First Flight

I know my little happies have tended to all be around the same theme--country living--lately. I guess you can tell where my contentment is coming from...and why I've been too busy to write.

A hawk perches on a white metal barn roof, white hot in the summer sun. Proud and tall, he surveys the surrounding fields, ready to take off in a perfect dive over the pasture. Wait, we take a closer look.
This hawk is newly fledged. It's almost full-sized, but it's tail-feathers are the long, striped training feathers that help a new hawk learn to fly, rather than a striking fan of red. This hawk isn't perched for flight, it's peeking nervously over the edge of the barn roof, flexing its wings, considering trying another test flight. Finally, it launches over the edge. No striking dive after a mouse. This hawk frantically flaps his wings, reaching, reaching, reaching for the nearest tree branch. Finally, awkwardly, he makes it.

We've been excited to have a nest of hawks in the trees on the edge of our property, and today, the first hawk fledged. We were lucky to watch his first flight!


Cat Patrol

My Adventures in the Country, Part Two: Cat Patrol

My dachshund Nixie is, in many ways, a prissy princess--a city dog. She prefers the sidewalk to the grass. She barely tolerates the yard if it's not freshly mown. She puts one paw into snow and steps back in disdain. And she'll do absolutely anything to avoid getting wet. The closest she's come to normal dog instincts was the unforgettable day a few years ago, when she actually caught a squirrel. The fact that it was a young, confused squirrel that ran toward the house instead of the trees, and the fact that because she was on a leash, we were able to pull her away from her catch within seconds, did not in the least take away from her glorious victory. She was able to shake that squirrel thoroughly for a few satisfying moments. I'm convinced that squirrel was severely mocked by his squirrel friends.

But now, Nixie may actually be starting to enjoy being a country dog. We have let the grass grow into hay in part of the pasture, but we've mowed paths throughout. Nixie bounds across the backyard to reach the paths, apparently because paths are the closest things to sidewalks the country has to offer. She explores each path rigorously, every day.

For several days we've noticed a stray cat wandering through the paths, stalking our birds. Well, yesterday, Nixie finally caught the scent of the cat. I didn't even know she had a single tracking instinct. The only thing I've seen her scent out is barbecue brisket cooking in the crock pot, or a stray jelly bean under the couch. But her excitement when she picked up the scent was all-consuming. She bounded around the yard like a deer, her tail straight up behind her like a hunting meerkat. She was positively quivering in anticipation. Of course, though she tracked the cat all the way to the creek, she didn't manage to capture it. But she was clearly satisfied to have chased it off the property--she pranced about proudly, having successfully ensured her yard was completely cat free.

Just another rousing day in the country!


Time Waits for No Tweet, or, The Taming of the Shrew

So I've not kept up with my blog. And I was so proud of myself for a solid start. Sigh. I don't have time to tweet, poke, blog...I'm failing my technology. Ah, well...an update a few times a month is probably more my style. Everyone can officially lower their expectations of me now.

Here's my happy for the day (or at least a little funny)...

My Adventures in the Country, Part 1: Taming of the Shrew

First, our birdseed drew in the mice (into our garage). We set traps, caught the whole happy little family.
Sad day for mice. But our traps were probably more humane than what would have happened if Nixie or Hayley ever noticed them.

Anyway, so yesterday morning we hear a scream from the downstairs, where the garage in question is, as well as my mom's walk-out apartment. The reason for the scream is the baby mouse she sees running from under her bed. So, in keeping with the traditions of strong, brave women in our family--she proceeds to scream, while beating wildly at it with her shoe. A plaid house shoe, I believe.

She then runs upstairs to ask for my help--apparently the mouse is unconscious, but breathing. So I go and get a sack. Okay three plastic bags, used to fashion a glove, and a big paper bag. Must not be too careful. We safely bag the mouse, thinking it's not unconscious, but actually dead.

We had a nagging doubt, though. This baby mouse didn't look much like the other mice we caught. So I went to my husband, bag in hand. He opened the bags, and low and behold, there was a live, uninjured SHREW prancing around in the paper bag. A baby shrew, no less. Suddenly we pronounced the former pest adorable (it really was quite cute, scurrying around the bag like it was happy with a new home, or just happy not to be presented with any more plaid footwear). So glad it wasn't dead, we decided to save it, and let it go at the creek behind our house. So it can breed more shrews to invade our house, I'm sure.

And what didn't occur to me until later, was the fact that shrews are actually carnivorous. If the birdseed didn't draw it in, what did? And where, oh where, are its parents? I must say, country living is not for the fainthearted!


Onward & Upward

Is everyone still speaking to me? So sorry to have been MIA for so long. It's been a crazy few weeks. Of course, that's not really fair. I'm sure everyone has had their share of crazy.

There's a book I'm looking forward to reading. My friend just bought it...it's "Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist" by Michael J. Fox. And I don't want to read it just because I was a big Alex P. Keaton fan when I was a kid.
I'm amazed that his story--his book--can be called "Always Looking Up", when he's living with a debilitating, life-ending disease.

Our family's cross seems to always be health problems. Someone in one of our families seems to always be burdened with the worry of health problems. My grandma and my father-in-law both had strokes/spells in this last two weeks.

And I've seen what chronic pain and health problems can do. It can make it just a little harder to smile every morning. Slower to laugh. Sometimes you just feel washed out. Other times completely flattened and defeated. It's hard to see the future clearly. To be buoyed by hope. So I admire Mike for doing the unthinkable, and being positive, and even grateful, even at the stage of his life.

