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Artsy Fartsy Pics: Greenfield Village Edition

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My family went up to see Thomas the tank engine at Greenfield Village this weekend. We all had fun even though the weather didn’t cooperate. I can’t call it a “typical Michigan spring day” because I only experienced rain, sun, clouds, and wind. I didn’t see any snow until the next day.

I had fun taking pictures. I had even more fun after I got home adding filters and effects to them and generally making a gloomy day appear a little brighter. Some might think this is overkill, but I love them.

GREENFIELD-Tractor

Steam Tractor

 

 Back in the days when anthropomorphic engines regularly crossed the countryside.

Back in the days when anthropomorphic engines regularly crossed the countryside.

 

The Depot

The Depot

 

The Roundhouse

The Roundhouse

 

The Workshop

The Workshop

 

Train Crane

Train Crane

 

The gnome that lives under the buffer.

The gnome that lives under the buffer.

 

I can picture this flickering as some sort of stop-motion movie you would pay a nickel to watch inside a machine.

I can picture this flickering as some sort of stop-motion movie you would pay a nickel to watch inside a machine.

 

You gotta have a caboose...

You gotta have a caboose…

 

Vibrant Thomas

Vibrant Thomas

 

An out-of-sight very orange engine, by request of my child.

An out-of-sight very orange engine, by request of my child.

 

Sir Topham Hat’s view, or as I like to remember it: Too dang cold to stand outside any longer.

Sir Topham Hat’s view, or as I like to remember it: Too dang cold to stand outside any longer.

Hope you enjoyed it!

 

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

 

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What I Learned This Week – 5/1/16

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This week I ran into a woman I hadn’t talked to in years. She used to work at the bank when I was a little girl. When I was young I lived in Riga. My mom would be like “we are going to run errands. We are going to go to the bank and the post office.” They were both on the same road we lived on, not a half mile away. Having never known anything else, I just assumed this was normal for everyone. For the grocery store and the laundromat, we did have to turn left and drive about two miles.

The woman, I’ll call her Mrs. B, had her husband with her.  Mr. B was like “Who’s this?”, which I found slightly amusing. Mrs. B said, “This is Lorie’s daughter.”

My first thought was “Lorie who?”  Then I remembered that my mom said that everyone used to call my dad Lorie. My mom told me this because of course she didn’t like it, so she called him by his full first name Loren, which I have never understood. It’s not like his nickname was Stinky or something. If that is what he went by, why didn’t she just call him that too? But I know why. Because she didn’t want to.

Just as a reminder, my dad died before I was born. I know it is terrible to day, but days go by where I forgot that I have a never parental figure that I never met. Another reason why I like Memorial Day so much, because he is a part of it.

That is what it is like in a tiny town. Everyone knows each other. I don’t know what my dad was like. I only have snippets of stories my mom has told me that I must then transform into memories that are not mine. Stories of him wetting down his hair before walking to his one-room school in the winter time, only to have it freeze by the time he arrived. I’ve heard that he used to get the mail off the train when it arrived and carry it over to the post office. Not a fancy job, to be sure, but for a kid who loved trains, it sure sounds interesting. And I have spent years wondering if the mail came on the old Erie and Kalamazoo line that is still there, the first railroad west of the Alleghenies, that is still there today or the Toledo & Western interurban line that has long since been removed, known to locals as the Teeter & Wobble. Did my dad ever ride the Teeter & Wobble? I would assume so. The T&W is such ancient history that they put on programs about it at the county historical museum. I guess that must mean my dad is ancient too.

Toledo & Western engine

Toledo & Western engine

“Lorie’s daughter” is something I almost never hear. Once in 1997 when I worked at the gas station which was geographically Riga adjacent, an old farmer asked me, “Who’s your father?” out of the blue, for no reason. And that was perfectly normal in my small town. Everyone was just used to knowing everyone. I told him, not expecting him to know me from Adam.  He said, “Lorie? Well I grew up with him.” The cleaning lady overheard this conversation. She had been a year or two behind my dad at the Riga school, which was so long ago it didn’t even exist anymore. (They tore it down to build the bank, which I think presently has been turned into a church building of some sort.) Her and I became good friends after that. I’m sorry to say she is in ill health these days.

And it literally has probably been twenty years since I have had the experience of someone realizing they knew my dad. And with a dad who would be 95 years old if he were still alive, how often is that going to happen again? Very possibly never. I NEVER knew my dad, and soon all the links of people who did know him will be gone.

Mrs. B left telling me that I had made her day. But after I left and kept smiling, I realized that she had really made mine. And the kicker? She saw me in the local paper and says she would like to buy my books. Maybe my dad would be proud?…

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

I WANT TO SEE YOU!

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: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/events/

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!
6:00pm-9:00pm

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.
2:00pm-4:30pm

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!

