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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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Exercising a Different Kind of Creativity

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On Saturday, I went with my family to a National Train Day event at the Amtrak Station in Toledo. Who knew that there was a National Train Day? There definitely exists no website for it.

I was afraid it would just be like one table giving away Operation Lifesaver stickers and keychains with, like, homeless guys peeing in the corner or something. But we got to ride on a railroad work car, tour an Amtrak train, see several locomotives up close, and saw two and a half rooms of train-related booths. Some were of places we have been, like the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, and others we have on our to-do list, like the Fostoria Iron Triangle. We also found some destinations we might add to our list, such as the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum in Bellevue, Ohio.

The Pere Marquette 1225 A.K.A. The Polar Express

The Pere Marquette 1225 A.K.A. The Polar Express from last year’s visit to The Steam Railroading Institute

 

After several hours, we agreed we had all had fun, but we were tired and hungry. We headed to Chick-fil-A for a rest and some lunch. We would eat, I would make my husband stop at Five Below for a hat I believed I had to have, and then we would head home. I would probably be lazy the rest of the day, if possible.

Me in my new cool hat. Sorry I didn't take a better pic.

Me in my new cool hat. Sorry I didn’t take a better pic.

Our intentions were almost thwarted when a carnival was being held nearby and parking was heinous. But we persevered, and upon entering the restaurant, it was busy but not over-crowded. My husband spotted his sister there with her daughter. Soon my sister-in-law’s sister-in-law showed up to too. We ditched the boys and through a crazy, unpredictable set of circumstances, I ended up awake past my bedtime an hour and a half from home on a girl’s night out with a completed painting inspired by my family. I had felt like the universe had given me an opportunity and I had no choice but to take it.

I used to list art as my favorite subject in school. Now I am sort of a non-practicing artist, like how someone could be a non-practicing Catholic. Those skills don’t disappear, they just lay dormant and get a lil’ rusty. But it felt good to use the colors and shapes part of my brain rather than the letters and grammar part I have been running marathons with for the past few years. I kept telling my sister-in-law that it felt like we were in art class back in school. Because, well, we indeed did go to school together and here is the proof, a picture taken in art class almost 22 years ago.

ART-OG JS1

My S-I-L: The OG JS

So, here is my finished painting. I am kinda proud of it. Sure, it isn’t up to professional standards, but it is nice enough to hang on my wall. I stole the saying from Hallmark. And I’m not sure if you can tell, but the hearts have glitter on them. Because, well, when you carve into this tree, there is glitter inside. It is a magic tree.

My Masterpiece. I really love it.

My Masterpiece. I really love it.

Yes, even my painting has to have a story attached. But then, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Sorry to disappoint, but this post is only 500…

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!

M’s Train Station Bedroom (& My New Upstairs)

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When my son was born, his nursery was on the first floor of our house, the same as our master bedroom. We put his nursery in what could be described as a very small bedroom, or maybe a home office type of dealio. As the years passed, we converted his crib into a toddler bed. Soon it became clear that he was ready for a big-boy bed (and also a larger room to house his bounty of toys and Thomas trains).

Our house is about 118 years old. Upstairs are two bedrooms, a large area at the top of the stairs, and the attic. I repainted the one bedroom when we first moved in. For years, that was our guest bedroom, even though we seldom have guests. The other bedroom served as our hobby/craft room. Mostly, in recent years, it was a hoarders paradise. I didn’t repaint the walls because they were covered with wallpaper. Not just any wallpaper, but wallpaper with pink roses on it. Yuck. Not my style.

So, I got brave and decided I would remove the wallpaper and let my son pic the paint colors for his new room. The removal process wasn’t brutal, but it did take forever. And my overall thought while working on it was “why the heck didn’t I do this sooner!” The wallpaper was peeling anyway, and I really disliked it more than I realized. I got a crazy idea in my head one day to make it a “train” room. My son loves Thomas, but he would outgrow that too soon. So, I decided on a room based on real trains. I realized I had a whole bunch of items already that could be used to make a great “train station” room. I have included pictures below. Mind you, most of these ideas I got from randomly Googling, and usually the other people executed it better than I.

Before of the bedroom with wallpaper. Had to use this picture of my skinny puppy. She hasn't been that thin in 10 years.

