Happiness is Great Ideas. Well, Okay Ideas. Any Ideas, Really.

We’re at the we-need-a-plot stage of the book, so we’ve been brainstorming, and that always makes me happy. Even when we don’t agree, there’s something about swapping ideas back and forth, watching a story take shape, that’s just fun, instead of torturous, which is what it’s like when I do it alone. So happiness is doing good work this week as something we’re making comes alive, or at least stirs in the undergrowth.

What made you happy this week?

102 thoughts on “Happiness is Great Ideas. Well, Okay Ideas. Any Ideas, Really.

  1. I got ALL the Christmas stuff packed away and back in the attic… all EIGHT trees and 20 boxes of decor… and I didn’t die from it!

  2. I hope this will make me happy in 2023- I applied for a transfer to a different department, working night shift. I have not been unhappy for the three years that I have been in this job. However, I am not by nature a day shift person (I prefer evening shifts) and have worked nights a few times at past jobs. What I think will be a big plus is learning new equipment and analyzers. Nothing ventured, nothing gained…..?

  3. Ha ha! Write sh*t, get paid. That’s happiness.

    I too am feeling my way through plot fog. I’m writing about gluttony, which is fun. This week, I spoke to a dragon boat racer about sport and food. To keep time, they sometimes count but other times, yell, “Dim sum! Dim sum!”
    That’s going in the book.

    Speaking of dim sum, we finally got together with my family of origin for the holidays (my brother was in New Jersey), and it was delicious and heartwarming. Happy Sunday, everyone!

    1. In her Diesel books Janet Evanovich writes one that is centered around gluttony. I don’t remember which one but I loved all those books that she got written. I think she promised some that never appeared.

      1. It was supposed to be 7 deadly sins, the first 2 were fun, the 3rd one was co-written and missing the whimsical style

  4. I’m winding down my job and getting ready for an extended holiday. I’m happy that I’ve had the job and that it’s nearly over – it has been a good experience but it’s best that it was short term as it’s not really been my cup of tea.

    I’ happy that my kid is now a happy and healthy 23 year old, who finally found a job she likes and has made it past the three month probation period.

    Overall 2023 has been a good so far, hopefully the trend will continue for a while!

  5. My AreoGarden is sprouting! Basil and dill so far. No word from the parsley, mini jalapeños or heirloom cherry tomatoes. I look at this damned thing about 100 times a day to see if there has been any activity. Gary, and the rest of you gardeners, I finally see the appeal. It only took getting rid of the dirt and worms to make me finally cave.

    1. Kudzu… I mean, basil and dill are fast growers, as you have seen. Tomatoes and peppers are slow growers that take months before you’ll get results. Also, they don’t like to share with the other plants.

      As of today, my only plant is an AeroGarden Marvel of the 4 Seasons in my only wide-mouth amber mason jar. I’m growing lettuce. Subject to change without notice, of course.

        1. I lost all my living plants in the move. I managed to harvest a plethora of cherry tomatoes and red fire peppers first, but all the equipment was packed up. It loosely takes up six of eight cubes in a storage unit and a box in the shop.

          1. I understand you only moved five miles away. Are the children and pets accounted for? Pets have a way of finding their way back to their last “home”.

          2. Children and pets are accounted for. The two dogs, Zoe and Lola, are strictly indoor dogs, not trusted outside except on a leash. Lola got out a few times (at the old house), and mindful of Crazy for You, I invited her into my car and took her for a ride around the neighborhood, then carried her inside and chastised the kinder for leaving the door ajar. I fear that wouldn’t work for Zoe. She’s one of those, the ones that run around, don’t come when you call, let you get close then run away. Zoe still feels the need to bark at me when I come up from the basement, then beg for scritchies.

            It was conceivable that I might have salvaged some of the plants in the move. The dotter managed to keep most of hers alive, after all. I plan to wander through the main floor tomorrow taking pictures, particularly in the sunroom. Not the bedrooms or bathrooms, just sunroom, living room, dining room, and kitchen. I’ll juxtapose those with the pictures of the empty house.

  6. I got all the quarterly payroll reports and all the hard year end stuff done (you are welcome, employees who have your W2 in hand by the 5th of January). I always get a little tense on the things I only do once a year, and the MI sales tax/withholding tax report always takes some research. It shouldn’t, but it does. And it is now DONE!

