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Annual Thankful Post

THANKFUL-generic pic
I am thankful for my family and my in-laws. I am thankful for all our on-going healths. I am thankful for my dog, and that she is still full of shit at 13 years old. I am thankful I could provide a meal today and for all those who joined us. I am thankful for our two working cars. I am thankful for our warm, dry house. I am thankful for Coca-Cola. I am thankful for chocolate. I am thankful for pizza. I am thankful for cupcakes in ice cream cones. I am thankful for CreateSpace. I am thankful for all the voices in my head that demand to have their day in print. I am thankful for my son’s interest in art. I am thankful for television. I am thankful for hoodies. I am thankful for Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple-Cranberry Cider. I am thankful for Christmas trees. I am thankful for hardwood floors. I am thankful for a roof that keeps out the rain. I am thankful for indoor plumbing. I am thankful that all the water stays within the pipes. I am thankful for my dishwasher. I am thankful for my washer and dryer. I am thankful for my roaster and my crockpot. I am thankful for stomach aches from gluttonous eating. I am thankful for goofy little boys. I am thankful for GSRP. I am thankful for sleeping puppies. I am thankful for hedgehogs. I am thankful for hamsters. I am thankful for trips to Mackinac Island. I am thankful for Yule Log DVDs. I am thankful for Santa Claus. I am thankful for Hello Kitty. I am thankful for ice cream. I am thankful for hand lotion. I am thankful for two driveways. I am thankful for Uni Jetstream 1.0mm pens. I am thankful for my laptop. I am thankful for Internet service. I am thankful for digital cameras. I am thankful for Pull-Ups. I am thankful for comfy couches. I am thankful for WordPress blogs. I am thankful for trains. I am thankful my husband is a mechanical genius. I am thankful my asbestos friend puts up with my non-positive worldview and tries to talk me down from my insanity. I am thankful for the bundle of joy I received five years ago today.

Repost: The One about Jeff Gordon

I orginally published this in July, as that is when I went to see Jeff Gordon in person. I wanted to respot it this weekend in honor of his very last race in NASCAR this weekend and retirement. Thank you Jeff. The track will miss you. Your fans look forward to watching you in the booth.

To view and comment on the orignal post, click here:

Most people probably don’t know that I have any interest in sports at all.

Sports that I actually play myself are limited to only bowling and mini golf. I like to ice skate, but not competitively. And I am not very good at any of those things. I consider it a successful bowling game if I break 100. Mini golf as well. ;-P

The only professional sports I have ever cared about were ice hockey and NASCAR. My interest in both grew around 1993/1994.

My love of hockey grew from my asbestos friend being the spokesmodel for our nearby ECHL team, the Toledo Storm. You can read more about that here:

My love of NASCAR grew from liking to watch cars crash. And also a new driver by the name of Jeff Gordon.

As we were not a household with any males (even the dog was a female), we really didn’t watch that many sporting events. Not even the Superbowl. If not for the kids at school, I never even would have known when that took place. (And I think that I would have preferred that.)

But we would usually watch the Indianapolis 500, because, c’mon, who hasn’t heard of that? But if there is a wreck, the Indy cars just disintegrate. Where is the fun in that? Now a stock car, they take on damage, get duct-taped up, and keep running laps.

The Michigan International Speedway actually resides in the same county I do. One year (1993, I looked it up) Ricky Rudd’s Tide car was supposed to be at our local Walmart. I think we went to look at it. Anyway, that car was already ingrained in our brains when we watched the race that weekend. (Michigan races used to always be on one of the broadcast networks. Not the case anymore.) We rooted for Ricky Rudd. His orange car was pretty and easy to spot during the race. And he actually frickin’ won the race! My mom and I even went to my grandma’s high rise old person apartment building in Adrian to watch the race trucks (now we know the correct terminology is “haulers”) come down M-52 through town.

Also, notable in the race, was another car with a pretty paint job that was very eye catching: the #24 DuPont Chevy, driven by rookie Jeff Gordon. He finished second.

Jeff Gordon show car

Jeff Gordon show car

Shortly after that, we were lucky enough to get cable, so then we could watch the NASCAR races on ESPN as well. Soon that evolved into watching three hours of pre-race shows on Sunday before the three hour race itself. For several years, I could lay in my bed and recognize the voice of which NASCAR Winston Cup driver was being interviewed on TV in the living room. And that is not as easy as you may think, as they almost all have southern accents.

