Growth

Rules of Adulthood Revisited

July 16, 2018


Way back in 2010, when I first read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, I seized on the concept of Rules of Adulthood. At that time, mine included:
  • There is time enough
  • Live joyfully
  • Be Kathy
  • Put on your big girl panties and deal with it
  • Pause before you say no
  • It is what it is
  • Rise to the occasion
  • I am enough
  • Slow down—faster isn’t better
  • Progress, not perfection
  • Help is everywhere
  • What would I do if I wasn’t scared?

There’s been a lot of figurative water under the bridge since then, including my turning 50—howisthatevenpossible? Now that I’m, ahem, so mature, I've been toying with the idea of revising my Rules of Adulthood for my new stage of life (midlife-no-kids-at-home-but-not-quite-retired).

One of the issues I commonly deal with now is worry about the future. As I get older, I see my parents and in-laws aging and coping with various physical and emotional challenges. I worry about losing my husband. About becoming ill myself. After Scout’s death hit me hard, I worry about losing Tank, Prudy, and Luna, knowing that there's no guarantee they will live the long life Scout did.

Milestones keep coming, but they’re not fun ones like college, marriage, and starting a family. More like colonoscopies, bereavement, and loss of physical vitality!

Wait, where was I?

Oh, yes, Rules of Adulthood. To combat these worries, I some additions to my original Rules of Adulthood:

  • Everything is figure-out-able (courtesy of Marie Forleo). Instead of stressing about what might (or might not) be ahead, believe that I’ll be able to figure it all out when the time comes.
  • Life is not a competition.
  • Be easy with yourself. After all these years, trust that you are a good and decent person, even when you make mistakes. (See next rule.)
  • Everyone is doing the best they can--including you.
  • Quality, not perfection. Perfection is unattainable, but you’re almost always able to live and work with quality.
  • See the funny side. Because laughing is better than crying. Usually.
  • Don’t immediately label things that happen to you as “good” or “bad”

It’s good to review the way we think from time to time. As we age, ideally we’re becoming wiser, kinder people. As we experience more, we learn to see other peoples’ points of view. Maybe we soften, maybe we grow stronger. Life is a work in progress, and though change is sometimes scary and hard, sometimes it’s just what we need.

Do you have Rules of Adulthood you live by? Please share in the comments!



Feelings

Looking Wider Than What Hurts

July 13, 2018

Photo by Slava Bowman on Unsplash

“In actuality, misery is a moment of suffering allowed to become everything. So, when feeling miserable, we must look wider than what hurts. When feeling a splinter, we must, while trying to remove it, remember there is a body that is not splinter, and a spirit that is not splinter, and a world that is not splinter.”
—Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening 

Appreciation

What I Learned From a Daily Vacation

July 09, 2018


Last week, while I participated in Laura Vanderkam’s Daily Vacation Challenge, I:

  • Did a crossword puzzle
  • Spent time with Tank
  • Read a book
  • Watched a movie without doing anything else at the same time

What I learned surprised me:

I already do these things, with the exception of the movie, every week. It seems I’m good at scheduling simple pleasures, but not so good at savoring them while they’re occurring. Which means I’m not so good at remembering that I’ve indulged in a simple pleasure. I rush through even pleasurable things to get to the next thing, which leaves me feeling stressed and grumpy. I’m still fighting the busy fight.

I don’t properly appreciate the many lovely things in my life. I don’t fully savor them, or reflect on them later.

I’m embarrassed by how much I complain about my perceived challenges and how ungrateful I’ve been. I hope—no, I plan—to change this. I started 2018 with a gratitude practice—writing down three things I was grateful for every day. I stopped doing that a couple of months ago, and I’m going to pick it up again. (I’ve been having some issues with depression again, and I wonder if this would help? Couldn’t hurt.)

I didn’t expect to learn these things about myself—but I’m glad I did. This coming week, a non-vacation week, I’ll still indulge in some of my favorite simple pleasures, and I’m keeping a time log, so I’ll have a place to record those daily breaks. My goal is to slow down enough to actually appreciate them while they’re happening. I’ll dust off my gratitude journal and bite my tongue when I start to complain. 

