Happiness is a Brand New Sheet of Paper

The final “Calvin and Hobbes” strip, by Bill Watterson, published 25 years ago this week — departing in peak form. (Bill Watterson/Andrews McMeel Syndication) from the Washington Post

It’s a year full of possibilities, Argh People.

How did you explore happiness this week?

78 thoughts on “Happiness is a Brand New Sheet of Paper

  1. I went on a long (masked) hike with someone I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic. It was a pretty winter day, warm with bursts of sunshine through the clouds. We got to have a long meandering talk that is almost impossible to have any other way but in person.

    We watched Pixar’s Soul for family movie night and honestly, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it as a kids movie, but my husband and I enjoyed it. The main character dies in the first 15 minutes and then rest takes you on a journey to discover life’s “spark.” Even though death and the afterlife wasn’t presented as a scary thing, it was waaay too much for my anxious 8 year old, he flipped out and didn’t watch the rest of the movie. Eleven year old enjoyed it, but probably didn’t love it.

    The reason I liked is the reason I think some Arghers would like it. Because what it is really about is – “What does it mean to be a creative person?” What does it mean to pursue your dream?” The main character Joe is a middle school music teacher who is finally offered his big break as a jazz pianist, but he dies before he gets to perform. So now he’s trapped in the afterlife, trying to get back to his old body, dragging along with a him a new soul that Joe is supposed to mentor, but the new soul doesn’t actually want to be born.

    I thought it was going to be the typical Hollywood story of “If you find your passion and work hard, everything will fall into place and your dreams will come true.” I don’t want to get too much into spoilers, but I thought the message it sends you away with was something much more deep and complex than that. And as typical of Pixar movies, it had a part that made me cry (I expect it by now :-)) It was a moment where everything came together – the message the movie was trying to send, the music, the artwork of the animation. It was completely without words and it took my breath away. I found it deeply moving and beautiful. My husband was like “yeah, it was good” but he wasn’t swept away like I was. So as always, YMMV.

    Fanfic is going well and I’m having fun with it, so hopefully they’ll be something to report on Working Wednesday.

      1. Thank you! I always feel like I issue so many caveats I will talk people *out of* whatever I’m trying to talk them into, but my best friend calls me the “the movie pusher” for a reason, I guess 😉

  2. I too had a good walk with a friend – and discovered an accessible bit of stream that has future photographic potential. Mum’s cousin Jack in Massachusetts phoned me for a chat, only a week after I FaceTimed him, and it feels good to be back in touch; I also had long emails from his son and daughter. Plus a card from my Serbian penfriend’s daughter, with a great drawing of a Christmas tree by her young son. I love the way Christmas reconnects me with people.

    And on New Year’s Day I finally sorted out my ideas for the fiction project, which is a big step forward. Just needs a read-through and printing, then I can rejig my ring-binder of ideas and actually start playing/writing again. I want to do five or ten minutes a day (as a minimum), so as not to lose touch with it again; and just play this year.

  3. I sorted all of my gift bows, threw out the old smashed ones, gave some to my sisters, and got a new container for them. I did the same for the tissue paper that I was tending to save even if the sheets were wrinkled beyond looking nice in a gift wrap. I’m doing the same with the wrapping paper today. This has made me ridiculously happy.

  4. I cleaned up my desk and organized my class notes from first term and saved them in a large binder for future reference. Ordered paper and new tabs for my course binders, and checked my pens and highlighters and tossed the dead ones. All ready for semester 2.

    We finally got some snow! About 4 inches but enough to cover the ground and make everything look fresh and clean. Rare sunny day so the the dog and I had a long wander through the neighbourhood.

    Long social distancing walk with a friend (pre-snow). We hadn’t seen much of each other during December, so it was lovely to catch up. Another friend and I are doing an online fitness challenge together. Despite daily dog walks, I am out of shape so this will be a good way to increase my fitness and strength.

    My white grocery store amaryllis is blooming. I didn’t pot up my bulbs until mid-December, so I’m happy to have one blooming so quickly. It has beautiful streaks of green inside the blossoms. It has a second flower stem, so I will be able to enjoy it for a few weeks. Plus, I have 3 more in various stages of development, so lots of flowers inside for the foreseeable future.

