Author Archives: Laurie Ryan

Delays and Jubilees

I’d hoped to show a finished remodel this month, but we’ve had a few delays. Primarily plumbing. One of the walls we are sheet-rocking has the last of the old plumbing in it. It made sense to redo that last bit of plumbing before throwing sheet-rock up. However, our plumber got in an accident, which thankfully, he will recover from. But it took us another month to find a plumber.

That piping is now all done, thank goodness. And the sheet-rock is up.

But no tape/mud yet. And our guy is fitting us in between other jobs because of our delay, so it might be another couple weeks before the next thing happens.

I find it funny that I’m not a patient person but this isn’t driving me nuts. Since we have a front room and a family room, it’s not a hardship to be without it. At least for me. Hubby wants his space back. 🙂

With all that’s going on in the world, I send prayers for all the horrible parts, but try to focus on the happy parts. Like the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee which just ended. I may not be British, but I was grinning all weekend as I watched festivities. What an amazing life and accomplishment! And did you all see the spot with the Queen and Paddington Bear? Priceless.

On that smiling note, I’ll leave you for this month. Have a wonderful summer solstice. I hope you get sunny weather at just the right temperature.

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Remodel and Renewal

Remember paneled walls? Not the cool wainscoting or shiplap, but the old, brown, thin stuff with the dark indented lines to make it look like fake wood? Well, that’s our family room in a nutshell. Straight out of the 20th century. 🙂

We made the decision that it was time to bring the room into the 21st century. The paneling is gone. Hallelujah!  My husband did all the demo and is in the process of re-insulating the room.

Then the plumbers come in to re-pipe the last part of the house that hasn’t had new plumping since it was built. After that, it’s sheetrock time! I can hardly wait to see what it looks like, and I’ll have to post finished pics if/when we ever get this done.

Once the sheetrock is done, it’s time for my project. Cleaning the fireplace rock.

I’ve done some research into it and it just takes time. I’m also considering re-painting the grout. The sheetrock will be so light, I think the grout will look dull in comparison. But, I won’t be able to decide until I get the rock cleaned.

While waiting for my turn, I decided to get away from it all and renew my psyche in my happy place. The ocean. Whether calm or blustery, it soothes my soul.

I hope you have a place you can head for to renew yourself. We all need that sometimes, eh?

Have a wonderful May!

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Firsts

The last month has been quiet for us. Not a whole lot going on, except writing for me, and getting the garden ready for the year for hubby.

I walk every day and post pictures from my walks on Facebook, so I probably shouldn’t duplicate those here, although here’s a neighbor’s tree that looked so beautiful in the morning sunlight, I have to share it.

I thought this month that I’d talk about back when I first published. Many writers self (indie) publish their books and I do that as well.

But my first story got picked up by a publisher. And they were nice enough to call me and let me know that. There is something special about getting that first call. It’s the point at which you start believing all your sweat and tears and hard work is validated. Someone, other than your family and friends, believes in you.

That’s exactly how the call felt for me. The really cool part was how it happened. My mother, one of the best people I’ve ever known, passed away about six years ago. For years before that, I took her to all her medical appointments. She was still driving, but it’s always nice to have someone there to help you understand what the doctor said.

Anyhow, we were in the xray waiting room and my phone pinged that I had a message. It was the publisher who asked me to call them back. I did and got the editor who’d read my book and told me they wanted to publish it.

When I got off the phone, I was giddy. My mom got so excited, she told the people around her. I got applause from everyone in the waiting room and it still, to this day, is the highlight of my writing career. Because my mom was there to share this big moment with me.

Even now, I’m grinning as I remember. It’s one of the happy memories I think about when I’m struggling to stay happy.

Do you have happy moments you can rely on to turn your frown around? I hope so, because those moments are what make life worth living.

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Women’s History Month

It’s Women’s History month, commemorating the vital role women have played in American history.

There are so many women who have helped shape our future, like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Harriet Tubman, and so many more it’s hard to find space for even the highlights. Here’s a couple of sites if you’d like to read about some of these amazing women.

https://time.com/5786065/womens-history-month-women-to-know/

I’m choosing to talk about one woman. My grandmother.

She didn’t shape worlds, but she was the rock that shaped our family and she taught us all what it means to be loved unconditionally. And also what was right and wrong and how to be a large family with opinions and differences, but to still remember the love. And what a sparkle in her eyes she had. 🙂

My grandmother, Lila, was one of seventeen children. She gave birth to eleven children, who gifted her with twenty-five grandchildren (including me!) and seventeen great-grandchildren.

