Author Archives: Laurie Ryan

Spring Cleaning…in the Fall?

Lately, I’ve been into cleaning cupboards. Maybe it’s the change in the weather, but I’m Spring cleaning in Autumn. And since we’ve lived here for 26 years and I’ve gone through these cupboards and closets before, it always amazes me that I find more STUFF to get rid of. Especially since we’ve been working harder to not buy a bunch of stuff that we just won’t use. We’ve all done this, right? Bought something just knowing we’d use it, only to have it molder away in a cupboard or closet? Please tell me I’m not the only one. Lol.

Anyhow, I started with the kitchen. And apparently there were a couple cupboards there I ignored for a year or two…or ten. Like the spice and baking cabinets. I found powdered milk that had turned orange. Cornmeal that had turned rancid and white. A vanilla pudding box that didn’t even have a use by date on it, it was so old.

I’m a pretty clean person, so I was astonished at the amount of ancient stuff I found. Thankfully, going through the rest of the kitchen was less eventful, with nothing that pre-dated me. :)

Next was our clothes closet. That’s not too bad, since I go through it twice a year to move the summer or winter clothes to the front or back. But tucked in the back are several formal outfits from various events (cruises, weddings, etc.). We’ve become such an informal society here in the Pacific Nortwest (is it that way everywhere?) that I’m not sure I’ll ever wear any of them again. But I keep them anyhow, because each time I open the clothing bags to see what’s in them, I remember. My daughter’s wedding…that cruise dinner where we stayed past our welcome because we were having such fun with our tablemates…the Christmas or New Year’s dances spent with my husband. Honestly, I don’t care if I ever get rid of them. Sometimes, the memories of worth that little bit of space they take up.

How about you? Are you hunkering down for winter or cleaning out closets? Is it fun to open a door and glimpse the memories? Or do you have orange powdered milk in your kitchen cupboard?

As I close and head out to clean yet another closet or drawer, I’d like to wish every person out there who’s protected our way of life a very Happy Veteran’s Day on Wednesday. Thank you for serving.

Iceland is Awesome!

A while ago, we had a discussion about Iceland and how cool a place it is to visit. I’m curious how many people want to visit this awesome country? I got the opportunity to spend a day there as part of a trans-atlantic cruise a few years ago and thought I’d pull out my pictures (thank goodness we had a digital camera by then) and show you the bits of Iceland we got to see.

First off, the cruise was a re-positioning cruise, so it was a once a year opportunity. It was moving from European cruises to the Caribbean. We flew to Copenhagen and boarded, then visited England and Ireland before heading west.

Iceland is the land of fire and ice. Where dark winters are offset by summers with sunshine at midnight and geothermal activity doesn’t keep it from being home to the largest glaciers in Europe (even though ice only covers about 10% of the land). In fact, Iceland is known as the world’s greenest country. It’s diverse countryside shows off green valleys, active volcanoes, black sand beaches, and amazing rivers. Their water is some of the purest around and they are huge environmentalists and conservationists, since they depend so much on natural resources. Over 90% of their heat is geothermal, which helps make them one of the least polluted countries in the world. The flip side to that is that there is quite a bit of volcanic activity.


Geothermal activity outside a gift shop we stopped at.

Iceland sits astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a 40km crack in the ocean floor caused by the separation between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. They call this part of Iceland “No Man’s Land” and we got to stand here, between these plates. We’re standing near one plate wall and looking out over the expanse of No Man’s Land in this picture. You can see the ridge (the small rocky fence-like wall just past the river) in the distance that is the Eurasian plate.

As these plates rub together, they release pressure in the form of earthquakes and geothermal activity.

During a one-day, eight-hour tour, we visited an “Old Faithful” type geyser, a crater formed by an explosive eruption, No Man’s Land, Gulfoss Waterfalls, and the capital city of Reykjavik. So we got a good glimpse into this country, but someday, I’d like to see more. To spend more time exploring the rugged countryside and getting to know the people. It’s an expensive place to visit, but well worth it in our estimation. It is still one of my two favorite cruises. (The Panama Canal is the other favorite.) I hope that if Iceland is on your bucket list, you get there someday. It’s worth it.

