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Summer Projects

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Various summer projects have been keeping me busy.

This started with repairing our fence that was blown down a year ago. (See this post for picture: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2017/03/10/blow-the-fence-down/) Digging post holes is a bitch.

Then we had to repaint our garage. It had peeling paint when we moved in 14 years ago, and well, it has only gotten worse. It was just as daunting a task as I had always feared it would be. But, it was worth it.

This is after we scraped, before it got its new coat of paint.

Check this post for more before pictures: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2013/06/25/a-determined-dog-cannot-be-fenced/

The garage project got sidetracked by my need for a gazebo. I have always wanted one, but this year prices dropped enough for it to become a reality. I got the model with both bug screens and privacy panels. It was so worth the money to have both. I may be referring to it as my “she shed”.

I can if I want to.

Bug-free outdoor living

Spending more time in our yard made me realize that we have neglected it for the last eight years or so, which is also how long my son has been around. He has a way of sucking up our time. In a good way.

I started doing things I haven’t done in years like weeding, trimming, putting down accent pieces. I remembered how I always hated how the dogs would disappear behind the garage late at night. I would have to go back there to get them and there was no lighting and it was so dark and scary. So, with no idea if there would be enough sun to charge them, I installed solar lights on the fence. FYI-there is enough sun to charge them, even if not fully.

The path goes to nowhere, but at least I get to use my decade’s old stepping stones again.

We even planted a few plants and a garden, except something is eating my sunflowers’ leaves, they are short even though I purchased the mammoth variety, and now my pumpkin plants are dying.

My idea is to make my backyard a little haven until we can afford a camper to go spend time in.

Next year, on to the front yard.

My backyard is pretty enough now to hold a party. But for what occasion? 😉

Come back for my post next week to find out!

Your past shapes you. It can’t be undone.
ANGRY MACEY
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What I Learned This Week – 7/19/15

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This week I learned that the movie One Small Hitch, is a really, really good movie. I stumbled upon it in a romantic comedy search on Netflix. It is a 2013 movie starring Shane McRae and Aubrey Dollar as two childhood friends pretending to be engaged for the sake of Josh’s (McRae) dying father. Awkward situations ensue.

WEEK-One Small Hitch

I will admit that it did start a little slow, but the leads are both adorable and it only gets cuter when they move into an apartment together. One Small Hitch is like While You Were Sleeping, except no one has to be pushed onto the railroad tracks and end up in a coma. A few people get punched in the face though.

This week I also realized that I have the best CD player in the world.

Best CD player

Best CD player

Yes, some of us without an iPhone or mp3 player with a screen still rely on such devices to make collections (mix tapes), “playlists” if you will, of songs that suit our fancy on any particular day.

I have a big CD player in my kitchen, but I wanted to listen to a CD while laying in bed. So, I headed upstairs to the electronics graveyard to find a small CD player. I knew we had at least one. Actually, I found two. One was a jogproof one that I had purchased one year for my birthday. It wasn’t jogproof, and I am not a jogger. So, ya.

The other is the CD player I quickly recognized from my old job. For the 12 years I worked for Borders, I used this CD player nearly every day. You can see that I doodled on it, and marked it with stickers so that if someone stole it, I would know that it was mine.

I cannot believe that it still works! I do believe that it used to have an AC adapter, but I can’t presently find it. I used to put a CD on pause, then head off to a 3 hour meeting, leaving it spinning on my desk the whole time. Last night I popped in batteries of questionable age, and it still worked like a dream.

And so many functions! I can program what order I want to play the tracks from on a CD, which comes in handy for albums such as Pieces of You by Jewel, that contain some very good, and some not very good songs. It has repeat one or all. It has bass boost. It shows track number and time at the same time!

For being around 15 years old, it has held up remarkably well. The volume dial causes some interference in the headphones when adjusted. But I used to have headphones with a volume control in the cord, so that was never a problem.

I love that it is a little no-name brand. I love that at that time, they thought they still needed to spell out that it was “DIGITAL” technology.

Now, everything is.

Don’t get me started on my love of analog/cassette tapes.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
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What I Learned This Week – 10/5/14

This week I learned that taking in a hand-me-down couch & thinking “Oh, we will upgrade in a few years”, can totally turn into 10 years before you can blink an eye.

This gives you a little taste of our old couch.

This gives you a little taste of our old couch.

I knew our couch was old and worn. I had sewed it up myself on several occasions. It regularly had 2 dogs on it. No amount of Febreeze gets rid of that.

