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In-Person Appearance This Saturday!

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There will be an appearance Saturday, April 8th by Jennifer Friess!!!

That doesn’t seem very glamorous. Wait, that’s me.

But, heck, I’m announcing it anyway.

Tomorrow me, and several other even more fabulous authors, will be at the Lenawee District Library from 2:30PM-4:00PM. That is a short window of time, so if you snooze, you will lose.

The LDL, as they refer to themselves, can be found at 4459 W. US-223, Adrian, MI 49221.

This will be my first event where I will have copies of Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom to sell. I am so excited to be able to tell people about Ginny’s story in person!

To see other events, please click here: EVENTS PAGE

Don’t forget, if you sign up for my newsletter during the month of April you will have a chance to win TWO ROCK STAR PASSES to the Great Lakes Books Bash, October 27 & 28th! The two passes cover admission to the signing & panels Friday as well as early admission to the signing on Saturday and panels on Saturday.

Click here to sign up.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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The Riga Flood

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We are all just the sum of our stories, right? And while one person might see my stories as boring and insignificant, another might just find them relatable and moving. Certain childhood events stand out on the virtual timeline more than others.

The flood of 1981 in Riga, Michigan is one of those events in my life. The River Raisin crested in nearby Blissfield at a record 687.10 ft. (Flood stage is 683 ft.) It is actually a much cooler story from my mom’s point of view. After all, I was only five years old when all this happened. I just did as I was told, and followed my mom’s lead. [Only recently have I realized that she must have spent my entire youth faking strength. She should have been an actress.]

As my mom tells it, she was asleep on the couch in the living room. Our dog Ginger was fussing around in the middle of the night. My mom woke up and swore at the dog. She wasn’t in the mood to get up and let her out. Then my mom sniffed. The dog didn’t want to go out. She was reacting to the weird smell in the air. My mom got up and checked the basement. The weird smell was water flowing into the furnace. The rain combined with the spring thaw of snow was causing water to pour through cracks in the basement walls.

It is probably useful to mention at this point in my story, for those unaware of local history, that before Riga was settled in 1843, it was all swamp. The swamp was drained by digging deep ditches. Deep ditches remain there still, alongside country roads lined with open, flat fields. Too bad that the night the flood first hit, all those ditches were already filled with water. So was the River Raisin.

My mom did what was most logical to her at the time, and waded down into the basement in her nightgown to turn off the furnace. After all, that is an expensive piece of HVAC equipment to have to replace. A little later, as the water only continued to rise, she waded down again to turn off the electricity to the house. Only in retrospect would she realize how easily she could have been electrocuted, leaving a clueless, sleeping child to later find her floating, bloated body.

She called her mother, who lived in nearby Adrian, to come and get us. By this time, water surrounded our house and our car. This must have been when my mom woke me up, told me what was going on, and told me Gramma would be here shortly. I wondered how, in the time since I had gone to bed, our front yard had become a lake.At this point our house had no heat and no electricity. With no power, we had no well, meaning no drinking water, either. My mom opened the door so that I could look into the basement. By this time, the water had made it up to the top basement step. The basement had filled up with water to ground level. Where there used to be an entire flight of stairs, now there was just muddy, brown water.

Our flooded basement, Riga, MI, 1981

Our flooded basement, Riga, MI, 1981

Things that are silly to remember about the flood, but they are what I remember because I was a kid:

1. As a kid, I didn’t have pajamas. I usually slept in just a T-shirt (and underpants, you sickos). Many of these were shirts my gramma had brought back from vacations as souvenirs for me. Maybe that was my mom’s way of treating them as second-class clothing. We called them my “sleep shirts.” They were kept separate from my other T-shirts, due to the fact that my mom said sleeping in them stretched the necks out. I never wore them during the day to leave the house. Ever.

Except for the first day of the flood. My mom just put my jeans, socks, shoes, and coat on me, and left on my sleep shirt. That is how I knew something very major and upsetting was happening.

Our flooded house, Riga Hwy, Riga, MI, 1981

Our flooded house, Riga Hwy, Riga, MI, 1981

When my gramma arrived, she stayed in the car at the road. It was still dark outside. My mom wore her winter boots as she carried our clothes and things out to the car through our front yard that was now a lake. Too bad that the water was higher than the tops of her boots. Next, she carried me out to the car. I was at the age where I still wanted her to pick me up, and she would always be like, “No, you are too heavy.” So, it could not have been easy for her. Finally, I sat in the car and watched as she carried the dog out. Ginger was some type of poodle mix. Guessing, she had to have been at least 45lbs. When my mom tells the story, she says how the whole way she was talking to Ginger, willing her to not twist and writhe and jump out of my mom’s arms and land kersplat into the water. But Ginger did not. She made it to the car.

Our flooded neighbor's house, Riga Hwy, Riga, MI, 1981

Our flooded neighbor’s house, Riga Hwy, Riga, MI, 1981

We ended up sleeping at my gramma’s house for the next ten days: my mom on the couch, I on the loveseat. In my memory I was in kindergarten at the time, but there is no way I could have been at that age. Just one of the ways our memories play tricks on us.