    Then yesterday, I did 3 months of bank reconciliations for each of the two sections of the non-profit I help out. Who let 3 months of these pile up??? Oh, wait, that would be me, never mind. And now they are DONE!

    I have two zoom meetings today, including a board meeting for which i have to do minutes, and then I will be DONE with virtue for the day. Well, one load of laundry, but essentially, ready to loll about with the book and the left over chocolate ganache. (why does spell checker want to make it panache????? I could have that too but…….)

    1. I think anyone who finishes all those bank reconciliations as well as the year end and quarterly reports that early is awarded panache automatically. This must be the rare case where spell check actually got it right.

      1. I’m surprised Marcel Desaulniers (author of the books Death by Chocolate and Deserts to Die For) hasn’t used it yet.

  7. Walks in the sun (between the grey & rain), including a wonderful surprise view on my long walk last Monday: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cm8-hkOsDFk/

    I’m also happy to be sorting out my gardening research & gathering ideas for this year. I discovered yesterday that the e-magazine form of the RHS magazine allows me to copy and paste bits of text, which saves typing them.

    And I’m content to have packed Christmas away and to be focused on the new year instead.

      1. Thanks, everyone! The view compensated for the obstructive farmer round the corner, who forced me into his cow shit (country walks are a bit unpredictable).

  8. Lol. The dynamic writing duo. Such a great partnership:)

    My happy this week is finally getting my latest book live at Amazon. It’s a surprise release called The Bonne Année Brouhaha, a novella from my mystery series with a New Year’s theme that finally made it through the queue. Not quite at the turn of the month but still at least close, so I’m counting it as lucky.

    Other than that, at the moment mostly I’m happy I’ve got cocoa:)

  9. We hosted a party celebrating New Mexico’s 111th birthday, with Posole, enchiladas, sopapillas, chile con queso and biscochitos for dessert. It makes me happy to share foods of my childhood with friends and neighbors. Plus, leftovers!
    And now I’m focusing on organizing and packing for a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos in two weeks! And, just to make things interesting, eleven days after we get back, I leave with two friends for Antarctica. My husband doesn’t have any desire to go, so he gets to stay home and wrangle the dogs and cats. Silly man.

    1. Antarctica! I’m so envious, I’ve always wanted to go. Penguins are my favourite animal by far.

    2. Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands was one of my favorite trips. My husband wants to go to Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica. Don’t know if it will happen.

  10. Booked a family trip to Mexico at the end of the month. Sunshine and beach time will help DH, DS and I get through the rest of winter.

    I’m participating in a decluttering challenge. I’ve been focussing on small areas – coffee/tea cupboard, hats/mitts, etc. So far it’s working and I’ve made progress. Amazing how much expired food and bits of useless stuff I’ve saved over the years.

    I made pumpkin ravioli using purchased lasagna noodles, served with a vegan brown butter sauce with shiitake mushrooms. It was delicious.

    My favourite consignment stores had 50% off sales and I scored a pair of jeans and black loafers in my favourite brands.

  11. I am going to use Plottr to help me keep track, but I am too slammed to do anything much right now. I have a huge exam to take in March, so that is taking all my energy.

  12. I booked a trip to Barcelona and Valencia in March. I studied in Valencia in the 80s and have been wanting to go back and see how it’s changed for some time. Of course it’s been so long that I barely remember how it was…. But I’m very much looking forward to experiencing Las Fallas again.

  13. I am in Budapest – the trip was planned before my mum passed away, and as we haven’t had her funeral yet I felt a bit iffy about going. However, everyone I mentioned it to told me to go, and I’m so glad that I did.

    We’ve gone on a bus tour (one of my favourite things to do), eaten delicious food, tried the national drink of palinka, gone to a spa, and are now heading out on a river cruise. I will be going home tomorrow a tired person, but a wonderful kind of tired, and refreshed to take on the next few weeks of sorting, tidying, meetings, and the funeral on the 18th.

    1. I had palinka for the first time when I was visiting my Llewellyn editor last year. Her husband is from Hungary, and he had some that his family sent over. One very mild one, and one very strong one. I impressed him with my ability to drink the strong one, apparently 🙂

      1. I don’t know what the percentage was of the one that we had… All I know is that it was ostensibly plum flavoured, but tasted of nothing but paint stripper!

