Tag Archives: Over The Backyard Fence

Living on the “economy” in 1976

***WARNING*** Badly preserved pictures ahead.

This month, for some people, is devoted to Oktoberfest. I drink beer, so I get it. Especially since I’ve had the privilege of going to the original Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. I was way too young to recognize that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was 21. And I only drank wine then. So if we hadn’t of taken a bus that day, I’d have been the designated driver. We didn’t find the one little tiny wine tent until about 7pm. Lol.

I went to Kitzingen, Germany to join my then husband. It was an experience that I learned so much from and I am so grateful for my time there. He was a Spec 4 in the Army, so not high enough in the chain to get base housing. So we lived “on the economy” as it was called. We had a small apartment above a very nice German family.

I was five months pregnant when I flew there. I scared the wits out of my husband because I got there and slept for twenty hours.

What am I grateful for?

  1. That we had no car, so I walked the two miles into base two or three times a week. There was a bus that would take us grocery shopping and to do laundry, thank goodness.
  2. That it’s okay to not trust a taxi driver on the autobahn. We never got in an accident, but boy, sometimes, it was close!
  3. That we had no running hot water. I learned to stoke a boiler under the hot water tank with paper, wood, and coal. And to plan baths because it took two hours to warm up enough water for a bath. Oh, and one night, when my husband was in the field with his platoon, the pregnant me got stuck on that floor. Stoked the fire, then couldn’t get up. Sat there for about the two hours it took to heat the water. That was the best bath ever!
  4. That we couldn’t just turn a switch and have heat. I learned how to pour oil into our heater, and how to keep track of how much oil we had left. Taught me to keep my house stocked.
  5. That I met Yolanda. In 1976. And we have been best friends ever since. I was pregnant and alone a lot of the time, with my husband out in the field. She’s my age and managed to be my friend, confidant, shoulder, and mother.
  6. That one of my daughters was born there. Definitely the best part of this whole trip.
  7. That, when I got off the plane after a year with my eight-month-old daughter, the nice Captain helping me with all my stuff, after a 9 hour flight, looked down through the customs window at all the people waiting there. There were a lot. He asked me which ones were my family. I say “see those three on the right?” “Yes,” he said. “Well, everyone but those three are my family.”

You see, I had the first grandchild born in the family and they’d only seen her in pictures for eight months. So they all showed up at the airport.

Yes, Germany will always be a special place to me. My husband and I did not stay together, and I’m happy for almost 30 years now with my soul-mate. But my first husband and I had a good life while we were together and he made sure I remembered our time in Germany with happiness. I do. I treasure the memories I have from that year, and will for the rest of my life.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
Newsletter
Website

Advertisements

Bavarian fun in the middle of Washington State

If you read this blog regularly, you know that my family goes away on a winter cabin adventure each year. Well, the women in my family also do a summer weekend of wine-tasting. Okay, it started as a wine-tasting event, and we really do test wines.  But it’s kind of evolved into a “sit by the pool reading and chatting” kind of weekend. Relaxing, and a great catch up time with my sisters, daughters, and nieces.

This year was our sixth, I think. For the past three years, we’ve been going to a wonderful little Bavarian village in central Washington State called Leavenworth. It’s pretty commercialized, but it’s also, well, just plain beautiful and fun.

In the 1960’s, trying to turn a failing community around, Leavenworth remodeled an entire town into a Bavarian motif to accent the alpine hills surrounding them. All businesses have to follow the Bavarian theme, even the McDonald’s. And that idea took off. Boy, did it ever. These days, it’s busy any day of the year, but that doesn’t stop us. They make it work well.

It’s easy to walk around. In fact, we park our cars and don’t get back in them until we’re ready to leave. Our hotel is about half a mile from the center of town, and easy stroll. The area is full of shops, places to get bratwursts, beer gardens,  and there’s live polka music in the park. Oh, and you can raft the river, too.

We always have fun. Sometimes, maybe a bit too much. Lol. But this year, we actually did some wine tasting again and I found some excellent wines to purchase.

