Tag: happiness

An Elusive Beast: The Extraordinarily Good Mood

jesus and pills

I am in an extraordinarily good mood.  I woke up after another bad night of nightmares and poor sleep (seriously intend to try the melatonin – I even have it next to my bed now) with my back in a lot of pain.  Not an auspicious way to start the day.

But then I had some coffee and Philip made me an amazing omelet and then my mom came home with two roses for the garden (Mr. Lincoln and Sterling Silver) which made me super excited.  Then I ordered the rest of the soil needed to fill the beds in the front yard and it cost $173.46 including delivery and it turns out I had $173 and some change left in my garden fund.  How weird is that?

Then I went and bought three bottles of high proof alcohol for making bitters and a liqueur.  Then I got to geek out with people at the Beverage People – our local home brewing store.

When I picked up my medication from Kaiser I checked Facebook and someone well known in the food writing world responded to a comment I left and –


I know it could get worse.  A day can always get worse.  But the sun is out in the only acceptable way for it to be out – not too hot with a cool breeze.  I was out there on my scooter smiling at absolutely everyone enjoying the gorgeousness and the fortune I’m enjoying in not being dead, in being able to pay for my psyche meds, in being able to pay our rent, and possibly even getting my Vespa tires replaced (it’s becoming dire).

Max is out with his dad because they like going on drives together and when they get back they’re going to get sushi together.  Max eats raw fish wrapped in rice and seaweed now.  If you had told me a few years ago that one day he would be eating raw fish and craving it I would not have believed it.  I have certainly had my suspicions that eventually he would like some interesting things and might even develop a gourmand’s palate – but the idea of him loving sushi or tolerating rice in ANY form is one of those things only other people’s children do.  Plus he’s been accepted into the high school’s well respected arts program in the digital arts specialty.

A couple of days ago I pounced on Max when he came home and asked if he wanted to go on a foraging walk with me and he said “Let me get my knife!”

He’s also started reading Cricket and Grey.  On our walk he asked me if I based Cricket’s mom on myself.  I think because of the interest and herb knowledge.

My kid is reading the novel I wrote and enjoying it.


Life takes breathtaking dives from the top floor to the center of hell – so you have to enjoy everything while it’s in front of you.  I have no idea what tomorrow will bring and with people in my tribe it’s pretty common to go from thriving to diving within a matter of hours.  I’m used to such change-ups.

So you have to enjoy being 31lbs lighter now than you were three months ago because who knows what you’ll be carrying on your bones in another three months?

I backed up all my computer files and then cleaned out some files I no longer need (copies being on my backup drive) and then I defragmented my computer.  I also photographed and made new banners for both my blogs and made the executive decision to put post apocalyptic kitchen content on Stitch until I have enough to build up the PAK blog.  I must keep things simple right now.  I was so depressed on Thursday about career crap I am not going to ruin this day recapping.  I’ve set everything up for a fresh spring start.

As the day wears on my happy spazzing is turning to a happy calm.

This has been such a deliciously perfect day.  I hope you all are having one too.  And if you’re not – I hope you get yours soon!

Family Fun With Fire

out of control

I am listening to Yo Yo Ma play Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major and I set moonshine on fire with  my people tonight and I have that feeling like my life couldn’t possibly be better.  I know that if I don’t get a job soon and if our house situation doesn’t resolve that life will be incredibly stressful again and not what I want it to be but I’m taking tonight off to feel this loopy happiness that threatens to overextend my lungs.

That’s really all I have to say.

Except that that little experiment really got my adrenaline going.  I think it’s still a little revved up.  I’m not sure how long it will take to settle down.

I think I need to go check my back yard to make 153% sure that it isn’t on fire.  I’m probably going to have fire nightmares.  Even though that was SO MUCH FUN LIGHTING MOONSHINE ON FIRE AND WATCHING PHILIP EXTINGUISH IT WITH THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER!!!!!

I wish my pictures had turned out better.

This has been a good day.

My back yard is not on fire.

I finally know that fire extinguishers really work.

It’s time for bed.