I was also intrigued by the title of this book. I've always considered myself a positive person, a perpetual optimist. But as I get older I'm realizing that that's not completely true. It's not like I can pride myself on making a choice of seeing the positive in every situation. Because I don't always do that. But what I do is cling to the positive like a lifeline. I've learned that I can't function if I'm focused in what's going wrong. I'm motivated the positive, and when I'm buried in the bad times, it's only by holding on to the bits of good around me, that I can pull out of the mire. So I'm interested to read Mike's views on "incurable optimism." Hope it's good...I'm going to steal it from Dawn as soon as she finishes it. :)

Here are a few quotes from Mike:

"If you were to rush into this room right now and announce that you had struck a deal - with God, Allah, Buddha, Christ, Krishna, Bill Gates, whomever - in which the ten years since my diagnosis could be magically taken away, traded in for ten more years as the person I was before - I would, without a moment's hesitation, tell you to take a hike."
— Michael J. Fox, from "Lucky Man"

""Happiness is a decision.""
Michael J. Fox

""When prescribing one of the drugs I take, my doctor warned me of a common side effect: exaggerated, intensely vivid dreams. To be honest, I've never really noticed the difference. I've always dreamt big.""
Michael J. Fox


Spring Sunshine

Today I was good to the environment, but hard on my aching bones. I planted eight, yes, eight, trees today. All fruit trees...our own little orchard! This was one of those perfect Spring days--sunny and inviting, but with one of those rare gentle Spring breezes. (So much more pleasant than the gales we see much of the year out here.) I spent most of the day outdoors.

I hauled the trees and dirt around with the lawn mower (it pulls a small trailer). It reminded me so much of my Grandpa. Papa was more like a Dad to me, and we lost him a few years ago to cancer. Almost every day summer day in my childhood Papa would be working in the backyard. I'd hop in the little trailer behind the mower and he would drive me all over the pasture. He would tell me to get my "workies" on (overalls), and I'd go out and "help" him gather wood, or pick watermelons, or collect acorns. I feel like we're creating something here that he would have loved.

As we gear up for a new work week, here are a few quotes as food for thought. I LOVE this Emerson quote...it puts things in perspective.

"Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have a "creative" job, so I'm always on the look out for inspiration. That's what drew me to this silly little Suess quote...

"Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!"
Dr. Seuss


Our Irritating & Endearing Friends

I'm watching two dachshunds sleeping sweetly and peacefully on the loveseat. Of course, they barked right through the end of Fringe tonight, they demanded a pillow and blanket (one each), which basically left no room for a person anymore, and fought over prime position. Sigh.

I probably have the orneriest (is that a word?) dachshund ever, and yet I'm ridiculously nuts about her. I named her Nixie, which I found in a German name book, and it meant "water sprite". Cute, I thought. Then I saw an article that explained the history of nixies, which are EVIL water sprites. I cursed my dog.
Of course my mom's dog, Hayley, is no better behaved, and she has a normal (albeit too human) name. Her name is irritating, because my husband's name is Lee, and "Hayley" sounds too much like "Hey, Lee." Oh, the hilarity and confusion that ensues.

A friend of mine also has a dachshund, named Gatsby. This clip is for her today. Her dog doesn't like his new apartment, and has taken to barking. Well, maybe Gatsby can get some training from this dachshund.

But since today's theme is pets, I have a few more pet antics that I wanted to pass along...

catapulting cat: this one starts slow, but trust me, it's worth the wait.

slinky: short but sweet.

chick pals: i wish I had this dog's energy.

letter opener: your mail will never be the same.

ninja cat: another slow starter, but pretty great.


You're As Young As You Feel

For some reason today, it struck me how few years I have until I reach 40. It didn't just surprise me--it felt like an out-of-body experience. When did the passing of time become a speeding bullet?

I would like time to be my friend, but sometimes it feels more like a drill sergeant.

Well, if you think getting older means slowing down, just check this out.


The Day After

Well, it's the day after surgery day, and my husband's at home, recovering. We're so happy and grateful to have this part behind him. Now he needs to heal and recover (with quite a bit of physical therapy for his arm thrown in).

This has taken time away from the blog the last few days...but I'll jump back in this week!

Thanks for everyone's support--we appreciate it!

In the meantime, here's a few little bits for you...

For an extreme wedding...click here.

A fun tidbit for Harry Potter fans...click here.


Perchance to Dream

I'm reading a retelling of Persuasion (Jane Austen) right now, written from Captain Wentworth's point of view. There's a lovely quote in it that I want to share. Captain Wentworth had just woken up from a dream about Anne:

"In life one could suspect that a certain thing was true. In dreams, you knew to the core of your being that something was true, even without the slightest bit of support....Out of the blissful nothing, he sensed her presence."

Have you ever woken up from a dream like that? Something that in reality is quite fantastic, but in your dream, seems perfectly logical, and beyond that, feels deeply, profoundly true. More true than we feel things even in real life. I think there's something about those kinds of dreams that let us experience things with our whole heart and soul, without our mind getting in the way. No reason or doubts or fears are allowed to interfere with those simple, true feelings. In those dreams, feeling IS truth. Nothing else is needed. We're in perfect harmony with emotion.

We know moments of joy in real life, but dreams give us a tantalizing glimpse of perfection, a clarity of feeling and purpose, that's really unequaled. It's not that it's better than reality--but it's more pure, more focused--it makes feeling something tangible, that you breathe like oxygen, or moves along your skin like a cool breeze.

Mmmmmm. Here's wishing you all sweet dreams tonight...


Let the Sun Shine In

I'm not at my best today. I need to take my own advice. Today it's like a wall has gone up around my heart, and no happiness can quite penetrate it. It's a wall of worry and stress and hurt and exhaustion. It separates me from my surroundings, closing me off from everyone around me.