  5. Well, on New Year’s Eve we had some Summer rains here. It seemed to be the cyclone (aka hurricane) off Mozambique, because we had rain and thunder and lightning and then from midnight to around 3am silence and clear. And the storm started again.

    For me, cleansing and energising, because I love lightning. For others, Towered.

    The garden is more manageable. Ground is soft but I haven’t bought any new plants or seeds.

    Happiness is a new A6 diary and a big A4 book as my every thing journal. I took it on the 1st and wrote my proportions for the pulao recipe from https://www.indianhealthyrecipes.com/pulao-recipe-veg-pulao-recipe/.

    Usually I grab a sheet of typing paper. No more. From now on, I think in a bound book! Lol. It made me very happy.

  6. I found some happiness on walks too. We ended 2020 with a walk in a pine forest filled with tiny, bossy squirrels, who scolded us loudly for intruding. Yesterday, we walked along the river in town and spotted a great horned owl perched silently in a huge cottonwood. Today, there are some vague plans to drive uphill and walk where the moose live, if I can just peel myself off this couch.

    It is cold here, with a few inches of bone-dry snow underfoot to help freeze your toes. So I will also give a shout-out to the happiness of wool socks.

  7. One of my most vivid Calvin and Hobbes memories was the weeklong story of Hobbes being taken by a dog. What a tense week that was!

    I decided to laugh about destruction. As I was putting my first painting since last January into the closet to dry, a large plastic cup fell off the top shelf and splatted right into the center of the painting. Now it’s a canvas to reuse. But I’m happy that I started up making things again!

  8. For anyone who likes countdown clocks (I find them kind of creepy):


    It’s a snowy, cold, dreary day. Just wonderful for staying inside and drinking coffee and reading the Sunday papers and finishing up Donna Andrew’ ‘Owl Be Home for Christmas’. I may do a couple of rows of a crochet throw I’m making.

    I did walk the dog and new she’s napping. Watching her nap makes me happy.

  9. After my pre Christmas cookie baking disaster where I swore up and down to never bake again, well that lasted less than two weeks. The other day I just blocked everything out and baked Toll House cookies and peanut butter cookies. Yeah, there wrapped in the freezer, in tins and container tubes on the counter, I also had some in a small container that mysteriously disappeared when one of my sons was over. So obviously I was overwhelmed by the holiday and am now back on track. The tree and most of the decorations are down and put away. The hardest part being reversing the batteries in the ornaments.

    I liked that you mentioned Jane in your interview she is like Wonder Woman in that she can do so much on her own. And what she went through to get her house. Amazing. Not that we all can’t if put to the test. I’m thinking Deborah, Kate, Susan Berger, Robena, you Jenny and so many others. Bob and the two Gary’s are in a different category.

    Happy New Year all.

  10. I think Jane’s house story is the most long-running and epic continuing comment thread we’ve ever had. It was like Gone With the Wind except not sexist and racist with much less gunfire.

      1. You were our heroine who persevered throughout a very long line of obstacles. The fact that you managed to find a place you like, get financing and finally move in gives the rest of us hope that we will come out on top of our challenges. The fact that you did it while self employed makes you particularly inspiring.

        1. And you were shopping for David Austin roses and were very focused and sure of what you liked and wanted. It was inspirational!

  11. So sorry to see Calvin & Hobbes go – I actually saved a panel where Calvin says :

    “The world is a complicated place”

    And Hobbes replies:

    “Whenever it seems that way, I take a nap in a tree and wait for dinner”

    I’ve had it for years !!!

  12. This week I received definitive proof that both being a pack rat and being a sentimental sap are hereditary. My brother in France sent me a copy of a letter I wrote to him when I was in grade school. I can’t believe that he still has it! He was either in college or grad school when I wrote it and has moved so many times since then. The fact that the thing is even in existence 55 years later is what amazes me. I think it must have been in one of the boxes he left in storage when he first moved to France, otherwise it would not have survived all the moving they did in their early years when they moved every few months.

    The reason this triggered ruminations about genetics is that I got a note from my Dad about 25 years ago. He was cleaning out his desk and found my fifth grade report card. They didn’t use letter grades at that point, just Average, Above Average, and Below Average. So Dad sent it along with a note saying that even then I was above average.

