Author Archives: Laurie Ryan

Roadmaps of Our Lives

P1100068A couple years back, hubby and I bought a world map and decided to hang in on the wall in our house. We grabbed some of those little stick pins, too, and started marking places we’d visited. It turned out to be a cool walk down memory lane as we plunked pins into place we’ve been. It also, to hubby’s chagrin, gives me a visual of how much there is still to explore. There are places I’d still like to see, like New Orleans and Australia. P1100149


But there are some great moments stuck on that map. Like seeing the northern lights in Alaska. And visiting hubby’s cousin, who carved an oasis out of a cornfield in Guatemala. I like to look at this map. It’s a reminder of adventures we’ve taken together. A memory map. It brings all the pictures scattered around, and the little knick-knacks picked up various places, into a cohesive story. It mingles with all the family heirlooms and pictures, reminding us how lucky we’ve been to have had the chance to see these things.


Do you have memories scattered around your house? Is it a map of the best parts of your life? Of your travels? Family? Do you have a favorite? Mine is quickly becoming this map (well, right after the family stuff, of course). :)

Happy 90th birthday, Mom!

Happy 90th birthday, Mom!
A week or so ago, we held a special event in our family. A celebration of the 90th birthday of our mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, cousin, aunt, and friend. The past year was a bit of a health crisis year, but things have leveled out, Mom is healthy and still living in her own house and driving, and we wanted to celebrate this milestone.

We’ve done these gatherings before, and I am continually awed at how well this family works together. First, there were several planning sessions. Wine and/or beer may or may not have been involved, but a lot of work got done, too. Menus planned, venue settled, invite list grown.

One brother and sister-in-law provided the venue…their back yard, God bless them! And if you’ve ever hosted a party, you know what it takes to get that yard to shine extra special. The other brother and sister-in-law provided amazing food, table and chair reconnaissance and delivery, and a special talent for ambiance and decorating I truly admire. Two long distance sisters provided food and lots of moral support. And various cousins and grandchildren also brought food.
When the day arrived, we all congregated…63 adults and children, to honor Mom. It was an afternoon of awesome conversations, reminiscences, and checking in on current lives. And all because of our mother.

She is kind.
She taught me the “family first” rule.
And that being myself was the perfect way to be.
That working together is easier than butting heads.
And that helping people is the best feeling in the whole wide world.

And that’s why my brothers and sisters and I work so well together. And our husbands and wives join in with the same dedication. Because Mom loves us all unconditionally.

I know this is getting pretty sappy, but I can’t stop bragging about the wonderful family I am part of. And the wonderful world we’ve created. A world that keeps expanding with each grandchild and great-grandchild.

By the way, here’s the specs for Mom’s family:

5 children
9 grandchildren
17 great-grandchildren

And a legacy that will live on for years to come. Next stop…100!

What’s happening, er, happened?

At a loss for a topic today, I went out to the web to find inspiration. That was a mistake, because I got caught up in that “shiny new toy” thing we’ve talked about in the past. Half an hour later, I realize I still don’t have something to chat about. So I plunked in July 9th and came up with a list of historical happenings. So I pulled a few that interested me into this blog.

1872 – Doughnut cutter patents by John Blondel, Thomaston, Me
1877 – 1st Wimbledon tennis championship is held
1893 – Daniel Williams performs 1st successful open heart surgery without anesthesia
1910 – Walter Brookins becomes 1st to pilot an airplane to 1 mile altitude
1922 – Johnny Weissmuller swims 1st 100 m free style under 1 minute
1955 – Bill Haley & Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock” tops billboards chart
1956 – Dick Clark’s 1st appearance as host of American Bandstand
1958 – Giant splash caused by fall of 90 million tons of rock & ice into Lituya Bay, Alaska washes 1,800 feet up the mountain
1968 – All star MVP: Willie Mays (SF Giants)
1972 – 1st tour of Paul McCartney & Wings (France)
1978 – “Hello, Dolly!” closes at Lunt-Fontanne Theater NYC after 152 perfs
1979 – Voyager 2 flies past Jupiter
1980 – Walt Disney’s “Fox & The Hound,” released. (FYI – this is the movie all our grandkids grab to watch when they come over. )
1981 – Jacksons begin a 36-city tour

I grabbed these from a website called You can read more events here. In fact, I think I’m going to head back there to see what happened on my birth…ooh, cute kitten video…

Have a GREAT hump day, y’all!

Book Review – Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr


I think I’ve done a couple reviews on Robyn Carr books, and here is yet another one. I’m complete hooked on her Virgin River series and am grateful I found it so late, as there are eighteen or nineteen stories out there for me to grab and read.