Did you participate in the Daily Vacation Challenge? What were your favorite mini-breaks? Did you learn any unexpected lessons? Please share in the comments below! 

Growth

Work, Play, Be Joyful

July 06, 2018

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

“Summer is a period of luxurious growth. To be in harmony with the atmosphere of summer, awaken early in the morning and reach to the sun for nourishment to flourish as the gardens do. Work, play, travel, be joyful, and grow into selfless service. The bounty of the outside world enters and enlivens us.”
—Paul Pitchford



Daily Vacation

The Daily Vacation

July 02, 2018

Photo by Mohamed Ajufaan on Unsplash

My husband is taking some time off work this week, so I’ll be doing the same. (That means I’m going to try to accomplish in two days what it usually takes me five days to do—wish me luck!) Also, as luck would have it, starting today I’m joining Laura Vanderkam’s Daily Vacation Challenge. The idea of the Daily Vacation is something she learned about while researching her new book, Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, which I’ve requested from the library but haven’t read yet.

The Daily Vacation is simply planning 15 minutes of doing something you know you’ll enjoy each day. Laura writes: “Each day for one week, you anticipate your daily vacation. You try to slow down during it, and really notice all your senses. You think of how you might describe this pleasure to someone. Afterwards, you make a note of it somewhere, to help cement the memory.  Then you look forward to your next vacation.”

I’m in! I’ll be sharing my daily vacations on Instagram (follow me here if you don’t already)—and maybe I’ll do a round-up of how it went next Monday, if it seems appropriate. You can share your daily vacations with Laura by commenting on her blog post linked above, or by tagging her or using #offtheclock on social media. I’m sure she’d love to hear what you you’re up to!

And so would I—what simple pleasures will you enjoy this week?

Abundance

Confused

June 29, 2018


 “We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness….”
—Tom Waits

Cats

“Happiness Is a Warm Puppy”*

June 22, 2018


Today is Take Your Dog to Work Day, and while I tried to convince my husband to take Luna to the office with him, he declined. Since I work at home, every day is Take Your Dog to Work Day for me, and while that has its drawbacks, overall I love being able to take a break for cuddle time with either Luna or Prudy, my other fuzzy office mate.

For many, myself included, pets are a lasting source of happiness and simple pleasures. In honor of the dog in my life, here are a few quotes about how dogs and happiness:

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring — it was peace.”
—Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

“When we adopt a dog or any pet, we know it is going to end with us having to say goodbye, but we still do it. And we do it for a very good reason: They bring so much joy and optimism and happiness. They attack every moment of every day with that attitude.”
—W. Bruce Cameron

“Animals have come to mean so much in our lives. We live in a fragmented and disconnected culture. Politics are ugly, religion is struggling, technology is stressful, and the economy is unfortunate. What's one thing that we have in our lives that we can depend on? A dog or a cat loving us unconditionally, every day, very faithfully.”
—Jon Katz

“My idea of absolute happiness is to be in bed on a rainy day, with my blankie, my cat, and my dog.”
—Anne Lamott

(Sounds good to me!)

“Because of the dog's joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born.”
—Mary Oliver

Happy Friday, everyone—and if you have a dog, cat, or other animal companion, give them a little extra love today.

*Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts


Summer Rerun--Artful Living: Applying the Five E's

June 18, 2018

Now and then I dip into the Catching Happiness archives and share a post from the past. I hope you enjoy this one, from 2012. 

Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion, Athens

I recently completed Laure Ferlita’s online art class, An Imaginary Trip to Greece, an experience that qualifies as both a simple pleasure and an everyday adventure. One of the main focuses of her classes is learning how to quickly capture a scene on location where conditions can change quickly, you can be interrupted, etc. One tool Laure stresses in class is the “five E’s”—concepts that help us figure out what we want to sketch and how we can make each sketch uniquely our own. The Five E’s are: Evaluate, Eliminate, Edit, Exaggerate, and Embellish. Always on the lookout for principles that could be useful in living a happier, more artful life, it occurs to me that the five E’s could be quite useful:

Evaluate. Just as an artist evaluates his or her subject to find its most pleasing aspect or determine what is sketchable in the time available, you can evaluate your life to see how it's running. What feels good and bad, how you’re measuring up to your standards, how you’re progressing toward your goals. Taking stock of the who, what, when, where and why of life. In stopping to evaluate, you bring awareness to your life instead of drifting (or charging) around mindlessly.

Eliminate. On location, once you’ve chosen your subject, you want to eliminate anything that doesn’t significantly add to the sketch. You simply won’t have time to get every detail down on paper, so choose your details wisely. In the same way, life is short! After you evaluate it, you might decide you have some things to get rid of. Maybe literally, like that closet of items you want to donate to charity or a stack of old magazines and catalogs you’ll never get around to reading. Maybe it’s a chore or other commitment that has outlived its usefulness. It might even be a person who drags you down every time you’re together. What can you get rid of to make your life better?

Edit. In sketching and life, once you’ve decided what you want to focus on and what you want to eliminate, what’s left? Maybe you don’t want to eliminate something all together, but you can pare it down or simplify it.

Exaggerate. In class, Laure advises students to “use your creative license to exaggerate the elements to make it a great piece of art.” In sketching, that might mean darkening the values, or adjusting the direction of the light hitting your subject to make a more interesting composition. To translate this into life, choose to focus on, encourage and support the positive.

Embelish. The fun part! In art, this is where you add your own style to your sketch. In life, this is where you find ways to make it more beautiful—buy the fresh flowers, eat the chocolate, go see that movie, play, concert or sporting event that interests you. Life should be more than a list of chores and responsibilities.

Just as Laure’s five E’s make sketching on location easier and more fun by giving me a framework to help me choose a subject and execute a sketch, using the five E’s as a framework for living helps me feel like an artist in my own life. (And thank you to Laure for introducing me to these principles in art and in life!)

Do you have any principles that help you lead a happier, more artful life?

Cats

Happiness Is Like a Cat

June 15, 2018



“Happiness is like a cat, If you try to coax it or call it, it will avoid you; it will never come. But if you pay no attention to it and go about your business, you'll find it rubbing against your legs and jumping into your lap.”
—William Bennett

Books

Summer Reading List 2018

June 11, 2018

I’m feeling a bit bookish, how about you? Watching the premier episode of The Great American Read reminded me of just how much reading and books have meant to me, and how passionate readers are about their favorites. Plus I’ve been inspired by blogging friends who’ve posted their own summer reading lists: Leanne Sowul has an ambitious list of 37 books on hers! And Danielle Torres has a cool theme for her summer reading. Check it out here.

Me, I’m all over the place. I want to read All The Books. I’ve chosen quite a few from my groaning TBR shelf, and a few from the running list I keep in my planner.  I know I won’t read them all, but that’s OK.  I love the process of choosing books to read. Thinking about reading is almost as fun as actually reading.

The first two books come from the Great American Read list of 100 novels: The Giver, by Lois Lowry and The Stand, by Stephen King. I’m not sure I’m up for this chunk of a book, but maybe. Or maybe I’ll woman up and choose War and Peace?  

I’m very intrigued by Circe, by Madeline Miller. 

Blandings Castle, by P.G. Wodehouse. Sometimes I just need a little Wodehouse. (I was disappointed to see none of his novels made the list for the Great American Read.) 

Starting to prepare for Paris in the fall with these possibilities: 

The Light of Paris, by Eleanor Brown. This one is waiting for me at the library as I type. Thanks to Danielle for the recommendation.

The Little Pleasures of Paris, by Leslie Jonath.


Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide, by Jessie Kanelos Weiner. I’m already reading this charming little book.

