68 thoughts on “Happiness is Wherever You Can Find It

  1. It’s feeling a bit cooler and fallish here, which feels nice. My younger son doesn’t absolutely hate summer school. We made checkerboard chocolate cookies yesterday which turned out tasty if not perfect.

    My Italian teacher said this week I’m making progress and showing more confidence. I had previously felt that I had made this sudden leap forward in progress (after being stuck in kind of comfortable beginner limbo for a long time) and I didn’t necessarily need outward validation, but it still felt nice.

    The good news/bad news is that I’ve started thinking in Italian. Obviously not nice, fluent, grammatically correct Italian. More like little phrases to myself “where are my shoes?” “I need to make dinner.” I spend a lot of time thinking (in Italian) “how do I say that in Italian?” And writing and rewriting a sentence in my brain till it sounds (reasonably correct).

    And it’s interesting for two reasons 1) It’s confirmed something I always suspected, I think mostly in words not images (b/c I’ve always struggled writing description and body language in stories) 2) It’s very, very hard to turn off. My brain is so excited to be able to do it, it doesn’t want to quiet down and rest. I think it must be what babies feel like when they suddenly realize they have new vocabulary and they just want to keep learning b/c it feels so satisfying. I don’t remember feeling that way about Spanish, but I studied that for 6 years in school and then jumped into almost full immersion for a year so maybe I didn’t b/c everyone around me was speaking Spanish? Whereas here it feels almost like my own private language.

    1. That’s what puts me off going to France: it’s exhausting. It started for me when I did a French exchange aged 15; I’d compulsively rehearse how I’d say things. Endless imaginary conversations. I imagine if I ever lived there I’d eventually get fluent enough that I’d stop rehearsing.

      I’ve only been to France a couple of times since school, and was delighted when (40 years later) I could still chat to people, and even make them laugh – pretty essential when you’re on your own. I felt my French teacher would have been pleased.

  2. Lots of happy this week – first in-person book club meeting since February (socially distanced outdoors), my neighbour asked me if I wanted to expand my garden in his yard (yes – already making plans) and a visit to an amazing nursery/garden in the middle of the woods. Plus, a road trip to visit my nephew, who moved from the West Coast a couple of weeks ago to go to grad school. He’s a really interesting young man and it was great to spend time with him. DH and I lived in the same city about 20 years ago and rarely go back (even before Covid), despite the fact that it’s only 2 hours away. It was a beautiful day and we had a long walk through the near deserted downtown core and saw lots of familiar sites.

  3. Sorted my garden for autumn, taking out plants that had gone over, potting on and rescuing others (some of my dahlias had been eaten by slugs so there’s just a stalk and a tatty leaf – when their siblings are flowering bushes), and sowing more salad stuff.

    Gathering ideas for the next stages of my garden. I love brainstorming design.

    Turns out my handyman has started working again, and is pretty sure he can fix the bathroom leak by resealing the base of the tiling; he’s also going to replace the wooden bath panel the plumber had to tear out – both of which mean I won’t have to buy yards of white plastic or redo the bathroom (which could sort of do with it, but I don’t want to spend money on it as long as it’s working).

    Caught up with several friends. And am still feeling the benefits from having a friend to stay last weekend.

    1. Jane, I viewed the visual tour of your garden that you posted recently and was amazed with what you have accomplished. In little over a year, yet. So pretty. Just off the top of my head I seem to remember a remedy for getting rid of slugs but don’t know if it actually works. Try putting beer in a saucer next to the plant and it will attract the critters and drown them.

      1. Thanks, Mary. Yes: the friend who stayed last weekend swears by beer traps, and I’m going to have to steel myself and try them again.

    2. There is a treatment for slugs that is nontoxic, actually good for the garden soil, and has always worked for me (although you have to reapply after it rains hard). Here it is marked under the name “Sluggo” but I believe it is iron phosphate. The slugs eat it and they can’t digest food anymore…they just disappear. It’s a wonder.

      1. I have those kind of slug pellets, but find they’re not really the answer, especially in wet weather. The problem is, this garden has brick walls, so the perfect homes for slugs and snails. Although I have wondered whether the contained space means that nematodes would be effective (expensive, though).