What’s Making Me Happy Right Now (March 2013)

my handy bicycle

What’s Making Me Happy Right Now:

  • My bicycle.  I rode my bicycle to do some errands, to go to the local nursery, and to a friend’s house this week.  I feel ridiculous on it and I’m pretty sure some middle school kids called me “Porker” as I rode by but ignoring all that – I love my bicycle so much and I love riding around town on it.
  • Nurseries.  The nursery down the street from us is outrageously expensive so I can’t do much garden shopping there but all nurseries are happy places for me so visiting the local one even when not buying much is so peaceful and enjoyable.
  • I have a packet of alpine strawberry seeds.  I need to pot them up.  Such a diminutive fruit with so much flavor is a reminder that goodness comes in all sized packages.  Apply that wisdom as you please.
  • Friends.  All of them.  I am so lucky in my friends.  Some fellow escapees from McMinnville were in town yesterday and we got to hang out with them for several hours and it was fantastic.  Hanging out with people who make you feel good, who make you laugh, who enjoy you in all your guises, and who you can be yourself around – this is one of the most fundamental ingredients for a good life.  You don’t even need very many friends – but you need friends like this.
  • I’m ordering a whole roll of dot pattern paper from a friend.  I’m so excited about this!  I can draft anything I want to for years to come without having to worry about running out.  500 feet of it!  It’s a drafting tool I find indispensable.
  • Having a few over-shirts to wear.  I have 4 now.  I don’t know that they’re at all flattering but they are comfortable and utilitarian just as I need them to be.
  • Being able to pay my bills.  Simple pleasures.  Things still get tight some weeks but for the first time in years I know that if I can’t pay the bill today, I’ll be able to pay it in two weeks.  The fear that this comfort will come to an end with either me or Philip losing our jobs never completely goes away – but all I can really do is appreciate this respite from constant financial dread while we have it.  It’s lovely.

What’s making you happy right now?

13 Things That Make Me Happy

  1. Cheese.  Do I need to qualify or explain this?  Just – cheese.
  2. Beer.  It makes the world seem less edgy and happier.
  3. Antique roses flushing the landscape with color and scent.
  4. The metallic weight of snow falling.
  5. Pippa’s wheezing.  It doesn’t make me happy that she wheezes but that it reminds me she’s there.
  6. Coffee.  It’s not about the caffeine, it’s about the flavor and the warmth.
  7. The view from my office of the monastery garden I built.
  8. The sound of chickens scuffling with each other and the feel of their silky feathers.
  9. Discovering a new favorite show and finding out there are 13 seasons of it to watch.
  10. Photographing everything.  Especially food and industrial details of buildings and landscapes.  And insects.
  11. Going to the farmer’s market and coming home with fresh local produce.  Seeing vegetables arranged in baskets and bins has always made me happy.
  12. The beautiful shawl my friend Taj made me that I’m looking at right now.
  13. Old silverware.  I discovered my mom’s set yesterday that I hadn’t seen before and it was enchanting to see such good spoons and exotic forks.

How My Familiar Keeps Me Hanging On

Right.  So things are bad.  But even when things are bad, even when things are super bad, there is always some sort of light to find, some little squeak of happiness to grab onto.  Maybe it only makes one minute of an entire day worth living but there is one thing I know for sure and that’s that every scrap of happy counts.  And sometimes you really have to manually count the happy in your life.  Pippa is my happy.  I love all my animals.  But Pippa is my familiar.  She follows me around all day.  She pats me on the leg and squeaks when she wants me to throw a string around for her or make room in my lap for her.

When she’s not in my lap or following me up and down the stairs all day she’s napping.  She naps on piles of clothes that threaten to toss her to the floor.  (She enjoys the challenge)

She hangs out in in-boxes on shelves.  (Please forgive the flashtastic quality of this photo.  Forgive the quality of ALL these photos.  It is extremely difficult to good pics of Pippa in hiding.)

She really loves my lap.  But only in fall, winter, and part of spring.

When I’m sorting through breakdown-inducing health insurance papers from the state and I feel like I’m going to cry I smell a lemon and I watch Pippa napping on crumpled newspaper.

