Monthly Archives: April 2013

When Summer Comes

Brenda NovakI gave this story a much-deserved 5 stars. It’s another book in the Whiskey Creek series. The small town, everyone knows everyone, and everything about them mentality, doesn’t bode well for Callie keeping her illness secret.

Callie knows that family and friends will treat her differently when they find out she has a terminal illness and has at best only a few months to live. She moves out to the old family farm and intends to live the time she has left on her terms.

Life has a different idea and when she is awakened by an injured stranger at her door she finds someone to care for. Someone to help and befriend. She feels safe with Levi and it helps to know there is someone near if she needs help with the illness that looms in a threatening cloud over her days and nights.

Levi has returned from war injured in the worse way, his soul. Drifting across America on a motorcycle he has no place to go and no one to go too. Until Callie. He senses right away that there is something she’s hiding but then he has his own secrets. They strike a bargain. He’ll paint her barn for a few nights room and board. This will give him time to heal from the dog attack that brought him to her door.

Calli and Levi aren’t perfect people, no Hollywood glamour, no riches, just ordinary people put in a crisis that brings home just how short life is. Brenda Novak has again put together a story that will have you turning pages and staying up just one more minute.

This is a story I’d recommend for summer reading. And, well for that matter any season of reading. I LOVED IT!

NOTE: Laurie reminded me that Brenda’s Annual Online Auction For Diabetes Research will start May 1st. This has been a very successful auction and is gearing up for it’s biggest year yet. Thanks Laurie.

Ditching the Apostrophe T

Wall3Okay, this has to be the most boring photo you’ve ever seen, right? But I’m very proud of it myself. You see, this little wall has been stripped, prepared, papered and painted…by moi 🙂

I’ve never tried my hand at wallpapering before and I’m rather pleased with how it’s turned out. Why only one wall? you may ask. Well, we place the puppies’ beds against this wall and the little monkeys had a tendency to lean over and chew the wallpaper when we weren’t looking. Since we’re having a new floor laid next week, I wanted to get this wall redecorated before the fitters arrive. Of course, we’d left it too late to hire the man who usually does our decorating, so I thought, why not? I’m glad I took the plunge.

It made me think about other things I might be able to try my hand at around the house but have always dismissed because I thought I couldn’t. Changing an electric plug, painting the back of the garage wall a deep terracotta shade to give it a Mediterranean feel, resurfacing our pine table and chairs, using the electric drill…the list goes on. So what if trying all these things were as simple as hanging that wallpaper turned out to be? What if it’s as easy as taking a deep breath and thinking ‘I can’ instead of ‘I can’t’ – as easy as dropping that apostrophe T 🙂

Well, riding high from my current success, I’m willing to give some other jobs a try. How about you? When did you drop the apostrophe T and think ‘I can’ instead of ‘I can’t’? How did it turn out?

Now, where’s that electric drill?

What’s in your closet?

So it’s that time again. Spring Cleaning has begun in our house. My husband and I have decided it’s time to clear the clutter. To that end, I started with closets. Wow. Were they ever FULL! We had ugly, wet weather here for a while, so it’s been a good indoor chore and we’ve gotten through most of them.

The scary thing, though, is now we have ROOM in each closet. They are no longer filled to the brim with, well, junk. Want to take bets on how long we’ll keep them that way? I’m still trying to figure out how we accumulated all this stuff. Yikes!

Of course, our spare room is now full of piles. Check with the kids piles, give to charity piles, try to sell piles. So the work isn’t over.

And after closets, there’s shampooing carpets and washing windows and…well, the list goes on and on and you all probably have a similar one, so I won’t hash that out.

Once the weather warms up, though, the real work begins. Remember this Markgardenpicture from last year? Well, that “shed” is 70 feet by 20 feet. And the back half is full of…you guessed it…junk! That will be our summer project. In fact, we’ve already begun by asking our children to go through the boxes we are storing for them and either take them, give them away, or verify they still want us storing them.