It’s a fun weekend. Bonding as a family, relaxing before the end of summer. (I did not just say that phrase, did I?) And winding down from life, just for a couple days. I love my entire family, but I cherish this time with the women who carry on our mother’s rich heritage of love and family.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
Newsletter
Website

Steam Trains

#25 in Garibaldi, Oregon

My husband is a steam freak. He loves steam trains. Okay, steam anything. He grew up in the country where you bucked bales of hay for a dollar, you went to the Grange Hall for social nights, and everyone knew everyone. I could fill a year’s worth of blog posts just on the stories from his childhood. What’s most important to know is that family friends own their own steam mill and my husband has so many fond memories of those days helping out.

However, this blog isn’t about that so much as it is about a recent steam-related trip we took. There are quite a few places within driving distance of us that have running steam trains. So over the last several years, we’ve visited most of them. Actually, all of them now. There was one more, and we just got back.

Our very first steam train ride was local, within 45 minutes of home, and we got to enjoy that with Over The Backyard Fence’s own Lavada Dee and her husband. Then we began branching out, to Summerland and Port Alberni in British Columbia, and to Oregon. This most recent trip meant a 7 hour drive up and into the heart of British Columbia, Canada. It’s worth noting that just the drive itself was an exceptional piece of this trip. The scenery through the Cascade mountains is amazing. And the drive was also worth it to see the refurbished 2141 engine in action. This train sat in a park for 33 years, used as a toy for kids to crawl over and play on. Then, back in 1994 the newly formed Kamloops Heritage Railway spent the next eight years (and with 80,000 man hours) moving and restoring #2141 to its former glory. It’s been carrying passengers on an eight mile rail tour since the summer of 2002.

There’s nothing like the whistle of a steam train. And the sound of the train getting up to speed like The Little Engine that DOES, well, even I break out in a smile. The video below is from a trip to Oregon a few years ago.

On this trip, we got robbed. Well, not really, but three lady robbers rode up on horseback, guns (with caps, not bullets) ablaze. It was a great show, and an awesome finish to a warm, but fun day. Worth the drive, even though we had to come home through Friday traffic.

And, since it’s the last semi-local one that we know of, we’ll have to branch out to see more. Hmmm, I read that there’s a great steam train ride in Auckland, New Zealand. I wonder if I can convince the hubby…

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
Newsletter
Website

Listening to Each Other

I hesitated about whether or not to write about this subject, but I made a mistake recently and it’s been on my mind a lot.

The set up and mistake: Hubby and I went to the horse races, and overall, we had a fun day. But, it was very crowded. And everyone was saving seats, so every time we went to sit down on the bleachers, we got “sorry, we’re saving those seats.” My back hurts if I stand for too long a time and hubby’s back hurts no matter what, but is worse with standing. So I get that I wasn’t in the best frame of mind when I asked a man if the seats next to him were saved. His response was “My wife is coming back.” So I asked him if we could sit for just a couple minutes to rest our backs and he was fine with that.

At the other end of the bleachers, a lady offered to scooch together her family so we could crowd in with them. We were very grateful and scooched. I looked to be sure I left a seat for the wife of the nice man who’d let us sit there.

Mistake #1: I didn’t turn to this man and let him know we were staying, that the others had moved down to accommodate us.

Ten minutes later, the man leaned over to me and called me a liar. He reminded me I’d said I was going to sit down for just a couple minutes. I explained then that we’d crammed in with the others on the bench and I’d make sure I left a spot for his wife.

He said “I didn’t say I needed one spot. I said my wife was coming back.”

Mistake #2: I did what I accuse our government of doing. I didn’t listen. I was so stuck on the semantics of his statement vs. the one seat I left, that I couldn’t see past them to understand what the man was saying. And he was not listening to me, either. He just kept saying the same thing, and he called me a liar two more times.

We ended up getting up and moving to stand at the rail, because neither hubby or I wanted an out and out argument. But I spent a lot of time thinking about this. It’s how I learn, so I don’t make the same mistake again.

Neither of us were listening, but I am only concerned with learning from my actions. I did not try to understand his side of things. I intensely dislike divisiveness. Our government drives that dislike home on a regular basis. I keep telling my legislators that I wish they would listen and compromise. Very hypocritical of me since, when put in the same situation, I did exactly what they do. I followed the party line. My line.

What I should have done was 1) told him right away we were sharing with the other end, and 2) I should have listened when he got upset. Had I tuned into to his frustration, I honestly believe I would have simply apologized and moved, and I would have felt good about it.