Except Jeff Gordon.

Young Jeff Gordon

Young Jeff Gordon

His accent has always been way crazy. North Carolina, by way of Pittsboro, Indiana (more on this later) and Vallejo, California.

I soon developed a crush on Jeff Gordon, which only intensified after he lost his wannabe mustache and mullet. My mom and I always gave credit to his new wife Brooke for “grooming” him, although NASCAR, realizing his potential appeal to the masses, may have had something to do with that as well.

I would later meet someone (a cousin-in-law) who actually was at Jeff & Brooke’s wedding. He had been dating a sorority sister of Brooke’s at the time.

My mom and I watched almost every Winston Cup race every weekend for a several years. We rode the rise of popularity of NASCAR, along with that of Gordon. We would watch as Dale Earnhardt would be limping around the track after a crash, accumulating laps with a crippled race car, getting lapped by the field. But every time Jeff Gordon showed up in the rear view mirror, Earnhardt raced him as if it was the final lap.

See, in Winston Cup, there is one King, and that is Richard Petty. He won 7 Winston Cup championships.

There is one Intimidator. That is Dale Earnhardt. He won 7 championships too.

I have read where Earnhardt affectionately gave Jeff the nickname "Wonder Boy." I doubt there was much affection there...

I have read where Earnhardt affectionately gave Jeff the nickname “Wonder Boy.” I doubt there was much affection there…

The first Winston Cup race Jeff Gordon ever raced in was the final race of Richard Petty, as he moved into retirement. I am not the only one who feels that race was rich with symbolism. Read more about it here.

I had Jeff pegged to tie or set a new championship record from the beginning. So it was no surprise to me when he won Rookie of the Year in 1993. Or his first Winston Cup Championship in 1995.

Then I got a job and a boyfriend, and no longer had time for such things.

Jeff Gordon's #24 at MIS

Jeff Gordon’s #24 at MIS

Although, said boyfriend did take me to a practice and a Cup race at MIS. I got to see Jeff Gordon’s car in person as it sped around the track. Wasn’t quite the same as being able to actually see or meet him though. And I learned that while I prefer to watch hockey games in person, I prefer my car racing on television.

I still loved Jeff, but I was no longer rooting for him every week. I heard about his divorce from Brooke because it made news for her large demands on the fortune he had accumulated as he rose up in NASCAR. I was aware, but not watching, when the series went from being sponsored by Winston cigarettes to Nextel, then changed again to Sprint. I missed when DuPont stopped being his sponsor. I missed a few more of his championships. I missed fun TV moments like this one below.

I wasn’t watching when Jeff Gordon got married a second time and the happy couple started popping out kids. I was busy getting married and having one of my own.

My own Gordon fan.

My own Gordon fan.

As the holidays approached in 2014, Michigan International Speedway was having a toy and canned food drive. Like, literally. If you brought an unwrapped toy or a bag of food to the race track, they would let you DRIVE on it.

My husband was working, but I took my preschooler son with me. I talked my mom into going with me. She never ever wants to go anywhere. But since there was no walking involved, she had continued to follow NASCAR after I had, and she was intensely curious, she came with me. For more on this adventure, click here:

It was so weird to drive on those high banks with my little Jeep Patriot. At the time I reflected, “I felt a little closer to Jeff Gordon that day.” I had trod on the same hallowed pavement that he had. Maybe it was some kind of sign that I should be thinking of Jeff again after all these years…

The view of the track through my windshield

The view of the track through my windshield

Then on January 22, 2015, all that changed. I was actually out on a rare date with my husband at a sports bar. And there, on all the televisions tuned to the various sports networks, was Jeff Gordon announcing that 2015 would be his last year to race. He was retiring.

I feel really bad for my husband, but I spent most of our date watching the interviews with Jeff.

So, this year, I made it a point to rededicate myself to watching NASCAR and rooting for Jeff Gordon. Except, well, that is hard when you don’t have all the channels the races are on. But, I am doing the best I can. I discovered that I could follow Jeff on all the social media that had not even existed when he started racing. I have already pre-ordered my commemorative diecast of the Axalta Chevy for Bristol pimped out in the classic DuPont paint scheme. And I drove 9 hours round trip to go see him in person.