Speaking of Paris, I should be practicing my drawing and painting prior to the trip. Am I? No, I am not. Maybe one of these books will jump start my practice:

Keys to Drawing, by Bert Dodson.

The New Creative Artist, by Nita Leland

How about a peek into someone else’s life? I have the Journal of Eugene Delacroix on my shelves, as well as Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, by Edith Holden.

Surviving Your Dog’s Adolescence, by Carol Benjamin. Because Luna.

Upstream, by Mary Oliver. I love her poetry, and look forward to reading this collection of essays.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman, by Jill Leport. Because now I have a thing for Wonder Woman.   

Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan, by Elaine M. Hayes One of my favorite jazz singers

The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club. by Gil McNeil. Because it’s been on my TBR list for years!

A collection of short stories: either by Eudora Welty (I have a collection on my TBR stack at home), Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors, Edith Pearlman’s Honeydew, or Ellen Gilchrist’s Acts of God.

These are the books I feel like reading now—and that list is likely to change over the summer as new books catch my eye. Will I find a new favorite author or will one of these books rate as a “best read” for 2018? I can’t wait to find out.

What will you read this summer?

Best Friends Day

Celebrating the Simple Pleasure of Friendship

June 08, 2018


“Close friends contribute to our personal growth. They also contribute to our personal pleasure, making the music sound sweeter, the wine taste richer, the laughter ring louder
because they are there.”
—Judith Viorst

June 8 is Best Friends Day—let’s celebrate the people who bring so much happiness and pleasure to our lives!

Happiness

Why I'm Not Making a Summer Fun List This Year

June 04, 2018

Photo by Angelina Litvin on Unsplash

Those of you who know me know I hate summer in Florida. It’s too hot and humid to enjoy being outside, and those conditions drain my energy and kill any desire I might have to get things done. Unfortunately, the need to get things done doesn’t go away with the advent of summer conditions. Every year, I tell myself I’m not going to complain (much) about the weather, and I am going to plan fun things to look forward to during the hottest, stickiest months. (You can read about previous summer fun lists here and here. Last year I was deep in the redesign of Catching Happiness and didn’t make a list—instead, I asked friends to share their favorite summer pleasures.)

This year, I’d planned to make a summer fun list again, but I’ve been struggling to come up with anything that sounded like fun.

Yes, I can make a struggle out of having fun.

Then I realized that part of the problem was that I was making a list of things to do. If you were already fighting an energy drain, would you want to pile more things to do upon yourself, even for the sake of “fun”? Probably not.

What will make me happy this summer? To have more time to relax and do nothing (or very little). What that translates to for me is: time to read a book on the couch in the afternoon, time to play with Luna in the pool, time to sit in my rocking chair and daydream, even time to putter around my house tidying up the inevitable messes that materialize here and there. (It makes me happy to have a pretty and tidy home.)

In 2018, I’ve been busier with freelance work than I’ve been in a long time (for which I’m very, very grateful), as well as training and supervising Luna, which means I’m stuffing other necessary and pleasurable activities into a smaller box of time. It feels like every moment of my day is full, and there’s a waiting list for my time and attention. So this summer, I want to rush less and savor more, to float rather than dog paddle

I’m looking for an easy, relaxed feeling this summer (flow!), not to cram it full of more things to DO. I’m still experimenting with not over-planning my schedule after my mini-breakdown in March. 

Does this make me a slacker? No, it does not. My summer fun list doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s in order for it to be right for me. And neither does yours. I don’t want to run around a lot, but maybe you do. Maybe you’ve been cooped up all winter and you’re ready for adventures! Maybe you still have kids at home who’ll drive you insane if you don’t get them out of the house to do something. I remember those years.

Sure, a movie or a museum visit with a friend will be most welcome, and I’ll likely create a summer reading list since I haven’t done one for a couple of years…and that couch is beckoning. Beyond that, I don’t think I want to commit to doing anything else!

For me this summer, that feels right.

Tell me about your summer fun plans. What will you do—or not do?

