Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Hillbilly Tour of Epicurean Delights

If there's one thing My Hillbilly knows about it's food. He's here today to  share some food insights with you. Is it good? Two words: deep-fried bacon.

Being a hillbilly and a fine food connoisseur (somewhat), I decided to give information that all you non-connoisseurs might appreciate, such as some of what I consider my favorite foods, restaurants, etc.  Now, I realize some may disagree with my choices, but remember, the reason you won’t agree is your non-connoisseurism!

Fried Chicken
Looking at different foods, best fried chicken ever was at McShane's, (no longer in business), in Conway, Missouri.  This chicken was served on their Sunday buffet (was not what they served during the week) and was phenomenal.  Just as good or better, was special cut bacon, breaded with the same stuff as their chicken and also deep fried.

My favorite hamburger from a restaurant, was at Wyota Inn in Lebanon, Mo.  The restaurant is no longer the same.  They had a hamburger called the Ox Burger.  It had 12 ounces of hamburger and goodness.  They had a smaller 8 ounces of burger with cheese called the Yellow jacket burger, (named after the LHS mascot.)

 They also had some good greasy onion rings.  A single order of onion rings was an entire, mounded platter.  And on top of that, the restaurant was known far and wide for their pies. Let’s see, an oxburger, fries, onion rings, finished off with a big thick piece of coconut cream pie ---Mmmm good!  Oh quit complaining, heart. Man up and take one for the team!

Best restaurant for pies was a place called Trotters.  They had a couple of locations in Springfield, MO.  They are no longer in business.  They were a great barbecue place.  I particularly liked their ham and beef barbecue sandwich and their buffet which had great cinnamon rolls.  But the star of the show as far as I was concerned was their German chocolate pie.  It was nigh on to perfect.  I have been looking for recipes to try to duplicate it. Wish me luck in accomplishing that!

Best pecan pie ---- my wife's!  Sorry!  She doesn’t just make them for everyone!  They are mine ---- all mine!   Ya –Ha-Ha!  Speaking of pecan pie, when I was in school in Springfield, MO, there was a place called the Coffee Shop in the basement of The YMCA, that made mock pecan pie.  It was wonderful!  When I was young and could eat gobs, I would buy two pieces!  They claimed that no one could get the recipe from the manager.  When I got ready to leave Springfield, I bribed him to get it.  I got it, but it was never quite the same????  I don’t know why unless he stiffed me!  It was still pretty good!

For steak, we go to Texas Roadhouse in this area.  However, my favorite is J. Bruners at Osage Beach, by Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.  They also specialize in deep fried lobster, which is very good and very rich!  They have great salad which is brought to you in a bowl with all the fixin's and dressings.  Though I love ranch dressing, they make their own creamy Italian dressing which is probably my all time favorite salad dressing!  Oh, and according to my daughter, and I probably also agree, they have the best onion rings anywhere.  Of course, there are a whole bunch of restaurants that are great at Lake of the Ozarks!

Lake of the Ozarks Dining 

Mexican food can stir up an argument!  There are the purists who claim old time Mexican food is the best!  I disagree and I have figured out why.  Original Mexican food is made with cheaper cuts of meat and the meats are not flavored as much.  It seems like the flavoring is mostly done with sauces.  In Modesto, I like Chevy’s for their chips and salsa, their steak quesadillas, and their fajitas, (all types).  Some will say that they are not original.  Okay, I agree – but there are a whole lot of Mexicans that seem to really like it too!  In Missouri, Mexican Villa in Springfield has a great burrito enchilada style.  They also have the best cheesy dip I have seen to go with chips.  

Probably my favorite place to eat Mexican was at Lake of the Ozarks at another place that closed.  They had great chips and salsa and when you had to wait for a table, they sometimes took fresh warm tortillas and filled them with strawberries and whipped cream to hold you over while you waited.  Give me a few of those and something to drink and someone else can have my table!  