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Of course, the fact that we also got to set foot in Greenland helped make that cruise ultra-special, too. Lots of times, they can’t get close enough due to icebergs. So here’s a couple Greenland pics to finish up with. A very colorful community in a very harsh environment:

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Roller Skating Rinks – Are they extinct?

Lately, I’ve had several occasions to travel down a road that was a huge part of my childhood. It’s a nondescript, busy city street, but it housed the place that I spent loads of time at…a roller skating rink.

I skated all through my childhood and into my teen and young adult years. I looked back through my pictures and I don’t have a single print of me in skates, which is a bummer. So it’s all memory pictures. Of school skating parties. Of Mom dropping me off to skate for the night. Even overnight skates.

I skated in the races for a free pop. I did the Hokey Pokey with everyone else. I met my first husband there.

The coolest thing about this particular rink? My mother skated there when she was a young woman. And I had the opportunity several times to take my daughter skating there. In fact, one of my funniest stories is hers. She’s very outgoing and was even more so as a child. I was divorced at the time, so she’d decided it was her job to find me a new guy and proceeded to tell one of the regulars there all about our lives and that I was looking for a new husband. Mortification, anyone? It’s something we laugh about to this day.

But time marches on, and before my daughter hit double digits, the rink was torn down in favor of a lot to sell cars. To this day, I refuse to step foot on that property and will never buy a car from that business (which has changed names several times, but I can hold a grudge with the best of them.) And it’s still bittersweet to drive by there. Mostly sweet because I have so many happy memories of that place. I miss it still and it’s been 30 years since it closed.

Skating rinks are slowly dying off around here, much like drive-in movies. There’s now only one local rink left. Do you have a skating rink in your area? Or a drive-in movie, for that matter? Any places from your childhood that fill you with fond memories?

And, since I don’t have a skating picture, here’s a picture of teenage me, maybe on a night when I’m getting ready to go skating? By the way, aren’t those some lovely olive drab drapes? Hard to believe those were ever popular, but they were. lr 2


Done, done, and DONE…Triathlon Re-Cap

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I did it! I ran and I biked. I would have swum (swam?) if not for circumstances beyond my control. More on that later. So, as most of you know, I started training a little over 3 months ago for … Continue reading

Tech Troubles…Grrrr

I’m a person who likes technology. Sure, it has it’s glitches, but I like computers, tablets, smart phones. They keep me in touch with, well, everyone. And yes, sometimes that constant contact seems overwhelming, but I still like it.

Until these past few months. I’m calling this my “year of repelling technology.” First, my cell service seemed to get worse at our house. So I got a cell booster, which ties into my router for tv, phone, and internet. Then, I started having problems with that router. Spent 3 or so months where I’d be in the middle of sending an email or researching something and bam! The internet would go down for 5 or 10 minutes. Not going to mention any names, but the HUGE company that made me switch routers tried very hard to get me to make that router work before finally admitting that the first iteration of that router (which I had) was very problematic. At that point, I’d suffered long enough, including a 20 hour outage that took out our tv, land line, internet AND cell service.

I decided it was time to unbundle. Thought I’d start with the cell phone, thinking it would be easiest to change carriers. It took me forever, with research and phone calls. And every time I called, I got a different answer to the same question!

Finally got the cell changed over, then it took me another couple of months to get a phone that worked with the new carrier. Anyone heard of unlocked phones? Bought one. Supposed to work. Didn’t.

Anyhow, then came the tv/landline/internet. Kept the BIG GUY company for tv as that’s hubby’s domain and he likes them. Switched over internet and landline from broadband to DSL and 2 months later, started having problems with both. Took another month and about 4 visits from the company, where each time they warned us it the problem was in the house, we’d have to pay for the visits.

So now to my biggest beef and then I’ll finish off with a compliment, both related to customer service. I’m not sure where the adage about the customer always being right went, but it seems to have all but disappeared. It felt like I fought each of these companies as I tried to resolve these issues. I spent hours on the phone and actually argued with the reps I was speaking to. Each one tried to take the easiest way out (for them). Or to make these issues our fault, not theirs. I’m not the most tech savvy person, but I have a lot of good tech instincts and NONE of these problems were ones with our house. It was all their equipment.