A more recent napping spot is in the linen closet.  On our clean towels.  You can also just spot the very bottom shelf full of crap?  There is only 1/4 (if that) of that crap left in there.  (Spring cleaning is well under way!)

Her love for boxes is well known.  She isn’t as funny as Maru is in boxes but we don’t care.  We love Pippa.  If I was a witch Pippa would be my familiar.  She calls for me when she isn’t napping to find out where I am.  She is always close by.  I talk to her all day long.  I listen to her snoring.  When I think I can’t take another stupid day of useless paperwork I pick that bundle of fur up and I smell her weirdly powdery baby smell and I know I can make it one more day.  The sound of her purring is like a defibrillator for a heart stopping panic attack.  There’s just something about Pippa.

go out and find your happy! Hopefully not illegal.

A Happiness and Inspiration List

go out and find your happy!  Hopefully not illegal.

An Exhaustive List of What Makes Me Happy and What Inspires Me:

1.  My kid in an exuberant mood. He’s just such a firecracker- and a creative thinker and burgeoning philosopher.

2.  Talking politics and philosophy and gossip into the wee hours with Philip over beer. Been doing it for almost 18 years now.

3.  Penny, Pippa, and Chick. Every single day they make us happy we have them.  Though I wish my dog barked less, we still love her.

4.  Chickens. Chickens are funny, curious, pretty, and useful.  More than I can say   about a lot of people.

5.  My mom. She’s so funny, creative, warm, and I love having her around.

6.  Mahatma Gandhi. The dude was human and as such I’m sure his farts smelled like everyone else’s but nothing, NOTHING can take away from what he accomplished in his life.  Even if you reduce his greatness in half he is still greater than any other human I’ve read about.  He showed that non-violence can bring oppressors to their knees.  He showed that it takes a lot more willingness to be knocked down and a shitload more bravery to win without violence than it does to wield weapons against your enemy.  No soldier even remotely compares in bravery to Mahatma and all the people who took the blows but refused to fight back with violence.  Damn, I love him.

7.  Roses. I love them all, but especially the antique ones and the ones with strong scent.  I love rosehips too and I even love the rose bushes when they’re stripped bare in winter.  All-time favorites: Frederick Mistral, Napoleon’s Hat, Gold Medal, Peter Mayle, Abraham D’Arby, Cottage Rose, Mm Isaac Pereire, Variegata di Bologna, Kaiserin Friedrich, Honor, New Dawn, and Jardin de Bagatelle.

8.  Fruit trees. They make me happy-there are few trees that cost so little to plant and give so much over such a long period of time.  It isn’t just the fruit- it’s the beautiful blossoms in the springtime that bust out and dazzle the cold grey spring!  It is a crime that so many people let all the fruit on their fruit trees rot and then call them nuisances.  It’s FOOD.  People in this country are starving and other people are letting fruit drop and rot and then go to the grocery store and effing BUY fruit.  If you don’t want your fruit, pick it and donate it to your local food bank.  Or give it to me.  I’ll can it or dry it and maybe if you’re lucky I’ll share your own bounty with your lazy ass.  (Old people are excepted from this tirade as well as people with bad backs and other infirmities that make harvesting and preserving fruit painful or impossible.)

9.  Coffee. I look forward to it every morning.  It’s 1/3 caffeine strength and gives complete satisfaction.  I drink it black at home, no sugar.  Elsewhere, if I’m suspicious of the strength or flavor of the coffee I often add half and half or milk.  Sometimes I go to sleep only because the sooner I go to sleep the sooner I can wake up and have coffee.  I only like to drink it up to about noon.

10.  Tea. Black tea.  Black strong British tea: PG Tips to be precise.  It is heavenly!  My coffee price just went up a dollar per pound so I’m thinking it’s time to order some decaf PG Tips online and start drinking tea every morning instead of coffee.  Black tea I ALWAYS drink with milk and sugar.

11.  Music. I believe that part of what redeems humans from their status as largest virus ever to attack earth is their ability to make and play music.  All music.  Even music I don’t like.  It’s a higher form of communication, in my opinion, than plain speech.  It’s poetry in notes, in frequency, and numbered intervals that can be rearranged in infinite combinations to express things we can’t otherwise express.