        1. Sounds exactly like slivovic, from Serbia. My penfriend brought a bottle for my parents, and it sat in their drinks cupboard for decades.

      2. I got my new Llewellyn catalog a few days ago and saw that there is an entire page devoted to your work, with half the page for your newest book. Congratulations! I could have used your The Everyday Witch’s Coven book back when I had a coven. Oh, the dynamics! Good job, you!

  14. Last night my husband & I went to our first dance since February 2020. It was very Auld Lang Syne – we used to be ‘dance friends’ with quite a lot of people and hadn’t seen ANY of them since the first lockdown – faces are older and names took some panicked scuffling through the mental files, but wow. Felt genuinely social even though we were all there for dancing, dinner, and a show (i.e. not to chatter).

    This being our first social thing, if you don’t count dinner a deux with BFFs, in nearly three years I for one was a bit anxious all evening (normal social anxiety + being unmasked in a room with a lot of people) but at least the doors were wide open. Crossing fingers that the 5 vaccinations/boosters suffice.

    Surprised and happy to discover that muscle memory really works: we still know how to dance.

  15. My newest Llewellyn book, The Everyday Witch’s Coven, came out today! (It’s weird having a book release on a Sunday, but they put all their new books out on the 8th each month.) I’m doing a signed book giveaway on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, if anyone is interested. Here’s a link to the one on Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/p/CnKKtLVOd22/

    So happy book birthday to me!

    Plus my electrician showed up (again, on a SUNDAY) to work on my new 4-season porch addition. He was supposed to be there last week but he came down with Covid, so he is trying to make up for lost time. It makes me happy to be making progress, because right now it is at the ugly duckling why the hell did I think this was a good idea stage.

    1. Congrats on the book, Deb! I have one out this weekend, too, so we’re book sisters:)

      I hear you on the reno, as well. I started outdoor renos last summer that are still not completely finished because of weather and supply issues. I have fab crews who worked way above and beyond as long as they could (including a Sunday, too, because they’re that dedicated), and I’m so looking forward to spring when they can finish!

    2. Well! I did not scroll down far enough. But I got the catalog a few days ago, and it was in there, already.

  16. I woke up early yesterday and could not get back to sleep, so was in a bad mood. I used that to clean out the bathroom cabinets and the kitchen cabinets, and ended up with half a trash bag of stuff I no longer need, plus much better storage. I actually know what’s in my pasta pull-out shelf, now. It was impossible to move, with bags and boxes piled haphazardly. It felt good. I moved stuff in my closet around and now it’s easier to get things in and out of there.

  17. Today’s happiness post made me realize that I needed ideas for two follow-ups to my current cozy mystery proposal (cozy mysteries tend to sell as three-book deals), and I’d been thinking it was going to be difficult to come up with reasons for dead bodies in my setting, but I brainstormed a little this morning and I’ve already got the two follow-ups laid out in rough form. It really is so much fun to brainstorm, and I’d forgotten about the fun while thinking of it as just another chunk of work that needed to be done.

    Now I just have to finish this proposal soon so I can spend next week doing more in-depth brainstorming for a book that’s under contract (not due until next year, but it’s the third in a series, so I want to think about whether I need to foreshadow anything in the first two books).

  18. Today’s happiness is realizing my Monday 7 am meeting is actually a Tuesday 7 am meeting, which means I can enjoy breakfast tomorrow with my sister without rushing. Also, I get to go shopping with my Mom today, which should be fun.

    Also! I finally read the first Murderbot book and you people are right, it was delightful.

  19. Started on the yardwork this week and saw a ladybug, a mantis cocoon, and the first dandelion of the year, plus so many buds. And after several days of not seeing Striped Kitty (feral we’ve been feeding for over a year) he showed up today. Happiness is signs of life.

  20. Happiness despite the rain. Cleaned out the two tea shelves. Not being much of a tea drinker, I let go of triplicates of different teas. All the herbal teas on one shelf with a couple of matcha teas. Had a lovely cup of tea between packing the Christmas decor.

    Wrote with my group on Friday, revisiting an old short story. New character popped up. Now to discover him. Is he good or is he bad? I seem to be writing mysteries which is surprising.