They also had a great walnut brownie and ice cream on which they drizzled fudge or chocolate sauce.  They also drizzled the sauce on the plate to decorate it.  I was a little startled once, when I took a young woman there on one of those get to know one another to see if we wanted to actually go out on a real date type of occasions.  She wound up eating the brownie and ice cream and then licked the sauce from the plate --- while looking at me!  I was thinking, please do not let anyone else be seeing this and if so, please not let it be someone who knows me!   Check please!  Not exactly my type!  No, we didn’t ever go out again!

Best cheesecake I ever had was at one of the Mexican restaurants down by Lake of the Ozarks.  They deep fried the cheesecake in flour tortillas and topped it off with strawberries and whipped cream and there was some other topping you could get.  I forget what it was because I got hung up on the strawberry and whipped cream one.

Best Chinese ever, was actually Korean but said it was Chinese because most people think of Chinese food.  It was an all you could eat buffet in Lebanon, Mo.  It wasn’t in the best location but the food was ultra-fresh and ultra-good. They had all types of chicken and all types of beef recipes.  All of them were good and flavored to where each could choose to fit their limit of heated spiciness.  One of the best Chinese recipes ever is Cashew chicken as invented in Springfield, Missouri of all places!  They have nothing like it here in California. Best egg drop soup and cashew chicken I have eaten was at another hole in the wall place in Lebanon, Mo.  I forget the name.

I could go into others but can probably get a good enough argument going on just this list.

From the Hillbilly’s Corner  
The Hillbilly, fine food connoisseuer

So, why is it that none of The Hillbilly's favorite Missouri restaurants are no longer in business? Could it be because he moved to California?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

This Post is Made from All New Materials and Has Not Been Recycled

So The Hillbilly says I should surprise you and write a new post. He points out that it's been several weeks since I posted anything and, "That one was used."

"Recycled! Nothing wrong with recycling."

"It was used."


It's time for a look at "This Year's Names in the Eighth Grade," also known as "What Names Did All the Cool Moms Choose 13 Years Ago?"

The Year 2000 was brought to you by the Letters A and J. 
This year's students include:

Abel                                               Jackson
Adrian                                           Jacob 
Alex #1                                         Janelle 
Alex #2                                         Jayden 
Alexis                                            Jenna 
Alyssa                                           Johana 
Aria                                                Jordan 
Armando                                      Jose
Athena                                          Joseph #1
Austin                                           Joseph #2

I also have 2 Benjamins, and Breanna, Brianna, and Brianna. I've got 2 Victorias, neither of whom goes by Vicki. There's a Kelsy and a Carlee as well as Hailee and Haylee.  There are 2 Destinys, 2 Graces, 2 Isaiahs, 2 Megans, 2 Olivias, and 2 Tylers.

Some names I've never had in class before:
Aria, Athena, Brock, Dawson, Ebony, Efrain, Fallon, Holland, Jayden, Juniper, Kailani, Keoni, Levi, Lovesimron, Madeline, Merridia, Nancy, Nellie, Olivia, and Tatania. Now try to guess which of those are boys and which are girls.

This year is the first time I've ever had an Alyssa in class. As you know, that's my daughter's name. The first day of school this new Alyssa asked me to call her Lucretia.

"Does your mom call you Lucretia?"
"Well, then I can't call you Lucretia. Besides, Alyssa is a good name. I gave it to my daughter!"
"Then can you call me Daughter?"
"Sure. Even better, I'll call you Sweetie Pie."

And I do.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fun Flashback!

Just for fun, I thought I'd see what I was blogging about a year ago. At about this time last year, The Hillbilly and I took a trip to Georgia. On that trip, this happened:

 So. I'm back from vacation. The Hillbilly and I spent 10 days traveling to see family in Georgia and Missouri. Along the way we drove through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri. Whew!

It was a great trip. You can see some of the  pictures in my last post. Along the way home, while driving through Arizona and California's Mojave Desert, it got...shall we say, hot.

I was very thankful for air conditioning. I was also grateful that we weren't trying to cross this desert in a covered wagon or even in one of the old jalopies of the Dust Bowl refugees. Even in my very comfy air-conditioned car, the sun felt hot as it beat down through the windows onto my legs. The windows were quite warm to the touch.

