Category Archives: Laurie Ryan

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!

Summer Ups and Downs

July was a good month here. We got to spend time with grandkids, like this zoo day…IMG_20160630_110546538

And celebrated another granddaughter’s 7th birthday…KT

I also released my first women’s fiction novel…Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]

And we’ve had the house and shop pressure-washed in advance of painting. Can you tell we had trouble picking a color?

This blog is word-poor, but picture-rich, as August started out badly for us and I’m kind of at a loss for words, to be honest. We’ve had another upset here with Mom falling yesterday. It didn’t seem like a bad fall, but it turns out she now has a compression fracture in her spine. That translates to a lot of pain. So we’re working very hard to keep her as relaxed as possible. And keeping a close eye on her because she’s not to be up by herself since the pain medications make her tired and a little loopy. Sigh. IMG_20160729_184314

It’s a real process, aging. I hope I’m as gracious as my mother when I start having more troubles. For now, we’ll be joined at the hip, at least until she’s clearer-headed. 🙂

And finally, just to end things on a happier note, here’s the Dude, laid out on the summer deck behind me as we’re having dinner. This cat LOVES summer!IMG_20160725_191533581

 

Have an awesome August, everyone. The last splash of summer, coming up!

Meditation and Willpower

Any who keeps an eye on this blog knows it’s been hard for me to lose weight. I climb on the ladder, off the ladder. I’ve struggled to stick to any significant lifestyle changes long-term, which means, I think, that I need to get inside my own head, either to figure out why I struggle or to shore up my sagging willpower.

So I’m about to try a new thing (for me) to try to focus myself more. Meditation. By the way, every time I type meditation, it comes out medication. Is that a Freudian slip? Lol. So, anyhow, I’ve been doing some reading about a couple of meditation (yep, had to correct the typing again!) techniques. One is called Five Good Minutes by Jeffrey Brantley, MD and Wendy Millstine. It’s a morning practice of attention (breathing mindfully), intention (decide on your needs/intent for this meditation), and acting wholeheartedly (embrace that intent completely).

The other one is a 4 part meditation technique I got from mindbodygreen.com where you spend five or so minutes on each of four different meditations.

  • Gratitude – focus on the blessings in your life.
  • Dedication – Pay it forward by focusing on someone you know who is struggling, visualizing good intentions for them.
  • Affirmation – Choose a quality you would like to strengthen in yourself and plug it into    this sentence:  “I am                               .” Like, I  am healthy, or I am filled with willpower. Recite the sentence over and over again.
  • Repetition – Repeat that one chosen quality from the last medication. Just one word.  Over and over again.

These are the two I’m thinking of trying, although the morning one probably won’t be very often. My mornings start out helping Mom. By the time I’m done with that, I’m so focused on my day, I dive right in. But doing the 20 minute one, say just before starting dinner, might be helpful, since it seems to be from about 4pm onward that I lose all willpower.

So here’s my question. Do you meditate? Do you have any particular meditations that are helpful to you? I’m looking for hints and tips to help sustain this practice and keep it going.

Thanks! I hope everyone who celebrates Independence Day July 4th had a safe and happy one, filled with family, friends, and laughter!