Maybe sometimes we almost don't want to let the happy in. We pull the hurt up around us like a blanket, holding on to the pain, as if embracing it can make it part of us, and somehow that will make it more bearable.

I've found the best remedy for nights like this is to curl up with a real cozy blanket and go to sleep. So that's where I'm headed.

But here's something that did made me smile today...it reminded me of my first cheerful house. This is the color we want to paint our new house in, someday...

If happiness has a color, it would be... click here to find out.


Holding Fast

Life is tenuous. Our world can be turned upside down in the blink of an eye. While some days and weeks meander slowly, with little changes, and thrust you rapidly off a cliff. Every day I am surprised (though I don't know why) to hear of some new tragedy around the world, or far too close to home. Who knew we'd live in an age of pirates and tea parties. I wouldn't have believed it, a few years ago. Not that I don't appreciate the frustrations. Job loss has become a creeping, foggy disease that every family prays will pass over their house. And by the way, our houses are worth less, but we're stretched even farther. And somehow ideals like honor and honesty have fallen out of fashion. And beyond all these worries hanging over us, there are the things we long for that we don't have. In my family, we're anxious to start a family...and the adoption wait seems endless. Somehow, these burdens seem even heavier today.

But within this uncertain life, we still have our little pleasures and lovely moments. And because they are fleeting, they're all the more precious. I've said that before, I know. But today I'm holding fast to it, like a lifeline. There's a reason we're born and we die and we suffer pain some days in between. If we didn't know grief, laughter would lose it's power. If we didn't know loneliness, the spark of true connection would lose it's meaning.

This has been a maudlin blog, forgive me. But here's a song that I think sums up my thoughts tonight...and always lifts my spirits. Hopefully it will cheer yours, as well.


Tonight, my happy is the simple joy of having family close, and safe. And for tonight, that can be enough.
Though to be honest, a bit of leftover Easter candy doesn't hurt, either.


Movies, Etc.

Just a quick happy tonight (apologies for being silent for a few days). We hosted Easter for both sides of the family...so that took up the weekend! It was equally enjoyable and exhausting. But suddenly it's Monday, and the routine starts again.

Tonight we watched the first hour of Cranford. You may not be familiar with it. It's based on a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell. Still not ringing a bell? She was a nineteenth century author, and her books are really quite hilarious. We love period movies, and there are always a shortage of quality pieces. This one looks really promising. I do NOT recommend Anthony Trolloppe's "He Knew He Was Right." We watched that a few weeks ago--four hours of watching a jealous husband go slowly mad. I really wanted to like it, but I just couldn't. But I'm definitely enjoying Cranford so far. One funny thing, though...for any of you that love BBC/Austenesque movies like I do...have you noticed the shortage of actors? The same twenty or so people keep showing up in all my favorite period movies. It's become a game for us to pause the movie when a new character comes on and remember what movie we last saw her or him in. There are at least four actors in Cranford that were also in Wives and Daughters, Gaskell's other book (movie). It's funny to see people who might be siblings in one movie suddenly be romantically involved in another. But it's also comforting to curl up and watch the same old friends in another lovely period piece. A nice treat for a gloomy Monday!

Here's a trailer for Cranford...if you liked Pride and Prejudice and Emma, you should enjoy this...

Sorry, I know this was boring for anyone not into these types of movies. So here's a little Easter laugh for everyone else...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoyeQD9ztAE


Almost Friday Funnies

Today I'll just pass along a few funnies...

Easter warning! If you plan to have an egg hunt, beware of the notorious Easter egg snatcher...he may be in your neighborhood...

I love my job. I feel lucky to be able to say that. But I've gotta admit, this place looks pretty fun, too! ;)

And finally...watch this trailer for the next 007...


Happiness, Come Find Me

Today was a good day and a bad day. It's my hubby's birthday, but he also found today out he has to have a pretty serious surgery in a few weeks. So that shadow is hanging over right now. But we're prayin' that it all goes well. And we're keepin' it positive. And keepin' it real. And keepin' laughin'. We're just keepin' it. And apparently we're usin' an excessive amount of apostrophes while we're keepin' it.

A few bits and pieces...

I was bummed driving home today to notice that most of the spring trees I love so much are starting to fade. I just love those dramatic blooms. There are some right by our parking lot at work I especially love.
Check out these gorgeous trees still blooming in Washington State, at this lovely little blog.

We had Chinese takeout tonight, and I had to laugh when I saw my fortune. It said "Happiness will find you today." I immediately thought of this blog. This little time every day really is my own personal happy.

For all you readers out there, these photos and excerpts from The Secret Garden are simply perfect.

If you're still up reading this tonight, step outside and drink in the full moon before you go to bed. It's lovely. If there's not a full moon where you are, you can always take in the stars. If it's cloudy tonight, I'm sorry. But there's always tomorrow!


Happy for Me, Happy for You

My happy moment for the day: buying our first trees for our yard! We bought two serviceberry trees on sale at the nursery. I also fell in love with a bush. (Sometimes I develop an unreasonable attachment to a plant when I go to the nursery. When I do, it's usually not just a type of plant, but one particular one, and I feel very protective of the little thing, and have to take it home.) This one was a viburnum bush that has blooms that turn from pink to white as they open. This particular one was covered in buds, none quite open yet, small and sweetly shaped. It was perfect. And of course, I took it home.

If you haven't had a happy yet today, here's one for you. (And no, it's not a plant. But it is silly, I warn you.) Pick your clip based on your snack preference:

If you like raisins, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPP_sGuqNhI&feature=PlayList&p=E725B29ECCA1C8A7&index=4&playnext=2&playnext_from=PL

If you like popcorn, click here:


Silly Bits & Pieces

Here are a few funnies...

