Tag Archives: Laurie Ryan

An Emotionally Uplifting Summer

It’s been a fun month, even if it has been busy. I’ve been working hard on a new fantasy story and it seems like there’s been family event after family event. We have two spare beds in our house and I’ve been washing sheets like there’s no tomorrow! But it’s all been fun.

We held a family reunion at my brother’s house to celebrate what would have been Mom’s 93rd birthday. It was a lot of fun and visiting and catching up.

Hubby and I showing my aunt how the “photo booth” worked. 🙂

And we released balloons in Mom’s favorite color (purple) in her honor. We’ve always said that when Mom passed, she was finally with the love of her life, our beloved step-father, who passed away in the early 90’s. Well, two of the balloons released knocked up against each other and their strings entwined. They stayed that way all the way up until they were out of sight. It made us smile as we thought of them as Mom and John holding hands. 🙂 Have you ever had a moment like that? Where something random happens and it fills you with such a feeling of love? It’s an amazing blessing to be able to have that happen.

Also on the fun front, we went to see Neil Diamond in concert. Again. Must be about my fifth time. Two years ago, my daughter took me for a “banner” birthday. I blogged about that here. This time, we got my husband to come, along with another daughter and her husband.

You know…that man is 76 years old now and still doing concerts. Every other day during his tour. At 76! Wow. I hope I’m that active when I’m his age! I have to admit, he was moving a little slower. But that voice of his is as amazing as ever, along with his ability to fill a crowd with joy. He made us all feel special. He is a very special man with an amazing talent and I’m so glad I’ve gotten to see him so many times.

Now we’re in a heat wave here in the Pacific Northwest. A week or so of highs in the 90’s (32’s in Celsius numbers).  That’s really warm for us in the summer. We rarely get 100 degree days, or even approach them. So this is going to be a hot, hot week. We are lucky enough to have air conditioning. It doesn’t make it easier to sleep at night, but the days are much more comfortable, and we’re very grateful for that.

I hope you are all having a fun, fun summer. And staying cool in the heat, or embracing the sunshine. Whatever you love to do, this is the time to do it.

Summer rocks!

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Preserving Our Planet

One of the coolest things about writing, well, anything, is the increased awareness you gain about the subject your writing about. If it’s a family history or memoir, you invariably learn more about yourself or your family. If it’s fiction, which is what I write, I try to pick an underlying subject that stretches me, makes me learn more.

I selected a schooner as a setting for the first book in my Tropical Persuasions series, and in the process of writing it, I learned a lot about sailing. Even got to spend four days on a working schooner. For Northern Lights, I learned a lot about the Alaskan indigenous people. In Show Me, I learned about the resilience it takes for a family to survive cancer.

I’ve recently branched out from my romance genre and am working on a series that is a post-apocalyptic fantasy. The further into writing this series I get, the more I want to know about what I can do to help preserve this planet for future generations. So in my spare time (yeah, right, when do we have that???) I’ve been reading blogs and checking out ways to reduce my personal footprint on this earth. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to disappear, and I sure as heck want to be remembered when I’m gone. But I’ve wanted to know what things I can do to recycle, reuse, and protect.

We all know the usual stuff, like changing out light bulbs to more efficient ones, driving our cars less,  turning the water off while we brush our teeth, or using a refillable water container. Below, I’ve listed a few things that either taught me something, were an idea I didn’t know, or just plain made me laugh.

  • Stir your coffee with a stick of dry pasta (like spaghetti) instead of a stir stick.
  • Take your car to the car wash (they use less water than washing at home)
  • Use organic, homemade pesticides. Click here for one of many websites I found that talk about homemade pesticides.
  • Soap nuts as laundry detergent – I’ve never tried this, never even heard of it, but these berry shells have saponin in them, which works as a natural surfactant. Click here to read an article that talks about them.
  • Clean up with vinegar. It’s a natural way to kill bacteria, germs, and mold. Click here for an article that talks about all the ways you can use vinegar to clean.
  • Bamboo, the fastest growing plant on earth, making it more sustainable, isn’t just for floors. It’s a biofuel, can be used to make clothing and towels, even disposable diapers. Eco-friendly diapers. Wow.
  • Unplug what’s not being used. Plug things into a power strip you can turn off when not in use.
  • Use glass, silicone or ceramic dishes in oven – more efficient and reduce cooking time.
  • When landscaping, use native plants.

