Category Archives: Laurie Ryan

Settling In

Life has offered us another opportunity…a metamorphosis or iteration of what normal is for us. Wow. That’s sounds pretty philosophical, doesn’t it? At any rate, the change in our lives is that my mother has come to live with us.

The reason for that isn’t great…it’s her health. But she stabilized and settled in and just this past week, we brought out her own bedroom furniture and made it a permanent thing. It’s definitely a change, for us and for her. And yes, there’s downsides. But the positives far outweigh the extra work involved.

I am getting to know my mother, whom I’ve held in such high regard for so many years, better than I’ve ever had an opportunity to before. I’m finding out she’s not perfect. She gets cranky, especially when she’s tired or patronized. But she’s also gracious and generous with her thanks and compliments.

She has a sweet tooth and is a definite desert person. Friends and family keep bringing her chocolates, which she proudly tries to share with us. I hate to say no, because I get the sense it’s something she’s able to offer us in this day and age when we are the ones getting her everything she needs.

She’s very particular about what goes where, and a bit of a clean freak. Must be from all those years of having us five messy kids around, huh?

She’s always been kind when speaking of others, but I never realized it was a mindset, not something she remembers to do. Mom genuinely sees the good in people.

And she’s as grateful for us as we are for her. We are truly blessed. I also love that I have 4 siblings. This isn’t just something my husband and I took on. My brothers have been moving furniture out here as needed and bringing dinner out to save me a night of cooking and to visit. My sister comes to stay so we can get regular breaks from the duties of having someone to care for. And my other sister, who lives on the other side of the states, is in constant touch, providing moral support to Mom and to us.

So it works. It really does. I don’t know if we have a month, a year, or more with Mom. And I know there will be tough times, both with the day-to-day stuff and when her health declines again. But for now, life is good. :)

Now if we can just get these darn cats to get along. Getting two solitary older cats (Mom’s and ours) to cohabitate isn’t exactly easy. I walk around the house with a spray bottle in my hand, ready for the next spitting and hissing fight.

So I hope your 2016 is going as well as ours so far, or even better. Because life is very worth embracing for every moment we can squeeze out of it.

With Mom last year on Mt. Rainier.

With Mom last year on Mt. Rainier.

Annual Winter Cabin weekend

Completely missed my blog today. Am overwhelmed with things on my to-do list, but that’s still no excuse. Especially since it’s my annual family Winter Cabin Weekend blog! This was our 14th year doing this with our kids and grandkids.

We had awesome snow. Got some snowshoeing in. Played games. And just had a spectacular time. I’ll have to let the pictures show the story. I apologize for the short blog. I am trying to find a balance between life and having Mom come and live with us and we’re still in the early stages…

What’s on Your Refrigerator?

As soon as I came up with the idea for this blog, I realized it might not apply as much anymore. In the day and age of stainless kitchen appliances, there may just be more refrigerators with nothing on them than there are fridges covered in life and magnets.

But I’m still going to ask the question. What’s on your refrigerator? Here’s a picture of mine, well, of the front, at least. The side is covered in grandchildren’s art.

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There is inspiration, like the saying:
“Today, I will go with the flow.” (Something kind of hard for me to do, so I need reminders.)
Or the picture of our granddaughter, who was a princess in our local Daffodil Festival. (A reminder that we can do anything we set our minds to.)

There are things to make us laugh, like the Optimist cartoon or the magnet from Roslyn, Washington that says:
“Weekend Trail Pass $50
New Hiking boots $200
Seeing firsthand that bears really do S%$t in the woods PRICELESS.”
(I know. I’m proving to you that I’m a little warped.)

And there are reminders of some of the best places we visited. Like Alaska, which will always have a special place in my heart since I saw the Northern Lights there. And Banff, Canada, where I bravely fought my fear of heights and got on the gondola. And Gulfoss Waterfall in Iceland, for finally doing something off the beaten path.

There’s a reminder of my husband’s love of steam trains, and even a magnet from Dubai from my world-travelling bird-nerd friend. And of course, one of my loves…a bottle of wine. :)

Yep, there’s lots of life on this fridge. And this is the streamlined version. A few years ago, I cleaned as many magnets off as I left on so I wouldn’t look totally trailer trash when folks came to visit. :)

Because of those showcased moments, I smile every time I open the fridge. I’d love to be able to say it helps me NOT open the fridge. I’m not that lucky. But it lightens my mood to look at it. And anything that makes me stop and remember a good moment or two is, well, very good for my soul.

So my fridge will probably always be covered with bits and pieces of life’s moments. And I hope your fridge is full of the fingerprints of life. If it can’t hold magnets, I hope you have a wall or table somewhere that brightens your day whenever you look at it.

Thankful…

While Thanksgiving is the time to talk about what we are thankful for, I have an especially important reason to be talking about it now, as Christmas nears.

You see, a month or so before Thanksgiving, on October 20th, to be exact, our 91 year old mother took a health turn for the worse. Her heart decided it didn’t want to work right anymore. And because of that, she’s had significant breathing issues (and looming kidney issues from the meds).

I am happy to say that, after 53 days of hospitalization and rehab center living, Mom has rebounded significantly. Her life has changed. She can no longer live independently as she was. And her time driving is now done, too. But that doesn’t stop Mom.