    Of course, my brother’s note was not nearly as heart warming. He commented on my early talent as a Smartass and said,”I salute you for having made the most of the gifts you so clearly demonstrated as a child prodigy!”

    I wasn’t as much of a child prodigy as he thinks I was, because I date the letter at 2 or three years later than he does, but every thing I know in that department I learned from watching him and his friends. He tacitly acknowledges at least part of that when he signs off as the Pope of Smartasses.

    It certainly was snarkier than the note Dad sent, but it masks an equally mushy core. I wonder what kind of note he sent his kids after the great file excavation.

  13. In less than an hour, I’ll be driving to Chester, VA, to take a long, masked walk with my favorite friend – the dotter. I think 2GS will be along.

    The dotter tidied while I was at work last night. Things aren’t where *I* would have put them, but oh well. One thing I hadn’t expected was a hologram of Kirk’s Enterprise plugged in to my USB hub. And it does multiple colors.


  14. Being released from quarantine made me really happy. And my boss gave me the okay to go back to work tomorrow. I will miss sleeping in later than 7 AM, but it will be nice to see my coworkers again.

  15. Midlife happy: This week has been notably leveled-out compared to, e.g., October-November. Sleeping better, no major mood swings, and brain working more in the way I’m accustomed to. Blindingly obvious that this is all work-related. The last two weeks of the year were spent getting the usual things done but at a pace that let me breathe *and* take steps for oncoming projects. 4-day weekend for Christmas was good. Another 4-day weekend (in progress) even better. Here is a resolution: take more days off.

    Garden happy: At least one house finch has found the feeders in their new backyard location. The rest of the birds will probably arrive soon.

    Writer happy: preparing text for the first publication of 2021, novel #16.

  16. Each year, before the Big Toss of the previous year’s calendar, I review.

    2020 started out slowly. We both had colds and squatted in the down-the-street rental preparing to move back at month’s end into our renovated house. Once in, we reorganized and purged anew. I can see we continued yoga classes, volunteering in Balboa Park, hort society and association meetings, social lunches, dining out, library- and play-going. I saw Santiago, hair master, regularly.

    March, midway, events are scratched out. We test negative. April, the Zooms start. I begin to order books online rather than visit the library. We indulge in exotic and richer foods. My annual physician visit is over Zoom. Social media groups (hort, mostly) deepen in connection and we learn the names of children and dogs. Cooking and hort Zooms are subscribed to. David Lebovitz Instagram TV becomes essential viewing. October, masked and distanced, I begin meeting with a select friend group in Spreckels Park. Books are exchanged. By November, the calendar is much more crowded with events than ever before, making it sometimes necessary to choose. News starts arriving of friends’ vaccinations.

    The 2020 calendar hits the recycle box as the new one begins. In a first, I watch and listen to the Vienna Philharmonic *all the way through.* We receive a schedule and Zoom meeting agenda from the new magazine editor, and my series launches, “How are you Re-Imagining your Garden in Pandemic Times?”

    I feel newly grounded, enlivened and filled with so much knowledge. Let the Games Begin!

  17. The Sun is Out this morning. Sunshine! Sunshine! Sunshine! For the past few days it has rained so much it is like living in a swamp. Dismal swamp at that. I need nothing else for happiness.

    1. I know what you mean: we’ve been having quite a bit of rain and dark grey (and sunset’s still soon after 4), but with sunny days in between – which instantly make me happy.

      1. Preserver. In a few weeks we will actually notice the days are getting longer. Except for those that are so overcast we never see the sun anyway.

  18. For New Years Day I made black-eyed peas, greens and some meat I can’t remember. They were great.
    A dear friend of mine died on New Years Day morning. She’s a friend from my salad college days, we were housemates and sang together in shows, we traveled in Europe together. She was in hospice for cancer, and died from COVID.
    It’s an intense time, the holidays: I’ll never forget her, and I’ll always especially remember her at New Years. My joy is that we were good friends, and had been in frequent contact while she went through treatment, so things were not left unsaid.

    1. I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend. How lovely that you shared such wonderful times and were able to share the end of her life, too. That continuing connection seems to me to be the definition of true friendship.