Yep. Spring Cleaning is in full swing here, even if the weather isn’t saying “it’s Spring!”. And, this next week, we’re supposed to hit 70 degrees for the first time this year. So things are looking up.

So…how are your closets doing? 🙂

Summer Salad

chefpicWow, talk about an easy recipe this one took only a minute to post. I don’t cook as much as I once did and what I cook tends to be fast and easy. So it’s no wonder that salads are one of my favorite menu items. I like to do this one when the tomatoes are a bit anemic. It’s mainly some substitutes for the traditional tossed lettuce salad.


Lettuce – I like ice berg but whatever you prefer
1 or 2 cans of mandarin oranges
1 can of chicken breast
pine nuts (or not they are expensive)

Honey mustard dressing.

I Have A Dream by Valerie J. Patterson

When you were a little kid, what did you dream you would be when you finally grew up?  Every child has big dreams.  Fireman.  Astronaut.  Beauty Queen.  Doctor.  Race car driver.  Super hero.  As we grow and our world widens and our interests change and expand, our dreams also change and expand, and then become more realistic as we approach high school and then university.

For me, I had three dreams that stayed with me my entire childhood.  I wanted to be an actress, a writer, and I wanted to be an ace reporter for my local newspaper, The Daily News.  For as long as I can remember, these dreams were with me.

My grandma’s back yard was my very first stage.  She had this amazing copse of Blue Spruce pine trees at the rear of her property.  I used to slip between the branches and enter the inner circle.  It was beautiful inside that circle of pine.  The floor was blanketed with pine needles and the huge, aged boughs shielded me from view and provided what I thought was an incredible background.  That inner circle was also a great acoustical environment (or so I thought).  I loved to sing while I was inside those Blue Spruce boughs.  I would host my very own variety show right there in the inner circle.

I was in the school plays and musicals.  In college, I was part of the drama fraternity, and an actress with the college players.  After getting married, I joined the local theatre troupe and for several years people bought tickets to see me perform on stage.  People.  Not just family, but strangers, too.  What a rush!  It was enough for me.  I didn’t have to hitch a ride to Hollywood and wait tables until my big break came along.

One dream realized.

Still, every once in a while I want to stand atop a table in a restaurant and break out in song, but the fear of food being chucked at me prevents this from happening!

I am a writer.  I love to create characters, settings, and write dialogue.  I enjoy the task of constructing a tightly woven mystery for my heroine to solve.  I love sinking my teeth into research for a new book.  I thrive on reviews of my work.  I greatly enjoy being invited to be a guest speaker and the opportunity to tell others about my work and how I got to the place where I am in my writing career.  And, I admit, I really enjoy the pleasure I feel when someone asks me to autograph a book for them.  It’s even better when it’s my book they ask me to autograph!  (sorry, couldn’t resist that wee little joke)

Two dreams realized.

After getting married, I relocated to another part of the state of Pennsylvania and left behind the biggest of my three dreams.  That dream of being an ace reporter for the Daily News.  I used to daydream about pounding the pavement to get a quote for a story.  Hunting down the underdog for a feel-good feature.  Doing tons of research for that big story that would crack a case wide open in an award-winning investigative piece.  Meeting deadlines.  Editing my work to fit a column width.  Flashing my credentials to get into places.  Being a valued member of The Press!

Why I never pursued a career with any other newspaper is beyond me.  I guess life moved forward and I moved with it.  I began a career in finance that took over my life for eleven years and, by the time I left it, it seemed too late to go back to my dream.  I was long past the day of my college graduation.  I was no longer a freshly scrubbed face seeking her first job.  I pursued other avenues.  But the dream never left me.  It never changed.  It just remained unfulfilled.

There’s a new reality TV show called The Moment where people are given the chance of a lifetime to capture the biggest moment in their lives by fulfilling their dream career that life interrupted.  I am not a fan of reality TV.  However, the premise is an interesting one, isn’t it?

If someone came to you and handed you the opportunity to make your one big dream come true, would you take it?  I would.  I would want to know if I had what it took to be that reporter or if the diverted path I chose was my dream life after all.