My Earliest Memory

MEMORY-green fog

My earliest memory is of being awake super early in the morning standing in my living room. Like, maybe 5:00AM. It is the only time as a kid I can remember being up that early. Captain Kangaroo was on. It was only on very early in the morning. That was the only time I ever watched it. (And it was kinda weird.) I remember the screen on the color television being kind of greenish, because it didn’t work right and the tubes were going out on it or something. I looked out the tall window at the end of our living room in our old farmhouse, and there was a wall of green fog outside. It was so thick I could not see our next door neighbor’s house. It was as if an alien ship had landed outside, the lights from their ship reflecting off of the fog. It was strange and frightening, but also exciting at the same time.

That might all sound super fake and trippy. And, I will admit there are probably inaccuracies in it as my brain has been rotted over the last 35 years by too many Pop-Tarts and watching too much Beavis & Butthead while I was in college. I would say I was probably only three or four years old when that all took place.

But I know there is some truth in it, because my mom remembers that day too. Just a little differently than I do…

She remembers it as a day when, in a fit of stubbornness the night before, I told her I was not going to go to sleep. And, well, apparently I didn’t. (Most every kid threatens it, but very few follow through. I was a determined little Capricorn!) She says it was incredibly foggy that morning and there was an eerie green glow to everything. She needed to go to the post office that morning, so she loaded me in the car…where I promptly fell asleep.

Now, this was Riga, Michigan, a quaint but tiny farming town. The post office was literally a 65 second drive from our house.

I find it interesting that even at that young age I would defy her on purpose, just to be difficult. I guess that proves there is no hope for stopping that habit now.

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!

To be the first to see the upcoming COVER REVEAL for Be Careful What You Wish For, Book 3 in the series, sign up for my newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/7YhHr

Dinosaur Gardens

My family was lucky enough to get a chance to escape up to northern Michigan this summer. This gave me the opportunity to introduce my son to the land of dinosaurs, better known as Dinosaur Gardens.

You see, I visited there when I was only a little older than he. And I not only lived to tell the tale, but I left with proof.

Dinosaur Gardens

Dinosaur Gardens

I didn’t tell my 4 1/2 year old son where we were heading. I had visited the Dinosaur Gardens website, but I was still afraid that maybe they would be closed or something. Then, of course, he was asleep when we arrived. I groggily took him out of the car and, holding him lovingly to me, said, “Hey, look what is over there in the woods!” and pointed out the giant brontosaurus to him.

An immediate look of horror crossed his face. This is a little boy who actually likes scary things. (And making up stories. I am planning on him to be the next Stephen King.) But, well, apparently he doesn’t like them when he first wakes up.

We took him into the gift shop, where the sight of toy dinosaurs quickly woke him up.

But when we began down the path into the woods, M wouldn’t budge. He was afraid of the brontosaurus. Mind you, it did tower over even mom and dad, let alone him. With some gentle but firm coaxing, he entered the forest. But first he said, “This is very weird and ridiculous.”

I can't imagine why he could be scared...

I can’t imagine why he could be scared…

In time he became so comfortable, he even began to feed the creatures himself!

M feeding one of the animals.

M feeding one of the animals.

I had told my husband that my mom had brought me here 30 years ago. He asked me how she knew about it. My mother’s grandmother had a newspaper clipping she had saved about the extraordinary sculptures someone had made in Osseneke, Michigan. So, they had brought my mom (and most likely her older brother) up here once when she was a girl. I love that this roadside attraction, many of which thrived in the days of drive-ins in the 1950s but have since become extinct, continues to roar on for generations of my family.

Even my husband was charmed.

Even my husband was charmed.

I asked my son if he would bring his kids back to visit. He said that he would, and that I could come too.

I think it is amazing that this tourist attraction has survived for 80 years. And not only been maintained, but improved! There were two new exhibits that had been added in recent years. While we were there, we saw several concrete statues that had either been recently repainted, or had had their previous paint carefully removed and were primed for a new coat.

This was the only sick animal, and I thought it was very clever how they explained his illness.

This was the only sick animal, and I thought it was very clever how they explained his illness.

This is a great stop for everyone. If you like art and dinosaurs, you will love the statues and appreciate all the hard work that must have gone into them by the artist, Paul Domke. If you are a nature enthusiast, you will love the walk in the woods. If you like souvenirs, they have those too. (Personally, I like all four of those things.)

Beautiful

Beautiful

I love that all this was created from one man’s imagination gone wild. He stood on this piece of land and saw that the fabric of time was thin here, that others would be able to come after him and experience prehistoric times as he could, with a little help from his own hands. I love that he had a dream that most would call crazy, to build dinosaurs in northern Michigan’s harsh climate. But he did it. And it has endured for nearly a century.

Yes, I had to recreate the past.

Yes, I had to recreate the past.

That is all I am asking out of my writing career. That isn’t too much to ask for, right?

The End

The End

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a Bug – AVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!

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