12.  Listening to music LOUDLY and ALONE. I love to blast the hell out of music when no one is around.  I love to blast it so loud the rafters shake.  I have a strong desire to feel music in my marrow, not just hear it with my ears.  I don’t do this often but it brings me 100% complete giddy joy and I never fail to feel better after belting out some of my favorite songs or even just letting Opera (which I can’t belt out) reach every particle of my bones while I cook.

13.  Sharing my pantry with friends. Or my fabric stash.  Or anything I have that I feel abundant in.  There are a lot of things I’m not generous with (my time, phone calls to friends, my avocados) but if you come over there’s a good chance I’ll give you something I’ve canned or frozen or dried.  It makes me feel good.  And for the record it represents a lot of my time and my desire to nourish others as well as myself.

14.  Writing. Not writing is not an option.  Sometimes writing is hard and sometimes it’s a lot of work, but there is no minute of my life that has passed since I started writing that I have doubted I was supposed to be doing it.  For many years I professionally pursued design because it’s generally a lot more stable and well paying than writing but never in that time did I stop writing.  There are times when I have to recharge and write less but it is always to replenish the words.  When I know I’ve written something worthy it feels as though all the blood in my body was buzzing with excitement.

15.  Cheese. I’d like to pretend I don’t care about cheese but since I’m wearing a lot of it on my hips I can’t get away with it.  I love cheese.  It makes me happy.  Although I will be forcing more moderation on myself this coming year, I lost 40 lbs of baby-weight while still eating cheese.  I just made sure I ate 2 ounces at a time instead of 6!

16.  The smell of wild herbs on the hot summer air. In California it’s a dry hot sharp sage scent, here in Oregon it’s a little softer and there’s something more, I’m not sure what it is.  Some day I’ll know.

17.  Snow. It never ceases to make me happy, happy in an unhinged way- like I could take flight with no wings.  I love the smell of it, the sound of it falling, the blue and the sparkle and the frozen hand it clamps down on everything.  I love the way it makes everyone STOP.

18.  My supportive friends, both online and off. I am very fortunate in my friends.  I’m not an easy person to know, I’m about as prickly as a wart-hog and as bullish, but those people with the patience to know what is underneath the tough skin, the grouchy exterior, are treasures to me.

19.  Books. Magic.  It is self discipline that prevents me from being a bibliophile.  I love the smell of them and I love the way they take you away without having to move.  All time favorite authors: Mary Stewart, Georgette Heyer, Dorothy L. Sayers, Elizabeth George, Charlotte Bronte, Kurt Vonnegut, J.D. Salinger, Anne Lamott, David Sedaris, Jane Austen, Pablo Neruda, Emily Dickinson, Margaret Atwood, Michael Connelly, Agatha Christie, Tara Sita (as yet unpublished).

20.  Cooking. Home cooking trumps all other cooking if you don’t cook your food in the microwave or boil everything to death.  Cooking is a joy.  It is the ultimate in self nourishment as well as nourishing others.  Plus it’s fun.

21.  Preserving food. Incredible science, amazing advancement of civilization, an amazing skill to possess.  There are few things I do around my house that make me feel quite as industrious and satisfied as putting up a bunch of food for the winter.

22.  Riding bicycles with Max. We have the best conversations while riding our bikes to Kung Fu.

23.  Going out to dinner with Philip and Max. From the time Max was born until one year ago this was not very fun, it was an exercise in how to keep Max from noticing the food all around him that grosses him out, keeping him from jumping off the chandeliers, and finding one thing he can eat.  Suddenly he didn’t need to be entertained, he just started enjoying talking to his parents and though he doesn’t eat regular food out we’ve found what works.  I now look forward to this outing with my guys every single week.  We laugh a ton and connect with each other, enjoying our quirky special needs unit.

24.  Reading magazines. I love them.  I will always love them.  I don’t buy them very often now.  I almost never buy the gossip rags any more and only allow myself to buy the fashion mags every couple of months at most.  I still get a thrill opening a fresh magazine.

