Welcome to Mary Laudien's Blog

We all know someone who appears to have embraced their senior years in stride.(AM I KIDDING?) Rather, most of us are acquainted with those who approach the “DARK SIDE” kicking and panicked. My sister-in-law was in total disbelief that she qualified as an OAS (Old Age Security) recipient. YEP-she’s a SENIOR CITIZEN! She never ever expected her 65th birthday would actually arrive… DUH!

What do you do to help distract this loved one, who is hyperventilating over her BIG DAY? I know! You plan a surprise girls party for her the night before. Imagine not allowing her the time to perseverate about aging as she reaches that midnight pinnacle to the “OTHER SIDE”. Sounds easy, right? Just invite some of her best girlfriends over for tapas and cake. Pretty simple, right? Ordinarily, yes. With my sister-in-law? Not so much!

This fiery, self-assured LEO has to be in control! The first sign of trouble was when the ruse was planned with her husband, not her. He was instructed to let her know that they were invited out to our place for a glass of wine before a dinner on the patio at the Golf Course Restaurant. It was explained that this would be a pre-birthday distraction- just the four of us having a relaxing night out together. Her husband was implored to be STRONG and make it happen! (Translation: Don’t let her say no; she has a history of never letting others do anything nice for her.)

WELL, regardless of our believable story, I live to be surprised! All 12 women had been contacted and confirmed, and her close friends carried on with their birthday lunches to ensure her suspicious nature wasn’t alerted. Pretty easy-peasy, right?

NO WAY! First she called to say that she had invited her elderly parents to join us for dinner. I had to say, well no, they weren’t actually invited. At this point, the somewhat inflexible LEO said she had wanted to take us all out for birthday pizza and now I had wrecked her plan. I explained forcefully, that she could still do her thing with her parents on her actual birthday, but this was supposed to be a relaxing dinner with just the four of us. Not an early pizza lunch- which has become the usual. She wasn’t happy and wouldn’t let it go until she finally ended the call exasperated, telling me that I’d have to uninvite her parents.(Of course I didn’t…. Husband Ryan was sent to do the deed.) He told them that it was a special event at the Golf Course and we could only get a reservation for four.) Note that they weren’t told the truth; they’d blab- not intentionally, of course!

Disaster was averted,right? Oh no, stubborn LEO continued to harass her husband for answers. Why wouldn’t Mom and Dad be invited? We always celebrate together! Doesn’t Mary like my Mom and Dad? How could they uninvite my parents? (You get the picture…)

The ultimate craziness occurred when she called the Golf Course Restaurant to find out if a dinner reservation had been made and for how many, and was there a special dinner event happening that night?…. SERIOUSLY! Do you know anyone who would do this?

Incredibly, her husband did get her out to our place, albeit a little late (totally out of character for her). Who knows what she thought was going to happen, but I’m pretty sure she never envisioned the special gathering of women who enjoy her regal, strong personality. Our Queen Bee had an initial shock and then she had a blast. The first thing out of her LEO mouth was, “But I didn’t even get dressed up!” (Remember, Leos like to to be admired.)

What have you done?

What have you done?



Stylish LEO Senior- heavy-duty uplift bra, senior headband, licorice necklace...where's the cane?

Stylish LEO Senior- heavy-duty uplift bra, senior headband, licorice necklace…where’s the cane?





I know you all have surprise birthday party highlights (or nightmares)! Please share them with us. Just tell us about them in the Comment Section. If you enjoyed the post, please pass the link http://www.twocandobooks.wordpress.com on to others that you think might have a chuckle. I have to add that the Surprise Party ended up magical with our LEO enjoying herself amongst the most incredible women guests. And believe me, my “margarita- maker neighbor” was a huge highlight to our party, as well.



I know you’ve checked out some SUMMER READS on Amazon and noticed their banner at the bottom of each book ad, “Summertime is Book Time”. Summer is a perfect time to chill and have a stock of books/ebooks on hand to read. That’s why I’m making FRENCHIE X2- Follow the Blog (the ebook) available to you FREE over a 5 day period.

You’ve already read BOOK #1 of the Frenchie SeriesFRENCHIE’S BEST FRIEND- Follow the Blog, so don’t hesitate to read BOOK #2 and share the link to anyone who loves pets, belly laughs, relates to teenage angst, and the family drama of divorced and extended families.

From July 22nd-26th, go to http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007BG2ETG or in Canada, http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B007BG2ETG And don’t forget! If you don’t have a kindle, you can download the Free Kindle Reading App. Anybody can read Kindle books; even without a Kindle device with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets, and computers. Thank you Amazon for this!