US223 bridge at Blissfield, MI, 1981

US223 bridge at Blissfield, MI, 1981

My mom spent her days heading down to the house, while I stayed out of her way at my gramma’s. Instead, I was in my gramma’s way, cramping her style. My mom would come home at night with stories about how the main bridge through town was blocked by the cops because the flood waters were hitting the underside of the roadway, and how she begged them to let her through to work on her house. She had tales of the neighbors helping with sump pumps. She had to wait for the water to recede, then the furnace guy to come, then the electrician.

Flooded Park in Blissfield, MI, 1981

Flooded Park in Blissfield, MI, 1981

2. It was not lost on me, even then, that everyone had lived at my gramma’s house before, except me. I had seen the old 8mm home movies many times to prove it. My mom had grown up here. Ginger had lived her puppy years here. Even my dad who died before I was born lived there for a time when they were newlyweds. I was the odd man (girl?) out.

Flooded Riga Hwy, Riga, MI, 1981

Flooded Riga Hwy, Riga, MI, 1981

3. It was the first time I would ever get one of those big PAAS Easter poster kits that came with markers to color. My mom bought me a steady stream of new activities to try to keep me out of my gramma’s hair. I got a puzzle featuring a little girl in a blue bonnet and a baby chick. I got a new huge activity book, which I still had not completed years later. But I always remember the PAAS posters the best.

See the railing for the foot bridge?  That goes over Floodwood Creek.  Ironic, isn't it?

See the railing for the foot bridge? That goes over Floodwood Creek. Ironic, isn’t it?

4. I remember being sick and watching Fridays starring Michael Richards and Melanie Chartoff with my mom on TV as I hacked away. Fridays was like SNL, but better and didn’t last nearly as long. I am positive it was the only time that particular program was ever watched on that television.

My mom always reminds me how my gramma came out of her bedroom and said, “Don’t you know you are keeping Gramma up?” And she wasn’t talking about the TV. She was referring to my loud coughing, which couldn’t be helped.

Flooded Park in Blissfield, Michigan, 1981

Flooded Park in Blissfield, Michigan, 1981

The River Raisin has risen many times since then, but never as high. My mom sold the house in Riga when I was 8 years old. I married into a family whose ancestral home sits on the flood plain of the very same river. Sometimes my in-laws have to be evacuated, and my husband and I are happy to be able to provide them refuge.

US223 bridge closed in Blissfield, MI, at River Raisin due to flooding, December 2011. I would let that hotty stay at my house!

US223 bridge closed in Blissfield, MI, at River Raisin due to flooding, December 2011. I would let that hottie stay at my house!

Other parts of the country worry about earthquakes or lava or hurricanes. Those of us who reside on a former swamp worry about flooding.

And a little about tornadoes.

And Sharknadoes…

And there is more…

I wanted to post this entry in the spring, maybe on the anniversary of this big flood or at least during flooding season. But I was busy working on my new book, and it didn’t happen. But, well, I am not too late after all…

This is my mother-in-law’s shed behind her house yesterday, as it floats away. This yard was dry enough to mow at 1:00PM on Sunday.  24 hours later, this is what the family saw as they evacuated.

Flooding on Franklin St, Blissfield, MI, June 29, 2015

Flooding on Franklin St, Blissfield, MI, June 29, 2015

And here is video someone in Blissfield must have taken with a drone:

Looks impressive, huh? And will certainly cause lots of costly damage. But just imagine, it is still 1.2 ft lower than in 1981. I think the crest of 6/29/15 will be the second highest historical crest for the River Raisin at Blissfield since 2/20/1981.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books When You Least Expect It & The Wind Could Blow a Bug AVAILABLE NOW! (The Wind Could Blow a Bug is ON SALE for only $.99 for a limited time.)

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

What I Learned This Week – 1/19/14

This week I learned that it is easy to become just a statistic.

My asbestos friend used to babysit a little girl after-school everyday.  She was particularly memorable, because she had the same first name as my asbestos friend.

One day she announced, as kids do, “Two people cannot have the same name.  I will call you Frank.”

And the name has stuck.  Many of my asbestos friend’s family members still call her Frank.  And I do too, on occasion.  That was probably another thing in high school that my classmates thought I was weird for, calling her “Frank.”  But it made perfect sense to us.

My mom also happened to work at the same factory where both the parents worked.

The family ended up having a little boy that my friend babysat for as well.

Years later, at my asbestos friend’s wedding, I sat at the same table with the family.  I didn’t know them well, but we all chatted.

So, I casually knew of them.  They were acquaintances.

But it was still very sad to hear that this week the father died at 57 years old from the H1N1 flu.

The little girl that my asbestos friend had babysat for?  According to pictures I see on Facebook, she is expecting her own baby soon.  So sad that her father won’t be around to meet his grandchild.

