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

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.