Happiness is Somebody Else Coming in With a Brilliant Fix

I am basically a loner. I like doing things on my own, no help. But I’d been writing this book for years, trying to get a grasp on it, giving up and then trying again until finally I invited a collaborator in. Yesterday, that guy said, “You know this opening isn’t working”–of course I know, I just don’t know how to fix it–“so maybe we could try this . . .” and then he laid out this obvious although complicated solution. I have been trying to fix that damn opening for years, no exaggeration, and he just figures it out, writes an outline rejiggering scenes, and in one e-mail makes the book 100% better. I’m so happy I could sing, but that would be bad, so I’ll just sit here and chortle.

It’s good to work with other people. Must remember that.

So what made you chortle with happiness this week?

73 thoughts on “Happiness is Somebody Else Coming in With a Brilliant Fix

  1. A couple hours of rain. It wasn’t really enough to make a dent in our deficit (it usually pours all summer in upstate NY, but not this year) but it was still wonderful.

    Ripe tomatoes out of the garden.

    1. Home-grown tomatoes don’t even taste like the same food as what you buy in the grocery in the off months. My neighbors grow them and they’re generous about sharing. I wait for them every summer.

    2. Glad you had some ripe tomatoes. That’s the best! My garden succumbed to the high temps and no rain in NJ. I only picked a couple of tomatoes before the plants died. I should’ve done a better job of watering them. 🙁

      1. My one and only tomato plant has over a score of tomatoes ripening, but they’re indoor cherry tomatoes, so it takes a score to measure up to a beefsteak tomato or two. There will be more – I’ve spotted some blossoms turning into fruit – but these are Golden Harvest and I wanted red tomatoes.

        Fortunately, there are roadside stands and farmers’ markets about.

        Better luck with your next crop!

      2. My tomatoes are very sad. They’ve been fighting the blight since early on, stopped ripening during the weeks of 90+ degree weather, and are cracking because of the lack of rain. But they still taste delicious, the ones that are making it.

  2. Made two batches of Victoria plum fridge jam – delighted to have caught them this year; they’re only available for a week or two. It tastes delicious. I feel I’m getting good at making jam, which is satisfying. I’ve been promised damsons, which is the final jam for the year (apart from the two bags of strawberries in the freezer).

    Had another bright idea for the garden: grapevines on the shed. I’ve been battling feeling weak and wobbly – got more vitamin B12 pills on Wednesday afternoon, but they haven’t sorted me yet. Will book a phone consultation next week. Meanwhile, I’ve been lazing around, rereading favourites.

      1. Damsons are small blue-black plums (greenish yellow inside). They taste rather bland eaten raw, but have an amazingly rich flavour when cooked with some sugar. They make excellent jam and chutney; also great as damson gin or vodka (which matures just in time for Christmas). The name is a corruption of ‘Damascus’ – they were thought to originate there, but it’d just have been a stage on a trade route from somewhere in Central Asia, I imagine. The trees grow well in cool, damp areas – my county of Shropshire is known for them; they used to be grown for use as a dye as well. You can find them in hedgerows or by abandoned farms and cottages, if you don’t grow your own.

        1. PS. Meant to say: thank you. And jam is actually easy once you’ve found a recipe that works for you, and made it enough times.

        2. Are they related to Italian prune plums? I make a family recipe for a tart with those and a lemon flavored crust

          1. No idea, I’m afraid. But a lemon crust sounds too rich for a damson tart: they’re quite sharp, even with sugar.

  3. I’m having a pcr test tomorrow in hopes that it will show that I’ve gotten over covid. The home antigen test acts like it will report me as infected for the rest of my life.

    Planning for my husband’s surprise birthday party proceeds apace. The only reservation I’ve accomplished is for a porta-potty to be delivered on the Thursday or Friday before my husband’s birthday (Sunday, Oct 2nd). My daughter asked how we’re going to explain that to my husband. I told her it would be the big birthday present to HER (her birthday is on Friday, September 30th.) Obviously, a better line is going to have to occur to us.

    So far invitees are telling me informally (the invitations aren’t sent yet) that they already have other plans that day. I might have only a couple of guests, but everyone can take a leak in a brand new porta-potty.

  4. After a year and a half of dealing with three contractors ranging from incompetent to crooked, we are finally in our new house. The view is of pine trees and a beautiful valley and there is only silence except for the birds singing and my chortling.