It was this situation that indirectly led The Hillbilly to put his foot in his mouth. Again. And to get into trouble with me. Again. Here's what happened.

We were still driving through the desert, but the sun had begun to set, and the air was cooler. The Hillbilly, as he often does, reached across the car at put his hand on my...knee. It was my knee, honest. (My children read this blog, you know.)

And then The Hillbilly said:
"You're not as hot as you were before."
And I reacted like this:

. . .

. . .

. . .

Poor Hillbilly. He spent the next five minutes explaining that he meant physically hot ... I mean as in temperature.. The sun wasn't shining...
Yeah. I did.

So am I  too mean? Or just mean enough?
Be sure to read his side of the story here.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Memory

With school starting up again, I was thinking about my children's school days. 
Ben and Alyssa back in the day! No, Ben is not actually cross-eyed. He's just a boy. You know how they are.
This brought up a memory.

When Alyssa was in elementary school, I went to pick her up one day. My sister Chris was with me. Chris hadn't had any children yet, and she treated my kids as if they were her own. As we waited, I started to tell her what Alyssa had worn to school that day so she would be easier to spot.

Chris said, "What she's wearing? You mean you don't even know what your own daughter looks like? I know what she looks like!"

About that time, the bell rang, and the doors opened, erupting with hundreds of children. It was a lot of children! It was a roiling mass of children! You know the scenes from the move World War Z with the zombies (fast zombies!) crawling over each other? It was like that!

And my sister looked at me and said, "What did you say she was wearing?"

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Hillbilly Explains Laps

Let's start off the week with a few words from My Hillbilly:

The Facts About Laps!

Oh!  You thought I was going to talk about swimming or running laps!  How could you think that?  I mean that is just work that is called exercise!  So no, today we are going to talk about the laps that we all have when we sit!

1st.  Laps are very important!  When we were small children and we were hurt or frightened, we wanted a lap to sit in for comfort.  Though my mom’s lap is the only lap in which I remember sitting, (boys usually get too big for that fairly quickly), I am sure there were others.  Laps were very important to our psyches!  But also our laps are very important for picnics and such.  I mean on what would we set our plates or fishing tackle boxes, etc.?
Family having a picnic
By Wiliamart (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

2nd.  Laps can be embarrassing.  For instance, if you spill something in your lap from the aforementioned picnic, you can suddenly look like you wet your pants or at best, look like you are a klutz. 

 My lap was once a part of an embarrassing experience.  I was on either a first or second date and was talking to the girl’s dad (getting him to like and be comfortable with me), when suddenly my date came into the room, hopped into my lap and threw her arm around my neck!  Alrighty then!  Be a cool and suave hillbilly!  Do not show that you are embarrassed!  Give everyone the impression that this happens all the time.  Smile at the girl!  Then look at her dad.  Do not show fear!  Make sure that he realizes that you were completely innocent in this.  

Looking back at this, I have realized a couple of things!  The girl, who was a nice and sweet girl, was giving both of us a not too subtle message.  Dad, The Hillbilly is my date and he came to see me.  Hillbilly, you need to get on the stick and start spending more time with me!  I got the message!  I don’t know how it all went down with Dad.
William Merritt Chase [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

3rd.  Laps can cause trouble!  A common one is a battle between children on which child gets into your lap! Around here, sometimes they all win, which means I win! Unless they all win at once which means I get piled on.

 Probably though, the most trouble my lap got me into was when I was around 19 years old.  My girlfriend and I were at a high school basketball game.  One of the varsity cheerleaders, came walking by and fell into my lap and arms!  What?  Of course I caught her!  I mean I had to be careful for her safety!  Well, that was the start of a bad night.  I mean, I was innocent!  But all night long, beginning then, I heard from my girlfriend ---- She did that on purpose!  She planned that!  I didn’t know and didn’t care!  However, my girlfriend did care.  She might have been right; I don’t know!   The cheerleader was a ditzy blonde, so anything is possible.  I just know that it did not lead to a good night!

