Category 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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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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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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Ahh, Summer…

July was a busy month and August looks to be busy, as well. It’s like everyone is trying to get stuff in before we have to hibernate again. I believe things are ramping up again with COVI-19, so I’m grateful to have chances to see family and friends before it gets any more dangerous.

I got to spend 4 days with my grandchildren while their parents took a vacay. Since the family had just returned from a family vacay, the kids were happy to just be home. We played games, went swimming and had lots of fun. And of course, hung out with Bo, the sweetest golden doodle I’ve ever met.

We went fishing twice. The mountain looks soooo bare after our record heat wave. Wow.

Our grandson got married. They had a parents-only wedding, so we weren’t there in person, but we’re very happy for them.

I have been using my outside office a lot and getting quite a bit of writing done. Or did, until my schedule caught up with me.

We celebrated my sister-in-law’s banner birthday and my baby brother’s retirement from the day job.

Good friends visited from out of state. And, most recently, our 12-year-old granddaughter spent a few days with us. We swam, went to our local wildlife park, and ate lots of birthday cake for her birthday.

Oh, and we took author pics. She and I are writing a book. Her ingenuity and imagination, my editing skills. It’s been fun to work together on it and, if it ever gets published, I figured we needed good pics to show off, right?

So, after a busy month, I rolled right into another busy one. I’m working hard to be careful and am grateful that almost all of my extended family has been vaccinated. But come September, I’ll probably be more than ready to isolate for a while. 🙂

I hope you’ve had a summer filled with laughter and hugs. Careful hugs. Enjoy this time while we have it. I’ll leave you with a quote from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann:

“Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And wether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

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Ahhh, Summer…

First of all, Happy Fourth of July to all the USA folks who just got done celebrating it. And Happy (belated) Canada Day to our northern neighbors.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have a fairly temperate climate. We get snow in winter…sometimes. We get rain. And we have well-rounded seasons. What we don’t normally get is over 100 degrees in the summer. Last weekend, we hit 110 in places. That’s unheard of around here, and with so many people not having air conditioning, it was brutal.

Hubby and I were lucky. We have air conditioning. Put it in a few years ago when we hit 100 degrees five times in one summer (another very rare occurrence.) So we were able to weather the heat fairly well, though we got a little worried about how hard that A/C unit was working! I sat on deck and did some work in the mornings before the heat got bad, then it was inside for the rest of the day.

This is me, the one time I stepped outside late afternoon. It was 105 degrees and I didn’t stay out there for long. I’d never do well in a torrid climate. Yikes!

On a slightly different subject, I was recently at my grandson’s house visiting. Their backyard is torn up, so we sat in the front yard for an outside visit. It made me realized that I never see people sitting out front anymore. Houses uses to have big porches and people would sit there and visit, greeting folks that walk by. Does that happen anymore? Most of our outdoor entertaining and visiting is done in our back yard. That seems to be the way things are these days. It’s kind of sad, to be so sequestered. I like my neighbors. I just don’t see any of them very often because we’re all in back yards. Lol.

Well, I wish you all a wonderful July, full of sunshine and just enough rain to keep things green. And full of laughter, love, and enough work to make your time off precious.

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