Milton Smith: 2006 -2020

Milton died yesterday after a short but terrible illness.

Milton was joy made flesh, an inspiration for me every day. A master escape artist, he was known to the neighborhood as Houdini, digging through the fence frequently to spread happiness wherever he went. He escaped one day and I found him licking my next door neighbor’s face and making him laugh while he was under his car trying to fix something. He escaped another time and I found him in the arms of another neighbor’s plumber, also getting his face washed, who said, “Aw, I knew he had to belong to somebody,” before he reluctantly gave him back to me. Visitors to my house would often leave with “Thank you for a wonderful time, and I’ll be taking Milton with me.” Life was Milton’s oyster to open and every day was an adventure. A scourge to cats, squirrels, chipmunks, birds, and bears, he was also a master burrower and cuddler who made me laugh every day.

He is survived by his sisters, Veronica and Mona, and his godmother, Krissie Ohlrogge, who was the worst of his attempted dognappers. And me, although I don’t know how I’m going to make it without him.

Milton Smith: The Best Dog Ever.


Competence Happy

I just read a recipe on the Bon Appetit website and realized I had all the ingredients to make it, not just the onions and beef which I would always have had but the three inches of ginger root, the sesame oil, and the fresh lemon, not to mention the bok choy he suggested as a side dish. It made me think, “Huh. Maybe I’m a cook.” Mostly it made me feel competent. Which made me happy.

And that’s when I realized how rarely I feel competent. Continue reading


Cherry Saturday, December 28, 2019

It’s Write A Business Plan Month, and since I’m in the business of living, I think I’m gonna go for a Business of Living Plan. This should not be mistaken for a list of New Year Resolutions because I’m against those. This is more of a “Things I Intend To Do To Make Living More Excellent in 2020.” They are not ways to improve myself. Screw that. They are Fabulous Living Plans. Entirely different thing. For example, I can have as many French fries as I want on this Fabulous Living Plan because it does not involve restricting my food intake in any way. I may have to do that as another part of my life, but it does not go on this list.

I’m still working on my list, but it’s definitely going to include: Continue reading


Cherry Saturday, October 26, 2019

Today is Hug A Sheep Day.

I’m a big fan of sheep because of yarn but also because they’re fuzzy and huggable and my rescue pup Mona looks like a little lamb. I hug Mona a lot. She was the runt of the litter and was born without kneecaps in her back legs which means she can’t jump, but she can run like the wind, or at least a very small rabbit, and she’s happiest dog I’ve ever owned and I adore her, so today for me it’s Hug A Mona Day.

Feel free to define “sheep” as most befits your life and hug something close to you.


Blooming Happiness

I was curled up in bed reading with dogs snoozing next to me and was suddenly struck with the most immense feeling of contentment.  Not joy or glee or passion or excitement, just the sense that where I am right now is exactly where I’m supposed to be, that the whole “bloom where you are planted” bit is backwards and what I’ve been doing my whole life is planting myself in different places, making different connections, trying to find a place to bloom, and then suddenly, after decades of re-potting and transplanting, I’ve taken root here in the quiet middle of nowhere and now there are buds all over the damn place.

What I’m saying is, I’m happy.  No reason.  Just happy.  So I’m wallowing in my contentment.

How did you wallow this week?


Food, A Rediscovery

I’m toying with the idea of making Fridays “Foodie Fridays” or something less twee, but the last thing I need is to get locked into another Every Damn Week Post (although I will admit that most of the ones we’ve got now just involve finding a picture and saying, “Hey, what did you read/work on this week?” so not labor intensive. Even Cherry Saturdays require minimal research. Happiness Sundays are a bitch, though). And yet I feel an intense need to talk about food, and I’ve seen leanings that way in the comments, too. The problem is, right now food is a problem for me. Or a solution that I haven’t quite arrived at yet. Which pretty much sums up my life.

Where was I?

Continue reading

The Myths of Happiness

Last May, Psychology Today published an essay by Susanna Newsonen discussing why chasing happiness was a bad idea. Newsonen describes herself as a Happyologist, aka a happiness coach, which would send me running in the opposite direction except that she went on to talk about the three myths of happiness. They are:

  1. Happiness is the absence of negative emotions.
  2. Success fuels happiness.
  3. Happiness fuels success.

Okay, two and three are obvious non-starters, but I found the first one interesting because it seems to just make sense. Negative emotions make us unhappy, therefore getting rid of negative emotions would lead to . . .

Oh, wait

Continue reading

Iguana Awareness Day, September 8, 2018

Today is Iguana Awareness Day.   Iguanas are aggressive reptiles that bite and lash with their strong tails.  They’re evidently very cute as babies (what isn’t cute as a baby?) but then they grow to be six feet long.  Which made me think of all the other things that I’ve brought home because they were cute/beautiful/desirable in some way and that then metaphorically grew to be six feet long and not desirable.  Like the book I’m working on which was supposed to be a simple story about a small town girl who fell for the Devil and is now Game of Thrones in New Jersey.  Or the storage benches I bought to store my yarn before I remembered I don’t have any place to put storage benches (two are at my front door right now).  Or possibly my ex-husband.  I do not count the amazingly cute dogs I rescued because they did not grow to be six feet long and are still cute, but I think my yarn stash counts.  Now that I’m aware of it, I’m calling it my Yarn Iguana.  Perhaps you also have a situation at your house that you were not aware was an iguana, something you liked that you brought home and now are looking at with hopeless horror as it takes up way too much space and metaphorically bites you on the butt.  I understand some children are like that.