Back to the importance of laps. If Cynthia has had a bad day, letting her talk it out while sitting in my lap is always a good thing.  Another example of the importance and the fun of laps was recently again shown to me.  The Princess, now 7 years old, stayed the night with us.  The Princess, since the beginning, has always thought my lap was hers.  Until she became too big, she thought of it as her sleep machine.  She would get in my lap, have me scratch her back, and promptly go to sleep.  

The Princess and The Hillbilly

At any rate, while staying the night, she was watching the movie Brave and eating popcorn.  I was reading the paper and had planned on starting a project.  About 15 minutes into the movie, The Princess began sidling up to me and said, “This part of the movie is kind of scary to me”.  The next thing I know, she is sliding the newspaper over and getting on the edge of my lap.  I put the paper down and let her get more comfortable.  
The Princess on Grandpa's lap

This was the beginning of "Grandpa, will you scratch my back?"  Which then led to her giving both Cynthia and me a running commentary of the movie, interspersed with "Don’t stop scratching my back. Do the spider thing, (where I take my hand and act like it is a large spider crawling up her back – to her ears – then to the top of the head). She then says, “That always gives me goosebumps!"  Then she says such things as, This next part is my favorite part of the movie. This next part is the funniest.  This next part makes me sniff (sad), followed on cue  by sniffing, and so on.

  This all continued with a second movie, Ice Age Two.  After about 2 to 2 ½ hours of this, I got my lap back.  It was a riot!  I didn’t get any of my project completed but what is another day or two?  Laps have a time limit!  The kids will get too big, too independent, too smart, and decide they don’t need those laps any longer.  You gotta make use of them while you can!

From the Hillbilly’s Corner 

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Hillbilly's Thoughts on Bullying

My Hillbilly has a few things to say on the subject of bullying.  He takes it pretty seriously, as we all do:

There is a subject that I have considered discussing that kind of comes and goes depending upon our news cycles.  That subject is bullying.  I like most all people have been affected by it, but probably less than most because I was always large for my age, stronger than average, quicker than average, and athletic.  I just wasn’t the type that the average bully chose to pick on.  As a young kid, if I was going to be picked on, it was generally by someone quite a lot older and bigger than I.  And really, they didn’t gain much from it because what does a bully gain by picking on a small kid?  Let’s face it, that doesn’t do much to grow some one’s reputation.


The first occasion I remember of being bullied was at a small country church that was having a revival.  My family and I went to an evening meeting.  I was about nine years old.   After church, we small children were running around the building chasing one another and playing.  Back then, there were some of the older boys (young men) who would stand behind the building and smoke.  One of the times as I circled the building, one of the boys, probably about 18 years old, grabbed me and bent me over a wooden frame (I actually thought he was going to break my back) and basically began threatening me and told me to quit coming back there.  Surprisingly, I never told anyone about it.

The second occasion, was on a school bus.  I was twelve, the bully was a senior in high school.  I am sure he felt very tough!   And really, what bullying I was affected by was almost always by kids who were three or four years older and already physically matured.

Other children around me who were perhaps considered to be smaller, fatter, skinnier, clumsier, or more nerdy, were not always as lucky.  Whether watching some of them being bullied or being bullied myself, I acquired a major dislike for bullies.  In fact, if I hadn’t been brought up being taught against violence, it would have been easy for me to become a hillbilly who went around laying some serious head thumping on those who practiced it.  Of course that would have made me no better than they!  Even knowing that, if I got angry, I still sometimes reacted.  