25.  The smell of citrus blossoms. Nothing is quite as thick and exotic and promising- completely wildly at odds with the actual fruits which also smell and taste divine but are sharp, fresh, cooling, spunky, and bright.

26.  Rain. We get lots of it and I never get tired of it.  It’s inconvenient sometimes but it’s my perfect weather.  I like some variation of course, some sunshine (I only need a little bit) and snow are all good too.  But rain, rain I absolutely love.

27.  Happy endings. I’m not a sap.  I’m not really a softie.  I don’t love a gushy-ass romance and I don’t love those kind of shows that only exist to be played during Christmas so everyone can “feel good”.  However, I like the murderer to always get caught.  I want the couple to always work their shit out.  I want them to get together and if I read a book in which a couple stupidly splits up over ridiculous reasons I am left with a very bad taste in my mouth.  That’s what real people do.  I want my fiction to be mostly realistic and have some grit and substance but I see no reason why I can’t at least see a couple get through hard times.  Give me some hope.  Give me a little bone of happy to chew on.

28.  Words. I derive a lot of happiness from words.  I like to chew on them.  I like to say them.  I like to hate them.  I like to try new ones and rediscover old ones.  I like to hear people use surprising ones.  They’re like clothes for the mind.  I have a pretty big wardrobe of them but am always looking to add more to my closet.  Plus, they’re free.

29.  Sewing. I have always had a love/hate relationship with sewing.  When it goes well it can make you feel like a million dollars and reassures you that you’ll always have something to wear even if the garment industry crumbles.  It also means you can probably make your own tent if you have to.  Clothes and shelter are things most people need.  Being able to provide yourself with these things if necessary is deeply satisfying.

30.  Walking. I love walking.  I don’t do much of it here.  This isn’t a town I’ve been inspired to walk in much.  I don’t know why.  I walked a lot everywhere else I’ve lived.  I walk fast naturally.  It clears my head.  I especially love walking with my headphones on so I can see everything heightened by my personal soundtrack.  People are prettier when you can’t hear them talking.

31.  Pens. I’ve had a long list of favorites over the years.  I haven’t used anything besides Papermate medium tip felt pens in black for over 5 years.   Writing with any other pen makes me uncomfortable.

32.  Paper. An obsession of mine.  I only use one kind of notebook and haven’t used any others except in emergency (can’t find the ones I use) for over ten years.  Right now I can’t find them and I’ve been using a substitute and I’m preparing to buy a huge bulk order of them.  It’s cheaper that way anyway.

33.  Poppies. California poppies are wonderful but I’ve now come to love the Oriental ones too and my favorites are a mix of Shirley poppies.  Gorgeous!  When I see the weird alien looking pods swell up in the spring I can’t help but feel happy with anticipation and then when they are in full bloom I find myself staring at them from my second story office window because they are irresistible.

34.  Herbs. I love herbs.  I love cooking with them.  I love drinking them in teas.  I love growing them, smelling them, and making remedies out of them.  A garden with no herbs is missing its strength and protection.  The only thing I don’t do with herbs is smoke them.  I leave that to others.  Thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, arnica, comfrey, these are some essentials.

35.  Farmer’s markets. I love them.  I love how each one has its own distinct flavor of people and produce and crafts.  Shopping for my produce from the farmers who grew them adds an extra dimension of enjoyment both to cooking with them and eating them.

36.  Grocery shopping. I’ve always loved it.  I hate shopping for shoes or clothes or really anything besides grocery shopping.  The isles offer limitless possibilities and there are strange and wonderful (and strange and creepy) things to discover down those long isles of packaging.  Plus the people watching is pretty great as well.

37.  Hot soaks in the tub. I haven’t done this for years because I’ve had nothing but stupid bathtubs for years that were too shallow for a good soak.  I love to add herbs to a bath, oils, and bath bombs.  I don’t usually soak for long because I like them too hot to stay in them long.  It’s very relaxing to soak.

There’s more.  There’s always more.  I’m tired.  The day is coming to a close.  Perhaps I’ll add to it or just make a second list when I have the time and inclination.  I just thought I should check to make sure that lots of things still inspire me and make me happy.  I’m pretty sure I could double the list given a little more time.