Before pic of the bedroom with wallpaper. Had to use this picture of my skinny puppy. She hasn’t been that thin in 10 years.

Wallpaper being removed. A peek of the walls being white.

Wallpaper being removed. A peek at the walls being white.

I only chipped off the LOOSE paint!

I only chipped off the LOOSE paint!

Finished bedroom showing bench and train pics.

Finished bedroom showing bench and train pics.

Finished bedroom with lanterns over twin-sized bed. I got those lanterns at a garage sale years ago.

Finished bedroom with lanterns over twin-sized bed. I got those lanterns at a garage sale years ago.

Train arrival board. It is a black magnetic dry-erase board. All the letters and lines are removable for when he gets older.

Train arrival board. It is a black magnetic dry-erase board. All the letters and lines can be removed as he grows.

Railroad crossing sign coat rack. Really pulls the room together.

Railroad crossing sign coat rack. Really pulls the theme of the room together.

Clocks showing the different time zones. We already had the pay phone and rocking train.

Clocks showing the different time zones. We already had the pay phone and rocking train.

The frames I got on clearance in the craft dept at Meijer and painted myself. The pictures are from calendars and magazines.

The frames I got on clearance in the craft dept at Meijer and painted myself. The pictures are from calendars and magazines.

Cute child's desk I got for $10 at a garage sale. I think of it as the station master's desk.

Cute child’s desk I got for $10 at a garage sale. I think of it as the station master’s desk.

I bought the electric lantern years ago. Almost got rid of it.

I bought the electric lantern years ago. Almost got rid of it.

Made this a few years ago, but this toy box would fit into the room as well.

Made this a few years ago, but this toy box would fit into the room as well.

I also decided to repaint the stairway area as well. I have always HATED that pink-beige color that is all over our house (to cover up all the barn red that yet another previous resident loved). I have worried for the 11 years we lived here how hard it would be to paint over the stairs, where the ceiling is very high. It sucked, but I got it done. And yes, you might have noticed that I have a compulsion where I cannot paint a room all one color. Blame Punky Brewster 😉

The stairway before.

The stairway before.

The stairway after.

The stairway after.

Top of stairs before.

Top of stairs before.

Top of stairs after. I couldn't resist accentuating all the weird angles.

Top of stairs after. I couldn’t resist accentuating all the weird angles.

Attic hobbit door before.

Attic hobbit door before.

Attic hobbit door after.

Attic hobbit door after.

Also, I have always thought the wood paneling was hideous, but I believe it would be too costly to remove and replace with drywall. I’m pretty sure the paneling covers up crumbling plaster walls. And it goes without saying that I would like new carpet (low pile purple would be my dream), but I will just try to ignore the brown shag as much as possible.

This pic is from when we first moved in. Note the heinous brown carpeting on the shelf.

This pic is from when we first moved in. Note the heinous brown carpeting on the shelf.

Painted. Carpet removed. Signs outside the bedroom keep the train theme, as well as a trunk that could be waiting to be loaded on a train. Trunk was from Family Dollar, under $20.

Painted. Carpet removed from shelf. Signs outside the bedroom keep the train theme, as well as a trunk that could be waiting to be loaded on a train. Trunk was from Family Dollar, under $20.

When I removed the carpeting, what was left was plywood covered in glue residue. I covered it with more paneling, so that now I can use the space for storage.

When I removed the carpeting, what was left was plywood covered in glue residue. I covered it with more paneling, so that now I can use the space for storage.

I started these projects in May. It took me until the end of July to fully complete them. But I wasn’t working on them every day, either.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
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What I Learned This Week – 9/14/14

The weather has turned cold this week in Michigan.

As usual, we have gone straight from summer to winter. Mother Nature skipped all altogether.

This had me thinking of Hawaii. I have never been, but have always wanted to.

In an alternate universe somewhere, instead of meeting and dating my future husband, after college I moved to a little shack in Hawaii. I lived cheap and rode a bicycle.

I didn’t even know if such shacks actually existed there. The other night, on a whim, I searched for Hawaii real estate. The first property I found was only $19,000. And pink!

Hawaii shack

Hawaii shack

I know, very rustic. Definitely not suitable for a husband, wife, toddler, and a lab mix. But, when I was 22, I could have managed with it.