  5. Through the strictest part of my diet, and hoping to really embrace moderation to lose a little more and maintain what I have achieved. In the meantime, there is an english muffin in my future this morning.

    Received some clothes I thought I had ordered from Indiana (nope, China), including some nice cotton pants that I thought were full length (nope, mid calf with a very odd seam down half the leg), a couple tops (just no) and a little sleeveless black dress (and from what substance was this extruded, because there is nothing natural about it). This sounds like a sad, but actually, I am thinking the pants are going to turn out to be useful as long as they don’t shrink too much, and the dress has some Halloween potential, and hopefully someone will use the tops I will give away, so overall, worth the (sales) price I paid in entertainment if nothing else.

  6. I totally understand the need to do it yourself, but am so glad you accepted some help. In honour of all these Bob/Jenny posts I have decided to open Agnes again. 😁 Happiness is being able to reread a favourite!!

  7. Being a loner and an introvert, I celebrate your ability to embrace help. It is a difficult thing to do. I am chortling because my obnoxious neighbor with a kid, both of whom have no boundaries concerning my yard, has moved out of her mother’s house. She is 56 years old, and leaving home for the second time. I have not had to worry about my plants for a week. And it has been so peaceful in the neighborhood. I have a regular hummingbird visitor, and regular Opossum visitors, and three bunnies who are living in my yard, somewhere. I see Monarchs almost every day. What more could I ask? Life is good.

  8. Chortling is my default expression of glee. I occasionally suffer a bout of giggles (curmudgeons are not supposed to giggle!), but if I can use LOL* or RODLMAO**, the sound is definitely chortling. Rarely, I will guffaw.

    As for what causes that this week, I am still playing with and chortling over a remote control that turns on/off five lights in the man-cave. I should have bought and deployed this gadget years ago. “ON!” *chortle* “OFF!” *chortle* “ON!” *chortle* “OFF!” *chortle*

    * I prefer LA, Laughing Aloud. If internet acronyms are supposed to save bandwidth, doesn’t LA make more scents than LOL?
    ** After a 20-year Naval Career, I tend to roll on Decks rather than Floors if I chortle into an Assendectomy. (Rectalectomy?) Either way, I avoid this condition because getting up off the floor is a pain in what I’ve laughed off.

    1. Testing! Testing!

      Okay, if this test worked, what you are seeing is the result of the following code:

      <a title=”I prefer LA, Laughing Aloud. If internet acronyms are supposed to save bandwidth, doesn’t LA make more scents than LOL?”>LA</a>

      <span color=”blue” title=”After a 20-year Naval Career, I tend to roll on Decks rather than Floors if I chortle into an Assendectomy. (Rectalectomy?)”>RODLMAO</span>

      The object of the code is to create a link that doesn’t go anywhere, but displays text when you pause the mouse over it

        1. Back to the remote control and further back in history you could have used hand clapping for five sets of lights. What a nightmare!

          1. I remember those! And the little ditty sung to advertise them. “Clap on, clap off – the clapper!” I’ll stick with my remote.

            I’ve already rearranged some of them. I have a spare, for the moment.

        2. They show as links on my phone, but don’t show the associated text when tapping the link or holding my finger on it.

          Off topic: I’ve harvested several kinds of salad/lettuce leaves from my secondhand Click & Grow pod. Very satisfactory.
          The cherry tomatoes are still growing, haven’t flowered yet.

  9. Totally get the loner/do it myself persona, but it’s nice that now that I’m older, I can be grateful (if not chortling) for the man at the farm market who not only pulled a plastic bag off the roll for me, but held it open while I put in peaches.
    This week I had lunch with a friend I’ve not seen since pre-covid, and that made me happy. And we’re having some rain now, which makes a perfect backdrop for a nap!

  10. Found books is my happy this week.

    For years, many of the books I’d bought electronically disappeared into the Interweb Twilight Zone. Then the other day, hubby and I were having one of those “this is crazy, there must be a way to get them back” convos and by some miracle we actually did! Including eight Jenny Crusie books!

    Of course, as timing would have it, I’m writing so not reading fiction at the moment. But they’re there waiting for me, and I’m looking forward to the rereads because it’s been so long since I’ve read them that it’s like they’re new books:)

  11. We need rain!

    Picked a bunch of red bell peppers and made some ranch dressing. I think I’ll have to roast some of them and maybe freeze some. There’s more out there. Amazing how many I’ll get from just six plants.