Life: The Musical. I used to have dreams that people would just break out into song or dance around me...too bad I missed out on this one...


For Pet Lovers...
(and don't miss the great "good news photos" on this page. My favorites in there are the woman who walks on water, the 9,000 egg easter tree, and the where's waldo moment.)


2008 in Review (Dave Barry): I'm warning you: whatever political side you're on, this article mocks it. But it's an equal mockery on all sides. It's long, but even skimming it will make you laugh.


Mission NICE

I've got to share a bit more about Operation NICE. This is a great blog for lifting your mood. They frequently share stories about people reaching out and doing something, well, nice. There's also a nice link with tips on interesting ways you can spread the NICE:


And a seasonal NICE tip...help out the Easter Bunny!

I'll occasionally share interesting stories from NICE. :)


Spreading the Happy

Two posts in one day...I'm making up for missing most of the weekend. ;)

You know, there are really no shortage of blogs like this on the web. Every few days I run across another one. Each has their own little spin. Operation NICE is an especially great blog, for example. Seeing these various blogs remind me of a couple of things. First, that we're all truly hungry for some hope, especially right now. We're bombarded every day with what's wrong with the world. But also, I think it shows how rewarding it is to do this, as a blogger. To spread the happy. It's not just some kind of public service--it's personally fulfilling. It uplifts my spirit to find these little tidbits of silliness or hope, and it's just icing on the cake to get to pass them on.

Here's a story (which I first saw on Operation Nice), that is another inspiring example what an impact we can have, just by trying to do some small gesture for someone else.


Really, I should be thanking all of you who read this blog...it gives me a reason to focus on these happy little things every day. You all are making my day better, too. :)

Lovely Little Things

This weekend was all about enjoying the little things. I didn't get far from home, but it was one of those weekends that felt long, because it was a series of simple, enjoyable moments. People ask us on Mondays what we did over the weekend, and we usually just list the one or two "big" things we did. (It's just a hallway conversation, after all.) But this weekend what I want to remember are the little things. Here are a few of my favorites:

--Watching a favorite movie that I've seen with people who haven't. (This time is was Twilight, big surprise.)
--The intense look of concentration on the face of my little 16 month old niece as she pushed an empty laundry basket up and down the hall (over and over again).
--The crunch of crisp bread-and-butter pickles on my turkey sandwich. (This was an all-time-top-10 sandwich, people.)
--Finding out that a pair of hawks are building a nest in our treeline. (Though I don't think it will make the bluebirds incredibly happy.)
--Sitting on the floor with my niece, playing with her fisher price farm set.
--The satisfaction of hitting "print" on the tax program once all the fields have finally been filled in. (Yes, major procrastination here.)

Hope your weekend was just as full of lovely little things, too!


Do You Believe in Magic

I love a good fantasy or fairy tale. Any story with a dusting of magic and suspended reality. I remember the moment when I became especially fascinated with magic. It was watching the movie Labyrinth for the first time when I was a little girl. It had it all--magic, a maze, muppets, David Bowie, but most of all it was a "through the looking glass" story where an ordinary girl can feel like a princess, even if just for a time. It was just one of many fantasy stories I became passionate about through the years, but it was one of the first. And I must admit, that fascination may have softened, but I find myself wandering to the young adult fantasy section of the bookstore more often than I'd want to admit.

Whenever a fantasy is on TV I have to stop and watch, even if just for a minute or two. Tonight it was Harry Potter--the scene where he's teaching his friends how to conjure their own Patronus charms. Have you ever wished you had your own magical charm? Something so strong that it can blow away the darkness? Something that's personal to you...representing your own special power. (Or, you're one of the three people on the planet who's not read or seen Harry Potter, and you have no idea what I'm talking about.)

I think my Patronus would be a dachshund. Or maybe a woodpecker. It's probably scary what that says about me.

Sleepy now...maybe I'll dream up a good fantasy tonight.

Fool's Day Funnies

So, I couldn't even fool my mom this year. I came limping into the house, saying I fell and hurt my leg getting out of the car (given my track record, this is believable for me). But my mom didn't buy it for a minute. She did get me pretty good, though, earlier in the day. She had a meeting with the gas company seeing if they had made a mistake on her bill, and she called me to say they had made a mistake, but it was in their favor, and they were going to back-bill her for a year. She had me going for a while, anyway.

But since these stories were rather lame, and it didn't seem like my friends were into pranking today, I've got to share my personal 2009 favorite prank. The J. Peterman company launched six very unique products on their site today, including bottle unfiltered water and baseball glove pants. You've got to look at the descriptions for each of these...it's all great. The prices are funny, too.


I also enjoyed the April Fool's show on tonight, "I Get That A Lot." This link talks about the show--and lists some other great celebrity pranks. George Clooney and Mel Gibson were my faves.



Playing the Fool

I love April Fool's Day. I just wish I remembered it was coming before what's usually the morning of, or this year, the night before. I can never come up with a really good prank at the last minute. I usually end up just calling my mom and trying to convince her I'm stranded on the side of the road or have just been fired. Neither of those seem quite so funny this year, since my car is actually dying at intersections for no reason that any mechanic can seem to figure out (but gladly took my $$$)...and jobs are disappearing even faster than my retirement fund. And my mom now lives with me, which severely limits my ability to pull off a prank, since I can't ever manage to keep a straight face in person.

Since I won't have any good pranking stories to tell...share yours with me! Even if you just hear of a great prank a friend pulled, or something on the net. I'll share a few favorites on tomorrow's blog post.

