Author Archives: Laurie Ryan

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Goals, Goals, Goals…

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Well, it’s that time of year again. That dastardly beginning when all, umm, some, umm, a few of us set goals for the coming year. I asked my husband, who is not a goal-setter, what his  goal for 2019 was. … Continue reading

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Holidays…

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For the first time in several years, my husband and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house. It was small by our family’s standards, with eight people total. However, we all fit at the table and I didn’t have to rearrange … Continue reading

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Autumn Fun – Making Cider

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This blog is probably going to be more pictures than explanation. My husband and I made apple cider this last month, and I think I drove him a bit crazy with my requests for pictures. But it was worth it. … Continue reading

Living on the “economy” in 1976

***WARNING*** Badly preserved pictures ahead.

This month, for some people, is devoted to Oktoberfest. I drink beer, so I get it. Especially since I’ve had the privilege of going to the original Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. I was way too young to recognize that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was 21. And I only drank wine then. So if we hadn’t of taken a bus that day, I’d have been the designated driver. We didn’t find the one little tiny wine tent until about 7pm. Lol.

I went to Kitzingen, Germany to join my then husband. It was an experience that I learned so much from and I am so grateful for my time there. He was a Spec 4 in the Army, so not high enough in the chain to get base housing. So we lived “on the economy” as it was called. We had a small apartment above a very nice German family.

I was five months pregnant when I flew there. I scared the wits out of my husband because I got there and slept for twenty hours.

What am I grateful for?

  1. That we had no car, so I walked the two miles into base two or three times a week. There was a bus that would take us grocery shopping and to do laundry, thank goodness.
  2. That it’s okay to not trust a taxi driver on the autobahn. We never got in an accident, but boy, sometimes, it was close!
  3. That we had no running hot water. I learned to stoke a boiler under the hot water tank with paper, wood, and coal. And to plan baths because it took two hours to warm up enough water for a bath. Oh, and one night, when my husband was in the field with his platoon, the pregnant me got stuck on that floor. Stoked the fire, then couldn’t get up. Sat there for about the two hours it took to heat the water. That was the best bath ever!
  4. That we couldn’t just turn a switch and have heat. I learned how to pour oil into our heater, and how to keep track of how much oil we had left. Taught me to keep my house stocked.
  5. That I met Yolanda. In 1976. And we have been best friends ever since. I was pregnant and alone a lot of the time, with my husband out in the field. She’s my age and managed to be my friend, confidant, shoulder, and mother.
  6. That one of my daughters was born there. Definitely the best part of this whole trip.
  7. That, when I got off the plane after a year with my eight-month-old daughter, the nice Captain helping me with all my stuff, after a 9 hour flight, looked down through the customs window at all the people waiting there. There were a lot. He asked me which ones were my family. I say “see those three on the right?” “Yes,” he said. “Well, everyone but those three are my family.”

You see, I had the first grandchild born in the family and they’d only seen her in pictures for eight months. So they all showed up at the airport.

Yes, Germany will always be a special place to me. My husband and I did not stay together, and I’m happy for almost 30 years now with my soul-mate. But my first husband and I had a good life while we were together and he made sure I remembered our time in Germany with happiness. I do. I treasure the memories I have from that year, and will for the rest of my life.

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Bavarian fun in the middle of Washington State

If you read this blog regularly, you know that my family goes away on a winter cabin adventure each year. Well, the women in my family also do a summer weekend of wine-tasting. Okay, it started as a wine-tasting event, and we really do test wines.  But it’s kind of evolved into a “sit by the pool reading and chatting” kind of weekend. Relaxing, and a great catch up time with my sisters, daughters, and nieces.

This year was our sixth, I think. For the past three years, we’ve been going to a wonderful little Bavarian village in central Washington State called Leavenworth. It’s pretty commercialized, but it’s also, well, just plain beautiful and fun.