    My sister is still in hospital. Doing ok. Booked flights to Barcelona then onto Rome for the cruise with the cousins. Decided we will come home rather than tour around to more locals. Most of the stops we have been to in 2008. New stops are in Israel, to Haifa and Jerusalem. Looking forward to getting away in the fall. And more Crusie/Mayer books. Maybe a new one for my holidays. Fingers crossed.

    1. Have been worried for the hummingbirds as haven’t seen much activity since the snow melted. Saw one today.

      1. Thanks, Elizabeth. So sweet of you to ask.

        Sure, I’d be happy to share more info about my book if it’s okay with Jenny. Just tell me what kind of info to send and where:)

        1. E-mail me with title, pub date, your name, a blurb, and any links you want in the post (buy links or website).

          1. Great. Two questions: 1) Do you also want a cover or do you prefer to grab that online? 2) Where may I find said email addy/contact info? I am sure it’s somewhere here in plain sight but I’m missing it, lol.

  21. I sat by a dying man’s side on Friday afternoon; he died Saturday morning, and I visited his wife later.

    A new — peaceful — experience of death for me: My friend, the 69-year-old wife, knew this was coming. Her husband was 84 and had had a debilitating form of Parkinson’s. They decided that he would live and die at home. For the last 2 years care givers have come to the house every day. A few weeks ago the hospice nurse confirmed that his capacities had significantly dropped. My friend contacted family and friends last Monday that his time was approaching.

    I’m heartened by this — mostly, I’ve never been privy to a death that wasn’t sudden and devastating. Yes, my widowed friend is devastated. Yet I’m accustomed to the ripple effect of the shocking phone call in the night, the topsy turvy plans, the mistakes, the misunderstandings, the guilt. And, for me, the anger.

    This death really seems like what is euphemistically called a passing. Going forward, I want to be aware of my friend’s needs. She says that she is existing in 2 worlds: in one world she is happy talking with friends; in the other she is lost in darkness, chaos, and agony.

    No, I don’t feel happy. I feel that I can be useful to a woman who I like and admire. I’m also relieved to know that there is a better version of dying than I’ve seen before. It’s deeper than happy.

    1. I had a similar experience this summer, Elizabeth, so I can echo what you said, this is a better version of dying.

    2. I’ve never been much of a happiness person. You made a horrible thing better. There is much honor and some peace in that.

  22. Happiness is still having three weeks of holidays left. And waffles.

    I’m finding Belgium way cooler at 45 than I did at 25. I’ll not thinking about the implications of this too much.

    Piccies on insta, allanah.nz

      1. Judy, if you follow someone, it’s flagged up to them, so they can follow you back if they want to. But if you haven’t yet posted much, they may not. I get followed by a fair number of random strangers, most of whom I assume are looking for people to follow them.

        When I started on Instagram, I found good people to follow by looking at who my favourite photographers & gardeners were following. (And avoiding the publicity hounds.)

        1. And every so often I edit who I follow, to keep it to the people who most interest me – those who give me ideas.

          1. thanks for the info, Jane. i am new there so i take any help i can get. i post odd things sometimes but if you want pics of the ocean or the prism i love that appears on my wall everyday i’m good for that
            i find it so much more soothing than facebook as a way to connect with people

          2. Oh, me too – but I’ve found I need to limit myself a bit, or I’d spend half the day on it. It really is great for gathering ideas and expanding your horizons – I follow Irish and German gardeners who’ve introduced me to many new plants and design ideas.

  23. I’m happy that I finally got the last 60 or so of my bulbs in the ground. It’s way too late but the ground isn’t frozen yet so I’m cautiously optimistic. Last spring I ordered a whole bunch of unusual tulips, daffodils and crocuses that don’t get sold in the stores here and I was looking forward to having a more unusual garden next spring, but job change, Covid and other health problems really delayed planting them. We shall see. Planting was a real challenge requiring referral to spring photos to see where I could fit them in.

    I have needed this because on a personal level I was really disappointed that I spent a third of my time when kids were home quarantining—and the next third missing meals with them since I had to be masked when with them. And on a world level as much as I saw humor in the House speaker fight Im deeply concerned by the concessions that were made, especially the budget ones and the new subpoena power for criminal investigations that will let them try to derail Jan 6 and Trump prosecutions. I am also deeply troubled that Trump apparently played a big role in resolving it and that he may get involved in legislative battles—it gives him a whole new platform.