There are a few bloggers that have thought about a unique way to celebrate April Fool's...and actually got prepared for it! They're starting a new tradition--April Food Day--a lighter way to remember to give back, just a little, when so many of us are hurting right now.

Here's the information, in case you want to check it out:



Finding Your Passionality

Today a friend reminded me of a site that I found long ago...one that's beautifully inspiring. This website will make you want to take your next vacation in Virginia, I warn you! This is no average travel site. The part I like best about this site is the "passionality" quiz. Here's a link to that part of the site:


I came out as a "Small Town Hound". That's me completely...and I love that they had me pegged so quickly. And the places they said I'd love? I so do! There's even a description of "a day in the life" of the Small Town Hound. The descriptions are above and beyond typical travel descriptions...they make you feel like you're there.

There's really nothing like a small town--especially the ones that have worked hard to keep their old town buildings thriving. My husband and I have spent many happy hours wandering little antique stores, art galleries, one-of-a-kind gift shops, and used book stores on small town historic squares. Stillwater, Minnesota is one of my favorites...thought Red Wing, Minnesota runs a close second. A close town that's charming is Arrow Rock, MO. (And one fun tidbit--my husband has an ancestor mentioned in the little museum in Arrow Rock. :)

Passionality...I really love that word. So evocative. We should all find our "passionality" and just live it. Too much time are spent on things that are definitely not driven by our passion. Of course, I don't want to have just one. I may be a Small Town Hound...but I'm also Nature Girl, Fairy Tale Reader, and a Weekend Birdwatcher. And who knows what else? There are old favorites and newly acquired passions. We all have a passionality as complex as our personality. Okay, enough fun with that concept--you can see I'm fascinated with it.

If you check out virginia.org, post a comment and let me know what "passionality" you have.

P.S. I've never actually taken a vacation to Virginia. But now, I can hardly wait. That's one clever travel site!


Yellow Treehouse

Look at me, several posts within twelve hours, on a weekend, no less! Chalk it up to the snowstorm. This place really keeps magic alive. Seeing this place brought me back to the treehouse my Papa built for me years ago. (It wasn't quite this elaborate, but it did have a tower, which I thought was pretty cool.)

This is a restaurant in New Zealand's redwood forest. The restaurant is shortly to close and reopen as a spot for special functions. Could you imaging getting married here?


The blog that shared this lovely story is another one of my faves, called Endless Inspiration. I also love her post about the house from the movie Practical Magic. Old houses are another happy of mine. The opportunity to explore a big, historic house is one of my very favorite things. (Okay, I have a lot of favorite things.)

By the way, wanna know what I'm doing right now? (I'll assume an emphatic "yes, please!".) I'm laying on the floor of my living room while I type this, watching for the birds to return to my patio. I'm taking pictures of a bluebird eating a worm, and the juncos battling over birdseed we scattered over the yard. I had to get on the floor, the silly birds are smart enough to fly away every time I walk near to the window. It's snowy and icy, but it's awfully nice to be snugly settled in for the day, enjoying the outdoors from a comfortable distance. There's a reason the bluebird is the bird of happiness--you can't help but smile looking at something so cheerful, even if the poor bird looks a little worse for wear from the rain.


Three Cheers for Compliments

There's nothing like getting a compliment to put a little boost in your step. When someone notices my jewelry or shirt or new haircut, it just makes my day. Today I was complimented on my wicked guitar hero skills, when I had my first solo gig at a family dinner tonight. Of course, once they told me I was great, I messed up all over the place, but it was nice to hear anyway.

Today a friend shared a great story about The Compliment Guys. There are a group of students at Purdue that are turning compliments into a social revolution...check it out!


If I love compliments so much, I should probably do it more. Today I loved a friend's new hoodie, and I said so. (Actually, twice.) I think I'm going to try to give a compliment a day from now on. The friend who gave me this link is actually trying to compliment a stranger every day...that's even better.

My other happy for the day...seeing that people are starting to share happy moments like this with me. Keep it up, guys...if you hear of a great "happy" and share it with me I"ll pass it along!


Life in The Office

Some days the workplace has its challenges. Today was one of those stressful days. I actually got out of the building with a friend at lunchtime to get a little sanity back. (I usually just eat at my desk.)

But tonight was nice, despite the rainy drive home. Tonight's episode of The Office totally put all that in perspective. Tonight, Jim, Pam, Michael, and Dwight were my heroes. (And if you watched tonight, no I wasn't inspired by Michael quitting his job--I do still love mine, and feel lucky to have it, stressful days or no.) But you can't watch the Office and not walk away with a smile.

If you love the Office, you've got to check this out...



Words to Imagine By

I'm loving more and more of goodreads.com. First, I found out that I won one of the free book giveaways. If you commit to reviewing the book after you read it, you can enter to win free books. I'm going to receive one called "Lexical Funk." (Obviously, it's for word lovers.)

And today, I've also discovered the quotes section. There are, of course, great classic quotes, but there are also a some interesting ones I've not heard before. There are a few I want to share today:

"For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"A day without sunshine is like, you know, night." Steve Martin

I hope you have all found your sunshine today. :)


Fresh Perspective From an Old Tale

This is one of those email forward stories. I don't usually pass these on, but today this one struck me for some reason. Typical, maybe, I may even have read this one before...but I like the reminder that our perspective is everything. Two people can look at the same thing, and see two completely different views of the world. Trying to force myself to find another way to approach my thinking, or even just one particular problem, is usually the best way to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I've found that I think doing this blog is helping my own outlook considerably--it forces me to find the good, even when it's a trial.

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.
One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end.
They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, the would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.
Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade pass ing by.