But then…I think, maybe I don’t want to know.  Maybe it’s best left a dream unrealized instead of a dream shattered.

What about you?  What’s your dream?  Don’t be shy…share!

Until next time…


Happy Spring

Oh Oh—After reading Jillian’s blog I thought “wow it is the third week of the month and I have a blog due”. Well I’ll come home from the ballgame and do it Tuesday night.” Didn’t happen! I was so cold … Continue reading


Sorry I missed my day to post. Just put my head on the pillow and realized it was the third Monday of the month. That pesky first being on a Monday threw me off. Tomorrow is my father’s 73rd birthday and his gift is a possible bypass surgery. We’re not sure yet as he may be able to get by with just a stent or two but the decision won’t be made until tomorrow. So, I’m a bit stressed and discombobulated. Sorry.

Feeling very down about the whole Boston Marathon bombing as well as the Iraq bombing today. Why is there such evil in the world? It just don’t get that mentality. Hurting others even by words is something I try not to do. I can’t even fathom the kinds of things these monsters are thinking. Wow. I’ve been praying for the victims all afternoon.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful april weather-wise. I know it’s been rough all over and I hope the snows some of you are having have finally stopped.

Let’s all hope for sunny skies and good things to happen the rest of the month. I’m hanging in there and hope anyone who sees this post is as well. We must believe in better days, right?


Guest blogger Heather Von St. James talks about a serious cancer – Mesothelioma

posted by Laurie Ryan Hi, everyone. We’re priviledged to have with us today a guest blogger I met through an email conversation. Heather Von St. James is a cancer survivor (mesothelioma) and I found her story to be inspirational. It … Continue reading


Painting One More Thing Checked Off My List ☺ ☺ ☺

Last week we finally got some decent weather and painted the house. I knew last fall when I bought it that it needed painting and even contracted to have it done but then the winter weather arrived. Living in a … Continue reading

Mount Rainier

We’ve been a little water-logged and chilly here in the Pacific Northwest. Even so, on the first really nice, sunny day we got, did we stay home and enjoy the warmth? Nope. Instead we headed for one of our favorite local places. Mount Rainier, the tallest peak in the Cascade Range. It may seem silly to leave 60 degrees Fahrenheit warmth and head for the 24 degrees it was at Paradise, a traveler’s mecca at an elevation of 5400 feet above sea-level. Maybe it was crazy, but it was a beautiful drive, a beautiful walk, and a relaxing day.

mtrainier6(photo compliments of Doug Benedetti)

So I thought, in amongst some pictures of the mountain (not all taken in the same visit), I’d give you a few facts about it.

Height:  14,410 feet above sea level (4,392 meters). It’s the highest mountain in Washington State and the 21st in the world.

mtrainier3(Taken from the visitor center at 5400 feet, looking at the peak.)

In 1792 Brittish Capt. George Vancouver named Mount Rainier after a friend, Rear Admiral Peter Rainier. The Native American name for the mountain is “Tahoma” which means…Well, I found a lot of definitions for Tahoma and I’m not sure which one is right. The one I like best is “mother of waters”. I’ve also heard that it means  “great white mountain” and “the mountain that was God”.

It is considered an active volcano. It’s last eruption was approximately 150 years ago. It spawns 6 major rivers (Nisqually, Puyallup, Cowlitz, White, and Carbon rivers). And it has 25 named glaciers on it, the longest and thickest being the Carbon Glacier, 5.7 miles long and 700 feet thick.

mtrainier2Jim Whitaker, the first American to conquer Everest (1963) trained on Mount Rainier.

In the winter, you can sled, ski, and snowshoe. In the summer, the sub-alpine wildflower meadows are awesome hikes. mtrainier5

Each year thousands of people climb, or try to climb Mount Rainier. The last year I could find data for was 2010, when 10,643 tried and 4,920 successfully completed the climb.

And here in the Pacific Northwest, the saying, however corny, is that if you can see the mountain, it’s not raining. If you can’t, it is or is about to rain. Duh! 🙂

But oh, what a view!