I was just always waiting for tax return time to buy a new brand new couch (we had never bought our own before). But then the money always went for something else. Maybe next year. And we went from having an infant who oozed all sorts of substances, to a toddler who was more mobile with his food. It just seemed silly to get something new that would just be old again instantly.

On a whim, we found a good deal & got a new couch Sunday morning.

It is very weird to sit down on the couch and not sink down into it a good 12 inches.

NEW COUCH!

NEW COUCH!

Only after we got the new couch did we realize how much our old couch bothered everyone around us. No less than 3 people close to us had very strong reactions to our old couch. None of them live in this house! One never even comes over!

My mom, especially, could not say enough bad things about the old couch, now that it was at the curb.

Which, I had worried about having to call the garbage men and make special arrangements to have it picked up. But then some kind stranger loaded it into his pickup and it was gone. Actually, getting the new couch home in my husband’s car had been much less troublesome than I would have imagined.

I guess the new couch was just meant to be…

My Love of Lighthouses – Part 1

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Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, Presque Isle, Michigan

Me at Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, Presque Isle, Michigan.  See how excited I am!?

I had never given much thought to lighthouses. I had never seen one, and had no desire to.

Then when I was eight my mom took us on a trip Up North (that is how people from southern Michigan refer to any point north of Grayling). Our destinations included Mackinaw City, Sault Ste. Marie, and Tahquamenon Falls. But we also were stopping anywhere along the way that caught our eye. We were heading north at a leisurely pace on US 23, which hugs the Lake Huron shoreline.

We had just passed through Alpena (a town whose name still makes me giggle) and were headed up to Rogers City. (How nice. Roger has a whole city all to himself.) On the way, we saw an old, weather-beaten billboard alongside the road that boasted tours of a real lighthouse. We made the quick decision to check it out.

We drove on a tiny winding road through the woods for what seemed like forever. Every turn did not bring us to a great lake or tall light, only more trees. It felt we were in an episode of Scooby Doo. I expected a green monster in ratty clothes to step out of the thick woods in front of us at any minute. Except we were not in a multi-color van, but a silver Chevrolet Chevette 2 door hatchback. If we had hit one of those monsters, it would have destroyed our tiny car.

The Creeper from Scooby-Doo

The Creeper from Scooby-Doo

There were a few turns that were not well marked, but we must have gone the right way because we eventually came to a parking lot. Instead of yellow lines marking out the spaces, there were trees between the cars. You had to park just right, so that you could still get your doors open. The cool day must have warmed by that point, because I changed out of my jeans and into my shorts while we were still in the car. There were other cars there, but no people at the moment. My mom acted as a look-out. We were still under the dark cloak of the forest. But the sun could be seen to the south of us.

We walked toward the light. We found ourselves in a big grassy clearing, with Lake Huron stretching out to the east. Between us and the great lake, lay a brick house painted white. Next to it, a white stone tower. That would be the first time I would ever lay eyes on a lighthouse.

Inside there was an elderly man and woman who seemed to be running the show. They had a few souvenirs for purchase, and collected any money required to go up into the tower, details that I cannot remember. The man was also giving out rocks from the beach. He stamped them all so that they said “Old Presque Isle Lighthouse”. The rocks were free. I found him a little scary at the time. I grew up with very few males in my life. Even though he looked old and grizzled, he kindly showed me where my rock had a tiny fossil on the corner (If rocks can have corners).

Then I went up in the tower. It was a relatively short lighthouse, standing only 30 feet tall, but one of the oldest surviving lighthouses on the Great Lakes. And it was plenty tall enough for the view to be impressive to an eight year old.

View in the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, return visit 2003.

View in the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, return visit 2003.

While not a big fan of history, from that day on I was hooked on lighthouses. I wanted to see all of them that I could, but I also wanted to climb as many as I could. I didn’t even know at that time that I could do better than that.

Only after we got back home, did we discover there was an even taller New Presque Isle Lighthouse just a mile down the road. Although I would take many more trips Up North, it would take me almost 20 years to get back and climb the 113 foot tower of New Presque Isle Lighthouse, tallest lighthouse on the Great Lakes that can be climbed by the public.

In the years since, I found out that the elderly gentleman, George Parris died in 1991, and is said to haunt the Old Presque Isle lighthouse. I saw the story on a PBS special. It is kind of cool to have met someone who is now a ghost. Maybe I was on to something with my earlier Scooby Doo analogy.

