler.  That always felt so good on my hot cement.  You know, brick isn’t exactly summer wear.  And they don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing.

So I’ve heard.  So this little boy and girl were buddies huh?

Oh yes!  They got along very well….for the most part.

So sometimes they fought?

On occasion.  One time they put a hole in my hallway door.  Ouch!

How’d that happen?

Every Easter it never failed, they’d find their Easter baskets (the woman hid them in the house) and the girl would instantly start gobbling up all of her candy.  The boy would nibble a few odds and ends and then move on to playing with whatever toy came in his basket.  A few days later, the girl’s candy would be gone.  The boy would wrap his Easter bunny in Saran wrap and put it the fridge.  Each day or so, he’d come back in and nibble a little off the ears.  Well, this drove the girl crazy!  She decided to start taking secret nibbles of the bunny as well.  Oh, but her greed caught up with her!  The boy realized what was happening.  By goodness, the ears were just disappearing too quickly.  He confronted her with the chilled bunny!  Well she just stuck out her tongue and said, “I wanted some and mine was gone.”  So he chucked that ice-cold, ear-less rabbit right at her head!  She ducked and it ended up hitting me right in the hallway door.  It made a huge hole.  That kid had an arm!

I bet she didn’t sneak anymore of the bunny after that.

Nope, at least not that Easter.  Oh, I have another Easter story!

Great.  But why don’t we save that for next time.  I have quite the line forming out there.

Sure, I just have so much to tell;  26 years is quite a bit of life!  I’ll be back in.  So, what is my penance?

You’re a house,  so I’m not really sure what would work for you.  How about you look in the bathroom mirror and say three Hail Marys?


So obviously I’ll be continuing my Branford house confessional in the coming weeks.  I plan to pull out the photo albums so I can give you guys a little visual with this too!  Until then, here’s a picture the house uncovered of the girl and some of her childhood buddies.  This one was from their trip to Grad Nite at Disney.  What a fashionable bunch!


Want to know why I love Branford, FL so much?  Check out my post:  5 Reasons Branford was an Awesome Place to Grow Up

Stay positive & love your life!



Listening to:  Pepper – Tradewinds

Random fact:  That banana and peanut butter story actually predates this house, but I couldn’t leave it out.

Want to live in this famous house?  It’s for sale!  Check it out:  Kick-ass Home

Trifextra: Round My Hometown

This weekend’s Trifextra challenge is to write a haiku:

HAIKU (noun)

: an unrhymed verse form of Japanese origin having three lines containing usually five, seven, and five syllables respectively.

Since my Five for Friday post today (go read it!) is all about how awesome my hometown is, I decided to tie the two together. Enjoy!


Dirt roads and bonfires

River bank summers with friends

Hometown love lingers




Stay positive & love your life!


Five for Friday: Five Reasons Branford, FL Was A Nice Place To Grow Up

Growing up, when people would learn I am from Florida, they’d always respond with, “Oh, that must be nice.  You have the beaches and Disney.”  Yeah, not quite.  The nearest beach (in the actual beach on an ocean sense) is several hours away; Disney is three.  I’d have to explain that I wasn’t from that part of Florida.

No, I’m from the middle of nowhere, lots of woods and mosquitoes, the nearest real town is a 30 minute drive part of Florida.  Branford, FL.  Matt and I are heading down for a visit this Labor Day.  We plan of doing some serious tubing on the Ichetucknee (see what happened last time I attempted a floating trip).  So I figured I’d dedicate this Five for Friday post to my hometown!

Branford is nestled right in the middle of North Florida on the historic Suwannee River.  And aside from that river and the University of Florida 45 minutes down the road, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot going on.

Oddly enough, the town’s website actually uses the verbiage “nestled on the banks of the Suwannee River”.  See, that river really is the main event.

Branford is a small, friendly town nestled on the banks of the Suwannee River, where pride in family, community and patriotism create a wonderful quality of life. It is a peaceful, rural area of natural beauty balancing the old with the new. Enjoy browsing our website and then make plans to come see what you are missing here in Branford Florida.