Take small town life and toss it deep in the redwoods of Northern California and you’ll find yourself in Virgin River, amongst a group of retired marines who are close-knit, and meeting the women who show them there’s more to life than flashbacks and pain.

Shelter Mountain is, so far, my favorite of the series. Life in Virgin River revolves around Jack’s Bar.  Preacher is part owner and the bar’s cook, and a very good one. A big guy, he’s almost painfully shy. When a beaten-up Paige shows up on his doorstep with her small son, his protective instinct shifts into high gear.

I fell in love with Preacher myself. Quiet, unassuming, he’s the perfect gentle giant to help Paige and her son recover, not knowing at the time that he’ll be going through some healing of his own.

This story also keeps us close to Virgin River’s first story, that of Jack and Mel. As well, we get glimpses into other characters that, I think, will be featured in later stories. I’ve been reading these stories out of order, but it doesn’t seem to matter. It’s easy to figure out how Virgin River is doing each time I pick up a book. I’m going to be sad when I’m all caught up on the series, I think. It’s quickly becoming a second home to me. :)

Here’s a link to Robyn Carr’s website and the blurb about this story:

John “Preacher” Middleton is about to close the bar when a young woman and her three-year-old son come in out of a wet October night.  A marine who has seen his share of pain, Preacher knows a crisis when he sees one—the woman is covered in bruises.  He wants to protect them, and he wants to punish whoever did this to her, but he knows immediately that this inclination to protect is something much more.  Paige Lassiter has stirred up emotions in this gentle giant of a man—emotions that he has never allowed himself to feel.

But when Paige’s ex-husband turns up in Virgin River, Preacher knows his own future hangs in the balance.  And if there’s one thing in the marines’ motto of Semper Fidelis—always faithful—has taught him, it’s that some things are worth fighting for.

Signs and Cusps

I’ve never had my future predicted by Tarot cards or psychic readings or other methods. Mostly because I get too caught up in the argument that, if I have an inkling into my future, I’ll subconsciously make it happen. So I go glibly along, ignorant of any future tendencies other than my own attempts at planning things out.

However, being as today is the day after my birthday, I thought I’d chat about Zodiac signs, and specifically, those of us born on and around the cusp. If you are born from the 19th to the 23rd of any month, you’re born on the cusp, meaning you carry the traits of two signs, not just one.

Now, I’m not all that into astrological predicting, but I do always find it interesting to look at the traits. And you know what the best thing about being on the cusp? I can pick and choose my traits. Okay, so maybe it’s kind of a “born with it” thing, but there are twice as many traits I can attribute to myself.

Like Cancer, I have close family ties.
Like Gemini, I try to see both sides of the problem.
Like Cancer, I’m emotional. Okay, maybe TOO emotional. Lol.
Geminis are quick-witted. Wait a minute. I’m not quick with responses by any definition. So that one doesn’t apply.
Cancers tend to be strong-willed. Also known as stubborn, a quality my family says I possess. :)
Gemini’s can tackle multiple things simultaneously. Nope. Not me. One thing at a time for this girl. :)

I could go on and on, but I have to say, I’ve always called myself a moon child. I love the moon, and the water, both traits related to Cancers. So I consider myself a Cancer with a couple Gemini traits thrown in for well-rounded measure.

How about you? Any cusp children out there? Do you believe in readings and signs?

Tartar Sauce

I haven’t published a recipe in a while, so thought I’d post about my tartar sauce saga. First, I have to explain that I’m a dill pickle convert. I’ve always loved cucumber chips and sweet pickles. In fact, the first fight hubby and I ever had was when he poured dill pickle juice into my newly made (at 10PM at night for a potluck when I was tired and only wanted to go to bed) sweet pickle potato salad.

Thankfully, we got past that first fight twenty five years ago. And somehow, in the process, I started making potato salad with dill pickles. Not sure how that happened. Anyhow, the same thing with tartar sauce. I grew up with sweet relish tartar. He liked dill pickle. Now, I like dill pickle, too. Hmmm. I sense a pattern here. Maybe I’m a dill pickle person hiding behind a sweet pickle personality?

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with homemade tartar sauces, because I really don’t like the jarred ones from the store that much. I’ve been frustrated because I haven’t really liked the taste of homemade, either. Until I came upon this simple recipe. The difference? This one uses dill pickle juice instead of lemon juice to tang it up. I think it was the lemon juice I didn’t like. Also, I wasn’t making it up hours earlier and letting it sit. That’s HUGE with tartar sauce. It really lets the flavors blend.