    My husband has upcoming work trips to the Phillipines, Nepal and India and plans to stay on that side of the world to visit friends rather than come back in between. I think I will take that time to visit my best friend since high school, my son, and my mom. The first two make me very happy and the third should at least be productive —when we went up for two days after I got over Covid I was able to clean up stacks of papers and books and my plan is to try to get as much de cluttered as I can so that when she gets off the waitlist for the local retirement community there will be less to do, and also less trauma. (She struggles to let go of things and reaches a limit at the end of the day.)

    One happy when we were up there is we visited the Yiddish Book Center which is really amazing. I have known of their work for decades but I didn’t realize how much they are doing—saving not just books but music and post cards, training translators, videotaping people talking about their lives in Yiddish and singing Yiddish songs. They have donated books to hundreds of universities around the world. It was really impressive.

    One more happy is that DD’s partner was commissioned to grant to do a podcast about Jewish art and identity in the UK,
    which is a great way to extend his career options since his primary work is leading a klezmer band. He’s looking for younger artists. (Happy to pass on ideas if anyone has them? Any ideas Jane ? )

  24. My power’s back on. Most of my town lost power around midnight last night and mine was only out for 12 hours. Most people still have it out now and the theater show got canceled (power came on a half hour after start time). I thought about going outside to enjoy the break between bomb cyclones, then thought, “I should enjoy my power while I still have it” because it’s highly likely to go out again tonight/tomorrow. Global warming, everybody!

    Beyond that, I had a terrible time doing the lighting for the show on Friday because SOMEONE kept yelling and nitpicking while I was trying to follow the show, and one of the cues went bad. But it all got fixed Saturday and was near perfect on my end. WHEW.

    Weather still sucks, though.

  25. The dotter had a great idea. “Use the shop for your gardens.” I am setting up the shop for just that. I have six or so short bookcases (or will, after I pay fbgs for assembling them.) I also have extension cords.

    I have also acquired a pair of Farmhouse Pantry Cabinets. The cabinets allow me to store my canned and boxed goods out of sight and use my bookcases for… other purposes.

    I’m still going to need an electrician or electrical contractor. I plugged in a second 1500 watt heater and popped the breaker for the basement.

  26. I’m happy right now because I took paid time off yesterday & today. My normal days off are Mon, Tue, Wed. I don’t go back to work until Thur night at 6pm. Mini stayca. Loving it.
    Going to the beach or the park everyday for a little while is making me happy.
    Various writing projects are making me happy.
    Listening to Anoushka Shankar is making me happy.

  27. I’m over-the-moon happy because I finally finished the first draft (I edit as I write) of my first women’s fiction/romance. I found romance a lot harder to write than my usual cozy mysteries, plus it took me 12 months to get to this stage. Not sure why. I usually finish a book in 6 months.

  28. I’m not happy because I’m back at work today after 2 weeks off, but really happy about what I achieved during the 2 weeks.

    Plus I’ve started a new hobby, watercolour painting. I still can’t draw/sketch worth a damn, so I’m reminding myself that I don’t have to be good at my hobbies, I can just enjoy them. I’ve found that I’m losing track of time when I’m doing it, which is what I want.

    Reading Four Kings kicked it off, I realised that I have no activity, work or personal, where I’m in Flow/ in the zone, and I’ve always thought that watercolours would be the easiest to setup and cleanup, so thought I’d give it a try.

    My other happy is that after a lot of balance/ strength gym work last year, standup paddle boarding is no longer fall-off paddle boarding and with the (finally) warm weather in Melbourne, I’ve been about to get out on the water a fair bit, without being in the water so much 😀

  29. I explored the boundaries of my wilderness patch aka garden on Saturday. That was a mistake. My biggest discovery was a wasp nest and I discovered it by getting stung 8 times. That did not make me happy. But last night I went back with body armour and poison and today there are no wasps. That made me happy again.

  30. A new yoga studio opened and I’ve been going and I really like the teachers! I think this is a movement commitment that I will actually stick to and I am looking forward to that!

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