I knew from a young age that when I graduated high school, I’d have to leave this town in the dust (actual dust from all of the dirt roads).  Now I only get back to visit family a few times a year, and I truly look forward to my trips home.  Because while Branford is somewhere that I wouldn’t want to live, it is a fun little place to visit, and it actually was a nice place to grow up.  And oddly enough, it’s the lack of much to do (in terms of what a city offers) that yields the:

Five Reasons Branford, FL was a Nice Place to Grow Up

Number 5:  The Rivers

As you’ve already learned, Branford enjoys being nestled up next to the Suwannee River.  But it also boasts several other great rivers:  the Sante Fe and the Ichetucknee.  The Ichetucknee is my favorite.  The water is crystal clear and the six mile stream of connected springs flows through some truly breathtaking nature.


Number 4:  The Springs

As great as the rivers are, they have nothing on the springs.  Branford has some really kick ass springs.  From Florida Dive Connection:

“This landlocked area of the state has contributed more diving knowledge and innovations to our sport than just about any area of the country. The little town of Branford is known as the “Cave Diving Capital of the World” and many of the pioneers of cave diving hailed from this section of Florida.”

I really miss hopping in the car and heading down for a quick swim “at the springs”.  Many a summer was spent in a bathing suit jumping from trees and platforms, catching minnows, and hanging out on the steps.  You better believe I visit these spots every trip home and we always make a stop for a huge helping of boiled peanuts from the side of the road.

l littleriver1 ar131588364094362

Number 3:  Woods and Dirt Roads

I spent at least 85% of my waking hours each summer outside.  My brother and I climbed trees, made forts, and cautiously avoided prickly pears in the woods behind our house.  As we got older, we turned to the woods or dead-end dirt roads as a hang out spot with our friends.  And boy did we do some “hanging out”.  A bonfire, case of Natural Lite or a bottle of Boones Farm, and a car stereo system lent themselves to many a fun night.



Number 2:  School Events

Since there wasn’t much else typically going on in town, any event at the school became a town event.  I think almost every house in the town was empty on Fridays in the fall, because everyone was in the stands cheering on a then constantly losing football team.  And it didn’t matter that we were losing, people had so much Buccaneer pride that it transcended the score.  School play or pageant?  The auditorium was packed.  Fall Festival?  People were lined up to shoot the flame out of a jack-o-lantern or bob for apples.

That’s not something you see in sprawling cities like metro Atlanta.  Parents are there, but the community isn’t; at least not in the same way Branford is.

Number 1:  The School

I went to a K-12 school (now an elementary and high school).  That concept is so completely foreign to most people, but it made for some truly unique experiences.  My high school track coach was my PE coach when I was in elementary school.  I had some AMAZING teachers throughout the years (most notably Mr. Murfee, HS English and Mrs. Wingate, 4th & 6th grade).  I was involved in almost every club and sport that was offered; because the school really is the life of that town.  And most remarkably, twelve of the kids in my graduating class (of 69) actually started kindergarten with me!  That’s wild!  I made some of the the best friends of my life and got to crash through every hurdle of my adolescence with them by my side.

branford panoramic

So there you have it, a short homage to B-town.  I’ll have to make a “5 things that happened when I lived there that would garner a lawsuit anywhere else” list next.  Now, that would be a good read!

Stay positive & love your life!



Listening to: Team Sleep – Tomb Of Liegia

Eating:  Pasta

Drinking:  H2O but I’m about to be on the hunt for something with caffeine.

Random fact:  One time my brother kicked a prickly pear and it landed in my leg.  Holy ouch!  I’m sure I got him back.

You Think You’re So Clever: A Facebook Retrospective

While creating all of these recent 90s related posts, I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between growing up then vs. now.  The whole idea of having posts come back to haunt you later is terrifying!  What kind of stupid shit would my 16 year old self have posted?  I for one am thankful the stupidity of my youth lives on only in databases of select people’s memories!

It did make me curious to look back on some old Facebook posts to see what I was up to way back in the day.   Brace yourselves, because we are going way way back to:


Looks like I joined Facebook back in 2007, but didn’t really start using it until November of 2008.  That year I had 28 friends online and bought my first house.  You can tell that I was just not that into social media yet, because now every aspect of the purchase would be online (house hunting, closing, decorating etc.)


