What Makes YOU Happy?

We are living in “interesting times” as the Chinese curse would say. There is uproar, outrage, bad behavior, mud-slinging, riots, mob rule, and absolutely disgusting actions from those who should know better. Simple civility, manners, kindness, empathy and even smiling seems to have taken a very long vacation.

That said, there is a lot to be happy about just the same. Often as a ‘feel good’ exercise when I am feeling low, I write down all that makes me happy. When the list is done, I read it a few times and feel better. Sure, it doesn’t change millions of lives, but it helps me to get a more positive look on life.

Try it: get a pen and a notebook, and write your first line: “What Makes Me Happy.” If you need a nudge, I’ll share some happy stuff from my own list today:

  • My granddaughters’ laughter
  • A kiss and a hug from the Crankee Yankee
  • Emails and phone calls from my friends
  • The fall colors (which have been spectacular in this neck of the woods)
  • Blue herons
  • Hot black coffee every morning
  • The antics of all our five cats
  • The pleasure in putting out food, water and shelter for our strays outside
  • Cooking
  • A really good nap
  • Baking
  • The one remaining Monarch butterfly that sailed past my head the other day
  • A really GOOD bra (trust me: this is a real ‘feel good’ thing!)
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Singing
  • The lovely scent of the Blue Miu Miu perfume my friend gave me
  • *Corny jokes
  • Music
  • The colors I love: pink, purple, blue, indigo, aqua, turquoise, red and lime
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Lots of jingly jewelry
  • Walking on an ocean beach
  • Soup on a cold day
  • Jelly beans
  • Sharpie black felt pens

…And there are more, every day. Do yourself a favor and put pen to paper and just write down what makes YOU happy. It may not solve all the problems of the world or bring peace throughout the land, but it will make you feel better, trust me.

*From Laff Gaff, here are a few beauts:

How many lips does a flower have? Tu-lips.

How does a squid go into battle? Well armed.

What do you call a shoe made out of a banana? A slipper.

Why couldn’t the toilet paper cross the road? Because it got stuck in a crack.

What would bears be without bees? Ears.

How much does a pirate pay for corn? A buccaneer.

What did the mayonnaise say when the refrigerator door was opened? Close the door, I’m dressing.

What lies at the bottom of the sea shaking? A nervous wreck.



As October grows steadily colder, the Crankee Yankee and I decided yesterday to harvest the last of the peppers and tomatoes in the gardens. I filled three large zip-bags full of green tomatoes for the lady we know who makes wonderful relish, and four large bags of green peppers. The latter will reside in our freezer until I can figure out the best way to use them. I know, I know; I can make lots of baked stuffed peppers, but that’s a dish I really hate.

I have grudgingly made it a few times for the Crankee Yankee, who loves baked stuffed peppers. (I, however, usually eat something else—even a plain peanut butter sandwich tastes a whole lot better than those damned peppers!) But in the meantime, they can just sit there in the freezer until I come up with something to make with them.

NOTE: If you have any recipes using a mess of green peppers, I would welcome them!

We also had a few broccoli plants still growing, so I picked as much as I could and made a broccoli/carrot/onion/garlic/cheddar cheese soup with a splash of balsamic vinegar that turned out pretty well. Of course, some of the broccoli I used was getting a bit “woody,” so after I brought out two mugs of the soup, the Crankee Yankee and I named it “spitoolie soup.” This means that, while we sat on the front porch eating it, we also spit out all the really woody roughage. (That couldn’t have been a pretty sight!)

All silliness aside, it has been a year of great abundance, and not all of it came from our gardens. This year has brought an abundance of love, joy, letting go of old hurts, new ideas, a re-awakening of hobbies I had stopped doing, a closer relationship with the           people I love and cherish, and a better sense of self than ever before. I am profoundly grateful.

This is REAL abundance—even the flippin’ peppers.

The Grief Fade-Out

It has been nearly three years since my mother died, and a year and a half since my father died. If you remember Hurricane Sandy from years past, you might have done what the Crankee Yankee and I did; we drove right up to Hampton Beach. There we stood with dozens of others, laughing at how strong the winds were. You could actually lean back and not fall; the winds were that forceful.

Losing my parents was like having that strong wind suddenly stop; you knew immediately that you were going to fall.

All the necessary things that need to be done after a death keep you going for quite a while. It becomes sort of a temporary job; writing notes to family and friends, thanking them for flowers and cards and phone calls. There were so many who loved my parents, and I deeply appreciated their love and support.

There was so much to do when each of them died, and that alone kept me from falling apart. But when it was all over, I felt out of place and time. Grief is a mixed bag; I would find myself laughing hysterically over something I read and wished so much I could call Mom and share it with her. When Dad moved in with us, I baked endless chocolate chip cookies for him. It was the one “naughty” thing he loved. I haven’t made those cookies since he died.

I found a great therapist who helped me understand and work through my grief. Going for therapy never negates the love and support we get from family and friends. Therapy is just another avenue where we can get an impartial view on what we are going through. With the therapy, I was able to see my parents more clearly than I had before. Most of all, I was finally secure in the knowledge that they both were more than ready to go; fearlessly and happily.

These days I realize that my grief is still there; just not so present. But more than that, I realize that I am really all right. I have my one remaining relative left, Mom’s favorite brother, whom I have always called “Unkie.” I have the Crankee Yankee; my rock and my North star. I have my friends; new and old, whom I love deeply. Even one of our five cats, Pookie, is the one who comes to me when I feel a bit weepy.

But here’s the best thing: grief does fade. The tears come less often. Any guilt, real or imagined, begins to dissipate. Life goes on, and the deaths we have lived through remind us to show our love, our compassion, our understanding and our warmth to all in our lives. We never know when our time will come, but hopefully just before that last breath, I believe and hope with all my heart that it will be joyous.

