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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!

 

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!

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!

Merry Christmas

To get you in the Christmas mood, here is the gingerbread train station my son made for preschool.

MERRY CHRISTMAS-gingerbread station

I hope everyone has a joyous day and stuff.

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!

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:
The Wind Could Blow a Bug ON SALE for only $.99 for a limited time & GIVEAWAY going on over at Goodreads (ends August 15, 2015)
When You Least Expect It AVAILABLE NOW!

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