My friend count was up to 122.

is about to cook a healthy dinner but really wants a pizza.
Nice to see that some things never change.  Pizza will always be my nemesis.
is counting the hours until the Charlotte Checkers are crushed….
is super STOKED that her team beat the piss out of the FL Everblades!!
I had season tickets to the Gwinnett Gladiators (ECHL hockey).  Man did I spend a lot of time in that area that year.
is addicted to Lo-Carb Monster! The first step is admitting you have a problem!
And apparently I never took the second step.  Still my go-to caffeine fix.
thinks life without sunshine is depressing! I don’t know how folks up north survive.
Truth.  And having been crushed with rain nearly everyday for the last two months, I’m certainly missing it right now.
is sick of the rain especially since I busted my ass on the muddy hill in my backyard attempting to retrieve the dead (almost?) squirrel carcass.
refuses to believe her dogs are murderers! Maybe they are like Lenny from Of Mice and Men. They were just playing with that squirrel and now he’s dead
The dogs had destroyed a squirrel and I was attempting to retrieve it in order to fling it over into the neighbor’s yard.  Busted ass in my PJs and was finally able to retrieve said squirrel….which was still partially alive. 
will drink and dance with one hand free Let the world back into me And on Ill be a sight to see Back in the high life again
Hold up. Wait a minute. Let me put some boom in it!
Yea — Here’s a story ’bout my homeboy Randy He was hooked on a girl named Candy
There’s a little black spot on the sun today It’s the same old thing as yesterday There’s a black cat caught in a high tree top There’s a flag-pole rag and the wind won’t stop
Always quoting song lyrics.  Has any time passed at all?
has the urge to talk like a robot all day.
Don’t we all have this urge sometimes?
3 DAYS UNTIL THE INVASION OF NEW ORLEANS! (i’m just a smidge excited…)
So this was the first trip I took to visit Kasi after she moved to NOLA.  Based on drunken conversations with  a random group of girls we had met several years prior, we decided that we really needed to purchase a set of hand puppet T Rexes and go out for a night on Bourbon Street.


It went just the way you’d imagine it would.

Thinks Laura Palmer had it coming.
is disappointed. Why no comments on my Twin Peaks reference earlier? I may have out dorked even my dorkiest friends on Facebook.
Can I ever run into one Twin Peaks fan?  I guess that’s why it only latest one season. 
The point is….don’t lose your dinosaur.
Step Brothers!
Another football season coming up…just not the same in GA. I don’t care about UGA vs Tech and I can’t seem to make myself get into the “dirty birds”. I miss the Swamp.
Yep, it’s still not the same.  Go Gators!
This may piss off the majority of my friends with offspring but, does it honestly take 4-5 minutes to load a kid onto the school bus? Seriously, I timed it! I realize we are in the first few weeks of school, but can’t the heartfelt goodbye, backpack check, etc happen before the bus arrives?
Yum a delicious shepard’s pie cooking for dinner.

I was still eating meat.  Seems bizarre to me now.

had that dream last night where I am back in college and not prepared for any of my tests. I also had a paper due (Mr. Murfee made a cameo as my college lit professor) on a book I had not read. I HATE these dreams! Nothing like waking up with anxiety to start your week!
Hate these dreams.  How many years do you have to be out of school for these to stop?
wants some coffee. Not from the kitchen. Stop & Shop. If it’s not Stop & Shop I send it back. Large. If it’s a medium I send it back. If it’s an extra-large I send it back.
Guess what? I have flaws. What are they? Oh I donno, I sing in the shower? Sometimes I spend too much time volunteering. Occasionally I’ll hit somebody with my car. So sue me– no, don’t sue me. That is opposite the point I’m trying to make.

I’ve always been fond of quoting The Office.  Gasp, The Office!  Guys, remember this show.  Oh it was the best!   It seems like it was still on the air just this year.    They just don’t make ’em like that any more!

November 12, 2009 via Pandora
Possibly my absolute favorite 80s song! Love me some Tears for Fears!

Head Over Heels

by Tears For Fears

on Songs From The Big Chair
It really, really is!  I’m sure I’ve posted this song to FB at least 5 times over the years proclaiming my undying love for it.
is enjoying her blast from the past in Bford for the most part. NOT enjoying the cell reception and the state of the roads around here…and breakfast at Nell’s…what was I thinking? I’m totally looking forward to seeing some old friend tonight!

Oh, Branford don’t you ever change.  What’s that?  You don’t plan to?


First Profile Pic Posted 2008

So aside from not eating meat now, it doesn’t seem like I’ve changed that much.  I love how we are so instantly nostalgic now.  But it is cool to look back on things even if they were only a few short years ago.  Maybe Facebook really is good for something other than wasting time, connecting with friends and stalking people.  It’s like a time capsule that you can dig up any old time you want!