A Cautionary Tale

I don’t claim to know everything about *socialism, but I know enough about it to worry that lots of people these days in our country think that it’s a great idea. They like the idea of free education, free healthcare, free this and that and so on. But the big question is this: where is the money to do all this going to come from?

The Crankee Yankee has a simple scenario that gives an idea of what living in a socialist country would be like:

  1. You work all week at your job. At the end of the week, you get your paycheck.
  2. Then you take that paycheck to the nearest Social Services office and hand them your paycheck.
  3. The Social Services office then determines what you need; bills to be paid, food to buy, clothing for school kids, etc. That part of your check you get to keep.
  4. The rest of your money goes to the “common good.”

Sure, your education and healthcare is free as well as some other services, but even in socialism, nothing is truly free. One of the scariest parts of socialism is that the government decides things for you that you may not like.

Example: say you are in your middle ’80s in a nursing home. There are some very expensive medicines that will greatly help your comfort and may even heal you and give you more years to live. However, the government is in charge of this, and they may decide that you are too old and too sick to waste money on. They would rather give that money and medication to younger people who can still serve the country. In other words, the government becomes the entity that decides if you live or die.

I realize that this sounds very **Draconian and scary, but it’s important that we understand that 1) freedom is never free, 2) you don’t get something for nothing, and 3) once we turn to socialism it’s pretty hard to go back to the freedoms our country fought so hard to put in place.

Just consider this a cautionary tale.

*From Webster’s Dictionary: Definition of Socialism

1any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
2a a system of society or group living in which there is no private property.
2b a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state.
3a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.
In the modern era, “pure” socialism has been seen only rarely and usually briefly in a few Communist regimes. Far more common are systems of social democracy, now often referred to as democratic socialism, in which extensive state regulation, with limited state ownership, has been employed by democratically elected governments (as in Sweden and Denmark) in the belief that it produces “a fair distribution of income without impairing economic growth.”
*From Webster’s Dictionary: Draconian comes from Draco, the name of a 7th-century B.C. Athenian legislator who created a written code of law. Draco’s code was intended to clarify preexistent laws, but its severity is what made it really memorable.
In Draco’s code, even minor offenses were punishable by death, and failure to pay one’s debts could result in slavery. Draconian, as a result, became associated with things cruel or harsh.
Something draconian need not always be as cruel as the laws in Draco’s code, though; today the word is used in a wide variety of ways and often refers to measures (steep parking fines, for example) that are relatively minor when compared with the death penalty.

The Power of Soup

The Crankee Yankee and I have agreed that our most favorite food these days is soup. Our favorites are the ones we concoct from leftovers or vegetables from our gardens, or, as we call it; “this and that soup.” Last year we had a gracious plenty of really good leeks, so I froze them. Just yesterday I thawed them out and paired them with some butternut squash, garlic, thyme, butter, olive oil, salt and pepper, some grated Cheddar cheese, oregano, some leftover half-and-half and beef broth.

Once everything was simmering and sending out drool-making scents, it was time to eat. We had the soup with some leftover rolls and it was the perfect supper. Soup is always warm and accomodating; it’s the meal that satisfies and comforts.

Ever since I started making soups from scratch, I can never throw out a chicken or a turkey carcass. Once I’ve picked the bones clean, I throw them into a pot of water along with onions, garlic, a few stalks of celery and some carrots, herbs and any other vegetables I may have. Once everything is boiled down, I strain out all the played-out bones and vegetables, and keep the broth.

After that I can add anything to it; chunks of chicken, turkey, chopped vegetables, a can of corn niblets plus herbs and viola: soup!

When you think about it, soup is a great healer of body, mind and soul. Had a bad day? Soup helps. Had an argument you regret? Soup helps. Had a close call on the road? Soup helps. Not feeling well? Soup helps. We have a saying in our house about soup: “it couldn’t hurt.”

I know that it sounds funny, but some people and pets are remarkably like soup; some are sharp and spicy, some are laid-back and mellow, some are exotic and stimulating, some are simply comfortable and home-y. All together, they make a savory collection of family and friends.

The same goes for soup; it may start as a “this and that” deal, but when the spoon meets the bowl, it’s all good.




In Praise of Getting Older

Getting older is not a bad thing at all. In fact, it turns out that, as we age, we are more likely to laugh more, love more, enjoy ourselves more, and best all; appreciate who we are as we are. 

Just recently I was watching a program with lots of wonderful people in their 70s, 80s and 90s. They talked about how they feel so much more comfortable in their own skins. The women especially rejoiced their wrinkles and silver hair; they said that they feel that they are finally accepting themselves. One woman in her mid-80s was actually a model.

Both men and women say that they laugh more and feel almost like children in that they feel so much joy in little daily things. They also say that they take themselves much less seriously than they used to. They don’t let things upset them as much as they used to, and they find happiness in things that they might have ignored years ago.

I copied the following from the Huff Post. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did:

1. Two words. Senior discounts.

2. Not worrying as much about things will “turn out.”


3. More mature relationships (hopefully). 

4. You’ve carved out a career.


5. Looks aren’t everything. 


6. There’s nothing wrong with a 9:30 PM bedtime. 


7. You stop caring what others think. 


8. Fewer major life decisions to make.

10. It’s ok to be an old soul. 


11. Dressing for comfort, first and foremost. 


12. More stable friendships. 


13. Retirement. Enough said.



14. To stop having to keep up with technology. 


15. It’s perfectly acceptable to sit at concerts.


16. Moving less frequently. 


17. Buh-bye PMS.