It will take some more time to go through all the (hundreds) pictures for Spa Day at Girl’s Camp, so I’m going to take a little shortcut.
For the second year in a row (yep, it’s officially a tradition) Mr. H. and I drove to Southern Indiana for a family gab-fest …. er …. I mean hug-fest …. er …. I mean reunion with my Dad’s family. We had such a good time last year. This year was even better than last year as my sister, Cathy, and her husband, Dick, flew in from Washington to join us.
Fortunately, Cathy and Dick were able to jump on an earlier flight than had been planned, so we took advantage of the extra hours to head on over to the genealogy center in the town that many of our relatives came from.
While I have toyed around with our genealogy, Dick has been working on our family tree with great zeal and was beyond excited when the helpers began to bring out file upon file of family artifacts. We scanned in hundreds of letters, pictures, documents, wills. Sorry, Cathy. I think Dick will be very occupied for months to come…..
As this was just the beginning of our visit, you can imagine our anticipation. Because I love to share and because I love you I thought it would be nice to share with you some of the things I love about Indiana.
1. Hoosier Cabinets.
Mostly made in Indiana (many made at the Hoosier Manufacturing Company) in the early 1900s, these multi-functional cabinets had room for spices, a flour bin/sifter and a slide out shelf. I remember very clearly the Hoosier Cabinet our Grandma S. had in the room outside her kitchen. She kept her flour, salt, sugar, spices and all things wonderful in that cabinet. It was a domicile of deliciousness, a sugar castle of scrumptiousness a cookie cupboard of capriciousness.
Years ago, Mr. H. and I found a Hoosier Cabinet (in Indiana, of course). In fact, we designed our breakfast nook around this wonderful, sentimental, useful piece of cabinetry (see how perfectly it fits between our windows?).
2. Fried biscuits
I know I mentioned these last year, but they are worth mentioning again.
Just imagine. A deep fried golden orb of puffy dough. Filled with fruit preserves and topped with home-made apple butter.
3. Homes that stand the test of time.
My great grandparents had lived most of their young married life on this (above) farm. As a young girl, my grandma and her brothers and sister would draw water from the pump (check out the droplet of water on the handle), ring the bell to call grandpa in from the field, sit beneath the tree with a glass of lemonade and cross down the hill, over the creek and walk at least two miles over farmland to get to school. Their home may have changed over the past 100 years, but it still stands…
Equally impressive is the home my Great Grandfather built after he and Great Grandma S. became “empty nesters”. That’s my Great Grandma on the front stoop. I don’t imagine I needed to put “Then” and “Now”, but just in case….
4. Hay rides
Throw in a chorus of “Skinamarinky Dinky Do” and “Mairzy Doats” and you have yourself a hay ride!!
Our hayride took us over my cousins’ farmland. When I was much younger, we took this same trip. I remember hanging my legs over the back of the hay-wagon. My brothers were squirreling around in the wagon (do you know of any 8 and 10 year old boys who don’t squirrel around in hay wagons), and I just enjoyed the trip. We went to some caves they have on their property and explored the dark tunnels. I suspect it was Gary’s dad, Uncle Verner, who drove the tractor so many years ago, but the feeling was the same. The dusty, grassy smell of hay, the sound of bugs and tree frogs and the perfect joy you just can’t help but feel when you are on a hay ride.
My sister, Karen, is the true “graver” in our family. She has been known to stop in mid travel to explore an interesting cemetery (she has yet to tell us what makes one cemetery more interesting than another, but we all take her word for it). She loves the serenity and feels as though she is honoring those who have passed with her presence. She is the one who cares for the cemetery where our parents, grandparents and uncle are buried. Compared to Karen, Cathy and I are cemetery neophytes. On the other hand, I have recently signed up to volunteer for Find-a-Grave (people send requests for pictures of headstones and Mr. H. and I spend hours looking for headstones. It’s fun ….. really ….. okay I’m kidding ….. it’s not fun ….. but I’m committed ….. or something).
I must admit to some preference for the cemeteries in Indiana. Perhaps it is because we have so much of our family represented. It’s more likely that it’s so much fun to go with our cousin, Gary, to find some history, tradition, continuity and family. A special treat….Gary is caretaker for one of the family cemeteries that is hidden deep in the woods. Appropriately eerie, I think.
6. Churches. Well, one church in particular
This church, originally organized in 1845, was rebuilt on Bunker Hill in 1927 after it burned down.
Why is this important to us? Well, it was our Great Grandfather who built the church.
(rats, his name has broken off).
Some kind lady from the church invited us inside. We were thrilled, but the highlight was being able to ring the church bells.
Cathy was a natural…
I remember very well the Ford tractor used by my Grandpa S. He was always willing to take us on rides (sometimes we would share the tractor seat, sometimes we would perch on the back wheel cover, but mostly he would pull us in the hay wagon).
This Farm-all, owned by Cousin Gary, has many of the same memories attached to it. Gary has maintained this tractor over the years and still uses it to tend to his (and everyone else’s) back forty. By the way, if you have never tried a tractor seat, they are perfectly shaped, bouncy and lots of fun.
8. Pot Lucks
Our cousins, Gary and Carolyn, host the family reunion every year. They never really know who is coming and they never really know what everyone is bringing. (I am feeling anxious already. I do NOT know how they remain so calm). On the other hand, just look at the setting!!
It turns out that everything always works out well. This year our cousins Jeff and Joe were in charge of smoking several pork loins and turning them into the most delectable shredded pork. As for the rest of the meal….
…the family never disappoints.
I must stop for a moment and pay homage to the variety of casserole carriers owned by our very resourceful family.
No one needed to be reminded to get in line and chow down.
Everyone seemed to find just what they wanted from the buffet (good luck trying to convince Harper to pick something else)
This is Southern Indiana. Sweet Tea is required.
Home-made pie is another requirement. (Full disclosure: by the time I remembered to take pictures, all of the other food was either partially or fully consumed. As a result, you get a picture of sweet tea and pie.
9. Strawberry Fluff
There was so much good food at the reunion. I hesitate to single out one thing. The pulled pork was awesome there were a dizzying selection of bean, corn and potato casseroles. There were squash and cherry pies, turnovers and cakes and cookies. But one item really stood out for me.
For pity sake, strawberry fluff!
10. Huggin’, kissin’, ever-lovin’ cousins
You don’t know my cousins. I’m sorry you don’t know my cousins. If you knew my cousins you would fall in love with them. But I’m not sharing.
They like to hug
They like the Packers!!
They like corn
..which is good, ’cause sometimes they are a little corny…
and each and every one reminds me of my Dad and my Grandma and Grandpa S. The warmth of their smile, the glint in their eyes and the love in their heart.
My Hoosier Daddy