In my freshman year, during the lunch hour, I came into a classroom to drop off my books.  When I walked in, two bullies had a tiny little kid cornered and were threatening him.  The little kid might have been 5’2” and weighed ninety pounds.  The bullies were both 6’ with one weighing about two hundred pounds and the other one weighing about one hundred forty five pounds.  They were really brave!   I was 6’ tall and weighed about one hundred fifty five pounds.  Without thinking very much, (Hmm! that might be a hillbilly failing) I got in their face and told them that they should try picking on someone their own size!  I then finished by saying that I probably fit the bill.  That backed them both down and they never even offered to try to give me any trouble.  Being a bully doesn’t necessarily mean they are brave!  The thing was, I probably did them a favor.  The little kid had older twin brothers that were bigger than us and various other brothers who were older and even larger than they.  

Also, still during my freshman year, and during the lunch hour, two large senior football players, put on a show of of roughing up and taking a small awkward freshman and pushing him back and forth like a ping pong ball.  I always remember the look on his face and have regretted not trying to do something about that.  I would probably have gotten thumped but maybe if I had told them to stop, everyone else that hated it might have spoken up also.  I don’t know, but I do know that it wasn’t right.

By my senior year, there just wasn’t much of anyone who would risk their tough reputation by bothering me.  However, on the second day of school, I was sitting at a desk waiting for class to start, when a bully with the tough boy reputation entered the room.  He had his little group of toady followers, you know the group, the ones that go yeah, yeah Butch, yeah Butch, you are really cool and tough, Butch!  So nice of you to let us be your toady followers Butch!  Yeah Butch, I think he looked at you wrong and disrespected you!  Are you going to whip him now Butch?  Huh?  Huh Butch?  

Anyway he sent one of his followers over to tell me that I was in his chair, (none had been assigned).  I shouldn’t have, but the flesh was weak, I looked at this toad, smiled politely and said, “Well you know what, I don’t particularly care where I sit, but I have this big pile of books sitting here.  I tell you what, tell your big bully friend that if he wants to come over and move my books to another desk, I’ll let him have this one."  The look on the toad’s face was priceless!  He just couldn’t believe that I had dishonored and shown no fear of his cool, bully, hero!  By the way, his cool, bully hero never said a word to me and I continued to sit there. 

 I think we have all heard some of the psycho babble about people becoming bullies because of their home life, being bullied at home, etc.   Perhaps that is partially true but I have known some who came from great families where none of the rest of them were that way.  From what I have seen, most of the bullying has come from people whose IQ was surpassed by ----- almost everything!  Yup, ignorance again!

A wise man, in having a talk with his son, after his being bullied, told him that one day he would be bigger than the bully.  That came true and this is not an unusual occurrence!   I became larger than almost all the people who ever tried to bully me.  The little 5’2” kid that I rescued grew to be 6’6”. He became much larger and meaner than the two boys who were trying to bully him.   Due to these types of occurrences, bullies, even with their low IQs, come to realize that their bullying days are over.  When they don’t, bad things usually come --- things such as bad beatings, death, prison, etc.  I wouldn’t have to try very hard to give you examples.  Of course one of the best ones would be of the bully that wanted my desk.  He wound up shooting his toe off, on purpose, to keep from being drafted by the military.  Yep!  High IQs and bravery,  I tell ya!  By the way, that sounds better if you put a southern drawl to it.  -----  Just sayin'!

From the Hillbilly’s Corner!

As a junior high school teacher, I see a lot of bullying get started. I also see a lot of kids step in to help stop it. Those are the kids who give me hope. Have you taught your kids what to do when they see bullying happen?


Monday, July 22, 2013

Waxing Poetic on a Summer Evening

photo by Cynthia

I love spending summer evenings
floating on the river 
basking in the quiet
feeling the warm breeze on my skin like cotton.

photo by Cynthia
When the sun sets

photo by Cynthia
When nature becomes still

Peace flows like a river.

I wish I could bottle this evening and keep it forever.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Is This the Feminism You Signed Up For?

I was born in 1959, the tail end of the Baby Boom. I was a child in the sixties. When I was in elementary school the evening news was full of the Viet Nam War, college protesters, and women's lib. 

Women were demanding equal pay for equal work. They wanted the same opportunities as men. They wanted to be taken seriously. Women should be seen as equal adult human beings, not as sex objects for men to play with. All very reasonable proposals.