Although the other man could not hear the band, he could see it i n his mind s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days, weeks and months passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.
She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.
He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'


Building Hope

This is a story that reminds me there are still kind people in this world--no matter how many horrible things we do to each other. Most days the news is full of how we're tearing each other down--but this one gives hope--for this generation and the next.


The back story on this article--this started originally with one child, and one construction worker. The child wrote (I believe it was a little boy) wrote his name and posted it in his hospital window, for the construction workers to see. The next day, he saw his name written on a beam outside his window. Now it's become a tradition that each child looks forward to. Each day, those construction workers now take the time to add that day's new names.

What I love about this is the creativity. We really can find happiness anywhere...if we're willing to put ourselves out there--open to finding it. Those children put their names on the window, inviting hope in. And those construction workers find a way to deliver.

Gotta love this one.


A Wii Bit of Fun

Things are still pretty stressful at home--my husband has a ruptured disc in his neck, and possibly one in his back. He's pretty much in agony. But we had a bit of fun today with a new Wii game...SimAnimals. I only had time to play a few for a little while, and the cat kept eating all my squirrels, but I think it has potential.

I was addicted to Zoo Tycoon, once upon a time, and this one's sure to become my next addiction.

Have I mentioned that I'm a game magnet? I have two, yes two, closets stacked with games (oh, I leave room for the occasional coat or pair of shoes, but they're mostly full of games). Some of my faves: Scene It, Outburst, Balderdash or State Fair Bingo for big groups...Scrabble, Blokus, Othello, Clue, or Risk for smaller groups. And of course virtually any card game (my dad was a poker dealer, after all).

So it was only a matter of time before the Wii found it's way into my life. But I don't think it can ever completely replace a good board game. I'm not emptying out the closet just yet!


Curling Up with a Good Website

Several friends have forwarded me info over the last few months the link to goodreads.com. Tonight I finally had time to explore...and I'm hooked already!

You get to see what your friends have read or are planning to read, and what they thought of each book. Plus you get to add "shelves" to your collection, to organize the books you've tagged. Of course, it would take me a month to shelf our entire library...now that we've combined three libraries, it's really quite ridiculous. So I'll just shelve a few favorites for now. :)

Go check it out...if you're a reader, you'll be hooked before you know it!


And They Call It...Puppy Love

I had such a happy surprise today...my copy of Twilight arrived (pre-ordered, of course), before the release!! We weren't expecting it today. So of course, my happy for the evening was relishing that movie start to finish.

As you'd expect, I read the books, and so I'm an instant fan. But beyond that, I love the cinematography and the simple scenes between Edward and Bella. I think it's a beautifully captured budding romance.

Maybe my real happy is remembering New Love. There's just something about the tension and temperamental moods...and those time-stopping moments where you're seeing through each other eyes, straight into heart and soul. I think it's one of the most powerful moments in our lives--we don't fully appreciate the heights our emotions have reached until later, when time has softened and shaped love into something more durable and lasting (but still lovely). Later we grin about the sappiness and silliness we displayed way back then--but do we really appreciate those fleeting moments of pure, passionate emotion, when, just for a time, honest, uncomplicated feeling had the power to overtake and envelop every aspect of our lives.

It doesn't always last. I'm lucky, my husband and I enjoy reminiscing over our first year of meeting, dating, falling in love. And even though we've been together ten years now, and have moved beyond the intensity of new love, we came through that with deeper feelings that will last all our lives. But I know some new loves fade into friendship, some turn into darker feelings, some just fall away entirely. I've been through those, too. But experiencing those moments of connection are a gift, however long it lasts.
Twilight might be the hot new fantasy movie, full of vampires and werewolves, but it's the love story that keeps me coming back for more.

It strikes me that this is a very girly blog. I didn't really intend to start that way...sorry for the sappy...it just comes out on its own, sometimes. :)


You Gotta Have Friends

When I've had a crazy day, one of my favorite little stress relievers is putting on an episode of Friends. It's a guaranteed laugh for me. I love their quirky personalities, and how they play off each other. Tonight was definitely a Friends night...I needed my funny fix.

Sure, it's just another sitcom, but I like what Friends always represented--basically, it doesn't really matter what happens day to day, as long as you have each other to laugh with. My family's philosophy was always laughter first, reality second. I think I can live with that philosophy.

My other favorite lesson from Friends: The Christmas Armadillo is WAY cooler than Santa.

So I thought today I'd share one of my favorites--it's the one where they had a contest to see who knew each other better--the girls or the guys...



It's Not Easy Being Green

It's St. Patty's Day. I forgot to wear green, I forgot about the parade...heck, I forgot it was St. Patty's day, until I saw all the green shirts around the office. But I did drink a diet coke with lime for lunch, in remembrance of my Irish ancestors. (Limes are green...I know, I'm stretching.) But at least it's not sixth grade anymore, and I didn't get pinched really hard by mean little boys.

So, because it's St. Patrick's Day, I want to share a special tribute. Click here...


Okay, maybe not quite a tribute. Just had to share...I'm a sucker for these guys. :)

Here's another, unrelated to the holiday...somehow I doubt this is a muppet original.