However, to finish on a positive note, one company stands out and I will name them. Our new cell phone company, Consumer Cellular, ROCKS. They spent a lot of time with me on the phone trying to get my unlocked phone working. They were the ones who finally figured out the phone wasn’t actually fully unlocked. Every time I’ve called them, they were professional and seemed sincere in their effort to resolve my problem. And we are spending about half of what we were with the old carrier.

Anyhow, to make a long story, well, less long, at this current moment, after months of struggling, I now have our services spread over multiple companies and don’t have a contract with any of them, so can change anytime I want. I have a working television, internet, landline, and cell phone. I’m afraid to cough…

Summer Re-cap

Well, it’s been a great summer and doesn’t look to be winding down anytime soon. It’s been crazy warm and we have several friends who have joined the air-conditioning revolution because of it.

Still, we’ve managed to have some fun. First and foremost was my niece’s wedding in June. It was an awesome night for an outdoor reception and we danced until we couldn’t anymore. No, really, we couldn’t. It was my brother’s backyard and we stopped at 10 to make sure the neighbors didn’t get upset. Here’s the awesome couple with my Dad.With Dad

Immediately following that wedding (the very next day) was a 60th birthday party for me, which was low key and just how I like it. I’m not big on being the center of attention, so a nice, relaxing lunch thing in our backyard was perfect. We didn’t even take any pictures (thank God) but I do have a couple of one of our granddaughter’s from that day that I’ll show you. Of course, Dude being in the pictures is a bonus, right? :)

And some of the women in our family got away for a weekend to wine taste and unwind. Okay, maybe we spent most of our time by (and in) the pool, but it was one of the most relaxing times I’ve had in years!20150717_170635

And we’ve finished with one more wedding celebration, for our youngest daughter, who chose the lower key Vegas option for her wedding, but couldn’t get away completely. It was party time again! :) Here they are heading off to get married.


In amongst that, we did some day drives, hikes, and, for me, training for an upcoming mini-triathlon I’ve entered with my daughter. So it’s been a full and joyous summer and I’m feeling very blessed to have the family and friends we’ve shared this all with. I hope you’ve all had as good a summer and would love to hear some of the highlights from yours. :)

Cards, Cards and More Cards…

Recently, I celebrated a milestone birthday. And one of the most precious gifts I got, I got a LOT of. Cards. I love cards. I love making them (it feeds the scrapbooker’s soul in me). I love standing in the card aisle picking them out, and I love knowing that people took the time to find just the right card to give me.

Here’s the thing. I’m a writer, but I suck at coming up with just the right thing to say, in the right tone, for events requiring cards. Isn’t that strange? I love penning stories, but can’t write a jingle. Lol. So I have a healthy respect and appreciation for those who do. And I thank them. I hope they get paid well, because they dig deep into my psyche and always manage to find exactly what I want to say.

I thought I’d list a few of my faves (I keep them in a “Blessings” file that I can pull out a low moments and read):

A great sentiment:
Front: In life, there are many paths you can take and many people who share the journey.
Inside left: But it’s the special people who help you along the way, and it’s the most important people who care enough to give of themselves unconditionally that make the journey more worthwhile.
Inside right: Thank you for being one of those special people.

This one comes with a visual (I do like my wine.):
Front: P1110253
Inside: Wishing you a vintage year.
(Simple but effective and I LOVED the front of the card. Oh, I guess now you know which milestone birthday it was for me. Oh, well. It’s not bothering me…yet.)

From my wine buddy:
Front: They say a brisk walk is a great way to stay young and healthy.
Inside: The problem is the wine keeps splashing out of the glass!

And here’s simple but effective (when I was having one of those low moments):
Front: You are fabulous
Inside: If you ever forget that, please read this again.

From my older sister:
Front: You’re not old.
Inside: If you were old, that would make me old, and that is not going to happen.

My personal favorite:
Front: Holy $#@%!
Inside: What I meant was, “That’s not old.”

Oooh, just remembered another fave…
Front: Feeling thick?
Inside: Oh, thit.

And my sister-in-law received this card for her birthday:
Front: Did you know wine can actually help you lose weight on your birthday?
Inside: With a bottle in one hand and a glass in the other, you can’t pick up any cake.

Yep. Cards can congratulate, lift spirits, celebrate…anything is possible. And I tip my hat to those jingle writers. Thank you and keep ‘em coming!