    2. Maine Betty, I’m sorry for your loss but glad you had the chance to say what needed saying. Hugs.

    3. When my friend Nick died in 1993 my biggest regret was that I had never told him how much his love and friendship had meant to me over the years. It was before the internet and cheap long distance and we only talked once a month. So I didn’t tell him I loved him in so many words because we never imagined either of us would die that young. But when my parents died, I saw how much that kind of conversation could help both the dying person and the survivors. Be grateful that you had the chance to be with, or at least talk to her before she died and remember that your love was precious to her.

    4. So hard. Sounds like the kind of friend that feels more like a sister. Nice that you’re able to focus on the joy you shared but sorry for your loss. Hugs.

  19. Came home on Friday from spending a week plus and DD, SIL and GD’s house three hours away. DD and SIL were working (from home) last week and pre-school was closed for the week so DH and I spent Monday thru Thursday playing and distracting an almost 4 year old. Amazing how a young child can play with the same idea over and over again until you go a little nuts!

    It was the longest period of time that I have been able to spend with that family since GD was three weeks old and I went up to help out.

    We arrived home to two cats who are very grateful to have us back in residence. I KNOW that they were fed twice a day and had plenty of play time in our absence, but they are doing their best to make us believe other wise.

    The one piece of bad news is that a downdraft that occurred during the Christmas Eve nor’easter picked up our very solid deck canopy and dropped it over the side where it landed on it’s top. Some panels have popped out a bit and we managed to bend the leg supports when a leg bottom dug into the grass while flipping it back upright. Current plan is to remove legs, lean the roof up against the side of the house for the winter and bend back/pop back in various messed up pieces come warmer days in March/April. It’s annoying because we SHOULD have bolted the darn thing to the deck and this wouldn’t have happened. In the meantime, the deck looks rather naked.

    A new year starts tomorrow (birthday). Aiming for working towards a healthy and fulfilling year!

  20. A comment from a writer friend sent me back to doing morning pages. I haven’t written them for years, thought they used to be a big part of my life, just freewriting for ten minutes every morning, without judgement, to get me in the swing of it, and loosen up the writing muscles.

    So this morning I sat down and wrote for ten minutes, and remembered what fun it was to follow that subtle thread of thought, without anything riding on it, without pressure to produce ‘good’ writing. And how sparks can fly from unexpected places, when you stop trying so hard.

  21. New Year’s Eve we did a Bob Ross painting using actual oil paint. DH’s came out great; mine is muddy, but I’ll take it. Although after slogging through cleanup, I’m thinking next time we go with watercolor.

    1. Acrylics can be used like watercolor and like oils. A quick YouTube class tells you all about working with them and they clean up with water.

    2. My son and I did a Bob Ross painting on Christmas Day. Neither of us had ever painted before and, despite Bob’s video insistence that the happy happy trees were just waiting to come out of our brushes, we were both a bit challenged. We had great fun though, and the paintings came out better than expected. Better yet, we have the happy memory of the event.

      Cleanup was a pain though. I’m still finding random paint-y fingerprints in the house.

  22. I found happy this week with a drive-by baby shower for our first grandchild, a baby girl born December 16. Though she lives barely a ten minute walk away, we’ve only seen her, our daughter and son-in-law through the window and on Zoom, given we are restricted to our households. But seeing people come out of their way on New Years Day simply to drive by and drop off a gift for a baby they couldn’t meet in person made my heart warm.

  23. Today was the first easy day in a while. The weather and indoor light were gray, so I didn’t feel the pressure to get things done. Instead, I finished reading “Perestroika In Paris” by Jane Smiley. Someone has already mentioned it here; it’s lovely and simple and has talking animals.

    This afternoon we watched “Hamilton” on my daughter’s Disney+ account. It was really, really good.

  24. I started writing fiction again after more time off than I’d taken in about ten years, with help from a Sisters in Crime event, a write-in, on January 1st. And that made me feel good.

    But what really made me happy was cancelling my land line, throwing out the phone & answering machine and all its wires, and then inspired by that office decluttering, going on to get rid of a whole bunch of stuff in the same room (mostly papers and pictures of people I don’t even recognize).

