Category Archives: Laurie Ryan

Scrapbooking…again?

I think I’ve blogged about scrap-booking before. It’s hard to remember. In fact, that made me curious about some of our site statistics, so I went and looked. Did you know that Over The Backyard Fence’s first blog came out on 9/8/2010? Almost 7 years, with pretty much the same core group of bloggers, we’ve kept this conversation going. And we’ve been viewed over 35,000 times! That is pretty darn cool!

However, that wasn’t what I meant this blog to be about. I used to scrapbook photographs but I rarely print photos now. It’s just to easy to show them or send them digitally. And I can keep them organized and use much less storage space. 🙂 I do make sure I save pictures to at least two different places, though, just in case. I tend to use flash drives for my photo back. Do you print pictures? Or scrapbook?

I’ve got a lot of supplies from my scrapping days. And purchased cards have become really expensive. I bought a card for my hubby for Valentine’s Day…it was $9.99 (USD). Holy Toledo! So it seemed a perfect match to put my existing supplies and my meager skills to good use and for the past year or two, have been making cards instead of buying them. (Mostly.)

I find that I spend more time thinking about the person the card is for than if I stood in a store searching. And it’s peaceful time, time for wonderful memories to surface. So for me, this is a win-win situation.

Below are a few of the cards I’ve designed lately. Simple, but effective. And fun to make.

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I hope you all have fun hobbies for those dreary days and to make you take time from the grind of daily life. And don’t despair about the weather. Spring is just around the corner!

Fifteenth Annual Cabin Weekend

It’s time for my annual family cabin blog. Since we started renting a cabin each winter back in 2002, this was our fifteenth annual weekend! This year was also extra special because we needed to heal as a family. After losing my mother last August, my Dad passed away in early January. He was 89 going on 16, and we called him the Energizer bunny because he had so many medical problems, but just kept going, and going, and going. 🙂 I will miss my pinochle partner, but I am so happy for the life he had that I got to be part of.

Anyhow, all the sadness in our lives made our time together at the cabin even more special. All five of our kids made it this year, as well as 3/4ths of our grandchildren. So we were eighteen strong. This particular cabin has a bunk house with a gym, which was kind of a life-saver this year as it was bone-chillingly cold. Our first night there, it got down to one degree Fahrenheit (minus 17 Celsius). And that was without the chill factor. Brrrr.

16105900_10210773601169826_5231261545443343314_nSo there was a lot of badminton, basketball, and volleyball playing. As well as dragging the youngest around the court on exercise mats.

p1120231Their laughter echoed through the gym and brought smiles to all.

We played games. Sorry, Farkle (aka Zilch or Ten Thousand), Hearts. Worked puzzles. Ate, ate, and ate some more.

16114462_10210773600489809_1145155353810621285_nSome even braved the cold to snowshoe and sled.

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I took this picture. That was about as much time as I wanted to spend outside this year. I love the snow, but picked up a bad cough right after Dad passed away, so needed to stay inside.

And we watched the deer and wild turkeys from our deck:

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Remember that crocheting project I was talking about? Here’s my granddaughter and I as I’m teaching her to crochet a headband in the colors of her favorite football team. Success!

16105515_10210773602849868_8282826178375859684_nWe didn’t take a group picture this year. We just relaxed and enjoyed each other. I did manage to corral the grandkids for a pic.

p1120244So another successful cabin adventure. I am more than grateful that we all still try to do this every year, and I hope we get at least fifteen more under our belts. 🙂 2017, for me personally, started getting better with that weekend.  I’m slowly moving my gaze forward and upward and am looking forward to many good things for the rest of this year. I hope you all are able to do that, also.

Catch Up Blog…

As this new year starts, I’ve been itching to organize my house, my life, and my thoughts. As part of this, I recently went back and looked at some of the things I’ve posted here. I feel like I’ve left some things hanging with regard to my blogs, so I thought I’d start the new year out with some closure.

I talked a lot about family memories as we cleared out Mom’s house in May. We were lucky because she got to help us with the process and they are memories I will treasure forever. Here’s a couple pictures of her wedding dress that I thought you’d appreciate.

p1110961 weddingNeedless to say, her dress went back in her cedar chest for future generations to ooh and ahh over.

My July blog was all about how I was starting to meditate and I got some great tips from everyone on how to proceed with that. Sadly, I did not keep it up. I find it very hard to just sit and “be” without doing anything but thinking to myself. Which means I really need to get back to it, because I probably don’t relax enough. Lately, though, I’ve been focusing on getting outdoors for walks. It seems to be feeding my soul right now. However, I’ve kept “get back to meditating” on my 2017 to-do list, so don’t give up on me. I’ll tackle it again sometime.

In August, I posted pictures of our pressure-washed shop we were about to have painted. After agonizing over colors, we ended up choosing something very similar to what we already had. Here’s the before and after pics. We did both the house and this shop in the same color and have been very happy with it.