Happiness

Play Beckons

June 01, 2018

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

“Why is play so elusive for some grown-ups? Because we are so strongly attracted and attached to a profoundly goal-oriented, work-ethic-driven society. Like other forms of nonwork, play connotes wastefulness, a stoppage in the way of what needs to get done. Yet often what really needs to get done has more to do with our hearts and spirits and less to do with a deadline or longstanding project. Play beckons to us, urging us to live in the present moment, a moment that becomes more luminous when we disallow interruptions like work and worry.”
—Leslie Levine, Ice Cream for Breakfast

How will you play today? 


Link love

Rainy Holiday Weekend Link Love

May 25, 2018


This is Memorial Day weekend in the U.S.—time to remember the fallen, and mark the unofficial beginning of summer. We’re hosting out-of-town family, and the forecast is for rain, rain, rain. Hopefully the weather will cooperate enough for us to spend time on our lanai. Luna is looking forward to meeting some new people and demonstrating her (questionable) swimming skills.

If your Memorial Day weekend proves rainy, or leaves you with a little extra time on your hands, here are a few links you might love:

I hate to tell you this, but the first half of 2018 is almost over. Yeah, I know, where did it go?! It’s a good time to evaluate how 2018 is shaping up, so check out these “10 Questions for Mid-year Reflection.”

“Four Things Procrastinators Need to Learn” was outstanding. I am a big-time procrastinator (and yes, I have several items on a to-do list that are more than a year old, much to my chagrin). 

Subscribe to free e-magazine Happiful here, or if you prefer, buy print versions here. Happiful aims to provide “informative inspiring and topical stories about mental health and wellbeing. 

You don’t have to consider yourself in midlife to learn from the suggestions in “8 Ways you Can Survive—and Thrive in—Midlife”. Number five helped me understand why setting goals is such a major production in my life.

I so much identified with “What If All I Want is a Mediocre Life?” For example, in one passage, the author writes: “What if I am not cut out for the frantic pace of this society and cannot even begin to keep up? And see so many others with what appears to be boundless energy and stamina but know that I need tons of solitude and calm, an abundance of rest, and swaths of unscheduled time in order to be healthy. Body, spirit, soul healthy. Am I enough?” A question I often wrestle with. 

And speaking of wrestling with feeling not good enough, in “Feeling Overwhelmed? Remember RAIN,” you’ll learn four steps to stop being less hard on yourself.

This baby elephant doesn’t want to stop playing in the mud:



There will be no post Monday due to the holiday weekend, but the Happy Little Thoughts newsletter will go out as scheduled on Sunday. (If you’re not already receiving the newsletter, click here.)

Hope you have a beautiful weekend, rain or shine!

Books

The Great American Read--Did Your Favorite Novel Make the List?

May 21, 2018


Since reading is one of my favorite simple pleasures, I’m looking forward to watching The Great American Read, an eight-part PBS series which premieres tomorrow, May 22. The documentary will explore and celebrate the power of reading in American culture “through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels”. The books were chosen in a national survey, and you can find a list of them here. You can join the Great American Read Book Club here

Viewers will have the chance to vote for their favorites online and on social media starting when the first episode airs. The finale will take place in October, when the winner will be revealed. See your local PBS station for details.

As I write this, I’ve read 36 of the 100 on the list, and I’m in the middle of a 37th (Great Expectations). Several on this list I’ve tried to read and couldn’t get through (I’m looking at you The Catcher in the Rye). I plan to read at least a few more of them, including The Giver, War and Peace, and Stephen King’s The Stand. And there are some on this list that I won’t even attempt to read because they’re just not my cup of tea, life’s too short, and my TBR list is already (wayyyy) too long. That’s the beauty of the modern age of books: there’s a meaningful book out there for everyone. And often they’re freely (literally) available.

Some of my favorites from the list include Anne of Green Gables, The Alchemist (I wrote briefly about both Anne and The Alchemist here), Pride and Prejudice, The Help, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Two of my favorite authors who were not on the list: Barbara Kingsolver and P.G. Wodehouse.