By Leffler, Warren K. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Today, women hold some of the most powerful positions in the country. They are doctors and lawyers, CEOs and senators. A woman can be taken just as seriously as a man. But what happened to not being a sex object? How do we expect not to be seen as sex object when we present ourselves like this?

And what are we doing toward teaching our daughters and granddaughters to respect themselves, to focus on their skills and abilities rather than their sexuality? We're marketing outfits like these to our teenagers:

From the web site of a well-known main stream department store Juniors Dept.
I teach 8th grade. I've seen what our young women are wearing. Is this really what we want to teach them about their self-worth? The one with the cutest figure and the skimpiest outfit wins?

I know the idea of modesty makes some women angry. Of course you have the right to wear whatever you want. All of this is just my opinion. You can dress any way you want, and I'll never tell you that you can't or even that you shouldn't. I will tell you that with rights come responsibilities. The decisions that we make will have results. They way we present ourselves determines in part how people perceive us. That's just common sense, y'all.

How did we get here? Maybe it's like the kid in school who makes fun of his clumsiness before anyone else can. They're going to laugh anyway. He's still clumsy, but at least the laughter is his idea. Maybe women realized that men are just hard-wired to be attracted to women. Men are going to be lustful anyway, but if I dress provocatively, then the lust is my idea. Some women somehow find that empowering.

As for myself, I choose to dress modestly. I'm not ashamed of my body or my sexuality. I just don't think it's anyone else's business. I don't hate my body; I just choose to present myself as an intelligent, dignified adult human being. Not as an object of desire. My husband desires me; that's enough.

Modest doesn't mean unattractive.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Funny About Words

So as I was exercising this morning -- okay, I was thinking about exercising. Shut up! I don't go to your house and call you a lazy liar. What nerve!
Calesthenics class
By Cbl62 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Okay, so I was thinking about exercising, and it occurred to me what an ugly word squat is. I mean, aside from the actual meaning, which is not all that pleasant, just the sound of the word is ugly. Say it with me. "Squat." Just...ick!
Girl squatting
By Crossfit girl (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

I read once that somehow researchers determined that the most beautiful, melodic word in English is "diarrhea." First off, I have no idea how that was determined. Was it a poll? Did they have to ask non-English speakers so they wouldn't be biased because of the words' meanings? I also have no idea where I read that and have no way of knowing if it's true. So we've already settled that I can't be trusted with the truth. The truth is irrelevant to this discussion anyway. Quit harping on the truth all the time!

In lieu of actual diarrhea, I offer this dirty little grandson, The Monster
I also read a report that said a large number of people chose cellar door as the prettiest word in English. What do you think? Frankly, I just can't decide between diarrhea and cellar door.

Anyway, I definitely think that some words have nicer sounds than others. Some words are just fun to say. My favorite word to say is gastroenterologist. Gas-tro-en-ter-ol-o-gist. It's beautiful! It's like  music! Say it! GASTROENTEROLOGIST!! Now that is a beautiful word.

Serendipitous is another pretty word, don't you think? Before I knew what it actually meant, I thought of it as describing something exotic and beautiful. It doesn't, but the word still carries that mood for me.

Do you have a favorite word that just sounds nice to you? A word that you enjoy saying with no mind paid to its meaning? Share in the comments!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

10 Things That Say Summer to Me

This week's Monday Listicle is about summer. We all have certain things that speak to us of summer. Mostly they stem from our childhood, and your list would be different from mine. These are the top 10 things that make summer real for me.

1. Corn on the cob. All my life, corn on the cob has been a summer time food. Corn on the cob tastes so much better than off the cob. And the butter! Lots of butter dripping off the corn and pooling on the plate. Hot and crisp and delicious!
Corn on the cob
 2. Watermelon!  I love a cold, juicy, sweet watermelon. Nowadays you can buy it all year round, but when I was growing up, watermelon was strictly a summer food. The grownups would slice it and hand out big pieces for everyone. Another drippy delight, but with the added benefit of stickiness. What's not to love?