Silly, Quirky, Happy

Sometimes life is just silly. Today I just had to laugh at myself. First, I hobbled around on shoes I hadn't broken in yet...why women are willing to suffer for their shoes, I still don't understand.
Second, I had five different projects to work on today, and plenty of desk time to do them. So did I knock one out neatly, one at a time? No, apparently my brain can't function if I'm not multi-tasking, so I had to have all five open at once, and flip back and forth randomly between them. I actually accomplished quite a lot, and felt good about the work, but why I found it necessary to work that way was beyond me. (And HOW I accomplished that much, working that way, just doesn't seem quire right.) For some reason, I work better under rapid fire, with quick changes and stops and starts.
And third, you know that book I told you about before I read it? The Rose Labyrinth? Well, apparently I'm not smart enough for this book. Lovely language, and some interesting ideas, but it keeps going over my head, jumping deeply into obscure subjects that I've never researched and can't quickly follow. It's so convoluted it keeps losing me, but yet here I am, compelled to finish it. Plus in some ways I disagree with the beliefs expressed. But I can't NOT finish it. And on some level, I'm even enjoying plowing through it, it's like a treasure hunt of a book, and I'm trying desperately to have enough endurance to finish it and find the ending.
These silly nothings are my happy for today...there's no sense in trying to figure out why we do the things we do...we just have to enjoy them for the quirky, real-life moments they are.


For the Love of Sparkly Things

I can't resist things that sparkle. It's a hangover from childhood, I guess, but my eye just can't help but gravitate toward sparkly things...from rocks on a lakeshore to bits of cut glass.

Tonight one of our honorary little neices came by. She's four, and tonight I showed her a few of my favorite "sparkles" from the china cabinet. I have a few sentimental pieces of Swarovski crystal that my Grandma gave me, and a bowl of sparkling beads--the kind you fill can use to fill a flower vase with. The look in her eyes when she saw these "diamonds" reminded me of how I felt at that age--the simple wonder of seeing something shimmer. I was confident that they had to be filled with hidden magic. When I held a sparkly bead to my eye, and saw the fractured mirror images, edged in rainbows, I was sure I was seeing into a magical world...if I could only reach it.

We lose too much magic when we grow up. Maybe I keep some sparkly bits around me just in case I'll need to snag a bit of magic someday. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the glitter and glow.



I've gotten hooked recently on the show Heroes (through Netflix, about four years late!). We received the next DVD in the mail today, which was my unexpected little happy after a hectic day. My husband recently ruptured a disc in his neck, so he's home miserable right now, and I've had a pretty busy period at work, so both of us really enjoyed our little Heroes break tonight. :)

This series does quite a few clever things, but one subtle thing that I love is how in almost every episode (at least during the first season), someone repeated a version of the line, "I just want to be a hero." And that desire to do something good for the world is, of course, a major theme running throughout the show.

I remember being fascinated with Wonder Woman growing up. Of course, I wanted the neat invisibility super powers and the ability to deflect bullets with my sparkly wrist bands. But I also loved the idea of being the one to save the day. As I grew up, of course, I suppose I lowered my expectations for myself, and I certainly wouldn't consider myself a hero today.

Yet when I think about it, I'm surrounded by heroes every day. My husband is certainly my hero. One of my favorite of his superpower is his ability to notice the little things, the daily details that are really meaningful, yet usually overlooked (at least by me). For example, he usually takes time to pack my lunch for work, and adds creative little surprises on stressful days. My friend Laurie, she's my hero, too. She has the power of problem-solving. She's an amazing listener, and she gives the perfect, practical advice to almost any problem. There are more...and I don't know what I wouldn't do without them. This is my shout out to all my heroes...thanks for always saving the day. :)


The Rose Labyrinth

Isn't that a beautiful title? It's not mine. It's the title of the new book I'm reading. I've been saving this book since Christmas. I've looked at it on the shelf, and have been just savoring the anticipation. It's not that I know it's going to be my new favorite. I've not read anything by the author before, and I haven't read any reviews. But I can only say...it's a truly beautiful book.
The cover is perfect (yes, I frequently judge a book by its cover)...with textured paper, archival patterns and colors, and an intriguing maze set among leaves and roses. It looks old, like something I might uncover in a used bookstore, but is conversely a crisp hardcover that smells deliciously new. Even the author's name is enchanting...Titania Hardie. On the back, there are just a few simple lines: A single sheet of parchment and a silver key. A secret passed down through generations. A mystery waiting to be unlocked. The Rose Labyrinth.
I'm going to love this book. I know this...even if it ends up being predictable or less-than-literary in language. It has so many elements I love...I already know it's going to be an enjoyable read. You know, I'm the girl that read every Nancy Drew book published by the time I was nine...I can't wait to unlock this lovely mystery.
Just knowing I was starting this book today was my little happy for the day. But the bonus was reading the first chapter. The language already tells me it's not just going to be an interesting story, but has interesting language that makes you want to go back and read lines again.
My favorite passage (I know it's bittersweet, but I just love the imagery)...
Outside, everything was disarmingly peaceful. There was a late flush of wisteria scrambling over the front of the cottage. Apart from superficial signs of neglect betrayed by an uncut lawn and unswept path, the house didn't reveal the family pain that had shaped its solitude for many months. ....... Will was proudly his mother's son, emotional in his response to life and passionate in his relationships. And here, in her enchanted space, he missed her.
I hope everyone can curl up with something just as wonderful tonight. I'm off to read more...


Irish Becky

This one will be short and sweet...have you heard of Irish Becky? I hadn't, until driving into work this morning. My radio station played a clip. Apparently a radio station in Ireland has had this cute little girl named Becky (she's eight) making silly prank calls. They played several...and I found them on youtube. This certainly made me smile on the way in to work today!!




The Sound of Silence

I'm not a solitary person by nature...at least I don't think I am. But I must admit sometimes I crave alone time. When the happy accident of time to myself appears, it's like I've been given a gift. A guilty pleasure.

I'm basically a chatty introvert. When I'm with people I know, I love to visit...nothing holds me back. But I recharge my batteries by being alone. Ten minutes spent with a book, or just stepping outside alone for a few minutes alone...can clear my head and refresh me like nothing else can.