On Saturday, my family set out to check out a cute little camper. We fell in love with it. While we daydreamed about having the means to tow it home, we garage-saled. We ended up at a local consignment store where we often find treasures.

I found a box of old vintage photographs, marked at one dollar a piece.

This made me very sad. All these images of people. These aren’t models paid to be in advertisements. These were real people, captured living their lives. Pawing through the box, I could tell that sometimes there were several pictures of the same person, throughout their lives.

The box of vintage photos

The box of vintage photos

How did they end up here? Did their families clean out a house when there was a death and they were just dumped here? Even if you didn’t know who they were, isn’t it someone’s duty to hold on to them? How can people just cast away their family members?  Maybe i just have that mindset because I have so little family, and know so little about the rest.

It instantly made me sad. I don’t want my picture cast aside in a box marked at a dollar for some stranger to snicker at when I am gone. I want my life to add up to more than that. I want to be remembered.

I felt like I had to give at least one of these people in the vintage pictures a new home. I ended up bringing home two.

Mrs. Nora Hamilton, Jennie Wade, and unknown woman

Mrs. Nora Hamilton, Jennie Wade (Gettysburg souvenir), and unknown woman

The first picture I chose was a woman standing with a hat on outdoors. There is no identification of any kind on the picture. She has on glasses. If you look quickly, she is smiling. If you look closer, you realize that maybe she isn’t. At first I thought she was a teenager. But, the styles of the time make it difficult to tell. She could be in her 20’s, or a youthful 30.

She could be me.

The second picture looks to be of a young woman. On the back is scrawled the name Mrs. Nora Hamilton. She looks sooo young. How can she already be married? The photo was taken by Gibson and Robbins studio in Ypsilanti, Michigan. What was going on in her life that day when the photo was taken? She probably had no children, or they would have been in the picture with her. Where is her husband? Maybe he is away at war, or died on the Titanic, or of the Spanish influenza.

She is too beautiful to be me.

I have no idea when either picture was taken.

I seem to be starting a new collection of old pictures.

I don’t know what I will do with these pictures, but I like looking at them. I am sure parts of their lives were very different than mine. No cell phones, no dishwashers, no television.  Maybe no cars.  But disagreeing with their husbands, trying to balance the responsibilities of a household, feeling passionately happy and deeply depressed–these must be all things that we do have in common.

Right above the bin of vintage pictures, was a little watercolor that caught my eye. I didn’t need it, but it spoke to me. It featured a cat, and I don’t even like cats. I peeked at the back of the frame, where there was a mini biography of the artist.

I bought it.

The artist lives and paints in Hawaii. It seemed like some sort of sign.

Holly Kitaura painting

Holly Kitaura painting

I really like the trees. And the grass. The quilt I started years ago has a similar curly cue pattern.

I looked up the artist, Holly Kitaura’s, website. Look at what else I found…

Rainbow Hale by Holly Kitaura

Rainbow Hale by Holly Kitaura

Maybe I can retire there someday.

Soulful Art or Teen Angst in Paint?

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Some pictures from my very brief painting phase in high school art class. I never liked paint much. Even though you hold the brush, it still sorta goes anywhere it wants to. I have always preferred pencils and markers and stuff. Things that are a more controlled extension of my hand.

Ya, I have control issues.

With no further ado, I present to you my crappy collection of high school art.

Mother Nature is weeping at the destruction we have done to our earth.  She is a part of ground, the trees, the clouds.

Mother Nature is weeping at the destruction we have done to our earth. She is a part of ground, the trees, the clouds.

This was from my “Save the Earth” phase.

I had T-shirt that said it.
I got it on my class ring.
I did reports on it for school.
I took Environmental Science (and I hate science).
I watched Captain Planet.

Not that I still don’t want it saved, but now I have other priorities. Actually, after 20 years, there is now actually a convenient location for me to recycle at! Imagine that!

A wolf who is so cool, he howls at his own moon.

A wolf who is so cool, he howls at his own moon.

This was sort of supposed to be like “Live Your Own Life”, “Do Your Own Thing”, etc.

It was me as a teenager trying to embrace that I would never be in the popular crowd. I would never wear turtlenecks under my sweatshirts or have expensive jeans or my own car to drive to school.

If you take it literally, then you will realize that the Earth only has one moon, and then, well, it just loses all meaning then…

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