That, in itself, is a legacy. But there’s so much more to Gramma Lila. She raised all those children during the war years and the depression. When her husband went off to war, then later, traveled for up to two years at a time for work, she called upon her strength and endured.

Devoted to her family, she loved having us visit and it never mattered if it was one of us or twenty of us. Case in point… Every Thanksgiving Gramma Lila cooked dinner for as many kids and grandkids as would show up. There quite often were more than fifty people sitting down for the meal. And right afterwards, she was back in the kitchen making turkey sandwiches in her famous rolls (that no one has ever been able to duplicate) for us kids to snack on.

(I’m the blue shirted girl hiding on the right. 🙂 )

She taught us that family is everything. That listening was important, as were compassion and understanding. I am who I am today because of her gentle tutelage.

And that pioneer spirit is the backbone of our family’s legacy. Last month, it was forty years since she passed away and we all still reminisce about the our wonderful grandmother and mother.

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Precious Times

Most of you may know my family does a winter getaway each year. We call it a winter cabin that we rent, but with our numbers topping 20, it’s really way beyond a cabin. We didn’t do it at all last year because of COVID. This year, also because of COVID, only 8-12 made it.

I’m really proud of how well we did. We were all vaccinated. We all tested before going to the cabin. And now that we’re past the isolation mark, no one has gotten sick with COVID from the cabin. It took a lot of work to make that happen and the kids worried, especially, about hubby and I. But we did it and I’m really glad we did.

There was a LOT of snow.

We saw deer and wild turkeys.

We painted (a lot). Here’s my attempts at art and my granddaughter’s ocean picture.

And we talked, chatted, ate too much, and yes, may have inbibed a bit. This annual catching up weekend is precious to each and every one of us and I’ll be praying that next year, COVID doesn’t put a wrench in our cabin machinery.

I hope you’re having a wonderful, cozy winter that fills you with happy memories.

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Stresssssssss

I’m done with COVID. I’m just done.

How many times have we said that over the last two years, yet now, it feels like these variants are coming closer and closer rather than diminishing into the hell from which they were born.

How’s that for an uplifting start to a blog? Not very good, is it? Did you feel your shoulders tensing up? Did you shout out: “yeah, go back to where you came from, COVID.” Or maybe you shed a tear from someone sickened (or worse) from this pandemic? I know both, by the way, which is why I can’t take this lightly.

Before COVID-19, I thought I had stressors in my life. Not even close, compared to this. Which made me think that this is a good time to talk about stress relief.

What do you do in order to relieve the stress and function on a day-to-day basis? Hubby and I don’t eat out, but we do get takeout. We don’t do movie theaters, but we do spend more time on movie apps like Netflix. And when we need a getaway, we’ve been renting homes in different places. Okay, so maybe not so different, since I call the ocean beach my happy place.

I’m not a therapist and I don’t profess to be. But after years of dealing with stress, I know a few of the things that have helped me, though I don’t do them enough.

  • Yoga (If I didn’t put this first and foremost, Faye Avalon would be having a chat with me. 🙂 )
  • Taking the time to prepare healthy foods. (Sometimes, just the process of cooking, of focusing on the kitchen and nothing else, can help with stress. Just make sure no one’s in the kitchen with you to disturb your zen moment.)
  • Meditation. (I don’t do this enough.)
  • Music. (Makes me smile just writing that word.)
  • Imagery (like taking yourself for a mental walk through a park or along the beach.)
  • Practice relaxing your muscles. (not at all easy for me to do.)
  • Focus on your breathing.
  • Hobbies (painting, scrap-booking, whatever makes you smile.)
  • Exercise. Take a walk or pick up that page of physical therapy exercises you know you have laying around somewhere from long ago. Not that I have a list like that. 😉 )
  • Garden (hubby’s preferred method for de-stressing.)
  • Positive affirmations. (Today, good things will happen.)
  • Be grateful. Take some time to think about what’s good in your life.
  • Got a to-do list? Take another look at it. Pare it down to a level that doesn’t stress you out.

Hmmm. I know there’s more, but I can’t think of them. Do you have things that help you reduce your stress? I’d love to hear about them.