In the 1960’s, trying to turn a failing community around, Leavenworth remodeled an entire town into a Bavarian motif to accent the alpine hills surrounding them. All businesses have to follow the Bavarian theme, even the McDonald’s. And that idea took off. Boy, did it ever. These days, it’s busy any day of the year, but that doesn’t stop us. They make it work well.

It’s easy to walk around. In fact, we park our cars and don’t get back in them until we’re ready to leave. Our hotel is about half a mile from the center of town, and easy stroll. The area is full of shops, places to get bratwursts, beer gardens,  and there’s live polka music in the park. Oh, and you can raft the river, too.

We always have fun. Sometimes, maybe a bit too much. Lol. But this year, we actually did some wine tasting again and I found some excellent wines to purchase.

It’s a fun weekend. Bonding as a family, relaxing before the end of summer. (I did not just say that phrase, did I?) And winding down from life, just for a couple days. I love my entire family, but I cherish this time with the women who carry on our mother’s rich heritage of love and family.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Steam Trains

#25 in Garibaldi, Oregon

My husband is a steam freak. He loves steam trains. Okay, steam anything. He grew up in the country where you bucked bales of hay for a dollar, you went to the Grange Hall for social nights, and everyone knew everyone. I could fill a year’s worth of blog posts just on the stories from his childhood. What’s most important to know is that family friends own their own steam mill and my husband has so many fond memories of those days helping out.

However, this blog isn’t about that so much as it is about a recent steam-related trip we took. There are quite a few places within driving distance of us that have running steam trains. So over the last several years, we’ve visited most of them. Actually, all of them now. There was one more, and we just got back.

Our very first steam train ride was local, within 45 minutes of home, and we got to enjoy that with Over The Backyard Fence’s own Lavada Dee and her husband. Then we began branching out, to Summerland and Port Alberni in British Columbia, and to Oregon. This most recent trip meant a 7 hour drive up and into the heart of British Columbia, Canada. It’s worth noting that just the drive itself was an exceptional piece of this trip. The scenery through the Cascade mountains is amazing. And the drive was also worth it to see the refurbished 2141 engine in action. This train sat in a park for 33 years, used as a toy for kids to crawl over and play on. Then, back in 1994 the newly formed Kamloops Heritage Railway spent the next eight years (and with 80,000 man hours) moving and restoring #2141 to its former glory. It’s been carrying passengers on an eight mile rail tour since the summer of 2002.

There’s nothing like the whistle of a steam train. And the sound of the train getting up to speed like The Little Engine that DOES, well, even I break out in a smile. The video below is from a trip to Oregon a few years ago.

On this trip, we got robbed. Well, not really, but three lady robbers rode up on horseback, guns (with caps, not bullets) ablaze. It was a great show, and an awesome finish to a warm, but fun day. Worth the drive, even though we had to come home through Friday traffic.

And, since it’s the last semi-local one that we know of, we’ll have to branch out to see more. Hmmm, I read that there’s a great steam train ride in Auckland, New Zealand. I wonder if I can convince the hubby…

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Fourth of July

I hope all our USA readers had fun, safe celebrations for Independence Day. How do you celebrate? We tend to stay home.

We aren’t inside any city limits, so there’s no ordinance limiting fireworks where we live. Which means we hear them from the end of June until the Monday after the Fourth of July, sometimes beyond.

And on the actual Fourth, it’s like a war zone. I’ve actually had some issues with anxiety just from all the deafening noise. We’re pretty lucky where we live. Those around us who light off fireworks are pretty careful about it, even if the fireworks are not exactly safe and sane. Still, because things are so active around here on that day, we choose to stay home. Friends generally join us for dinner and some campfire conversation in the backyard, and we make sure the house doesn’t burn down.

It’s turned into a nice tradition, and I love traditions. Here’s a glimpse of the fireworks we got to watch from our backyard.

Have a wonderful summer! I hope you all get to dip your toes in a lake, eat a burger or hot dog straight off the grill, and soak up lots of Vitamin D (with sunscreen on, of course!)