(In 2003, the BBC undertook a similar search for the best-loved book in the United Kingdom. The winner of The Big Read was J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.)

Let’s talk about books! Which of the 100 have you read? Which are your favorites and which ones didn’t you like? Why? Was your favorite on the list?

Attention

Our Most Important Tool

May 18, 2018


“Attention is like energy in that without it no work can be done, and in doing work is dissipated. We create ourselves by how we use this energy. Memories, thoughts and feelings are all shaped by how use it. And it is an energy under control, to do with as we please; hence attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.”
—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience



Happiness

Are You Mean to Yourself?

May 14, 2018

On the bulletin board next to my desk hangs a sign with the following words:



I’m mean to myself sometimes, and I’m betting you are, too. For instance:

  • When you goof up, do you replay the mistake in your head, over and over again, mentally cringing at your error? Do you think you shouldn’t have made a mistake?
  • When you’re sick, tired, or just not feeling up to par, do you always “power through,” regardless of how you feel? 
  • Does your inner critic receive your full attention and agreement when he/she begins to speak? 
  • Do you practice real self-care on a regular basis? By real self-care, I mean things like eating a healthful diet, sleeping enough, using stress-relief techniques when you’re feeling anxious—generally, just taking care of yourself.
For our own happiness’ sake, I think we should be nicer to ourselves all the time, even when we feel we least deserve it.

A few ways to be nice to yourself include:

Talking to yourself with respect. Reprogram your thoughts. Next time you begin to mentally beat yourself up for a mistake or criticize yourself for some real or imagined failing, STOP. Take a breath. Admit, yes, I made a mistake. I’m human. I will do better next time. I’m doing the best I can. Treat yourself—even in your thoughts—as you would a much-loved friend.

Treating your body lovingly. Feed it well, move it, let it rest. And talk to it nicely. Go slow enough, or take enough breaks during the day, that you can hear what it has to say.

Having more fun! Schedule at least one thing just for fun every day. Working out doesn’t count, unless you do it for fun. Maybe it’s a half hour of reading at lunchtime, a glass of wine with your partner before dinner, or playing a game with a friend online. Whatever simple pleasures make your heart happy.

When you are kinder to yourself, you’ll probably find it easier to cut everyone else some slack as well. We’re all imperfect, we all lose concentration now and then, we—gasp—make mistakes! It’s much easier to be patient and forgiving with others when that’s “where you live,” so to speak.

Being nicer to ourselves is not only a way to feel happier, it is also one way to add to the sum total of kindness and gentleness in the world—something the world desperately needs.

How are you mean to yourself? What can you do today to be nice to yourself?

George Santayana

A Happier State of Mind

May 11, 2018


“To be interested in the changing seasons is…a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”
—George Santayana, “Justification of Art”


Beautiful things

Happy Little Things--Beautiful Books

May 07, 2018



I’ve had an influx of beautiful books lately, so I thought I’d share this simple pleasure with you.

I was shopping at Target a couple of weeks ago when this book caught my eye:



First the pretty cover and then the enticing title: A Book That Takes Its Time: An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness. I picked it up to flip through and found that each page was unique. Thoughtfully written pieces were interspersed with happy illustrations and interactive goodies, such as tear out “Notecards for your beautiful moments jar.” The clincher that made me drop it into my basket—it is “a flow book.” (Flow is a magazine I’ve heard of but not yet seen in person. Since flow is my word of the year, my reticular activating system is constantly bringing it to my attention!)

I’m taking my time going through this book, savoring the simple pleasures within. On the back cover, it’s described as “A mindfulness retreat between two covers….” It has sections on kindness (to yourself and others), creativity, learning and more, as well as writing prompts, mini-journals, postcards, and decorative papers. I can see it sitting on a coffee table, available to browse through at whim. This was an impulse buy, but well worth the price.

Prudy likes it, too







The other beautiful books came to me by way of a contest! Rizzoli Books sponsored a giveaway on Instagram recently, and I won! The books arrived Friday. They’re all beautiful, and I know I’ll spend many happy hours browsing through them. 