Here I am out walking. 🙂

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Holiday Food

Ham or turkey? Which one do you like better? This question seems to come up for me every US Thanksgiving. I’ve always been a turkey person and not big on ham. This year, instead of cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner here, we went to our son’s where he cooked a smoked ham from the local meat shop. Boy, that just about changed my mind and moved ham to the top of the list.

The very next night, we went to friends’ house where she cooked a spiral ham with a drool-worthy glaze on it. Wow. Ham got nudged just a little bit further up on that list. But the day after that, I finally got my turkey. Sorry, ham, you got beat out again. 🙂 And, in the aftermath, I’ve had too many of my favorite treat: turkey and mayonnaise on a homemade roll. (wiping the drool from my face.)

Now, with that holiday in the past, it’s time to turn our heads toward the remaining holidays. In fact, Hanukkah ends today.  Then there’s Christmas, and Kwanzaa, and Boxing Day, and more than I can go over in a blog. Here’s a link if you want some of the history behind these celebrations.

More holidays means more food. More baking, more carbs, more of everything. It’s the time of year when I have to be the most careful about my weight and I’ve failed already. So I’m on a mission to find lower fat ways to enjoy December. I love the Taste of Home website and have gotten a few recipes off it. Here’s their healthy Christmas collection link. I hope you find something useful in the article.

Have a wonderful, peace-filled season, and a safe and happy entry into 2022.

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Happy Place!!!

Picture me dancing circles in the sand at the ocean on a blustery, rainy day. That’s my happy place. Rain and all. First winter getaway to the Pacific Ocean on the Washington Coast and I am sooooo happy top be … Continue reading

To Everything, There is a Season…

It’s been a strange month for me. After a very active and participatory summer, things have slowed down for us. Part of that is because the pandemic has worsened in our area, though it does finally seem to be leveling off. There’s also the fact that it’s getting colder and activities are moving inside. But mostly, it’s because I had so much going on, I needed a break. Lol. The timing is right, with Fall shedding her awesome colors.

Still, it’s weird to go from so much activity to almost none. It has, though, been good for my writing. Getting lots of words in. And digging out some recipes I haven’t tried for a while, like homemade chili and hamburger pie. I haven’t made hamburger pie in years and I LOVE the Bisquick crust to it. It’s a Betty Crocker recipe and you can find it here if you’d like to try it.

 We’re finally getting some rain in the Pacific Northwest and it is welcome. We were getting pretty parched. I wish we could share it with some of the areas that continue to be dry and arid. But we did get out for some fishing before our favorite lake closed to the sport for the year.

The rest of this month is quiet, with lots of writing tasks to get through, including an intensive workshop I signed up for on newsletters. That will keep me busy as I watch the leaves turn and dark comes earlier every day.

Since this is a sort of potpourri month for me, I’ll finish with my favorite quote:

“I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we’ve lived.” Jean Luc Picard

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Summer’s Ebb and Flow

August is probably my least favorite time of the year. Summer’s hottest month here where I live and everything takes on a dry, arid look. I am a creature of the Pacific Northwest and generally love the rain. Maybe not as much as Hurricane Ida just dumped on the southeast and east coast. My heart goes out to everyone affected.

In spite of not being my favorite time of the year, August was full of family and friends and joy. It flew by.

First was a camp out. Smokey air and 102 degree heat didn’t keep up from enjoying ourselves. It just meant we spent more time in the water.

Then we had kids and grandkids staying here for a week. Going from a household of two to a house full of six worked out really well. I loved the time with the grandkids and took them swimming and played games. It was awesome.

We watched our granddaughter get her white coat, her entrance into medical school. Congratulations to her!!!

Then came our grandson’s wedding. It was a beautiful day. Just cloudy enough to make the pictures pop with perfection. Such a joyous day, since they’d cancelled their wedding in 2021 due to Covid. Plus, our grandson built the arbor they were married under. A chip off his grandfather’s block. 🙂

Finally, we finished up the month with a close friend’s visit for several days. Yo and I met when our husbands were stationed in Germany and we’ve been friends for 45 wonderful years. The time apart falls away when we’re together and it’s like we live next door to each other. Comfortable and full of laughter and fun.

Now September is here and I’m more than ready to hunker down for a while. To watch the weather change and do our part to keep COVID-19 at bay. While we were careful at these summer events, we’re happy enough to just be home by ourselves for a while.

Except, the ocean is calling. So who knows. Maybe there will be Autumn adventures in our future. 🙂 I hope you’ve had a wonderful, laughter-filled summer.

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