Yes, you read that right.

My son and I (my husband had to work) made the long trip from Michigan to Pittsboro, Indiana for their parade in celebration of Jeff Gordon Day. I figured it might be my last chance to ever see him in person. I am usually a planner. I didn’t plan much for the trip, except to pack lots of snacks for my little guy. I hate driving on expressways, especially in big cities. But, they are the fastest way to get somewhere in a hurry, and Indianapolis was standing between me and Jeff.

My son and I pulled out the driveway at 4:40AM, he still in his pajamas, soon fell back asleep, leaving me to be my own navigator, reading my printed out MapQuest directions inside the dark car. I hate driving (Danica will get no competition from me), but I had been itching to take a trip, so it wasn’t so bad. I watched the sun rise as I drove through Ohio. I passed a deer nibbling in the fields. I saw a locomotive parked on the track. I wanted to point it out to my son, but couldn’t. He slept clean through Ohio. We were just outside Indy when I had to wake him up so that I could use the restroom.

After putting on his clothes in the backseat of the car and fortifying ourselves with granola bars, I attempted to conquer the beast that is Indianapolis…and I went the wrong way on the 465 loop. I drove 3/4 of the way around the city, before finally reaching my exit. Good thing I had added in an extra hour of drive time, just in case.

Downtown Pittsboro, Indiana

Downtown Pittsboro, Indiana

When we reached Pittsboro, all the businesses had signs up in their windows that said “No Public Restroom.” They wanted you to use the porta potties in the town park, where the festivities were. I bought two cookies at Subway and used their bathroom. Best $1.09 I ever spent. Pittsboro is smaller than my hometown of Blissfield. It doesn’t even have it’s own high school.

There was a drawing to meet Jeff Gordon. Only 5 winners were chosen who each got to bring a guest. Winners would be notified by cell phone at a designated time. The guy sitting near me on the parade route won. We all heard the phone call. He picked the chick right next to him to be his guest. He had never met her. Didn’t even know her name.

Yes, it stung a bit that he didn’t pick me.

Jeff Gordon Day Parade, June 23, 2015 in Pittsboro, Indiana

Jeff Gordon Day Parade, June 23, 2015 in Pittsboro, Indiana

Jeff went by in the parade very quickly. I was waiting for his face to be one of those in the passing cars, it was, and then he was gone in a flash. We quickly walked over and got a good spot in front of the stage to watch the festivities. My son was thoroughly unimpressed with it all. I had a demented fantasy where my son would get lost, then find Jeff’s son Leo, they would play together, and then I would get to meet Jeff when I was reunited with my son. But I didn’t lose my kid and never got to meet Jeff. And I didn’t see his wife or kids there either, although I did see his step-father.

But, I got to lay my own eyes on Jeff and hear his voice with my own ears, so that is something.

"Look at my junk!" Not really. He was actually pointing to his new honorary police badge.

“Look at my junk!” Not really. He was actually pointing to his new honorary police badge.

I would have possibly pursued trying to meet or get an autograph from him further is I didn’t have my tike with me. But by the time Jeff finished, both us pale folk had withered in the hot Indiana mid-day sun. We tried to eat in town, but everything seemed to be a bar. So we headed out of town to the nearest exit with more choices.

Now I wish I would have bummed around longer. Driven past his old high school or hunted down the house he grew up in.

I still have hopes for another championship this year. This season hasn’t been the smoothest, but it hasn’t been all bad either.

Even if Jeff Gordon wins this year, he will not tie or break the 7 time Cup Championship record set by Petty and tied by Earnhardt. But he is definitely not going to be forgotten.

Below is actual video footage of Jeff Gordon break dancing. It comes after the 4 minute mark. There is lots of razzing by the other drivers before the 4 minute mark.

Now who will I root for? I kinda like that kid, what’s his name, that won the Daytona 500 this year? Ah yes, Joey Logano. My son even made up a catchy song for his name.

The best I ever did for Jeff was fit his name into that old Lizzy Bordon rhyme.


Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016!


This is a little tail that will show you again what a powerful manifester I am when I set my mind to something. (A great past post on this subject is Pharamacy Giraffe.)