Today is Iguana Awareness Day.  Be aware.


Random First Day of Spring

Today is the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.  Tomorrow, the power company warns, we may lose power again because we’ve got another snowstorm heading straight for us.  Hail spring!  (I have Working Wed, Good Book Thurs, Cherry Saturday, and Happiness Sunday scheduled to post on their own, so if I cannot get to the internet, Argh will chug along merrily without me.)

I’ve been rereading some of my faves for comfort lately and went back to Cotillion, Heyer’s book where Freddy is the hero.  I don’t like ditzy romance heroines, and Kitty is, if not ditzy, at least very young, and I don’t like dumb romance heroes, and Freddy, while not stupid, is not deep or thoughtful.   Why then, do I love this book?  It finally came to me on this reread: it’s that knowing each other thing.  They’re nice people, and Freddy does Kitty a favor by pretending to get engaged to her so she can go to London, and then Kitty does Freddy a favor by helping his sister, and then Freddy keeps an eye on her by helping her through society and teaching her to dance, and Kitty tells him over and over again (truthfully) how terrific he is, and you can see the relationship grow as you read the screwball plot that Kitty plunges herself into and that Freddy follows her through, protesting but giving her everything she wants.  The realization hit for me when he shows up at the end of the story with the one thing that Kitty is missing to save two friends of hers, and even though it’s a complete surprise to the reader (and Kitty), once he’s there with it, you know that OF COURSE Freddy would show up with it.   It’s the way he thinks, and if Kitty needs it, he’ll get it, at great inconvenience and personal expense because Kitty won’t have thought of it.  It’s the Regency equivalent of an air conditioner.  I also love that he knocks down the Bad Suitor, even though he immediately admits that he could never have done it if the Bad Suitor hadn’t fallen over a footstool.  Freddy may not be deep, but he’s hero material clear through and Kitty knows it.    So that was a worthwhile read.

I had to through out an entire freezer full of food, and I have a big freezer.  I kept telling myself that just because the power was out, that didn’t mean that the food had gone bad because it was freezing everywhere else in the house except by the fireplace.  (Exaggeration, but in the 40s for sure.)  Krissie finally told me to quit whining and get rid of everything, so there went blueberries and potstickers and sugar free ice cream and chicken with dressing and tuna noodle cassarole and ravioli and . . . . But it did mean that I defrosted the freezer and scrubbed it out, finding some extremely old bacon froze solid to the top shelf, so that’s something.  And tomorrow I go raid the freezer shelves at Weis because . . . no, wait.  Storm coming in.  Grrrrrrrr.  Back to canned goods.

I took a break from Nita because I was getting too far up inside my own brain and when I came back to it this week, I discovered that I love it.  And her.  So it’s back to Act Three with renewed enthusiasm.  That’s the act in which Nick becomes a Stuart hero–arrogant, demanding, controlling, and always there to save her ass.  Of course, Nita is not a Stuart heroine, so there are problems, but fortunately Nick can adapt.  It’s either that or she’ll kill him.  I haven’t figured out his air conditioner yet–oh, wait, he does give her something in Act Three: amanita socks.  I’m good.

I’m researching Hell which is turning out to be a lot more interesting than I’d thought (not a fan of the concept of Hell because I think it’s stupid and illogical, the kind of concept Trump would embrace with both hands and probably grope in the bargain.)  I like the idea of Hell being an analogue of our world, organized along our structures because it’s an entity designed to serve this one, but the problem is that Hell in specific is European, probably because a lot of other cultures recognized that it’s a dumb idea.  So while I’m fine with calling it Hell since Nick and the boys are in New Jersey and that’s what that section of Earth would call the Afterlife, it can’t be just Hell, it has to be the entire Afterlife.  Maybe I need another name.  Expect a post on Hell sometime in April, once I’m out of the stormy powerless Hell that is March.

I did have lunch at the diner the other day, desperate to get out of the house.

The dogs are going stir crazy.  I don’t think Veronica has left the house since the big snowfall (I put down paper in the shower for her).  Milton and Mona are philosophical about leaping through snow that’s over their heads, but they’re not young any more and they get tired and cold and wet and exasperated.  Also, snow has no interesting smells, at least not until they get through with it.  We are sleeping in the guest room at the front of the house because the bedroom at the back of the house where we belong is all windows looking on the woods which is fabulous until the temps go into the teens, because those windows are all single pane.  I’m imagining their joy when we finally return to our own place.  Hell, I’m imagining my own joy.

I am concerned about the amount of back story in Nita.  I just started the first book in  a series that had a great premise, but I finally abandoned it about a third of the way in because the first person narrator kept stopping the story to explain things to me that I didn’t want to know.  It’s that “You need this to understand the story” stuff that authors cram in.  I cut some stuff from the first scene but now I’m afraid it’s confusing.  Don’t look down, Jenny, keep writing, the betas will tell you if it doesn’t make sense.  ARGH.

At least I know who the major antagonist is and the motivations and all that good stuff.  HUGE progress there: the story makes sense.  You know, considering it’s about a mixed-species heroine in love with a dead human who’s about to become the Devil.  The fact that I now have a logical plot is big step forward.