Tag Archives: Over The Backyard Fence

To Cruise or Not to Cruise

We got to take a cruise last month! When COVID hit, we cancelled four cruises we had scheduled. Last month, we finally got to take a replacement cruise. And you know what? It was awesome. We did Alaska, which we’ve done twice before. This time, instead of doing the inside passage, we did a round trip Seattle which took a route on the west side of Vancouver Island.

Embarkation, settling in, and our favorite foods.

And we caught COVID. As careful as we were, masking on board ship and ashore, washing out hands, we still caught COVID. Thankfully, we’re vaxed and boosted so didn’t have a bad case. Cold symptoms and I had a headache for a few days. The worst thing was the lack of energy. That took a while to return.

And now that we’re past that, I have to ask myself if it was worth it.

The answer is: Yes.

We’ve always enjoyed cruising. You unpack once and see so many places. Even having been to Alaska, it was great to go again. Like greeting old friends. And we made some new ones on the cruise, which I’m very grateful for.

And now, looking forward, we’ll take more cruises. Maybe not for a few months. I’d personally like to see what COVID does this winter. But we’ll embark again as it really is our favorite way to vacation.

I hope you’ve been able to find a way to get away and relax. Retired or working, we all need a change of scenery once in a while.

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The Renovation is DONE!

In April, we started demolition on our old, paneled family room, intent on freshening it up with new carpeting and sheet-rock. But first, while we had a wall open, we had a chance to update the last of the old plumbing. Now, I know renovations don’t always go according to schedule. I get that. But complications with the plumbing delayed the family room we’d moved everything out of for over a month. Which meant our contractor went on to another job and had to squeeze us in a day here and a day there. Sigh.

So we didn’t move back into the family room until August. Four months later. And you know what?

WORTH IT! We are loving the “new” room and even managed to keep some of the clutter down when putting things back. A win-win.

Old:

New:

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Where the heck did July go???

Ack. My apologies. I completely forgot to blog in July. With good reason. We were crazy busy. But I dislike not keeping up with my responsibilities.

So, what all happened in July?

1.  My niece-in-law went into labor at 28 weeks with her twins. Very survivable, but it’s been scary times full of prayers. They were born at 2.6 and 2.8 pounds and needed breathing assistance. I’m happy to say they are both now over four pounds and off breathing assistance. Yay! These boys are fighters.

2.  My granddaughter is part of an elite Drum and Bugle Corps. They come from all over and meet once a month to practice. Then, before their performance tour, they met and stayed in a high school for 2 1/2 weeks, sleeping on the gym floor, to practice 10 hours a day. We had the pleasure of catching one of their performances (most of them were in California) and we were in awe. Playing music, walking backwards, counting steps. They were amazing!

3.  Another granddaughter, during her month off from medical school, got married. That was a joyous occasion. They looked wonderful and the weather was awesome for the outdoor venue. Our soon-to-be doctor and her fireman husband are so good together. Seeing them so happy is very rewarding and I’m smiling as I type this.

4.  We had a family campout the weekend after the wedding. Whew! July’s activities, by this time, were piling up and I was getting a touch tired. But this was an easy-peasy campout and we did a lot of relaxing and rejuvenating.

5.  Lastly, but certainly not least, I helped Marie Tuhart with her table at a Readers and Writers conference. That was a total blast. We got to chat with so many readers and other authors. Saw some wonderful table decorations and even sold a few books. I’ve already signed up for the next one on July 24, 2024. So if you think you’ll be in the Seattle/Tacoma area, stay tuned for more details.

So that was my month. Now, I’m grateful for some down time. I’m behind on a book, so need to seriously focus on getting that done and to my critique partners.

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer, with temperate weather and just enough on the calendary to make it fun.

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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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Women’s History Month

It’s Women’s History month, commemorating the vital role women have played in American history.

There are so many women who have helped shape our future, like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Harriet Tubman, and so many more it’s hard to find space for even the highlights. Here’s a couple of sites if you’d like to read about some of these amazing women.

https://time.com/5786065/womens-history-month-women-to-know/

I’m choosing to talk about one woman. My grandmother.

She didn’t shape worlds, but she was the rock that shaped our family and she taught us all what it means to be loved unconditionally. And also what was right and wrong and how to be a large family with opinions and differences, but to still remember the love. And what a sparkle in her eyes she had. 🙂

My grandmother, Lila, was one of seventeen children. She gave birth to eleven children, who gifted her with twenty-five grandchildren (including me!) and seventeen great-grandchildren.

That, in itself, is a legacy. But there’s so much more to Gramma Lila. She raised all those children during the war years and the depression. When her husband went off to war, then later, traveled for up to two years at a time for work, she called upon her strength and endured.

Devoted to her family, she loved having us visit and it never mattered if it was one of us or twenty of us. Case in point… Every Thanksgiving Gramma Lila cooked dinner for as many kids and grandkids as would show up. There quite often were more than fifty people sitting down for the meal. And right afterwards, she was back in the kitchen making turkey sandwiches in her famous rolls (that no one has ever been able to duplicate) for us kids to snack on.

(I’m the blue shirted girl hiding on the right. 🙂 )

She taught us that family is everything. That listening was important, as were compassion and understanding. I am who I am today because of her gentle tutelage.

And that pioneer spirit is the backbone of our family’s legacy. Last month, it was forty years since she passed away and we all still reminisce about the our wonderful grandmother and mother.

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My County’s American History Fair 2022

Jillian here. Happy February!

I was lucky enough to be part of the judging for the American History Fair in my county this year again. There were fewer entries which made me sad, but the students work really hard and it definitely shows. Some are in middle school and some in high school. This year’s theme was diplomacy and debate. I’m sharing a sampling of the displays I liked the most.

I wasn’t really sure what the La Belle Epoque one had to do with diplomacy or debate, but it was very visually appealing. I can’t recall what the paper the students had to provide with their display said, but I liked the board. LOL

Hoping everyone has a great month and stays warm– it’s even cold here where I am- 30s Fahrenheit in the nights and into daytime. Brr!

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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Gallery

Happy Place!!!

Picture me dancing circles in the sand at the ocean on a blustery, rainy day. That’s my happy place. Rain and all. First winter getaway to the Pacific Ocean on the Washington Coast and I am sooooo happy top be … Continue reading