    3. The remedy a dahlia and hosta grower gave me several years ago was to take one gallon of water, remove one cup of it. Replace it with 1 cup of ammonia. Use this to spray around and on the dahlias and hostas. It kills slug and snail eggs and the ammonia is nitrogen. In this dilution the ammonia does not burn the plants and since it is nitrogen, it also fertilizes the plant. Plus it is short lived in the soil so plants that can’t tolerate ammonia can be planted in the area within a short time.

      I did this two years ago and have rarely seen slugs or snails in my yard since. I did not have to do it this year or last because I had so few slugs I could just control them manually. I did not use slug bait of any kind. I have not seen any decrease in earthworms in my soil but I only use the spray around plants that are at risk from slugs. Also I scatter my used coffee grounds as a top dressing on my soil and earth worms love coffee grounds. The coffee grounds just disappear and I have been scattering at least one french press worth of grounds, sometimes two, every day for 36 years. You would think my flower bed would be a foot deep in coffee grounds by now.

  4. I won’t lie, really struggling with the didn’t-voters and protest-voters of 2016. Lots of anger, disdain and actual loathing at them.

    So I try for some not seething by doing yoga by myself and sometimes with Adrienne, and Qi Gong with Katie Brindle, and listening to Jasmine Hemsley’s singing bowls and cooking good food.

    What made me calmer was the decision to start regular cardio and weight training with the custom home programme I got last year. Yoga has conditioned me to be more limber and I think I can do this without injuries. I need the physical strength because I have things I have to lift and carry for myself.

    I’ve been holding this close because I’ve been emotionally overloaded, but it’s time. I am now a qualified yoga teacher! 🧘🏻‍♀️ I’m calmly satisfied as opposed to being wildly giddy. This feels pleasant.

    1. Can I be a little bit giddy for you? I said when you started training that this world NEEDS more yoga teachers and that is certainly still true.

      1. MaryAnne, I’ve quoted you to my Teacher Trainer because she was unsure about starting regular classes for regular folk because there seems to be a lot of teachers out there.

        It’s helped me as well, because I can bring something different with my psychology and philosophy training. Somebody will need it. Everybody has value.

    2. Congrats! And I am having a similar struggle this week. My sister invited me to a virtual abolition house party that she was leading, complete with PowerPoint and discussion questions. I asked for more info about the organization she was representing and was really disappointed with their rhetoric. And I am disappointed with her for her lack of critical thinking and research. We have to be responsible here, or we will become what we hate…

      Sorry. Still upset. Maybe I will add yoga to my list for tonight.

  5. It’s too hot to suit me, here in SoCal, but I can still be happy because my plants are alive, the doves are cooing, the hummingbirds are chattering, and when it gets unbearable I can afford to turn on the AC and burn some money.

    Also happy because we started watching Star Trek: Discovery, and I really wanted to like it, and it took me a while but now I do. 🙂

  6. I’m very happy that Fred the dog got a clean bill of kidney health with no ill effects from his raisin adventure. The poor guy was so scared when the vet tech started to take him into the clinic for his second set of tests that he slipped out of his collar and the slip leash the tech had put on him. Fortunately, he ran and jumped in the car like a good boy. We got the slip leash on him again and I walked in with him to the second door. No pet parents allowed in the clinic right now.

    I am also very happy that I got a clean bill of eye health from my optometrist and I didn’t need new glasses. Always glad not to have that $600+ expense.

    1. Great news for your beloved pet.

      Good news on the eye test too. My eyes are changing, not for the better. Bought new frames in February in Miami. Love them but wanted to wait till next month. No glaucoma please, God.

  7. I’ve got the next five days off from work. That makes me feel more relaxed than I can describe.

  8. I am happy that closing the blinds and curtains on my (only) window sufficiently reduced the heat load in the garage that my little AC could finally keep up. The room has, of course, been darker. Fortunately, I have lamps.

    I have been happily organizing my eBooks on thumb drives. I’m always organizing my eBooks on my thumb drives, and differently on different drives. Where one thumb drive has all the stories by name, another has directories for each author, with sub directories for each book. That one “takes up more space,” because if Crusie, Stuart, and Mayer all collaborated on “Dogs, Goddesses, Alligators, and Hit Men,” then there will be a copy in each of their directories.

    I am happily re-reading Barrayar after having re-read Shards of Honor.