Dill Pickle Tartar Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup minced dill pickle
  • 2 Tablespoons dill pickle juice
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • celery salt to taste

Mix together and refrigerate until ready to use. Keep up to 3 days in the fridge.

If you’d like to read reviews or more on this recipe, I picked it up from, my go to place for recipes. You can read more here.

Smiling my way through Spring

So, I think I talked earlier this month about getting the deck furniture out. I thought I’d show you our pond this week. We got it up and running for the summer just before getting the furniture out. It’s not rock, it’s plastic (too good a price at Costco), but I love it. It sounds amazing, and looks amazing, especially with the Azalea blooming behind it.  (Pay no attention to the dirt to the right of the picture. We had to dig up part of our sidewalk this winter.)


It was a family effort, putting this pond in ten years ago. My husband had major back surgery and wasn’t lifting anything much yet. So the kids and grandkids dug the hole and got the pond set in place. I think that’s another reason I like it so much. :)

I’ve always said that I love all the seasons pretty much equally. Right now, though, as I sit out on deck in the sunshine, listening to the waterfall in our pond, smiling, I have to say that Spring is really feeding my soul.

I hope you all have had a wonderful month filled with the sights and sounds of Spring.


Who’s Afraid of…Public Speaking?

I write stories for a living. I do that because I’m better at writing than I am at speaking. Much better, and it’s not that I’m bragging about my writing ability here. It’s that I’m trying to explain just how … Continue reading

The Day After Mother’s Day

Since all but one of our kids do not live close anymore, my Mother’s Day is a wonderful mix of visiting with my own mother and relaxed conversations with the kids over the phone or Skype.

I love that contact. One of the few fun things about aging is getting to see our children and their families thrive. It’s an amazing thing to watch.

I also love that my husband gives me the best gift every year on this day…weather permitting. This is the day we get the deck furniture out. I can sit in our swing and work, or read, or just watch the grass grow. I call it our swing very, umm, quietly, since this is also Dude’s favorite day of the year, too…and his favorite piece of furniture. He is 17 pounds and king of his domain and will lay on that swing for hours keeping watch. Okay, so maybe he naps more than he keeps watch. Lol.

Speaking of Dude, we’ve had some issues lately. There are a couple new tomcats in the area and Dude has been defending his territory with sound and action. I didn’t know these noises could come out of a cat! First, that low, low growl. Then, as the fur flies, that high-pitched screech. Ugh. I can’t get him to understand pacifism. He’s such a laid back kitty normally, but he’ll not tolerate having to share his space, I guess. I’m praying it settles down, though. Dude is my cuddle-bug (please don’t tell him I called him that), and I don’t really want him to turn aggressive.

Well, that’s about it for our neck of the woods for now. I hope you all had a nice, sunshiny weekend and got to play in the dirt (with the flowers) or do something that feeds your soul.

Have a great week!

Quilting Bees, et al

P1090977Back when…and maybe even now, folks, mostly women, held quilting bees. By the way, I read that the word quilt comes from the latin word culcita, which means to stuff sacks. It gave, again, mostly women, a chance to socialize. From what I could glean from quilting history, making the quilt tops was a more solitary endeavor, usually done over the long, cold winters. Then, in Spring and Summer, women would gather to complete the quilting, and maybe to gossip a bit. :) It was most popular in the mid-nineteenth century, but I believe there are still groups that quilt together today.

I don’t quilt, and I hold those who do in high esteem. Sewing, it turns out, shreds the last thread of my patience quite easily. What I do, though, is scrap book. I love putting pictures to paper and decorating them. Here’s a few from a trip hubby and I made to see his cousin in Guatemala.

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I have had a lot of opportunities to go to scrap nights at the hobby store, and even a couple scrap booking weekends. Each time I gather with these women, some of whom I know, some I don’t, I’m struck by how much like a quilting bee it seems. Everyone’s working, everyone’s chatting, and it’s happy times.

I wonder what modern day events are like quilting bees. Lavada and I go to a monthly reader’s group that is a chance for (mostly) women to gather, catch up, and discuss, well anything they want, actually. My sister belongs to a book club that gathers regularly. I’m betting not all the discussion is about the book du jour.

And maybe Bridge Clubs are social gatherings like quilting bees. I don’t know. It’s the one card game I never learned.

What other modern-day gatherings are there that have the feel of an old-time quilting bee? Any ideas? Whatever they are, even though we have more opportunities to socialize now than we did in the nineteenth century, I’m glad we have these ways of gathering. Coming together is the good part of life, eh?