Author Archives: Laurie Ryan

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!)

 

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Listening to Each Other

I hesitated about whether or not to write about this subject, but I made a mistake recently and it’s been on my mind a lot.

The set up and mistake: Hubby and I went to the horse races, and overall, we had a fun day. But, it was very crowded. And everyone was saving seats, so every time we went to sit down on the bleachers, we got “sorry, we’re saving those seats.” My back hurts if I stand for too long a time and hubby’s back hurts no matter what, but is worse with standing. So I get that I wasn’t in the best frame of mind when I asked a man if the seats next to him were saved. His response was “My wife is coming back.” So I asked him if we could sit for just a couple minutes to rest our backs and he was fine with that.

At the other end of the bleachers, a lady offered to scooch together her family so we could crowd in with them. We were very grateful and scooched. I looked to be sure I left a seat for the wife of the nice man who’d let us sit there.

Mistake #1: I didn’t turn to this man and let him know we were staying, that the others had moved down to accommodate us.

Ten minutes later, the man leaned over to me and called me a liar. He reminded me I’d said I was going to sit down for just a couple minutes. I explained then that we’d crammed in with the others on the bench and I’d make sure I left a spot for his wife.

He said “I didn’t say I needed one spot. I said my wife was coming back.”

Mistake #2: I did what I accuse our government of doing. I didn’t listen. I was so stuck on the semantics of his statement vs. the one seat I left, that I couldn’t see past them to understand what the man was saying. And he was not listening to me, either. He just kept saying the same thing, and he called me a liar two more times.

We ended up getting up and moving to stand at the rail, because neither hubby or I wanted an out and out argument. But I spent a lot of time thinking about this. It’s how I learn, so I don’t make the same mistake again.

Neither of us were listening, but I am only concerned with learning from my actions. I did not try to understand his side of things. I intensely dislike divisiveness. Our government drives that dislike home on a regular basis. I keep telling my legislators that I wish they would listen and compromise. Very hypocritical of me since, when put in the same situation, I did exactly what they do. I followed the party line. My line.

What I should have done was 1) told him right away we were sharing with the other end, and 2) I should have listened when he got upset. Had I tuned into to his frustration, I honestly believe I would have simply apologized and moved, and I would have felt good about it.

For now, I’m hoping that putting my apology out on the airwaves is enough. This man was a stranger and I doubt I will ever run into him again. But I am truly sorry I didn’t listen. And I will try harder from now on to stop and think about what someone is saying before responding.

There. That’s it. My personal journey blog. Hopefully, I won’t have to post another one like this for a long, long time. 🙂

To Puzzle or not to puzzle. That is the question…

Do you like working jigsaw puzzles? I do. I don’t do it often enough, but when I do, it’s almost always a family or friend affair, which is most often the best part of puzzling. 🙂

So, when I open a new box, I start by sorting out all the edge pieces. (I know people that do those puzzles with no straight edge, but I like the definition of corners and size.) In a 1,000 piece puzzle, that takes some time. My friend’s daughter suggested, when done with a puzzle, putting the edge pieces in their own baggie. Is this cheating? I don’t think so. You’re not leaving them together, you’re just eliminating that initial sort. I like that idea!

The first puzzle was designed back in the 1760’s. John Spilsbury, an Englishman and cartographer, mounted a map on a thin sheet of wood and cut around the county boundaries to form “dissected maps” for educational purposes. But, I read that adult puzzling for entertainment didn’t become a fad until the early 1900s. Wood puzzles were cut manually using a jig saw. Hence the name.

Nowadays, the puzzles are cut with a die. A sharp, metal ribbon bent into the correct formation. It can take 400 hours to shape the die, then the cardboard adhered picture is sent through the die cut press and the die is forced down under high pressure, making the puzzle cut in one pass. The puzzle “sheets” go through a machine that breaks them up and they get packaged.

Of course, the future seems to be moving toward digital puzzles, but I like the tactile feel of physical puzzles. Not just because they help me clear my mind and think (great for problem-solving), but also for the times I work them with family (like at our winter cabin each year) or with a friend.