    Things have shifted a bit at our election board. The focus of the drop box fight has moved to management and council. Hoping that we retain the drop boxes for ballots but I’m happy that I’ve done all I can from my end. (Drop boxes: the hill everyone has decided they are going to die on.) Of course there’s another Board meeting on Wednesday so it could be just the calm before the storm.

    It’s just nice walking my dog and relaxing.

    1. Apparently you can stuff peppers with wild rice, garlic and pickled walnuts. I usually read Phryne Fisher for the food and clothes description.. This seems to be the fanciest dish is this one

      1. Kay if you like the food in Phryne Fisher – you might love Kerry Greenwood’s other series. Baker Corina Chapman. Lots of baked good recipes and even without that – I love those books. First in series is: Earthly Delights

    2. I will miss drop boxes. They went without a struggle here. I used an absentee paper ballot in the primary in 2020, and delivered it to the only drop box in the county, at the courthouse. I was amazed to find it up the ten (? twelve?) steps on the porch instead of at ground level. (The courthouse has an accessible entrance, but it’s at the back.) Did they just assume that everyone with disabilities would use the mail and risk the post office not delivering it on time?

      1. Probably. My daughter asked a friend to deliver her absentee ballot to the dropbox because she couldn’t get her wheelchair to it. Her friend, an Egyptian who hopes to become a US citizen some day, was delighted to help.

  12. Thrift Books made me happy this week. I called customer service to quibble about a book I ordered in “acceptable” condition. I asked for an additional discount and they refunded the whole thing. Wow! I felt like I had woken up 30 years ago when retail still prized customer service and you could actually see and feel the condition of the merchandise before you bought it. I will definitely order from them in the future.

    Shopping at Trader Joe makes me happier than my budget can afford. They keep discontinuing the products I buy, but the clerks are so damn nice that I keep
    going back, spending too much and still leaving with a big grin. It didn’t hurt that the time I forgot to bring my thermal tote and gel packs the bus drove up just as I arrived at the bus stop. And they have chocolate coated frozen banana slices that tickle my taste buds.

    Wearing my new tee shirts has also brightened my week. I love seeing strangers break out in smiles when they see my shirts. Sometime they even tell me they like them as they walk by. I had been worried about getting addicted to online shopping, but so far the feedback I get from them has been worth every penny. Since some of the shirts were not quite the quality I had anticipated, I think that will temper my urge to buy everything I like online.

  13. Chortle being the operative word here, I chortle in delight when I get to zoom visit with my grand daughters every Sunday. I also bark out a laugh at your back and forth texting with Bob. Your collaborated books are, no lie, my all time favorites guaranteed to bring me up out of just about any slump. I agree too, that it is good to work with others on things you both enjoy.

  14. Biggest happy is that my daughter arrives from London in a few hours, stays with us for a few days and then returns to us for a week with her partner after a week in NYC for a wedding and seeing family.
    While they are here we will check out the likely site and possible caterers and cake bakers for their relationship party which is a better name than non wedding. Her partner thinks marriage is sexist which is why it’s not a wedding. They will have a party here next august and one in London in June. This is going to be pricy, but fun. And fortunately they do not have expensive tastes.
    Other happies include the zinnias blooming like crazy, having found annuals to plant in the bare spots (the spots are still pretty bare because I used this year to test options and it looks like next year I will put in Angelonia, lantana, dianthus, petunias and portulaca. Meanwhile I had to switch to impatiens where it got too shady for other plants, salvia on the semi shady slope, and I need to find places for nasturtiums and snap dragons which are not really flourishing any more on any of the places I tried them. )
    Fresh summer garden foods are also making me happy.
    The tomatoes are coming in like crazy so our menues include a lot of uncooked tomato sauce on pasta, cooked cherry tomato sauce on pasta, cucumber tomato salad, Capri salad, and I’m open to suggestions for other recipes that capture tomato summer.
    Our freezer is filling up with basil pesto and pistachio scape pesto. I’m making a lot of squash blossom scrambled eggs and will probably make more squash blossom quesadillas. Not enough blossoms for squash blossom soup unfortunately.
    The figs should be ripe soon and the sorrel is scanty now but should give us another round of sorrel soup when it gets cooler. The oregano, chives, thyme, epazote and mint (in pots) are thriving.
    For a house on a third of a suburban acre we do ok for feeding ourselves (of the main ingredients above the only thing we buy is the scapes—sometimes we get a batch of pesto from our own. And for reasons I completely fail to understand my husband grows horseradish.)
    The lesser A’tuin is thriving and my husband has taken the salmonella warning to heart so she is now confined to her (two) homes and he is careful about washing his hands in the garden sink.