When I was little, for some holiday (seems like maybe it was Easter), I received a silly little tic-tac-toe game. It featured cats and mice as the playing pieces. Now, I never really played with it that much. I was an only child of a mother who purchased board games for me, but didn’t like to play them. So, I played it by myself until I got bored. It spent a lot of time sitting on the shelf collecting dust. One day, and I feel like I must have been in 2nd or 3rd grade, because it was very soon after we moved into our trailer, I was playing with this very game when something TRAGIC happened…

Cat & Mouse Tic-Tac-Toe copyright 1982 Giftco, Inc.

Cat & Mouse Tic-Tac-Toe, copyright 1982 Giftco, Inc.

Let’s back up for a moment here. Let me tell you something about my trailer. It was in a trailer park, so there really wasn’t much yard. I spent a lot of time sitting on the concrete steps, playing or reading or whatever. They were plain and boring and hard. They did not even have a railing up to the door as so many other trailers had.

What it DID have was a giant gap between the steps and the skirting (the metal trim around the bottom of a mobile home that covers up all the pipes and wheels and crap that are underneath it). My mom always cautioned me not to lose toys or anything down there. She was not going to retrieve them. I was a little kid. My mom had proven she could do almost anything. So then why couldn’t she move four concrete steps? I figured she just didn’t want to. I also suggested that we just shove the steps up closer to the house. But she explained about how the ground moves due to the freezing and thawing. And to illustrate her point, there was already a dent in the skirting from the years prior to us living there.

A picture of the steps. And my gramma. Because I miss her very much.

A picture of the steps. And my gramma. Because I miss her very much.

So, one fateful day, a mouse from my tic-tac-toe game fell BEHIND the steps! That fast, my game became tic-tac-DOH, as Homer Simpson would say. I cried and cried that I wanted it back. What good was a tic-tac-toe game with only 8 pieces? (What is a tic-tac-toe game good for at all, really? It is usually played with only a paper and pen!) I kept thinking there must be a way to move those steps.

I eventually put a pink pencil eraser with the set, to simulate the missing pink mouse. For years, I looked at those steps and knew that mouse was behind them, just out of my reach. Sure, other things fell back there over the years. Some things we could push out using a yard stick (meter stick, if you are international). I lived there for 15 years. And as much school studies, college tests, and pop culture trivia as I crammed into my brains in that time, I NEVER forgot about that little mouse, all alone, hungry and cold, behind those steps. Day after day he suffered back there in silence. I never gave up hope that one day I might see him again. I kept the game all those years, after all. A game I didn’t even play.

Then one day, that all changed…

After I moved out and then my mother, the landlord pulled our trailer out and sat it up by the road, for sale to the best offer. That is terribly depressing, but what happened next was NOT!

My old home was just pulled out to the curb to be sold for best offer.

My old home was just pulled out to the curb to be sold for best offer.

My then-boyfriend (now-husband) and I went to poke around the old homestead. The home where I had spent the formative years of my life, now brutally removed, leaving nothing but two long slabs of concrete, some water lines, and some blue-stained dirt.*

Can you guess what I looked for?

Can you guess WHAT I FOUND?!!

I found my mouse!

The mouse that was under my house!

I couldn’t wait to call my mom and tell her SHE WAS WRONG! She said I would never get that mouse back, BUT I DID!



The miraculous mouse from under the house!

The miraculous mouse from under the house!

I had spent so much time thinking we needed to move the steps, I never thought of moving the trailer. Which is silly, because the trailer HAS wheels; the steps do not. Once I returned home, I reunited that little mouse with his family! You can’t tell it in the picture, but that mouse is little dirtier, looks a little more tired than the other mice in the set. He has some dirt in the creases of his body. And I could give him a good bath and remove it, but I won’t. It is his badge of honor of what he survived. I want to know which one is the miraculous mouse, the one who was braver than all the other mice. The one who went where no plastic mouse had gone before, and returned to tell the tail (Even his tail is still intact!).

I realize that no one really needed to ever hear this story except me, but I have put it on here anyway. Don’t you wish you had the ten minutes back that it spent for you to read that? No matter what you think, I think there is a lesson to be learned there, somewhere. Never give up on the mouse under your house.

