Tag Archives: Over The Backyard Fence

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!

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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

Gallery

Annual Blog – Winter Cabin

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Well, it’s February. And my blog this time of year is pretty much a repeat of the one a year ago. Over The Backyard Fence started in September, 2010. Wow. I can’t believe this blog has been going for over … Continue reading

Goals or No Goals?

It’s New Year’s Eve as I type this blog. This past week has been focused on setting up my goals for 2018. Do you do goals? I’ve gone back and forth on them until the past few years. Mostly because every time I set them, I’d consider myself a failure for never getting them all done in the year.

Then I realized something, after a year of not doing goals. When I do goals, I get more done. So maybe I don’t lose all the pounds I want to lose. But I see that list up above my computer and try a little harder. And maybe I don’t get four books written (did I REALLY write that as a goal?) But I get 2 ½ done. And that’s more than the one I did the year I didn’t write goals.

And fellow blogger Tricia Jones gave me an idea at the beginning of 2017. She suggested writing 100 goals for the year. Yikes! That was intimidating. But I did it. Everything from losing weight to getting the windows washed and the closets gone through. At the end of the year, I’d accomplished 49 of those goals. And I got another 13 over the halfway mark. I honestly don’t think I’d have gotten that far without having taken a look at that list every month.

So I’m officially a fan of goals. And, being a list-maker (I take after my mother), it’s completely satisfying to have a list to work from and check things off of.

Whether you do goals or not, though, my wish for each of you is that 2018 is a safe, happy, and peace-filled year.

I’ll leave you with a picture of Dude, in a rare outside foray with snow on the ground. He REALLY doesn’t like the cold. Poor kitty. But we managed a rare white Christmas this year, so Dude’s mom (me) was VERY happy. 🙂 Laurie Ryan

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Growing Older is…Fun!

One of the fun things about growing older is that you have a lot of memories about celebrations. Thanksgiving, for instance. I grew up going to my Grandma and Grampa’s house. Now, I’m one of five children. My Grandma and Grampa had eleven children. So I’ve got a few cousins. And that house was chaos every Thanksgiving. Wonderful, crazy, memory-filled chaos. This picture is just one of the tables. There were, if I recall, four or five to fit us all in. During the day, we kids would play in the bedrooms and attic upstairs. Hide and Seek or whatever we could invent. After dinner, Grampa got out the projector and we all snickered and laughed at each other as he showed family slides.

I’m the one peeking out from behind my Aunt Irene in the red. My mother is sitting across the table from me, in black.

Once I began having kids of my own, we had our own Thanksgivings. With our children, inviting our parents, family, and friends. Tables set for as low as seven and as many as eighteen. Each year as much fun as the last.

Now, as a parent of five and grandparent of eight, the baton has officially been passed. Oh, we’ve been mooching, er, getting invited to our children’s houses, or our siblings houses, for a few years. But this year was a first. We were invited to our grandson’s house. Wow.

It was small by our family’s standards, only eight of us. But that meant we actually got a chance to talk, instead of flying by with rolls or mashing potatoes over a story. It was one of the nicest holidays I’ve had. And the best part is the two pictures below. My grandson baked and brought a pumpkin pie to Thanksgiving at our house when he was a teenager. This year, I returned the favor, bringing pies to his house. Full circle.

Our children are fairly spread out and we’ve decided to start traveling for as long as we’re able, spending Thanksgivings with them each in turn (if the weather permits.) So I know there are more fun holidays in store.

If you celebrated Thanksgiving, I hope the dinner was great and the conversation lively. If you didn’t, at least you didn’t gain the weight the rest of us did!  And my wish to you all is a holiday season filled with love and peace and laughter.

Happy American Thanksgiving (11/23/17)
Happy Hanukkah (12/12-20/17)
Merry Christmas (12/25/17)
Happy Kwanzaa (12/26/17-1/1/18)

And a very safe and hope-filled New Year (1/1/18)
Laurie Ryan and family

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Pot Pourri

So…I’m at a complete loss as to what to talk about this month. Lol. Does that ever happen to you? I’m a total blank. Lol. So I’m going to keep this short and sweet with a Dude pic and a funny to hopefully give you a smile for the day…

Dude is currently not a happy camper. He loves being outside, and loves hot weather. Our weather in the Pacific Northwest has turned toward Fall almost overnight. So now he sits in the window and ponders all his summer memories, then sighs and comes for a cuddle to warm up. Poor kitty. I think it’s going to be a long Fall and Winter for him. 🙂Dude

As for the funny, I’m not sure if the television show Big Bang Theory is world-wide or just a US show, but it’s a favorite of hubby’s and mine. So I thought I’d share some funny outtakes with you. Have a wonderful October! I hope you enjoy the warmth of your furnace or fireplace, the oranges and reds of Autumn wafting down on a breeze, and the company of a good cup of cocoa, tea, or whatever warms you from within. And I pray that your weather is temperate, not harsh.

Happy Fall!!!