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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!

Foto Phriday: Concert Ready

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When I was in my 20’s, and first had my own job and my own apartment, often I would go out to rock concerts with my friends. I went from going to no concerts ever, to going to probably about one a month for a few years.

These pictures were taken when my green-haired friend and I went to see Good Charlotte in Toledo, Ohio on Halloween 2002. Within a year, we would actually get to MEET them, coincidentally, also in Toledo.

This is one of my favorite pictures of myself. It was taken in my cute little one bedroom apartment I used to have.

Are you convinced I am a bad-ass yet?

Me, all ready for action!

Me, all ready for action!

Ya, me neither.

Here is a picture of my green-haired friend, although in this pic I can’t really tell what color her hair is. But knowing her, and that we were headed to a concert of one of our favorite bands, it was probably freshly dyed. She has a “roar” face because she is wearing kitty ears on her head;)

My green-haired friend

My green-haired friend

In this picture, I was first struck by how beautiful my green-haired friend looks.

Then I realized her necklace looks like a candy necklace (which she sometimes wore), but it is not.

Then I realized I look like Miley Cyrus. But, you know, a good decade before her. Can I get some kind of kick-back for that?

I look drunk.  I assure you that I had not had anything but Coca-Cola.

I look drunk. I assure you that I had not had anything but Coca-Cola.

CONCERT READY-GC sign

What I Learned This Week – 5/25/14

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This week I learned what it was like to lose a family member on the Titanic.

Not really. But a good attempt at a simulation.

Titanic 2nd class soup bowl

Titanic 2nd class souvenir soup bowl

See, my family and I headed down to the Imagination Station in Toledo, Ohio, to check out their Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition. The Imagination Station is a hands-on science museum. We had never been before.

I am not a huge fan of all things Titanic, but I am as interested in one of the most famous shipwrecks in history as the next person. Although, I do own a book about the crash of the famous Great Lakes shipwreck, the Edmund Fitzgerald. But do not get me started on that horrible movie with Leonardo DiCraprio.

If you have a toddler, I recommend going straight into the Titanic Exhibit first, before they can see all the other colorful objects in the rest of the building that they can touch. I attempted this with my son. I was unsuccessful. M didn’t enjoy the exhibit as much as my husband and I did. Although he was quite fond of the gift shop at the end.

When we entered the exhibit, each one of us was given a card with the name and info of a passenger who traveled on the Titanic. At the end, we would get to see if we lived or died.

I got Mrs. Dickinson H. Bishop (Helen Walton) from Michigan. (Which is cool, because I live in Michigan.) I was 19, in 1st class, and returning from my extended honeymoon in Egypt, Italy, Spain, and France. I was also pregnant. I liked my chances of survival.

M was Mr. Charles Duane Williams, 51, a father traveling in 1st class with his tennis star son, who was Harvard-bound. His fate seemed less certain.

My poor husband got Mr. Frederick Joseph Goodwin, traveling 3rd class with his wife and six children. I didn’t really want to know how his voyage would end.

The exhibit started by showing you the accommodations 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class passengers would have enjoyed on the voyage. Some of it was quite opulent. Even while I was trying to convince my son how cool it was to look at objects that had been laying in the bottom of the ocean for 80 years (he remained unconvinced), they lulled you into how nice the trip “could” have been.

Then you rounded a corner in the exhibit, and the lighting changed. It was darker. Signs started to appear. They were the first messages received about icebergs ahead. In this day of prolific texting, seeing the warnings posted in black and white was haunting. Other signs told of how despite receiving these warnings, the Titanic continued ahead at almost full speed. The wreckage of the boat indicated that while they turned the boat, they never did decrease their speed. It made me cringe.

At this point, the museum had an iceberg you could touch, which was nice for my son, since the rest of the exhibit contained alarmed glass cases. That interested my son for a while. Then we came to the board that listed all the survivors and those who perished.

As I suspected, both Mr. and Mrs. Bishop survived. Makes me wonder if she continued to have a successful pregnancy. That would have been a REALLY young Titanic survivor.  It made me wonder so much that I Googled her. You can find out the answer here:  http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/helen-bishop.html

Mr. Charles Williams did not make it through, but his son did. At least the blood line and the family history could be carried on.  More details on how Charles died: http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/charles-duane-williams.html

The Goodwin family perished. Every last one of them. The children ranged in age from 16 to 2 years of age. To drive the point home, there was even a picture of the family in the exhibit. They could afford to travel in 2nd class, but had traveled 3rd in order to have more money for their new life in America. To make matters worse, they had only been transferred to the Titanic because of a coal strike. Many other passengers found themselves aboard the Titanic for the same reason.  Interesting facts about the youngest Goodwin: http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/sidney-leslie-goodwin.html

Man, The Universe REALLY wanted the Goodwin family gone. Their number was up. When it is your time, you can’t escape death.

The Goodwin family.  All perished on the Titanic. Photo: The Daily Mirror

The Goodwin family. All perished on the Titanic.
Photo: The Daily Mirror

I probably would have been more moved if my son hadn’t been throwing a mega-fit by then.

He was happy to look at the stuffed bears in the gift shop. I would have been a sucker and bought him one, as I can “bearly” resist plush myself, but my husband vetoed it. Second class soup bowls were on sale for just $5, so I had to get one. It is marked an “authentic replica” (Is that what they call an oxy-moron?) of the dishes used on the Titanic. It is quickly becoming my favorite dish. It is very versatile.

My husband on the high-wire bike at Imagination Station.  Yes, he is crazy.

My husband on the high-wire bike at Imagination Station. Yes, he is crazy.

My husband enjoyed the Imagination Station very much. I am easily frustrated by all things science. My son was frustrated by all the other kids cutting in front of him. M did better in the kid zone for toddlers. That said, if you ONLY have a toddler, as we do, it probably would not be worth the price of admission to visit. At least not until they were older.

M in the Kidz Zone

M in the Kidz Zone

I was happy to make it home, be off my feet, and use my new bowl;)

What I Learned This Week – 3/9/14

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I learned that monster trucks are just as great in person as I always thought they would be.  I was always fascinated with the commercials for monster truck shows.  So much so, that in my spare time at college, I made one.  (Sorry, this one is audio only*.)

My asbestos friend invited my son and I along for a girl’s night out to Monster Jam at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio.  My son was a little scared at first.  But I had him equipped with proper hearing protection and he really got into it when the trucks did their freestyle at the end of the night.

Hearing protection a must!

Hearing protection a must!

Grave Digger (the only truck that was there that I had heard of) flipped over–twice!  That was awesome!  We got all the drivers’ autographs afterward.

Grave Digger!

Grave Digger!  He was even on fire (a little)!

I was sad that the Monster Mutt and the Scooby-Doo trucks were not there.  But I would definitely go again sometime.

On to a new subject…

Kids, when you get a new computer ALWAYS make recovery disks right away, and store in a safe, logical location.

Also, regularly back up things you care about.  Delete the things on your computer that you do not care enough to back up.  I had to have my hard drive in my laptop replaced this week, but I am VERY glad to have it back.  (FYI–I did both of those satisfactorily enough that I was not devastated by the loss.)

* To see my Oscar Mayer commercial, please click here:  https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2014/02/06/wienermobile/

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

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