Maybe the lesson is that I need some therapy…

* When we moved into that trailer, there was a state mandate for all the drain pipes to be updated to be bigger. That was work was completed (or so we thought) before we moved in. All the drains in the entire structure were on the side under the house–except the drain for the washing machine. My mom sold the washer and dryer that came with the trailer right after we moved in, and we never had another until about a year before we moved out. Apparently, we only learned through my snooping of the old homestead, in all those years the drain for the washer had never been hooked into the rest of the sewer pipes. Every time my mom had done laundry for a year (and let me tell you, that woman does A LOT of laundry), all the water had gone on the ground underneath the trailer. We always sort of wondered why you could smell Downy outside so well when doing the wash, even when the windows were all closed. So in our wake, we left a big blue puddle of fabric softener.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016!


I wasn’t planning on posting today, but I wanted to mention that I have a big weekend ahead of me.

EVENTS-bulliten board

I have TWO EVENTS – yes, count them – two events this weekend.

If you live in Michigan (or are willing to drive a little), this is the chance for me to meet you, to maybe buy a book, or get one signed! And you are in luck! One is on the western side of the state, and the other on the east! Have a friend who is an avid reader? Please bring them too. Both are free and open to the public.

Tonight I will be at the Barnes & Noble in Muskegon from 6pm-9pm with 49 other Michigan authors. Come and show some love to local authors!

Sunday afternoon I will be at the Commerce Township Library in Commerce Township with 30 other great local authors.

Pssst… I hear the first 50 guests will be able to grab a swag bag from some of today’s up and coming indie authors, including some signed items!

Saturday I will be at family game night. Sorry. That’s a private event. You can’t come. ;-)

REMEMBER: The best place to find out about my upcoming events is right here on my site:

Here are the addresses for your GPS or Google Maps. Can’t wait to see ya & meet ya!

Trail of Michigan Authors Mega-50 Signing
Barnes and Noble
Friday, November 6, 2015
Lake Shore Marketplace
5275 Harvey Street
Muskegon MI 49444
Book signing
50 Michigan authors in attendance!

For the Love of Books Expo
Sunday, November 8, 2015
Commerce Township Community Library
2869 N Pontiac Trail
Commerce MI 48390
Book signing
Over 30 authors gathered at the Commerce Twp Library for one afternoon. Your chance to get their books AND get them signed! Admission is free to enter.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016!

I Tried to Write a Country Song

In the past six months I started listening to country music again. And while I enjoy a good male singer/group as much as the next chick, all the songs start to sound similar. There is lots of “hey baby, let me take you down by the creek.” Um, ew. There are skeeters down there. Below is a Sam Hunt song that exemplifies my point. (And I also put it on here because it is a very hot song ;-) )

So, somehow all this inspired me to write my own country song, trying not to sound too much like “Girl in a Country Song” by Maddie and Tae or “Guys Do It All The Time” by Shania.

I apologize in advance. Just be thankful you are not here for me to sing it to you…

Country Girl (At Heart)
You drive up to my front porch
A cloud of dust billows up from the drive
All over my T-shirt
I climb up into your pickup truck
You want to take me down
To the old mill pond
For some kissing and cuddling after dark
But let me tell you boy, why that’s just whack

I love NASCAR on a Sunday
I grew up on Jones & Straight
I like to listen to a freight train thunder down the rails on a dark night
But fish are icky
The woods have bugs
Tailgates are lumpy
And I can’t be trusted with a gun
But I am a Country Girl at heart

I wasn’t born in the South
But my neck is red
I grew up in a trailer
But I ain’t trash
I’m not model pretty
So I might as well be pretty weird
Maybe you will find it endearing
But remember I’d rather play Skee ball
Than go skeet shootin’ cuz

I love NASCAR on a Sunday
I grew up on Jones & Straight
I like to listen to a freight train thunder down the rails at night
But fish are icky
The woods have bugs
Tailgates are lumpy
And I can’t be trusted with a gun
But I am a Country Girl at heart

I don’t need fancy parties
I’m allergic to designer clothes
I love a big tractor
As it works long hours on a brown fall day
I love wide open fields
And the sight of a barn with no decay
The simple beauty of a dusty sunset
Shared with a guy in a t-shirt & jeans
And a backwards hat for easier kissing

I love NASCAR on a Sunday
I grew up on Jones & Straight
I like to listen to a freight train thunder down the rails at night
But fish are icky
The woods have bugs
Tailgates are lumpy
And I can’t be trusted with a gun
But I am a Country Girl at heart

But I am a Country Girl at heart

My country heart

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016!


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