    The Fetterman campaign mocking Dr Oz for his crudités makes me happy.

    The growing likelihood that Trump will be indicted makes me happy. I’m sure he will drag everything out endlessly but it’s pretty clear that Trump supporters are getting news about the Mar a Lago search and are troubled by it and also get news about the Jan 6 committee findings. Breaking through the news bubble is key to providing some reality and while sone of his followers are just digging in I think others are rethinking their allegiance to him (but not necesarily their politics).

    Im happy watching the growing likelihood that the Dems will pick up seats in the Senate. It will be miraculous if they can keep the house—but if they do and get two Senate seats they can pass all the tax increases, child care funding, child tax credits, paid leave, home care finding, and climate change that Sinema and Manchin wouldn’t support . I’m less clear whether they would get rid of the filibuster but if they do they can pass voting rights and increase the minimum wage.

    1. Cut top off of tomatoes, scoop pulp out, place upside on paper towels. Blanch some broccoli and chop into pieces, fill tomatoes with the vegetable and a bit of garlic and butter. Top with seasoned breadcrumbs, dot with butter, a bit of salt and pepper, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Good with any meat, chicken, chops, fish or even mac and cheese.

  15. The up shot about being a loner is nobody is there to tell you how badly you sing. Go ahead and sing. If your animals care, they still can’t criticize directly.

        1. My mom was a Wagnerian soprano. Favia, her dachshund, loved to sing along with Mom’s morning exercises. One day the neighbors called the police.

    1. I downloaded an app called Picture This that has a free model and helps diagnose sick plants. Been right the three times I’ve used it so far, afaik!

    2. I’m not an expert, but these are the things I’ve been told to look out for.
      1) If the whole leaf goes paler, yellower, it could be a nutrient deficiency – that does not seem the case here. Some kinds of deficiencies also make the veins go yellower first, or specifically the tips or some such pattern. Insect damage is often more random.
      2) The discoloration does not seem to follow the veins, so it’s less likely to be a sap-sucking insect like an aphid. Those often prefer the tender young shoots and flowerbuds.
      3) Damage done in the bud or unfurling stage can be spread rather randomly on the grown-out leaves, with the culprits long gone. But in that case the damage would have been visible (if less brown and crumbly, more like damaged or imperfectly growing areas) from the start of the leaf unfurling.
      4) It might be some kind of (moth) caterpillar, grazing on the undersides of the green parts of the leaf in between the veins.

  16. I’m charting with happiness because I’ve spent my day doing NOTHING except reading, napping, dog walking and eating.

  17. DH and I are on bc a road trip to the Canadian Maritimes. We travel very well together. Lovely visit with a cousin and her family before we drove to the Nova Scotia coast to stay at an inn owned by a university friend of DH’s. Fab views and food. Highlight has been Cape Breton – stunning scenery and hiking. Yesterday we did a hike and saw a moose with 2 calves. I visited a bench overlooking the ocean dedicated to my cousin’s mom who died 20 years ago. My mom and my aunt were very fond of each other and I’m glad I had a chance to visit it. Today we drove along the coast and stopped at a sandy beach to wade in the ocean and watch hermit crabs scuttle along under the water.

  18. Work life provokes the opposite of chortles, and writer life produces mainly the occasional sigh of satisfaction (or resignation), but in personal life we’ve been watching movies. All nine Star Wars movies (had to do it once; the only ones I’ll care to see again are episode IV – the original – and episode IX), My Big Fat Greek Wedding (truly funny), Grease (a great musical despite its many technical flaws), The Devil Wears Prada (another case of Stanley Tucci elevating material), and The Happytime Murders (not quite as funny as when I saw it with my shockable BFF, but acceptably entertaining if, like me, you have a high tolerance for profanity and sex jokes). There were some chortles along the way. 🙂

    1. The documentary on industrial light and Magic is worth watching. I love the story behind how it got started and what they managed to do. Of course I love their name. It’s on Disney

  19. I’m just happy that after four months, my big orange cat’s diabetes is finally close to being under control, and he’s acting much more himself, and one of my other cats, who I swear can sense when Todd’s blood sugar is way out of control, has stopped treating him like he’s been possessed by a demon and needs to be chased away. She’s half his size, but she doesn’t know it, and apparently neither does he, because all she has to do is look sideways at him and he runs away and hides. Which is just the most pitiful thing ever. But ever since his blood glucose got more normal, they’ve become friends again.