Take a look back at your page in ’08 or ’09 and share one of your posts with me!

Stay positive & love your life!



Listening to:  Full Service – Ramona

Eating:  Leftover new potatos with Mediterranean sauce.

Drinking:  H2O

Random fact:  I buried a time capsule back when I was 8 or 9.  From what I can remember, it contained my resolutions for the year, a friendship bracelet, and a NKOTB trading card.  Even with my awesome hand drawn map, I was never able to locate it after burial.

What Happened to My Southern Accent?

Sigh.  I’m not quite sure how I acquired my jacked up “accent”.  I grew up dead center of Neckville, USA (aka Branford, FL).  But my accent waivers between southern country, midwesterner, and northerner.  And I’ve only ever lived in the south!

Perhaps some of it stemmed from purposely trying to speak without a southern accent when I went off to college? But some of my pronunciations I can’t tie to anywhere or anyone.  For instance, I pronounce the word bagel as bag (as in brown paper) -el.  Both Bee and Matt have pointed how weird this is.  I pronounce elementary with five symbols instead of four.  I call tennis shoes sneakers.  I pronounce the jam in pajamas like the jelly.  But Matt says all sorts of weird southern things (I’ll make a list for you one day)  so I just respond with “whatever”.   After reviewing the link below, I realize that my accent really is “all over the map”.

Click on the link to see all 22 maps and share your thoughts with me in the comment section below!


It’s called Coke.  At least my southern roots guided me to get this one right!


Sadly I’ve heard this expression in Florida too.

Stay positive & love your life!



Listening to:  The Limousines – Hush

Eating:  Oatmeal

Drinking:  Water

Random fact:   As a kid, my cousins in Ohio liked to listen to me speak because I had a southern accent.  Where did it go?

Prosecutors Will Be Violated or I Don’t Think That’s a Good Idea.

Yesterday was a wonderful extra weekend day.  Matt and I spent the day outside at Zoo Atlanta and then finished up with an early dinner at Antico.  If you live near Atlanta do yourself a favor and check it out.  It is absolutely the best pizza I’ve ever eaten in my life!

Before anyone thinks that I didn’t take the time to appreciate the meaning of the day, hold your horses.  I am beyond grateful for the men and women who have given their lives for this country.  I just think it’s a shame the direction the whole idea patriotism has gone.  I struggle with disassociating it with the craziness of the ‘Murica crew that seem to love to cloak their zealot ideas in the red, white, and blue.  It may seem a bit overly optimistic or unrealistically ideal, but my favorite amongst all Memorial Day associated posts was this:

Our greatest shame as a race is that anyone ever has to die for freedom. For those we remember today, their sacrifice was not conditional, nor should freedom be. The most fitting tribute would be an end to all strife, oppression, and injustice. Please let their deaths not be in vain.

And I think the poster took it down, because I couldn’t find it this morning.  Looking through rose colored glasses or not, I appreciate the sentiment behind this statement.

With that out of the way, today I’d like to share a bit of what was happening in my life last Memorial Day.  This story involves (as do many others) one of my very favorite people in life, Bee, my bestie.  He’s a complete goober and that’s why I love him.  He’s neurotic and quirky.  He’s hilarious and caring.  He’s like a unicorn with a glittery mane. By this I mean he’s somewhat like a mythical creature and also that at times I’ve seen him with a glittery mane.  I’ve actually also seen him dressed as a unicorn.   And he’s tied to some of my very favorite memories.

So last year Bee took a trip home with me to Branford.  Now I don’t want to spoil a future post or twelve that will be dedicated to Branford, so let’s just describe it as a very typical, super-small, southern town.  The current population is 720 people.    I typed it into Google images and what came out was a collage of river/spring photos, mug shots, people in cowboy hats, and stuff related to the school (which was a K-12 when I grew up).  So overall, a fairly accurate representation if you sprinkle in roughly one church for every 20 citizens.


Nice place to live is somewhat relative.  But growing up there was nice.

Bee is obsessed with Branford.  I  think he just loves going there because he honestly can’t believe places like it exist.  Plus he adores my parents.  I’m almost certain that at some point in my life Matt and I will go home for a holiday and Bee will already be there making cookies with my Mom.  It’s insane.