For now, I’m hoping that putting my apology out on the airwaves is enough. This man was a stranger and I doubt I will ever run into him again. But I am truly sorry I didn’t listen. And I will try harder from now on to stop and think about what someone is saying before responding.

There. That’s it. My personal journey blog. Hopefully, I won’t have to post another one like this for a long, long time. 🙂

To Puzzle or not to puzzle. That is the question…

Do you like working jigsaw puzzles? I do. I don’t do it often enough, but when I do, it’s almost always a family or friend affair, which is most often the best part of puzzling. 🙂

So, when I open a new box, I start by sorting out all the edge pieces. (I know people that do those puzzles with no straight edge, but I like the definition of corners and size.) In a 1,000 piece puzzle, that takes some time. My friend’s daughter suggested, when done with a puzzle, putting the edge pieces in their own baggie. Is this cheating? I don’t think so. You’re not leaving them together, you’re just eliminating that initial sort. I like that idea!

The first puzzle was designed back in the 1760’s. John Spilsbury, an Englishman and cartographer, mounted a map on a thin sheet of wood and cut around the county boundaries to form “dissected maps” for educational purposes. But, I read that adult puzzling for entertainment didn’t become a fad until the early 1900s. Wood puzzles were cut manually using a jig saw. Hence the name.

Nowadays, the puzzles are cut with a die. A sharp, metal ribbon bent into the correct formation. It can take 400 hours to shape the die, then the cardboard adhered picture is sent through the die cut press and the die is forced down under high pressure, making the puzzle cut in one pass. The puzzle “sheets” go through a machine that breaks them up and they get packaged.

Of course, the future seems to be moving toward digital puzzles, but I like the tactile feel of physical puzzles. Not just because they help me clear my mind and think (great for problem-solving), but also for the times I work them with family (like at our winter cabin each year) or with a friend.

Speaking of which, this puzzle is one a friend gave to me. She and her husband visited this town, Manarola, one of the five towns that make up Cinque Terra in Italy. So, as we got together over the course of a week or two, I got to learn more about their travels and the town and area, along  with the usual discussions about kids and life. These are the life memories I love, spending time on a project like this with someone who’s friendship I treasure.

Manarola. Photo courtesy of Doug Benedetti

So I highly recommend grabbing a big board and a puzzle. Invite a friend or loved one to join you and start sorting. It’s good for the blood pressure, for the brain, for dexterity, and, well, I can’t see a down side to doing jigsaw puzzles at all. Except maybe the time suck. They can become addicting. 🙂

Happy puzzling!

The Allure of Snowbirding

Snowbirding is the art of moving with the climate. Heading south, to warmth, for the winter months, then north when the heat of summer hits. I’m not sure if snowbirding is a worldwide term or a West and East coast North America term, but this year, I finally understand the allure of it.

Lavada has been giving us an excellent look (here and here) at what snowbirding is all about. Being warm, when home is rainy and cold. Getting sunshine to feed the soul, while friends are mired in gray muck. And getting to know a new locale better than a few days vacation allows.

I’ve never really understood the need to fly south for the winter. I like my seasons. Rainy and cold makes me appreciate warm and sunny. And you may or may not have read one of my many posts about how I love to see snow falling.

This year, though, I got a taste of snowbirding. In early March, we went to Peoria, Arizona to catch a couple Seattle Mariners baseball spring training games. It was 40’s and cold and rainy here at home. And my sister in Philadelphia was all but buried under a Nor‘easter.

And here we sat…

Within half an hour of checking in, we were at the pool. Being lazy, soaking up sunshine, and watching balloons fly overhead.

We did make it to a game. Here’s the proof.

But only one of the two games we planned to attend. That second full day, we were right back where we started…

Then we got on a plane for cold and rainy home. We didn’t do any touring while in Arizona, so I can see how being there for a month or so would be nice. You can get the pool time out of your system the first few days, then see the sights.

Now, we were happy to be home when we got here, but the cold did seem colder and the rain did seem a bit excessive. Maybe, just maybe, there’s some snowbirding in our future.

I hope your Easter was happy and your Spring abounds with color and sunshine and warmth. 🙂

Gallery

Rock Painting

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Last month, I talked about our annual family winter cabin adventure. One of the things I forgot to mention is that we painted rocks. A while back, in my walks at a local park, I began seeing painted rocks in … Continue reading