Last week, she reached the point in her strength recovery that she was able to move in with hubby and I. It’s been several days of adjustment (and a few sleep-deprived nights) but things are starting to settle into a pattern. She’s getting around well with her walker and home health is coming in to help us all adjust to this new normal.

I think it’s going to work. And I’m so grateful for this continued time with Mom. We all are.

What amazes me the most is how gracious she has been about all these changes. Not perfect. She gets down sometimes, and cranky others. But she has helped us make decisions that had to be made with a gentle strength and positiveness that I can only pray I mimic when my children have to deal with these issues where I am concerned.

We’ve also been trying to integrate two cats who have never had pet-mates in their home…our Dude and Mom’s Mia. They are co-existing, but not happy. They’ve claimed ends of the house and things get dicey when they meet in the middle. I’ve been leaning heavily on Lavada for cat advice and am grateful to her friend who runs a cat re-homing organization called Feline Friends for all the advice and help. (If you want to see some adorable cats…and their equally adorable descriptions, check them out.)

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So from our entire family (both human and animal) to yours, we wish you a holiday surrounded by family and friends, filled with smiles and peace and that rare sense that all is right in the world.

Because all is right in ours at the moment and we would love to share that sentiment with you. :)

Wedding Cake Church

090706-38-St-Brides-71Ever wonder where the iconic wedding cake shape came from? Well, some say it came from St. Bride’s Church. A few years ago, my husband and I got to do  whirlwind tour of London as part of a cruise. One of the things we saw was this church, built  by Christopher Wren, a noted architect of places like St. Paul’s Cathedral and Hampton Court Palace. I could write an entire blog just on his buildings. Wow.

This blog is about one church, though. Named after St. Brigid, who was also called Bride, it’s known nowadays for it’s shape, but has real staying power. I was reading through the history and it’s been around in some form or another for about 1,000 years. It was destroyed many times, most notably in the Great Fire of 1666 and the bombings of 1940. It was gutted then, but the main structure was saved and then rebuilt.

So how did wedding cakes get designed after this church’s spire? The story goes that in 1703 a baker’s apprentice named Thomas Rich fell in love with his boss’s daughter and asked her to marry him. In designing an extravagant cake for the occasion, he used St. Bride’s Church for inspiration.

How cool is that? The only picture I got was a bad one, so I’ve linked the picture above to the  main site in case you’re interested in reading more about it.

Six-Word Memoirs

A few years ago, a friend gave me the coolest book called Six-Word Memoirs. originalsix

It’s a compilation of life stories filtered down to only six words and it’s amazing. It’s based on a website that SMITH magazine launched in November 2006 and now has over 800,000 memoirs listed.

The intro to this book has the best six-word memoir I’ve ever heard, indicating a legend that Ernest Hemingway accepted a challenge to write a story in six words. He came up with:

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Oh. My. Gosh. That is powerful and sad and it really is an entire story in a few words, isn’t it?

I have given it a lot of thought over the years since I read this compilation. It took a few iterations, but I finally came up with my memoir:

“Human, but surrounded by the best.”

That’s what I would say about my life. What would you say?

Spring Cleaning…in the Fall?

Lately, I’ve been into cleaning cupboards. Maybe it’s the change in the weather, but I’m Spring cleaning in Autumn. And since we’ve lived here for 26 years and I’ve gone through these cupboards and closets before, it always amazes me that I find more STUFF to get rid of. Especially since we’ve been working harder to not buy a bunch of stuff that we just won’t use. We’ve all done this, right? Bought something just knowing we’d use it, only to have it molder away in a cupboard or closet? Please tell me I’m not the only one. Lol.

Anyhow, I started with the kitchen. And apparently there were a couple cupboards there I ignored for a year or two…or ten. Like the spice and baking cabinets. I found powdered milk that had turned orange. Cornmeal that had turned rancid and white. A vanilla pudding box that didn’t even have a use by date on it, it was so old.

I’m a pretty clean person, so I was astonished at the amount of ancient stuff I found. Thankfully, going through the rest of the kitchen was less eventful, with nothing that pre-dated me. :)

Next was our clothes closet. That’s not too bad, since I go through it twice a year to move the summer or winter clothes to the front or back. But tucked in the back are several formal outfits from various events (cruises, weddings, etc.). We’ve become such an informal society here in the Pacific Nortwest (is it that way everywhere?) that I’m not sure I’ll ever wear any of them again. But I keep them anyhow, because each time I open the clothing bags to see what’s in them, I remember. My daughter’s wedding…that cruise dinner where we stayed past our welcome because we were having such fun with our tablemates…the Christmas or New Year’s dances spent with my husband. Honestly, I don’t care if I ever get rid of them. Sometimes, the memories of worth that little bit of space they take up.

How about you? Are you hunkering down for winter or cleaning out closets? Is it fun to open a door and glimpse the memories? Or do you have orange powdered milk in your kitchen cupboard?

As I close and head out to clean yet another closet or drawer, I’d like to wish every person out there who’s protected our way of life a very Happy Veteran’s Day on Wednesday. Thank you for serving.