    I finally decided on New Year’s Day that my motto for the year is Let There Be Light. And that includes the feeling of lightness that comes from decluttering, so I’m off to a good start. I’m also adding literal light to my life, installing solar outdoor lights and motion-sensor indoor lights, and replacing my forty-year-old bedside reading lamp. And that all lifts my mood too.

    1. Hi, Gin! Just wanted to let you know I read the first in your Garlic Farm mysteries and really enjoyed it! Thanks for starting my new year with a great read. 🙂

      1. Thank you! That encouragement will make it easier to do my quota of writing (on the 4th garlic farm mystery) today!

  25. First, best wishes to Maine Betty. I hope the memory of your friend gets easier to meet as the year goes on. Friends I lost a long time ago just bring me joy as their memory pops up, but it’s hard to deal with thoughts of those who passed on just recently.

    One thing that’s making me happy today is the return of a TV series I’ve grown to love over the past year. It’s called “Home Town” on the HGTV channel, and concerns a young couple in a small town in Mississippi who renovate houses for people as part of a wide-scale town renewal effort by a group of people there.

    Over the years I’ve felt worse and worse to recognize what prejudice I have against white people from the (U.S.) Deep South. I anticipate evidences of racism, veneration of the confederate spirit and paraphernalia, and so on. I judge them before knowing or hearing anything beyond that accent that reminds me of people like Strom Thurmond and George Wallace.

    So I’ve been so glad to realize that this couple is really kind and open-minded and smart and thoughtful. They’re remediating my biases while renovating these houses for people, and their next series begins this evening. I can even be glad enough about that to overcome my gloom about this being the last day of my vacation from work.

    So onward and upward. 🙂

    p.s. Why is my name showing up as “7” instead of Jinx? I don’t think I did anything to change it….

    1. I’m watching the new season show right now while reading comments. They are very lovely people. My cousin told me about the show.

      The sun came out after twenty four hours o of pouring rain. Yeah for sunshine.

    2. I have no idea. Absolutely none. I don’t think I can change it, either.
      Welcome to Argh, 7!

    3. Maybe the Argh fairy thought you needed a new life and started by giving you a new identity.

      1. A new life! A new identity! (I wonder why I don’t recall the first six?)

        Well anyway, I will try like hell to be luckier and probably odder in future.

        Thanks, everybody!

        — Jinx * 7 *

        1. This time your name came through 🙂

          7 is a holy number in Christianity (probably also in Judaism) – it could be worse than to show up as 7 on argh 😉

          Think of 7 of 9 (Star Trek) – the very cool one indeed.

  26. I’d been feeling crummy so took myself off for a rapid COVID-19 test. Three hours! Finally the woman comes to the car, shoves that swab up my nose and says, “This may make your eyes water.” I thought she was trying to reach my brain. Ick. Anyway, it came back negative, so that made me happy. I must have had a bug of some sort. Spent the next few days eating light and curling up with good books. That made me happier.

  27. We ended the year with a very successful zoom New Year’s Eve party with about 50 friends. Being with them made me happy, continuing the tradition which is now nearly 20 years old made me happy and it was a lot less work which made me happy.

    My daughter keeps sending me hysterical notes about her new kitten which sound remarkably like what I probably said when she was a toddler especially re bedtime. They make me happy.

    And I’m still very happy about the negative biopsy.

  28. I made my famous in the family chicken wings for family friends. And then I decided to make muffins for them too. Made muffins for us today. Had forgotten how easy and delicious fresh muffins are to make especially with a good cup of coffee.

    Took all the bottles for recycling. When we pick up the GDs tomorrow morning we have extra money for the trip to Kids Books. They’ve never been. Wonderful bookstore for children and teens.

    Loved that you mentioned Jane too. Jane is definitely an inspiration.

  29. Last day of my vacation. It’s been lovely to not be overly stressed out for two weeks. Too bad that’s not reality 😛

    Other than that, I’ve finished two major yarn projects this weekend, so go me! And hung out with friends online today.

  30. I have three happy items today:

    1) As of 1 January 2021, we can now say that copyright has expired for works published before 1926. I hope this means that some old cookbooks will be released as cultural artifacts in ebook format!

