Author Archives: Laurie Ryan

Happy birthday, Dad!

ja 2My father turned 88 yesterday. He’s in poor health and wheelchair bound, but he has such a strong spirit, it’s astounding. We call him the Energizer Bunny because he keeps going and going and going, something we’re grateful for.

What I’d really like to blog about is the relationship he and my step-mom have. They’ve been married for 38 years and had a bunch of good years, then things kind of deteriorated for a while. What I find interesting is how they are now. Both have significant health issues and live in assisted living facilities. Different facilities, mind you. Both have varying degrees of dementia, my step-mom sadly quite a bit worse than my father.

Dad says it’s good for them, that they don’t live in the same place. Yet he calls her about 4 times every day. Each Wednesday, Dad schedules a local shuttle service to take him to my step-mom’s facility, where they get two hours to spend together. And sometimes, we take him by to see her.

They are like newlyweds, holding hands, smiling, and simply sitting there gazing at each other. It’s adorable. The fights are all gone and maybe those memories with them. I don’t know. I just know that somehow, through all this mess of medical condition tacked onto medical condition, they found the beginning of their relationship again, the newness.

And I think it’s about the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. So happy birthday, Dad. Ain’t young love grand? :)

The Ides of March

P1100908This is my poor little shamrock plant that needs watering more often than any of my other plants…and I keep forgetting that. But it always forgives me and continues to hang in there, even if it’s not exactly full and lush.

So I was searching out information about the Ides of March and came across a Smithsonian blog that was both depressing and fascinating. Since it wasn’t my plan to talk about depressing stuff in this blog, I’ll simply add the link for anyone interested in ten reasons to beware the Ides of March. :)

Smithsonian Blog

Next, I hit history.com for some information. I suspect most folks know that the Ides of March is forever connected with the assassination of Julius Caesar, which happened on March 15, 44 B.C. However, the Ides of March became a phrase much earlier, around 753 B.C. when a ten month calendar began with March. Ides refers to the full moon, which at that time was around the 15th of the Month. So the Ides of March initially marked the first full moon of the new year. Being a moon child, you all probably know I’m a softy for any lunar reference.

FYI – the full 365 day Roman calendar was instituted in 46 B.C. when Julius Caesar made the year 365 days and set it to begin on January 1st. I had a hard time pulling this all together in my head, by the way, until I remembered that B.C. years would go backwards, not forward. So Caesar could change the calender in 46 B.C. because he didn’t die until 44 B.C. Duh. Sometimes, my brain just can’t wrap itself around things that aren’t part of my contemporary world. I guess that’s why I don’t write historical stories, eh?

What’s your favorite season of the year?

So…it’s been another strange winter. While others around the country have been deluged with rain, snow and wind, our Pacific Northwest weather has been quiet and almost balmy in comparison. Even our mountains are desperate for snowfall. We’re all concerned because that snowpack feeds our rivers and tributaries, and by default, irrigates our crops.

These hills should be covered in snow.

These hills should be covered in snow.

As someone who likes seasons to look different, I wish (and I say this very quietly) we could have a bit more snow in winter. This is our second year of no real measurable lowland snow, and I love a walk in the snow. I’m the first one out the door when the flakes begin to cascade down. I like Spring to be full of rain and flowers. Summer to be warm and rejuvenating. And Fall to be alive with changing leaf colors, then fading into the hibernating chill of winter.

We are very, very lucky to live here. We have our issues, mostly flooding when we get too much rain. Sadly, that’s meant some loss of life, most recently with the Oso slide in early 2014 where we lost 41 people. So I’m not complaining. I know we are lucky.

I just wish I’d seen a bit of snow.

How about you? How did Old Man Winter treat you this year? Were you part of the January blizzard in the Northeast? Sunny and warm all winter long? Is winter your least favorite season? Which one do you like best?

Where’s the Snow? Our Annual Winter Cabin Gathering

It’s that time of year again. Over The Backyard Fence has been around for quite a while, so I’m certain some patterns are emerging. For me, this is the post-winter-cabin blog. The time where I get to recap another awesome weekend spent with our kids and grandkids in a not-so-rustic cabin, surrounded by snow.

Only there wasn’t any snow. Well, there wasn’t much. This winter has been very warm and even the ski areas are hurting. As a family, though, we are great at adapting and had a wonderful time.

From Friday to Monday, we settle into a rented 4 or 5 bedroom house once a year and spend the weekend playing games and catching up on each other’s lives in a relaxed atmosphere. We can usually leave the hustle and bustle of our normal lives behind for these three days.