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In October, I blogged about the pampas grass in our backyard and how we usually lose at least half of our beautiful plumes by the end of October due to wind storms. Well, I’m happy to say that until two days ago, every single one of those plumes was still standing. We did finally lose five of them yesterday when a brisk north wind blew through. Has it been cold enough for y’all? We hit 16 degrees last night. Well below freezing. Brrrr.

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Lastly, I’ve successfully crocheted a hat and a headband I spoke of last month, in anticipation of trying to teach grandchildren this hobby. (Still haven’t completed the baby blanket I started 26 years ago, though.) Our cabin adventure with our kids is in a couple weeks, so you can bet there will be a future blog to let you know how that went. 🙂

Just for a little laugh as I close this out, here’s a picture of my parents and siblings and I from way back in…well, the picture dates it quite well, I’d think. I’m the one in red. The middle child. 🙂

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Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s hope 2017 gets better and better as it goes along.

Heirloom Crocheting…maybe?

p1120167I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on this blog, but I’m crocheting a baby blanket. It’s absolutely beautiful (I think) and is all single crochet, so it’s very dense and warm. This blanket has become somewhat of a family heirloom and I’m not even done with it.

How could that be? you ask. Well, because I started it with the intention of giving it to our eldest daughter in advance of our first grandchild’s birth. Ummm, that grandchild turns 25 years old next month.

Yep. I’ve been working on this baby blanket for 25 years. 26 if you count that I started it while she was still pregnant with our grandson. Sigh. I’m clearly not the most prolific crocheter. Lol. Honestly, it’s not that I hate crocheting or knitting, I’m just not…well, honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t finish it. I think I get frustrated. The picture doesn’t show my uneven ends or screwed up stitches (I hope), only the beauty of the pattern.

It’s kind of a beloved family thing, though, as I take it to our winter cabin weekend each year and work on it some more. They all enjoy seeing my progress. And I really am about one skein away from completing it. Good thing, too, since our grandson has had a steady girlfriend for about two years now.

But the thing I really need to explain is this picture:p1120156-3

Yep. You guessed it. I started ANOTHER crocheting project. 🙂 Our cabin adventure is coming up next month and we have a couple granddaughters who I thought would love to learn to crochet.  *crazy person speaking here* So silly me, I thought maybe I could teach them. Since they love football (different teams, though) I thought I could show them how to make beanies in their favorite team colors.

Before I can show them, I need to know if I can actually crochet one of these buggers. Hence the weird yarn in my hand. I’m happy to say that four days into it, I haven’t thrown it into the fire and grabbed the bottle of wine. (Not glass, mind you…bottle.) I’m still plucking away at it and I think it’s going pretty well.p1120164

And six days into it, I’m feeling a bit more confident. It doesn’t quite fit on my head yet, though…img_20161204_184746081

So wish me luck. If I can get this one done, I’ll be able to kick start their adventures into the world of crocheting. Maybe they’ll like it, maybe they won’t. But I’ll have shown them something that may well become an extinct practice one day soon. And I’ll have done something totally Grandmother-ish, which  makes me very happy.

I hope you all have an awesome holiday season and complete all your projects in time. Have a safe and happy entry to the New Year, too!

Memories: the Foundation of our Present and Future

I’m a day late with my blog, which means I need to make it a super special blog, right? So here is the picture that is my inspiration when I sit down to write stories, romance or otherwise.

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This is my Aunt’s wedding picture and I have been in love with it ever since I first saw it. To me, this speaks of happiness and family.  It is the perfect vision of the happiness of a wedding day, but is also so much about family.

My aunt is standing with her four sisters, in bridesmaid dresses hand-sewn by my grandmother.

My Grandma and Grandpa had eleven children. (I can’t even imagine that these days.) She raised them all pretty much single-handedly, because my grandfather traveled for months at a time working for companies who build dams all over the world. And she did an amazing job.

I have such fond memories of my grandparents, who lived close to us. Especially Thanksgivings spent at their house, where year after year we all gathered. Sisters, brothers, cousins, the whole lot of us. Tables would be hobbled together end to end through the living and dining rooms for a sit down dinner (with about 40 attending). Before dinner, we kids had the run of the upstairs. Hide-an-seek was the game of the day. Or games.

Dinner always included Grandma’s homemade rolls, which no one ever managed to duplicate after her death. I guess it was the special brand of love she infused them with.

After dinner, Grandpa would set up the projector and show pictures, mostly so we kids could laugh and tease each other.

It was a time of togetherness and love that has been the foundation of my life ever since. And I see that when I look at the happiness and love of these sisters.

I hope you all have memories, Thanksgiving or otherwise, that can make you smile each time you think of them. I am very, very grateful for mine.

Happy Thanksgiving month!