    2) The Theban Mapping Project website has been upgraded and brought back online! If you have a yen to explore the Valley of the Kings, you can do it comfortably in your jammies, and the photography is glorious. I followed this project from about 1997, when it was just getting off the ground, and a friend put his CAD expertise at the service of Dr. Weeks. They hoped that 3-D mapping would help them work out where previously undiscovered tombs might be (not too many so far, alas, but mapping KV5 has been absolutely fascinating). The original site crashed in 2010, but has now been revitalized. It’s probably using different software with more storage and greater speeds, too — always helps.


    3) Information was released about a mysterious signal from Proxima Centauri . . . the researchers have not been very forthcoming about this; it’s been some months. Partly because “little” and “green” are words they don’t want to hear, and so far it’s never aliens anyway. The Parkes Observatory in Australia, which picked up the first signal this time, was also the place where a mysterious signal was picked up over and over, for seventeen years, and only when a vital piece of equipment was replaced did they discover what its origin was (a microwave oven). So they’re being extra-cautious this time!



    Last, but not least, a kitten is napping just above my keyboard. That makes me happy.

    1. You guys have to do something about Disney. In Europe copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author, so we’re talking about 1950.

      1. It was supposed to be a one-time agreement, and Disney hasn’t gone back to court to demand an extension, and Congress didn’t try to extend in 2019 . . . or 2020 . . . so at the moment, here we are with public domain from 1925 back. It’s otherwise supposed to be 70 years after the death of the author in the US, for works created after 1978. Before that, it’s complicated, and a sloppy publisher who didn’t renew can deprive a hard-working author. Very annoying! And don’t get me started on electronic rights!

        1. Actually, if the hardworking author is still alive, they can’t. There’s that death stipulation.

  31. This afternoon, the last official day of the Christmas/New Year holiday, I sat in the sun and read a book and ate most of a box of Malteasers and ignored my son on his Xbox and my partner being productive doing chores and determinedly didn’t feel guilty and it made me very happy.

  32. I unleashed my inner GBBO baker and made a Tarte Tatin yesterday. Puff pastry! Caramel! Dangerous flip of hot apples and caramel onto a plate!

    It was freaking delicious.

    Otherwise, 2020 is over and 2021 promises to be somewhat better. Though I will not breathe easy until after noon on 1/20.

  33. I was going to comment yesterday but apparently I walked through a time warp at about 9 a.m. and came out 7.2 seconds later at 8:30 p.m. to a dog all up in my face about why weren’t we going to bed already and could he sleep on the people bed with me?

    I wanted to thank Gin and Frances in Wales for their quilting advice. One of the things I love about Argh is that everyone here knows something about everything and is willing to share the knowledge.

    Bridgerton made me happy. It was the right combination of over the top and fun and I was completely sucked in. I did think they made one huge stumble in the Lady Whistledown mystery but that’s just me.

    Thanks to COVID and the 2 haircuts I’ve had in the last 12 months my hair is now long enough to need its own towel. I know towel-turbaning wet hair isn’t the best for it, but I loathe the feeling of wet hair on my neck.

    1. You are very welcome – I hope it is of some use! And please let us know how things turn out 🙂

  34. Spending hours on zoom today made me happy:
    a) my parents mastered FaceTime and we talked and talked before cake and breakfast. I know it doesn’t sound like a big thing, but they are still exploring their amost-new MacBook and are both 80+. My mother who never had to use a computer in her life is very keen on learning how to use it which makes me tremendously happy. Having loved ones being curious and wanting to learn no matter their age makes me really happy.

    b) both of the friends I contacted yesterday evening if they were up for a zoom call tonight joined in, which made me happy. With the very chatty one I chatted for a record 4,5 hours. And we would have continued if tomorrow weren’t a work day. Fabulous. Still not feeling high and not tired at 1:30 am…

    c) Usually I feel blue on my b’day because on the 4th everyone I know is fed up with partying and everyone is back to work and busy. In lockdown people couldn’t come over anyway. But many dear colleagues texted and friends made time to phone or chat. And my family was completely patient and let me indulge. While they tried to digest the enormous dinner (burger for everyone, we’re just no used to having such heavy stuff). Great day!! Happy day!

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