  9. I was fairly productive during my two unexpected days off, and helpful to others during the weekend, including visiting my MIL. Rewarded by bacon and tomato sandwiches and now going to relax. Possibly work on the crochet baby dress that I had to rip out 16 rows of when I finally saw a mistake. Same pattern I make all the time so no clue why I didn’t notice immediately. Oh well, I like to crochet

  10. One of those weeks. Many greats and many not so greats. Had dinner with with three friends on Friday, outside on patio. Soooo good.

    Dear bestie and I are FaceTiming almost daily. She is a widow and alone. She has family here and across the country. Missing a set of grandchildren. Love her dearly. Very happy we are doing a daily journal and talking toward wholeness. She is hurting and moving towards life again. That makes me very happy. Very, very happy.

  11. I did a little sewing yesterday, and threw the tote bag I’ve been using as a machine cover into a chair. Wendy the cat hopped up and crawled inside, just enjoying the heck out of it. I had to smile every time I looked over at her.


    Meanwhile, I’m steeling myself for the next step in the thyroid cancer treatment this week. Tomorrow and Tuesday I go in for a shot to counteract my thyroid medication (the alternative is don’t take the stuff for 6 weeks before and after, and feel really bad, so they say this is better). Then Wednesday is the radioactive iodine pill. I’ll be giving off rads for a couple of days, so no cuddling with the kitties (or DH). Hopefully, I’ll get a clean bill o health the following week.

    1. We had to do the radioactive iodine pill for Aubrey (cat) when he was about 7. He seemed to recover really fast. This is when we switched to flushable kitty litter since we could not put the clumps in the garbage (Can’t put anything radioactive in the garbage) but we could flush them.

      1. I had a cat with radio active iodine treatment. She spent a week in quarantine, and didn’t come home until she wasn’t a danger.

    2. Nancy, I love your photos! The first one of your kitty with eyes closed is just so a distillation of how cats can truly find joy in right now and getting the most out of the comfort of physical surroundings. The bright green of the bag and the wonderful markings of your kitty are uplifting to me. Thank you for sharing your talents and your everyday happiness with your animals. I wish you well for your upcoming week of treatments.

  12. At least you can still talk to your husband. I doubt if the kitties will understand that your lap will be off limits for a few days. However, if you get a clean bill of health, I’m sure there will be lots of hugs all around. I am sending all the faith and positivity I can possibly imagine with special wishes for an easy time off the meds. And thanks for the picture of Wendy; she is adorable.

  13. Kudos to all you gardeners. This week DH asked why the carrots I planted have little green peas and I found out I’ve been carefully tending nightshade.

  14. I actually had an amazing day today, which I really needed. The bestie Ellen and I have hardly seen each other since this started, so I convinced her to go to Animal Adventure Park (home of April the giraffe, if you remember that) which is about an hour from me. We wore masks in the car, since we couldn’t distance. One of my other best friends and her husband and kids (my goddess-children Nate, 12, and Sophie, 13) live about 10 minutes from the park, and we planned to go to their house for lunch (outside, distancing) afterward. At the last minute, both kids decided they wanted to go too. They have been absolutely terrified, Nate in particular, and Sophie has really been missing normal life. Robin convinced them that if anyone could keep them safe, it was Aunt Debbie.

    It all went incredibly well. We purposely went at the start of the day, and it didn’t really begin to get crowded until about 11:30. We all wore masks the whole time and most people wore masks even though the park is outside and it wasn’t required if you could distance. Nate didn’t have a panic attack (I had him read the map and guide us around, so hopefully he would feel more in control) and we got to see all the animals. We all had a wonderful time, and then went to their house and hung out with their (very grateful) parents for another few hours.

    Robin said to me that she really appreciated me taking them, because being out and about with someone other than their parents was really good for their mental health. I’ve got to say, the whole day was good for mine.

    Best day so far this year. So much joy.

        1. Oh, believe me, it was a completely selfish joy. I adore those kids so much. (They’re family–I officiated at their parents’ marriage and was there when both kids were born.) They gave me a much greater gift than I gave them.

      1. Here’s to all the parents who share their kids with us! You can spoil a kid by having no limits, but not by having too much love. And the joy they share with us is priceless. Not to mention the fact that we all appreciate a little extra space these days.