 

 

 

 

Historically Short-lived Plumes

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This is the awesome pampas grass we planted years ago in our backyard. I think I’ve mentioned that my sister was married in 1975 on the beach in front of an amazing growth of pampas grass, which is why I’ve always loved it.

For several years now, we’ve had a lot of plumes each September. They are so stately and beautiful. And they sway so nicely in the breeze.

The problem is that September breezes almost always give way to October winds. And storms. October seems to be one of the more volatile months here in the Pacific Northwest. Nothing like some parts of the country have, and there have certainly been some horrible weather issues these past couple years. For the sake of this blog, though, I’ll focus on here. Where I live, in the shadow of an awesome mountain.

So I’d say we lose half the plumes to windstorms by the end of October most years. The winds aren’t generally deadly, but we get an uptick in wind speed and in the amount of storms around here in October.

The most notable storm around here is the Columbus Day storm of 1962. (Yes, I was around for this. I hate dating myself that way, but there it is.) That storm began as Typhoon Freda in the South Pacific, weakened as it neared the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, then zipped straight to us, regenerating as it went. Gusts on the Oregon Coast registered close to 150 miles per hour. By the time it hit the Tacoma/Seattle area, it was reduced a bit. Wind speeds of 81 miles per hour. Unheard of around here.

The power was out everywhere. The only memory I have of that storm, other than clinging to my mother, along with my brothers and sisters, as we huddled together in our home and listened to that wind and felt the house shudder. Then Dad finally got home. The gash on his head validated his delay. He’d crashed the car trying to get to the house. I remember that moment as strongly as I remember my brothers scaring the heck out of me as we watched Jaws in the drive-in theater. But that’s another story entirely. (And great fodder for a future blog (growing up with siblings.)

A couple stories I researched about this storm:

Two lions owned by a man in Spanaway got loose and one attacked a seven-year-old child. He lived, thanks to his mother beating the lion off with…her shoe!

The Seattle World’s Fair was underway, including the brand spanking new Space Needle. As you know, it didn’t collapse. 🙂 But they evacuated everyone…except…the diners. They actually let them finish their meal before they asked them to leave!  Around the fair, loudspeakers announced that 80+ mile per hour winds were on their way. Some people left, some hunkered down in the largest building on the grounds to wait the storm out.

The biggest part of this storm lasted only a few hours, from late afternoon to late evening. But it left a lasting impression on me. And a lasting respect for wind. I live in a single-story house, not a two-story, for a reason. Lol.

This year, since El Nino has disappeared and La Nina didn’t quite show up, it’s considered a neutral year for us here in the PNW. That means it won’t trend in any specific direction. It could be calm (and is, most years). Neutral years are also our biggest storm years, like the Columbus Day storm. And flooding. Don’t get me started on that!

So here’s hoping October is calm and our plumes stick around through the winter. I hope you all have a peaceful entrance into Fall and a winter that is cold enough for cocoa, but not for checking out the survival gear. 🙂

 

Sadness and Love

I’m not sure what to write about today. I know what I need to start with, and that’s that last month, we lost our mother, Florence, at age 92. Sigh. There is a profound sadness in losing someone we were so close to. No way to get around that. But there were so many blessings that we have mostly managed to focus on all the memories. Mom didn’t suffer and her passing was peaceful. As well, we have a large enough family that we managed to have someone with her at the hospice facility 24/7.

Mom’s Celebration of Life turned into a weekend of hugs, happy memories, and love abounding, from the Friday night spaghetti feed at my brother’s to set up the tables to the Saturday service where over 100 people showed up to remember her. I might have dodged some of the harder work Friday and Saturday by getting in the pool with the grandchildren. They needed an in-pool lifeguard, I was certain of it. 🙂

We visited through the afternoon and well into the night, then again on Sunday before the out-of-towners had to leave. It was a weekend of stories, laughter, and tears and I will remember it always with smiles and love. We did it Mom’s way. Informal, relaxed, and with a lot of hugging.

So while sadness still fills a portion of my heart, there are just too many happy memories to let it take over. I’m grateful to my mother for everything she taught us, but mostly, I’m grateful for the love she surrounded us with.

Then n Now 2

scan0067I will miss her forever, but I will also smile each and every time I think of her.

So now it’s time to find a new normal, after eight months of taking care of Mom. I’m lucky, being retired from a 9-5 job. My writing and editing have been on hold for a while and I’ve promised myself to take September off to “process.” I’m dealing with Mom’s will and her remaining belongings and I just don’t want to push myself at all.

Well, I managed to fill an entire blog talking about Mom and myself and our family, so I guess any other subjects will have to wait for October. For now, I hope you all have an easy transition into Autumn. It seems to have already arrived here, even though there are 3 weeks left of summer. I am one of the minority (I think) who likes the crisp coolness of fall.

Have an awesome September, everyone!