Frenchie X2

Who said puppy ownership was going to be easy for a 13 year old? Juggling the responsibilities of caring for and training not ONE new French bulldog puppy, but TWO, while simultaneously keeping his reluctant, bamboozled mother on side is full on! And that’s to say nothing of Ethan’s challenge to maintain a watchful eye on his conniving, eccentric Grandmother!

Pierre and Sissy (the most adorable Frenchie puppies-ever) have a way of complicating Ethan’s life. Throughout the chaos, Ethan tries to sustain his friendships, balance schoolwork with his lucrative business, and continue chronicling the hilarious, frantic journey on his nightly blogFrenchie’s Best Friend. Possibly this hectic life as a new Frenchie Papa could become a bit overwhelming… (Possibly? DUH!)

Please take advantage of this offer over the next 5 days, to download the FREE kindle version of FRENCHIE X2- Follow the Blog. It’s my SUMMER READING gift to you! If you enjoy it, please send a recommendation to others and leave a comment about the book on the Amazon site. This helps others to find the FRENCHIE SERIES amongst all the other zillions of entertaining novels to choose from.

If you’ve been perusing the titles of books on Amazon, you will see the tag, “SUMMERTIME IS BOOK TIME” at the bottom of each of the titles’ ads. Like most people,we carve out more leisure time to read in the shade, poolside, or at a beach during the summer months. It’s also when you sign up your kids/grandkids into a Summer Reading Program at the library. As an author, its the perfect time to promote my Middle Grade Frenchie Series! These novels inspire tweens (ages 9-12) to read for entertainment. Readers relate to Ethan’s antics and scheming to own a bulldog, and realize that they too can write blogs about their passions.

I have a summer gift for you. I’m offering Novel #1 of the Frenchie Series, Frenchies Best Friend: Follow the Blog in a FREE E-BOOK PROMOTION for 5 days. From July 10-14, go to : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0053HQ0AO or http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0053HQ0AO . If you don’t have a kindle, no worries! You can download a free kindle amp onto your iPad or any other eReader devise.

Order FREE eBook -  July 10-14

Order FREE eBook –
July 10-14

Frenchie’s Best Friend is a quirky story of a determined tween-aged boy and some adorable Frenchie puppies. For fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, this heartwarming, contemporary novel is a madcap mash-up of deceit, pet ownership, family, and friendship drama. It’s a double helping of fun and laughs!
Remember: SUMMERTIME IS BOOK TIME! Enjoy a fun family read together!

If you do choose to participate in this FREE e-Book promotion, and would like to recommend it to others, please leave a comment on Amazon and don’t hesitate to send this blog link to other readers: http://www.twocandobooks.wordpress.com

paperback: Amazon or http://www.redtuquebooks.ca

paperback: Amazon or


Never ever did I aspire to be a gardener. What happened?
– We moved to beautiful Vancouver Island.
– We bought a home on a corner lot in a neighborhood where every yard could be featured in Fine Gardening Magazines.
– We purchased our home in January and never gave the yard a second thought…it was flat and looked somewhat pretty in the rain.
– We never questioned the low areas where the water pooled… or the lawns that produce mostly moss and quack grass… or the wild area in the depression filled with dead, sickly trees…
2015-04-14 15.34.022015-04-14 15.32.09
Smart husband, Ryan, decided to continue employment, realizing that our new property was going to be a challenge. He conveniently schedules himself off the Island (for business) whenever the heavy-duty gardening must be done. Who knew he was so devious? Well, let’s just say that most of April/May looked like this:
– A record year for moss. The (lawn- if you can call it that) had to be chemically treated (2X), thatched (4X), critically raked by hand (4X), treated with lime, and fertilized. And where was he? You guessed it- out of town!2015-04-14 15.29.52
– 3.5 yards of soil had to be distributed to all the shrub beds and the bald areas of the lawn. (This was accomplished after the entire yard had been weeded, which took so long that it was time to start the weeding procedure all over again!) Where was he? GONE! GONE! GONE!2015-04-14 15.30.16
– The highlight in the neighborhood was when our next door neighbor rented an aerator for his lawn and offered to aerate our lawns, as well.(Husband Ryan was on the mainland – GONE! Of course he was!) He totally missed the flocking frenzy of neighborhood men, caused by the unloading of this miracle machine. (Curiously, not one offered to pick up a rake….) And guess who’s lawn was deemed “aerator unworthy” due to lack of soil depth causing the spikes to hit rock? Apparently, “NEIGHBORS WHO AERATE LAWNS TOGETHER REMAIN GOOD NEIGHBORS FOREVER!” (Too bad GONE BOY missed the bonding experience!)
2015-04-14 13.54.11
Needless to say, there hasn’t been much time this spring to write blogs! The cedar hedge still needs trimmed, (more weeding), dead plants must be replaced,(more weeding), everything is thirsty, (more weeding),and all plants need nourishing fertilizer, (more weeding), …