Speaking of which, this puzzle is one a friend gave to me. She and her husband visited this town, Manarola, one of the five towns that make up Cinque Terra in Italy. So, as we got together over the course of a week or two, I got to learn more about their travels and the town and area, along  with the usual discussions about kids and life. These are the life memories I love, spending time on a project like this with someone who’s friendship I treasure.

Manarola. Photo courtesy of Doug Benedetti

So I highly recommend grabbing a big board and a puzzle. Invite a friend or loved one to join you and start sorting. It’s good for the blood pressure, for the brain, for dexterity, and, well, I can’t see a down side to doing jigsaw puzzles at all. Except maybe the time suck. They can become addicting. 🙂

Happy puzzling!

The Allure of Snowbirding

Snowbirding is the art of moving with the climate. Heading south, to warmth, for the winter months, then north when the heat of summer hits. I’m not sure if snowbirding is a worldwide term or a West and East coast North America term, but this year, I finally understand the allure of it.

Lavada has been giving us an excellent look (here and here) at what snowbirding is all about. Being warm, when home is rainy and cold. Getting sunshine to feed the soul, while friends are mired in gray muck. And getting to know a new locale better than a few days vacation allows.

I’ve never really understood the need to fly south for the winter. I like my seasons. Rainy and cold makes me appreciate warm and sunny. And you may or may not have read one of my many posts about how I love to see snow falling.

This year, though, I got a taste of snowbirding. In early March, we went to Peoria, Arizona to catch a couple Seattle Mariners baseball spring training games. It was 40’s and cold and rainy here at home. And my sister in Philadelphia was all but buried under a Nor‘easter.

And here we sat…

Within half an hour of checking in, we were at the pool. Being lazy, soaking up sunshine, and watching balloons fly overhead.

We did make it to a game. Here’s the proof.

But only one of the two games we planned to attend. That second full day, we were right back where we started…

Then we got on a plane for cold and rainy home. We didn’t do any touring while in Arizona, so I can see how being there for a month or so would be nice. You can get the pool time out of your system the first few days, then see the sights.

Now, we were happy to be home when we got here, but the cold did seem colder and the rain did seem a bit excessive. Maybe, just maybe, there’s some snowbirding in our future.

I hope your Easter was happy and your Spring abounds with color and sunshine and warmth. 🙂

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Rock Painting

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Last month, I talked about our annual family winter cabin adventure. One of the things I forgot to mention is that we painted rocks. A while back, in my walks at a local park, I began seeing painted rocks in … Continue reading

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Annual Blog – Winter Cabin

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Well, it’s February. And my blog this time of year is pretty much a repeat of the one a year ago. Over The Backyard Fence started in September, 2010. Wow. I can’t believe this blog has been going for over … Continue reading

Goals or No Goals?

It’s New Year’s Eve as I type this blog. This past week has been focused on setting up my goals for 2018. Do you do goals? I’ve gone back and forth on them until the past few years. Mostly because every time I set them, I’d consider myself a failure for never getting them all done in the year.

Then I realized something, after a year of not doing goals. When I do goals, I get more done. So maybe I don’t lose all the pounds I want to lose. But I see that list up above my computer and try a little harder. And maybe I don’t get four books written (did I REALLY write that as a goal?) But I get 2 ½ done. And that’s more than the one I did the year I didn’t write goals.

And fellow blogger Tricia Jones gave me an idea at the beginning of 2017. She suggested writing 100 goals for the year. Yikes! That was intimidating. But I did it. Everything from losing weight to getting the windows washed and the closets gone through. At the end of the year, I’d accomplished 49 of those goals. And I got another 13 over the halfway mark. I honestly don’t think I’d have gotten that far without having taken a look at that list every month.

So I’m officially a fan of goals. And, being a list-maker (I take after my mother), it’s completely satisfying to have a list to work from and check things off of.

Whether you do goals or not, though, my wish for each of you is that 2018 is a safe, happy, and peace-filled year.

I’ll leave you with a picture of Dude, in a rare outside foray with snow on the ground. He REALLY doesn’t like the cold. Poor kitty. But we managed a rare white Christmas this year, so Dude’s mom (me) was VERY happy. 🙂 Laurie Ryan

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