    1. Okay, apparently not. I will add my thoughts to Good Book Thursday, because I’m having them relative to a book I just finished.

    1. I think so. I haven’t read it since Bob started revising it–he’s on Lavender and I’m on Vermillion–but I’m pretty sure that stayed.

  20. This summer our daughter had a chance to work remotely. So in late June I flew out to the West Coast and drove back to Wisconsin with her and her two chihuahuas. The first week of August we made the trip in reverse, taking about 5 days each way.

    I made her get a TripTik, but the smartphone changes everything. We used it to find Schitt’s Creek-style motels and, in the middle of a Kansas cornfield, a converted barn where our Airbnb hosts provided fresh eggs for breakfast. We found restaurants with carryout, and nearby dog-friendly parks where we could eat our meals (except for that day in Wyoming when it snowed, and the time in Nevada when we ate in the air-conditioned car).

    And we looked up anything that caught our fancy: How do they decide where to put snow fences? What’s that tree sculpture along Hwy 80 in Utah? As DD said, it was like having our own private podcast.

    The dogs accepted me into their pack, my allergies were minimal, and the car behaved. And it turns out my answer to that standard icebreaker question about who you’d most like to travel across the country with is–my daughter.

      1. Thank you! It was a great experience that drove home how big the U.S. is. Especially Nebraska.

  21. I’m chiming in very late this week, but my happy was a Saturday afternoon spent in a friend’s backyard drinking sparkling wine and then scotch by a bonfire while other people provided the food. It was incredibly soothing, and exactly what I needed after last Sunday’s drama and a Friday spent saying goodbye to Lily the greyhound, who has left us now. Good friends make the hard times better, as do the therapists that work has provided for those of us who were present last week. Nothing but good times ahead.

    1. I’ve been thinking about you this week, wondering how you’re doing after last week. Something so scary can be harder to process after the shock wears off. I’m glad the the therapists are helping.

      I’m so sorry to hear about your Lily.

      1. Thanks Nancy. It was really helpful to talk about it with someone who wouldn’t panic on my behalf, and who I didn’t have to worry about scaring. We’re all coping. With that, and with the loss of Miss Lily too. She was the sweetest of hearts.

  22. I started my Tuesday with a massive salad. My gardens provided all the Romaine lettuce and green onions and bok choy and a bit of basil. Grocery stores provided shallots, yellow sweet peppers (mine are nearly ripe, but no), cooked bacon, hard-cooked eggs, and bacon-cheddar crisps. As usual, I concocted my own dressing. (Gotta buy more red wine vinegar.)

    I couldn’t help thinking that salad bars would make an episode of Bless Your RANK. It’s a Southern Thing. I spent hours and hours last night watching episodes of Bless Your Rank as Matt, the host, ranked Fast Food Burgers, Fast Food Fries, Delivery Pizza, Hot Sauces, Girl Scout Cookies, Free Appetizer Bread, Breakfast Cereals, Fast Food Chicken, Fast Food Chicken Nuggets, Fast Food Chicken Sandwiches… Matt is a one-man riot. I chortled aloud and even guffawed a time or twelve. I doubt there will ever be a salad bar ranking, but I’d watch it! Does Bob Evans have a salad bar?

    When he ranked free bread appetizers, he ranked Red Lobster Biscuits #1 and Logans rolls #2, but allows as how dipping Red Lobster Biscuits in Logans’ honey butter would be a transcendental experience. (He may not have used the word “transcendental.”) I finally had to like and subscribe, which I don’t often do. 😉

  23. I had a happy day off yesterday. For some reason I decided to rewatch Pride and Predjudice with Keira Knightley & Matthew Macfadyen. I love that one. Then I moved on to rewatch The Jane Austen Book Club which I love. Really enjoyed both. A soothing end to a stressful work week.

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