And my two favorite ideas for staying warm in winter…

  • Invite friends over – they generate heat.
  • Cuddle up with your honey or your pet.

It’s been fun reading about the different ways to help. I’m interested in trying the vinegar thing. Hoping it doesn’t make my whole house smell that way, though. And the soap nuts intrigue me. I might have to give them a try, too.

I hope you have a relaxing, sun-filled sun-filled summer and get a chance to enjoy everything that is good about our planet.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Website

Mt. Rushmore – Bucket List Item – CHECK!

I had the awesome privilege of visiting Mt. Rushmore in May. I have wanted to take a road trip for the longest time, and this stop was top of my list.

Late last year, I started writing a young adult fantasy series and I set it around Mt. Rushmore. My husband swears I used that setting to get him to go there with me. Personally, I thought it was a great place to set a post-apocalyptic fantasy. It had nothing to do with how much I wanted to visit and now had a reason to. Really. Well, sort of.

Hubby, who doesn’t like road trips, gave me the greatest gift this year. Nine days on the road. Different sights every day. We combined a couple things. First, he spent 3 years in the Air Force stationed in Glasgow (Northwest Montana). So we went there first and I finally got to see all the things he’s been talking about for thirty years. Like Fort Peck dam, which is an almost 4 mile long earthen dam.

Then we headed south. To Sturgis (motorcycle museum)…

To Deadwood (Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane’s graves)…

Caving (where we got a flat tire driving out of the place)…

And finally, to the mountain that made it all possible. There isn’t a single picture that does this site justice. It’s larger than life and I loved it!

We also found the picturesque little lake (Horse Thief Lake) near Mt. Rushmore that my fantasy village is set near. It was so cool to see it come to life. And as soon as I got home, I started updating descriptions in my story. I even changed my hero’s eye color to match the deep green of the lake.

After wonderful weather all along, a storm caught up with us as we drove west to come home. First, in the form of pounding hail, then in snow. It made for some crazy driving conditions and we got stopped for a couple hours in a pass due to jack-knifed semi-trucks.

Even that didn’t diminish the fun I had on this trip. Hubby’s back did okay (not great, but okay) and he’s really glad he went. The only regret I have is that I realized an author friend I admire, Allie K. Adams, lived near our route home, but the snow meant cancelling the hastily set up plans to visit.

We’ll just have to plan that visit for next year. After all, we did start talking about Yellowstone National Park on the way home. I wonder if I can tweak my series so it encompasses that area, also. Lol.

I ❤ road trips! I hope you get to do something you ❤ this spring or summer, too!

 

Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia!Has anyone had an opportunity to see the movie or stage play, Mamma Mia? The play has been on my bucket list for a few years and when I saw they are in their farewell season, I knew I HAD to go. I just took a look and they have a global tour going on also, including the UK.

The movie is great. Who knew (before this movie) that Meryl Streep could sing so well! In fact, I know she must had had to work really hard to not sing well in the Florence Foster Jenkins movie. But I digress.

Mamma Mia, in my opinion, is fun for any age. It’s uplifting, FUNNY, poignant, and energetic. For me, it carried a huge dose of nostalgia, too. I grew up in an era when ABBA’s music first gained attention. I cannot tell you how often just about any of ABBA’s songs would come on the radio and my friends and I would break out in song. Yes, we even had hairbrush microphones on occasion. 🙂 It makes me smile each and every time I think about it, so when the tickets came available, I snapped a couple up.

I live near Seattle, but rarely, if ever, drive into the city. It’s crazy busy, as you can imagine, and I’m a small town girl at heart. So my sister and I took the bus into the city so we didn’t have to drive. That didn’t mean that we didn’t have ABBA blaring in the car on the way to the bus depot, though. (And home.)Waiting for Mamma Mia!

After a couple hours shopping, we settled into our seats. Once the curtains opened, we were transported to another time and place. We laughed, cried, and yes, sang! One of the best parts of this play was the ending, which turned into a dance party. We were all standing, clapping, singing, and dancing, not easy to do in a theater filled with seats.

It was totally AWESOME!

So I hope, if you smile when you think of ABBA’s music, that you get (or have had) an opportunity to see this stage play. If you don’t, or if ABBA isn’t your thing, I hope you put on some music that is and dance around the house with a hairbrush for a microphone. Because sometimes, we all need to feel young again, eh?

Thank you, ABBA, for all the wonderful memories!

If you want more information about Mamma Mia!, click here. And here’s a piece from the movie to lift you up for the day:

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.