And now?  His whole life has been reduced to a statistic by the local news.  He lived in Lenawee County.

He is the statistic right at the beginning of the news report.  The rest of the report is about Lucas County, Ohio.

Photo: 13abc.com Click picture for story.

Photo: 13abc.com
Click picture for story.

Clickable link to the same news story: http://www.13abc.com/story/24462839/60-year-old-curtice-man-dies-from-flu

What I Learned This Week – 6/30/13

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Apparently, I learned a lot this week.

I learned that I might like the artist Colette Carr. I originally checked her out on YouTube because I saw a pic of her with multi-colored hair. I wanted to know what she sounded like. She is lots of autotune, but also very cute, has bright clothes, some snarky lyrics, and dancey beats. I like to think I looked like her in my 20s. I didn’t. I wish I still looked like her. Here is a cool song by her.
NOTE: Contains explicit language. (Like, all through the song, including the title.)

I also learned that I am not the only one who has thought all these years that Avril Lavigne and her lead guitarist should get together. I think I started thinking that when I watched an MTV day-in-the-life special about her. Avril and her guitarist, Evan Taubenfeld, seemed very snuggily and friendly and oh so cute together. Here is a link to a couple videos featuring them.
NOTE: Contains angsty pop lyrics.

I also added a new page to I’m not stalking you. It is called What I Support. I plan to add causes to it from time to time. I am sure there are more I forgot. It lets you know a little more about what mental and emotional place in the universe I am working from.

I learned at work there is something called a “Gold Star Award” that the manager can give out for employees who go ‘above and beyond’. Ever since, I have been consumed by thinking about how I could win one of those. I really miss Academic Awards ceremonies from when I was in high school. They made me feel like a rock star! (Well, not really. But it was nice to feel recognized for my achievements. “Rock star” just makes it sound more glamorous…) They had similar awards at the last place I worked. But when I started there were 1200 employees in the building! And I did not have a job that screamed ‘above and beyond’ potential. By the time the place got down to a third of that amount of employees, they had stopped giving out awards:( When the place closed, I was fortunate enough to provide a home for one of my favorite ex-boss’s awards. (While we were alike in many ways, he did not treasure his awards as I would. Just sayin’.) My current job doesn’t scream ‘above and beyond’ potential either, but I have lots of extra time to craft a way to try and make that happen.  And I have fewer employees to compete with.

Hand-me-down award

Hand-me-down award

I also learned that it is AWESOME to go spy on the filming of a movie. They were shooting a scene for Transformers 4 in my backyard (OK, actually 20 minutes down the road). My son and I went down and watched for about an hour before I had to go to work. Of course we weren’t able to get near the actual set. But we were able to stand across the road from where they were moving the cars in and out. I took lots of pictures. Here are a few.

Optimus Prime!

Optimus Prime!

I was told this was a Lamborghini

I was told this was a Lamborghini

Stunt man?

Stunt man?

The proof is on the rented truck...

The proof is on the rented truck…

This video is taken by someone I don’t know, but is way more awesome than any of the pictures I took. Enjoy.
NOTE: Bitchin’ explosions.

AAT

The Skelton brothers have been missing from their home in Morenci, Michigan for 2 years today. TWO YEARS!

In honor of that, today I am going to re-blog a post I wrote about them and the reason I feel connected to them from August. But I also wanted to add a few new notes.

When I wrote the blog in August, I wrote it from the perspective the police had, that they must be deceased by now. But I have changed my mind since then.

Because of a girl named Jaycee Dugard. She was missing for 18 years and, against all odds, was found alive. Damaged, but alive. She lives the life today she should have had all those years. But she is alive. This gives me hope that Alexander, Andrew, and Tanner are too.

Yesterday, my husband, my son, and I attended a remembrance ceremony for them in Morenci. In a way, it all felt pointless. But another part of me can see that it is not.

A fraction of the crowd that showed up at Wakefield Park in Morenci, Michigan for a plaque dedicated to the three missing boys.


Q. Why release age-progression photos of them when it has only (ONLY!) been 2 years and they have not changed that much?

A. Well, because it has been 2 whole years, they have changed some, and most important, it gets the news media to cover it again.

Q. Why have a ceremony? The boys aren’t going to walk by as all those people are in a park honoring them, a park that has been searched many times over…

A. It reminds the community. There are power in the number of people that still care and came out to show it. And it gets the news media to cover it again.

New search materials from the 11/25/12 activities


The point of all this is to keep those three smiling faces in the front of everyone’s mind.

I guess I feel like I have to justify to myself why I care about these missing boys I didn’t know and had no connection to, except that they probably camped at the same campground as my mother-in-law. But the justification can be found in my blog of August.

Why blog about it again?

…to keep those three smiling faces in the front of everyone’s mind.

Click here: I thought they would have found the missing boys by now https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2012/08/28/i-thought-they-would-have-found-the-missing-boys-by-now/

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