 Two were of particular interest to me: Gardens of Style, by Janelle McCulloch, and Paris in Stride, by Jessie Kanelos Weiner and Sarah Moroz. Janelle writes and photographs the most beautiful books, and I’ve read her blog A Library of Design for several years. I claim her as a blogging acquaintance and hope to meet her someday as she sometimes visits Florida. 

 




Paris in Stride comes at just the right time, as I will be joining Laure Ferlita on her sketching tour in Paris in October! Paris in Stride is subtitled “an insider’s walking guide,” and is arranged by arrondissements, so I think it’s going to be helpful in planning our visit. Plus it’s charmingly illustrated in watercolor! (The books also came with a watercolor of the Eiffel Tour as seen below left.)

 


It will be hard to get my work done with these tempting beauties around!

What happy little things and simple pleasures have you savored lately?






Birds

The Winding Road Comes to an End

May 04, 2018

Gentle readers, let us finish up the Birds and Blooms and Winding Roads trip with some delicious food and a visit to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. (See part one here, part two here, and part three here.) Click on the photos if you'd like to see them bigger.


The last full day of our trip splurged on breakfast at Circa ’62 at the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek and Spa. I’m glad we didn’t stay there, because I would have found it hard to leave the property. The grounds were lovely:

Circa '62

There were chipmunks!


The food was some of the best I’ve ever eaten—we shared the hard cider French toast and the bacon and mushroom hash.

 

In addition to serving people, they are dog-friendly with a special menu just for their canine guests: the Stop, Drop & Drool menu, and there’s a special room where you can eat with your pet. (Luna would have lost her mind with joy.)


The doggy dining room
If I’m ever in the neighborhood again, you can bet I’ll try to wangle a stay there.

After we waddled walked to our car, we headed just up the road to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens: “47 acres of botanical bliss fronting the Pacific Ocean.” This garden was voted 5th best garden in the United States by USA Today’s “10 Best” Reader’s Choice Awards.

I could tell you about the blooming rhododendrons; the succulent and Mediterranean gardens; the walk by the sea where we watched in fascination as waves curled and broke, dashing themselves against rocks; the hummingbirds darting here and there...but instead I’ll let my photos show, not tell.


Enticing path

Blooming rhododendron





Tulip tree--I think it's a type of magnolia

Stalked aeonium


And so we come to the end of the Birds and Blooms and Winding Roads trip. It’s given me much happiness to relive this trip with you—thank you for joining me! I don’t know where my next everyday adventure will take me, but I’ll be sure to invite you along for the ride.

Where will your next everyday adventure take you?



California

Let There Be Lighthouses

April 30, 2018


Part Three of the Birds, Blooms, and Winding Roads Tour. Part one is here, part two is here. Click on photo to make it bigger.

One of our winding roads led us to Point Arena Lighthouse. Originally erected in 1870, it was destroyed by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and rebuilt two years later. It’s the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast (115 feet), and you can climb to the top. (One other lighthouse, Pigeon Point, is the same height, but it’s not open to the public to climb.)

The area around Point Arena Lighthouse was spectacularly photogenic. We glanced at the lighthouse itself, snapped its photo, and spent the rest of our time there stalking birds and taking pictures of wildflowers, seals, and tossing waves.


Indian Paintbrush




After lunch and a wander through Mendocino:




We found ourselves at Point Cabrillo Light Station. Construction began in 1908, and the light was turned on for the first time on June 10, 1909. 

The lightstation

We didn’t see any whales or sea lions off the point, but we did see some wildlife:

White-crowned sparrow

California ground squirrel
Looking back toward the lightkeepers' houses from the lightstation

You can stay in the lightkeepers’ houses—I would love to do that. The views would be spectacular. 

Looking toward the lightstation from near the keepers' houses
Ocean near your front door

I was going to lump the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens into this post, but I think I’ll save it for later. You’re not tired of vacation photos yet, are you? (Don’t answer that!) 


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