Marblehead Lighthouse, Marblehead, Ohio

Marblehead Lighthouse, Marblehead, Ohio.  The most beautiful lighthouse I have ever laid eyes on.

My mom and I also went with my grandma to Marblehead, Ohio to see the lighthouse there. Marblehead Lighthouse looks the most like the idyllic lighthouse you will ever see. When you are in a souvenir shop and see light switch covers or hand towels with a generic lighthouse on them, I guarantee you that they will bear some resemblance to Marblehead. It has very classic dimensions. It is a white tower, with green doors and a red roof and railing. It is is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes.

Photo of Marblehead Lighthouse from 1885.  Later, they would add another 10 feet to its height.

Photo of Marblehead Lighthouse from 1885. Later, they would add another 10 feet to its height.

It was a very dreary day when we visited. The sky was the same gray as the sheets of marble that the lighthouse rests on. I enjoyed climbing on the uneven stone. It really frustrated me that the lighthouse was unmanned and locked up. I was like a reverse Rupunzel. I desperately wanted to get INSIDE the tower. But it would be years later before the State of Ohio would realize its full tourism potential and started offering visitors a chance to go inside of it.

Return visit to Marblehead, 2002

Return visit to Marblehead, 2002

It turns out my lighthouse memories are very long-winded. For more stories on the lights of the Great Lakes and a complete list of lighthouses that I have personally visited, come back by on Thursday.

What I Learned A Year Ago – 3/17/13

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My Great Grandmother's tombstone

My Great Grandmother’s tombstone

A year ago today I was out documenting relatives in local cemeteries for my family tree research. Most of my relatives are dead, so this is the best way for me to gather information, although it can have inconsistencies and drawbacks just as much as an Internet search does.

"Grandma" is written on the back of this picture in pencil.  I believe this may have been Martha Elliot.  I am guessing the guy next to her is Phillip Bracey.

“Grandma” is written on the back of this picture in pencil. I believe this may have been Martha Elliot. I am guessing the guy next to her is Phillip Bracey. It is a great old picture, whoever these people are.

I was at the cemetery for a small, nearby town. I knew a lot of my father’s family was buried there. But then I just happened to walk by two flat headstones with different surnames than what I was specifically looking for. But, luckily, I saw them and recognized them! It was the tombstone of my dad’s maternal grandmother (my great-grandmother) and her second husband! All the information I had gathered from the Internet had led me to believe she was buried in Lucas County, Ohio somewhere. One of the next things on my to-do list was to try to figure out where she was buried. And here I had found her right under my nose!

This picture is labeled "Grandma & Grandpa Bracey".  But I think it is labeled by my mother, so she was either relying on what someone else told her, or the memory of what someone else told her.

This picture is labeled “Grandma & Grandpa Bracey”. But I think it is labeled by my mother, so she was either relying on what someone else told her, or the memory of what someone else told her.

And why am I telling you this, on St. Patrick’s Day? Because I believed it was a magical coincidence for me to have found her on St. Patrick’s Day, as she was of 100% Irish descent!

This picture says "Grandmother and Uncle Will" on the back.   I do believe Martha had a brother William.  But does this guy look like the old guy in all the other pictures too?  Hard to say.

This picture says “Grandmother and Uncle Will” on the back. I do believe Martha had a brother William. But does this guy look like the old guy in all the other pictures too? Hard to say.

Born Martha Elliott in Stone Ridge, Ohio, in 1861, both her parents had been born in Ireland. Martha married my great grandfather Alva Goodin around 1883. They had four kids together that I know of. One of them is my father’s mother, who I never knew. All these people died before I was born.

Alva left Martha to marry her younger sister Isabelle around 1893. They had three children together. I am guessing that would have been kind of scandalous back in the 1890’s.

Martha got remarried to Phillip Bracey sometime after 1892. They did not have any more kids that I know of. Most of this came from Internet research, that may be flawed. But for someone who just thought they were a mutt until just a few years ago, discovering I am 1/8 Irish is pretty exciting!

Phillip Bracey b.1855 d.1936

Phillip Bracey b.1855 d.1936       I think he may have had children from a previous wife.

If anyone stumbles across this post and actually has more info on my relatives for me, please leave me a comment on this page or send me a direct message on Facebook. I would be super-excited to hear from you!

"Taken on Grandma's 90th Birthday at Ray's-1951"

“Taken on Grandma’s 90th Birthday at Ray’s-1951”  Pretty sure that this would be Martha Elliot.

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