This year was no exception. In fact, I’d have to say it was probably one of my top 3 cabin adventures. Our newest granddaughter, at 11 months, was in town. Her mother came, too, of course. Lol. We all loved having this time to cuddle with and get to know her better. And what a fun age to spend time with a baby! She’s crawling, laughing, smiling, and generally curious about everything that’s going on around her. She took to the large group well and didn’t even got cranky. She’s an amazing baby and we are so lucky to have this youngest addition to our family.

We watched our Seahawks football team. That was fun to do as a family. We decorated sugar cookies, played dice and cards, celebrated a late Christmas, and ate. Oooh, boy, did we eat. That didn’t do well for my “food modification program.” But the food was SO good. One daughter and I do breakfasts (breakfast casserole, omelets in a bag). Our other 3 children take over dinner (ham, lasagna, etc.). It was all just too good to resist.

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Oh, and this year, we added something different. Since I’ve been going to the gym, I wanted to get some workouts in. So we put up a list of exercises (pushups, situps, planks, etc.) and for each exercise completed, folks got to put their name in the hat for Amazon gift cards. The kids and grandkids totally got on board with it and that bowl was pretty fully of names by the end of the weekend. It was…awesome. (Sorry, that’s my favorite word, can you tell?)

So now we’re all back to our hectic normal lives, but with some good sleep, great visiting, and a smile on our faces. Next year will be our 15th winter cabin weekend and I’m already looking forward to it.

The Birthday Saga

My birthday is in June. My husband’s is in December. There’s something to be said on behalf of summer birthdays. Seems like less chance of being sick, which is the story for this birthday tale.

My husband hit a milestone birthday on December 29th. It had been a year of dealing with our first major illness, which he’s happily pretty much recovered from. However, I think it scared the heck out of all of us, especially the kids. So we planned to whoop it up and make the birthday something special.

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Our plan was an open house style gathering here at our place. It was during the Seattle Seahawks football game (Go, Seahawks!!!!) and we could watch the game, visit, and celebrate Mark’s birthday. Over 50 people were coming. Food was planned out, the cake ordered.

Then I got sick with a cold (that lasted more than 3 weeks). And the day before the party, hubby caught that cold. With this being prime cold and flu season, the right thing to do was put the word out. Neither of us wanted to pass on these germs.

So we did just that and scaled the party back to minimal food. We still had 8 hardy souls who said they’d already had this cold come by, and we’re grateful for that, but also very, very glad most didn’t come. Being sick is NOT fun.

Hubby, with his wonderful sense of humor, put caution tape up to keep folks from getting too close. :)

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Anyhow, it was still a fun birthday. Lots of cards and emailed and phoned birthday wishes came in. The Seahawks won! And our children spent the two months prior putting together a special video and picture montage of greetings for Dad. Eighteen minutes of love we’ve watched several times now. It was, and still is, the highlight of our December.

So big birthday plans became small because of illness, but it ended up being a larger than life birthday, with lots of good memories to kick off a new decade with. The only major drawback? All that leftover cake. Lol.

Take Five and Focus – A New Year

Happy “Thank God We Can Get Back To Normal Life” Day! You’ve officially survive the holidays. Now that all the hubbub is over and we’ve begun a new year, for me, it’s time to figure out my focus for the year and how I can reach my goals. As an author, there are always goals and things to do. I can say the same thing about being a wife, mother, grandmother, and friend.

But I’ve been giving this a lot of thought and I’d like this to be a gentler year. By that, I mean not quite so rushed and more in the moment. Being a planner, I have this bad habit of being in one moment, but thinking/organizing/planning the next. I’d like to break that habit and be more “now.” Enjoy THIS time, not anticipate the next time.

One of the ways I’m going to try to bring that about is to de-tech a bit. For instance, we have a landline phone, so why do I carry my cell with me around the house? If it’s important, folks will call the house phone, right?

Another thing I’ve started is to “Take Five.” I read somewhere that taking five minutes each day to sit quietly and be with yourself is great for reducing stress. So in October, I started a Take Five page on Facebook, thinking I’d chronicle my attempts to take five and see if anyone would find and join the page. Well, I haven’t been very good at doing my five minutes a day, since I’ve only commented on the page twice since then. I need to step it up, which is my plan for this new year.

Since I work from home, I’m also going to try to set “office hours” and walk away from the computer when those hours are done.

So that’s my goal this year. To learn to be in the moment. How about you? Any goals you’d like to share? Or do you prefer not to set goals? There’s a saying with writers. You’re either a plotter (planner) or a pantser (roll with whatever happens) kind of person. I’m a plotter. How about you?

Merry Christmas to All!

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From all of us (and our pets) here at Over The Backyard Fence, we wish you a safe, happy, and peace-filled:

Xmasgreeting