  15. Spent an hour talking on the phone to my friend yesterday. She just returned from a weeks vacation in an really isolated area. She was telling me that this year they took along an “earthquake” toilet. Which I had never heard of. She is a native Californian so maybe this is something they know about there. You buy a toilet seat that fits on a bucket. The bucket is filled with clumping kitty litter. After use, you clean the clumps out of the bucket and dispose of them in the garbage. Apparently if you are in a situation where you lose water, this gives you a toilet you can use that does not require any. I am thinking that this is something that I should have around for emergency preparedness.

      1. Our good friends who lived on a farm on a flood plain had a composting toilet. Admittedly they were lousy housekeepers but the composting toilet was worse then when they had a pit toilet. As much as I loved them, I really did not want to stay at their house. And a composting toilet is installed. This bucket with kitty litter is portable, something that you can use in emergency situations like when an earthquake breaks the water mains or you vacation someplace without improved facilities. It seemed like a lever short term solution to me.

        1. The only one I’ve encountered, on a one-day workshop, was in a hedge a few yards from the living space (a yurt). It seemed designed by and for men: it was only to be used for solid waste; you had to pee in the hedge. I’m not used to working out exactly what I’m going to excrete before I visit the loo. (Also didn’t envy them having to walk out to the hedge if they needed the loo on a winter’s night.)

  16. I had such a nice week. Lunch with old friends – Tasmania’s borders are still closed so the social distancing rules have been considerably relaxed – plus I’ve gone off the crutches at last which makes life so much easier.

    AND my chicken detective book came out! I’m so happy with this book, it’s gentler and funnier than anything I’ve written before, which seems to suit the times.


    AND I had a couple of spare copies so asked on Twitter for the names of two kids in stage 4 lockdown in Melbourne who might like them. I sent them off and got this photo in return. Her mum said she’s right into detective stuff at the moment so she was thrilled. Her smile makes me happy.


    1. Congratulations on your new release and increased mobility. If you ever wonder why you write, that picture is a wonderful reminder.

  17. I haven’t had to cut my grass as much this month, which is really nice. Of course, it’s given me more time to obsess about the post office.

    I think I need to clean out a few kitchen drawers just to feel like I’ve accomplished something beyond the minimum. Usually having no motivation to do things doesn’t bother me. But it’s starting to get irritating.

    Harvested some red bell peppers today. Which made me happy.

    1. Ah, the post office! Saturday I called the bank because we hadn’t received our bank statements. I figured I would start there to at least get a date as to when they were sent out and then track them. Needless to say but I wasn’t the only one looking for their mail as there were other callers like me. We only had three mail deliveries this past week. The CSR at the bank also told me I could go to the bank and they would print a copy of our statements. I have to say what a way to run a country and he expects to get re-elected.

  18. We haven’t been allowed to worship together in our church (or anywhere else) since March. All services are on Facebook or Zoom. We can look at pictures, but it’s not the same. I’ve been asked to fill in on a Wed. gig, and the filming can be done in the church. This makes me very, very happy. And I got a hug today from a young woman I watched grow up; I live alone, so not much physical contact, and it was a grand moment. And the five kittens are all still alive and getting bigger, so that’s another happiness.

  19. The humidity broke last night and the weather, at least on my side of town, is now perfect. And yesterday I took a good walk after weeks of getting no exercise, which makes me hopeful that I have solved the question of what has been making me wake up with aches and pains. If I can also stick with the diet and write some postcards tonight, I will feel like I am getting somewhere.

  20. “Portrait of a Lady” has now been identified as Portrait of Mary Boleyn dendrologically, so I am very pleased about that!

    I have acquired a cookbook called 50 SHADES OF CHICKEN — the recipies aren’t too complicated, look pretty tasty, and the directions are preceded by Pretty Hot introductions . . . very amusing reading and I think I’ll make some of them.

    New computer, replacing the one with the dead motherboard, is scheduled to arrive tomorrow. Once it’s set up with programs installed, I can get things done more easily.

  21. I took Friday off and went touristing with my niece to the Eastern Shore. We followed part of the Harriet Tubman byway, which I have done before but she has not. It was a pretty good option for these challenging times, as it’s a driving tour with stops, so no crowds. We also had steamed crabs and ice cream, so all in all, it was a great day out.

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