So GONE BOY is seriously contemplating retirement. One has to giggle at his naivety of envisioning a life of relaxation and freedom. If my vision of the future is realized,GONE BOY will be renamed, GARDEN BOY, and my new name will be GONE GIRL (gone shopping, gone hiking, gone lunching, gone writing…) Looking at the results of my gardening efforts, our neighborhood will be relieved to embrace Ryan as the RESIDENT GARDENER!

I know I’m not the only person out there who is singing the GARDENING WOES SONG. Leave a little tidbit in the comment section, for all of us to enjoy. (I’m waiting for someone to share a cougar visit in her backyard, just after WEEDING…) Come on, there have to be more of me out there!


So now we’re headed back after our two months away, and I’m back to rain and wind in Portland. I feel cold and chilled, but this too will pass. Whenever I think of our vacation, the warmth and the sunshine is front and center. My husband and I are both looking forward to returning home and spending time with our family and friends, repairing the damage done by the deer in our yard (Did I say looking forward to that?), and settling back into our Island life. I know that more than ever, I will be hiking, biking, sailing, and just enjoying my time spent in the outdoors and nature. Hopefully the sun will cooperate and it will remind me of our sunny, warm time in the desert. Our plants may not resemble the flora of the desert, but I certainly have more ideas for the grasses in our backyard.



And most of all, we’ll be going through a difficult “DE-WINE INTERVENTION”, when we walk into our first BC Liquor Store and get shocked by the insane cost of a mediocre California ZIN!


Many of you have had some extended holiday time in the desert. Perhaps some of you actually own a condo, house, or park model in the desert around Palm Springs or Phoenix. Share some of your experiences and highlights in the COMMENT SECTION below. Let us know your favorite months in the sunshine and why you choose those particular months. And remember, you can pass these EXTENDED VACATIONS IN THE SUNSHINE blog installments by forwarding this link to other SNOW BIRDS:



Something I’ve known forever, but just never acknowledged before this trip to the desert, is that I’m an outdoorsy girl. I craved to be outside in the sunshine all day long. I’d start my day off with a 2 hour hike or walk and then sought every other available opportunity to be outside. With the sun shining, it was painful for me to sit in front of my computer or scrub bathrooms, when I could be:

  • swimming,
  • outdoor shopping in Scottsdale,
  • outdoor touring (e.g., the spring training baseball game (Los Angelas Angels versus the Arizona Diamondbacks), Queen Creek Olives, wineries, Tucson Western Movie Museum town, Roosevelt Dam, South Mountain),
  • visiting Outdoor Cafes and Restaurants,
  • touring show homes (AND NO… We aren’t buying a vacation house.), etc.

There was always something pulling me away from the condo and I loved that – just spending time outdoors without guilt. (I know I was more successful with this than my employed husband, but I also believe I’m more of an outdoor person than he is- with or without his job!)






I think this extended trip gave me my first true feeling of being liberated from the workforce. There is no doubt in my mind that I am further along the retirement spectrum than my overly productive husband. When you reflect on your extended desert stays, what have you learned about yourself? I know my readers and I will get a kick out of this answer, so please, please, please leave a COMMENT in the COMMENT SECTION below.

 Mary with Map








Having pedicures available across the street from our condo was fantastic. My toenails continued to be flaked, dry and ugly looking from swimming. Scraping one’s feet and nails against the rough concrete sides of the pool was disastrous!

The fellow giving me my pedicure took one look at my toes and remarked, “You’re Canadian, aren’t you?”



I admitted I was and asked him how he knew.

He replied, “It’s March! No one in Phoenix swims in March! It’s too cold! (Oh yeah, 86-90 degree weather is chilly… right!) We never hit the pool until May. You have to be Canadian to go swimming in the middle of winter!”

 Who knew my pedicure would reveal my nationality?

 Please use the COMMENT SECTION below and tell my readers and I how the Americans you befriended realized you were Canadian. What were you doing? What were you saying that tipped them off? (Maybe, just maybe, you dropped the “EH” bomb?). Please send the link to this “Extended Vacations in the Sunshine” blog series to as many Snow Birds as you know, so they can be part of the conversation. (http://www.twocandobooks.wordpress.com) And remember, you can also subscribe to my blog, so that way you’ll receive an email reminder, each time I send out a new post.

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