So we decide that Memorial Day will make a great trip home sort of weekend.  Bee has a family wedding in St. Augustine which is a doable drive and we plan to tube the Ichetucknee River.  What followed was a series of unfortunate events that made for a ridiculously hilarious weekend.   This is kind of par for the course when Bee and I get together.

Day 1-  Bee gets into a wreck 30 miles from my house on the way to the wedding.

Some barefoot teenage girl hits him in Lake City*.  Everything is fine.  No one is hurt. But I’m sure Bee was quite a site on the side of the road reading this poor girl the riot act.  First of all, his car** is brand new.  Secondly, it’s hot out and he’s wearing linen pants for which the humidity is doing nothing.

*Lake City is like Branford’s slightly fancier cousin.  It has a Walmart y’all.

**Bee’s car is named Priestly.  As in Miranda Priestly.  As in The Devil Wears Prada.

Day 2-  The Ichetucknee ruins Bee’s life. 


This is the Ichetucknee. 


And here it is again.  Insanely beautiful.

We get to the tube center and rent a raft.  Bee drops me off at the spring head and then drives to end of the float trip site (because there is no parking at launch), catches a shuttle, and meets me back at the spring head.  Now in this time (it was about thirty minutes) I hear probably my favorite quote of the trip.  Some old man wants to take his water bottle down with him (this is a no-no) and his wife tells him, “Honey I saw a sign that says prosecutors will be violated, so you had better not take that with ya.”

Bee and I, both clad in matching tanks and bandanas, start jogging to the launch site.  We’ve decided to pretend we are training for The Amazing Race.  We are actually telling people this.  And they’re believing us.


Prior to leaving the house.  Ready for training.

I secure Bee’s car keys in my pocket and SAFELY tuck them into the raft.  About fifteen minutes into the water, Bee decides that a better place for the keys would be tied to his bandana.  I tell him that, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”  He ignores my advice.  As per usual.

Bee decides to get out of the raft and into the water.

Bee’s keys decide this would be a good time for a swim as well.

Bee’s keys now rest in the Ichetucknee somewhere around the first stretch of the three hour trip in a large area of swaying, underwater plant life.

Now the trip isn’t nearly as fun as it was a second before and we start swimming like we are in the Olympic trials.

Day 2.5:  Bee gets friendly with a Water Moccasin. 

I’ve read that these snakes rarely get in trees, but I know what I “think” I saw.  Bee was entangled in a tree at the water’s edge and attempting to push us back into the current.  His hand was about an inch from the snake when I screamed.  We swam a lot quicker after that.


A snake! A snake!

It starts raining.  We finally make it to the end.  The closest phone is at the Ranger Station a mile away.  When we get there and call my parents, I have to scream into the answering machine because of course they are screening their calls.

Yes, my parents still have a land line and use an answering machine to know who’s calling.  Someone should really invent a better method for doing such.

Day 2.75:  I want a watermelon and boiled peanuts.

Aside from missing a text from Matt (because we were in that super gay part of our relationship at the time……not sure we’ve made it out of it quite yet AND because my phone and wallet were locked in Bee’s car), I was most concerned about not getting a watermelon and boiled peanuts on the way home.  I’m a great friend huh?  Bee’s car is stuck at a river parking lot, the nearest keys are at the bottom of a river or in ATL and I’m worried about peanuts…literally.

Dad came through with both.  Crisis averted.

Bee’s car is towed to Gainesville which is the closest real city and the home of the amazingly awesome FL Gators.  Go Gata!

Day 3:  Car dealership is closed for Memorial Day.  Extra day in Branford!  Score!

Day 4:  After $200+ for new keys, we start on our way home.

Right around Lake City we see a tornado*.


I don’t have a picture of the twister, but here’s what it looked like driving out of the weather.


And here’s Bee being angry because I insisted we drive AWAY from the tornado and not pretend we are in the movie “Twister”.

*Bee is obsessed with tornadoes.  He has dreams about them.

So overall, it was a great trip home!  I was going to say that I wish this were an out of the norm kind of experience for me and the Bee.  But it’s not.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Stay positive & love your life!



Listening to:  Modest Mouse – Satin In A Coffin

Eating:  Leftover Antico’s and a salad.

Drinking:  H2O

Reading:  Just started “Specimen Days” by Michael Cunningham

Random fact:  I somehow considered myself a vegetarian in HS, but ate chicken and fish.