3. Bare feet. When I was a kid growing up in Southern California, we never wore shoes outside during the summer. Or the spring. Or most of the fall. Or some parts of the winter. But I digress. Little feet could carry a lot of dirt, especially since digging to China was a very popular pastime. We moved to Central California with its 110 degree heat and discovered that a black asphalt street could burn your tootsies pretty severely. Which meant, of course, that you had to run across the street instead of walking. Other than that, nothing changed. Now add those dirty bare feet to the sticky, drippy goodness of watermelon, and you've got summer!

Bare feet
4. Popsicles. And by Popsicles, I mean real Popsicle brand frozen treats with two sticks that you broke apart to get two pops. Two! Two frozen, drippy, sticky sugar bombs! And, yes, we're back to food.

5. Barbecued Steak. Yep. More food. When I was growing up, my parents' one luxury was barbecued steak on Saturday. I have the fondest memories of playing in the back yard on the freshly  mowed lawn while Daddy grilled the steak. He picked the steaks personally from the local meat market and slathered them with his own secret sauce. I know the recipe, but if I told you, I'd have to kill you. Now throw in some homemade french fries, corn on the cob, and watermelon for dessert, and you've got yourself the perfect meal. The. Perfect. Meal.

Steak on the grill
6. The Beach Boys. Ah, Endless Summer. Daddy hung stereo speakers outside on the patio and listened to music as he barbecued. We came to call it Saturday Music. Elvis, Buddy Holly, Glen Campbell, Roy Orbison, The Four Seasons, and The Tijuana Brass. But The Beach Boys made it summer.

7. Drive-In Movies. There are very few of these in existence today, but when I was a teenager, we actually had choices: McHenry Drive-In, Ceres Drive-In, Stockton 99, Briggsmore. Briggsmore was the first to go. It's sad really. Drive-in theaters were awesome!  You and your friends would pull into the dusty lot just before dark and sit on the hood of your car to check out the boy situation. As the sun went down, the temperature dropped to something bearable, and you hit the concession stand as the previews were starting. You worked your way back to your car, strategically routing your way past the car of that cute boy in your science class. Finally, just as the movie started, a summer breeze came up, sometimes carrying a distant herbal smoke from the other side of the lot. I feel sorry for you if you never experienced the drive-in. It really was awesome.

Drive-in theater

8. The Ice Cream Man! The purveyor of fine frozen goods for one mere dime. Yes, I'm that old. We might be outside playing when we heard it. That lovely little jingle that meant only one thing. Ice Cream! What happened next took great speed. We rushed inside to our parents and danced around as they came up with a dime for each of us. Sometimes begging was involved. I'm not ashamed to admit it. It was ice cream! Next, dime firmly clutched in dirty little fist, we ran outside hoping he hadn't already passed us by. There he was! We rushed to the curb and waved, and he stopped. He always stopped! The exchange was made, and we were in frozen sticky heaven!

Vintage Ice Cream Truck

9.  Sleeping in. I was born at 10:35 P.M. Maybe that's why I've always been a night person. When I was a teenager, I would sometimes stay up all night reading. Just not bother going to sleep that night. Being a teacher means I have to overcome my natural tendencies and practice that early-to-bed-early-to-rise thing. But when school's out, it takes no time at all for my natural disposition to take over. That first night of staying up past midnight lets me know it's really summer time.

10. The smell of peaches. We live in the San Joaquin Valley, which produces the majority of California's agricultural products. California, by the way, produces almost 13% of the nation's agricultural products. So we've got fruit. We've got fresh fruit stands on every other corner once you get out of town, and out of town is never far around here. When I was in high school, I walked along the main highway through Manteca (self-proclaimed Crossroads of California.) Highway 120 was a prime truck route for transporting fresh fruit and veggies to the canneries and packing plants. There is nothing to compare to the smell of a full truckload of fresh peaches, warm in the valley sun. It is divine. Simply divine. The peaches are ripe in June. Peaches mean summer.

Peach half

How about you? What means summer to you?