Tonight I get the living room to myself...and I'm fully relishing in the enjoyment of it. I've gotten the errands run and chores finished, so now I'm in that rare and wonderful moment where I get to choose between a juicy book or a favorite movie. I might just choose both. :)

That's my happy for today...and I'm going to keep this short so I can fully enjoy it. :)


Birds of a Feather

Today's happy moment can only be appreciated by a nature-lover. We decided to put out our birdhouses this afternoon at the new place. Since we have a little bit of land now, we have been hoping to attract some wildlife. Anyway, within literally 15 minutes of the houses going up, there were a pair of bluebirds checking them out. They stayed all afternoon...I think we may have some new neighbors!

Life is so complex, constantly evolving, and it seems like our focus is all about getting over that next hurdle, or getting that next big new thing. I used to love the non-stop pace. My Saturdays were a whirlwind of errands, movies, shopping...and I loved it. I'm the planner--I could always fit it all in. And I still can. But as I've gotten older and life just seems to keep throwing more things in to juggle, my hobbies have started to change. I appreciate the kind of vacation now that involves sitting by a lake or taking a country drive...more relaxation than stimulation. And I've finally done the unthinkable, and become a full-fledged (no pun intended) birdwatcher like my Mom. I'm actually quite addicted. There's something so refreshing about watching something so simple as a pair of bluebirds keeping house. It's such a nice reminder that there are some things that stay the same, and that's actually a good thing. And it's good to stop once in a while, and see the beautiful details that make everything all worthwhile in the first place.

Okay, now I'm philosophizing a bit too much for a Saturday night. Gotta fly!


One Good Tapioca Deserves Another

Well, I still sound like a frog. And when I laugh, I sound like a frog in pain. But what the heck...it's Friday night. We ordered pizza (my personal favorite Friday night splurge). And it's warm enough to have the window open. I can even hear the killdeer and frogs singing outside. Spring might actually be just around the corner. It almost makes springing forward tomorrow worth it. No, I take that back. I'm not enough of a morning person to make my peace with losing an hour. Sigh.

By the way...all the city folk out there are thinking "what the heck is a killdeer?". Well, I'm going to keep the mystery alive and not tell you. But no worries...no deer were harmed in the making of a killdeer.

Okay, let's move on to today's official happy. It's probably cheating, but today I'm going to share someone else's happy thought. (No, I'm not already out of ideas. And if I was, I wouldn't admit it anyway.)

This one's for all my work buddies out there. There is apparently a growing fan club at my work...in celebration of our cafeteria's tapioca pudding. In one day, I've heard about the joys of that pudding from two different people. Ah, the simple joys of comfort food. Some days, they even put a dash of whipped cream and a cherry on top. Really, it has to be experienced to be understood. You'll just have to imagine enjoying your own little guilty pleasure...I'm sure you have one. Maybe it's even tapioca pudding. Mine is actually my mom's homemade tapioca...served warm and fluffy. Mmmm. But the cafeteria pudding runs a close second.

I have a prediction. As long as there is no unexpected pudding shortage, I believe the weight loss industry will continue to boom during the economic crisis. It's time to break out the comfort foods, people.

I actually have one more happy thought to share today. I want to share another blog with you. A friend of mine is doing one good deed for each day of Lent, and is recording it on a blog, "40 Days/40 Deeds". It's clever and quirky and funny...you'll love it. My favorite entry is from last Wednesday. It involves tapioca pudding.

Here's the link: http://40days40deeds.tumblr.com


March 4, 2009

Another random Thursday. Nothing special about today. Actually, there’s quite a lot that’s un-special about it. I have laryngitis, for one thing. I overslept this morning. I’m starting to doubt I’ll have a 401K by the time the economy improves. One of my dogs isn’t speaking to me because she couldn’t have prime lap position tonight. And my only way to work has become a construction zone that’s supposed to last for two years. We’re talking 45 per hour max on the interstate, with a $250 minimum fine for speeding, and redneck truck drivers breathing down my ass.

When I think about it, most weeks are filled with un-special days. I think we all feel that way. When isn’t there a list of wish-it-hadn’ts and should-have-nevers in our day?

We could try the “glass is half full” philosophy, but really, that just means that we still have a half glass of problems staring us in the face. Why can’t our glass ever be three quarters full? And I’d like mine topped off once in a while. A nice frothy, overflowing head of wonderful. Why don’t we have more of those days?

So acknowledging the lack of perfection in my life, and the knowledge that this trend will likely continue…I’m going to try something different. I’m going look for one thing every day…the one shining happy moment. Okay, it sounds almost as trite as thinking of my imaginary glass as half full.

But I’m not going to cheat and say “my family” or “my country” or any other obvious thing that of course we’re thankful for. I’m going to find something new every day…something surprising or unexpected. Things that might even be silly or quirky or funny…that celebrate the imperfect nature of life. Perfection would probably get pretty boring, after all.

Okay, today’s shining happy….
Drumroll, please…this is a big one…prepare yourself.

Dakota Fanning is for sure going to be in New Moon (according to very reliable gossip websites). And the Twilight DVD releases in just two and a half weeks.

I said it was my happy for the day…not yours! Okay, so you think it’s lame. And it might be. I admit it, I’m Potter-obsessed, Cullen-crazy, and I even read every Brisingr novel, even after seeing the movie. What’s life without a little fantasy? Fantasy brings two whole hours of perfection, in a world where I just might get to fly or be involved in a wicked wand fight.

It might be silly, it might not save my 401K, but it still makes me smile.

That’s it for today. Hopefully I (and maybe even you) will look back on March 4th as a red-letter day. This is the beginning of a happier, bloggier future for me.

P.S. My husband just told me it’s actually March 5th. Darn it.