Monthly Archives: January 2015


I woke Tuesday night with a start. I hadn’t renewed my driver license on my birthday a few days before. Oh, no! I knew what I’d be doing Wednesday morning! I woke at 5:15, thanks to my feline alarm, and went through my usual “first-thing-in-the-morning” routine before facing the inevitable. I pulled up the driver’s handbook on my computer, did a quick scan of the California rules and regulations and set off for the DMV.

As I pushed open the glass door leading into the small office I was overwhelmed with a standing-room-only crowd of patiently waiting, mainly Hispanic, patrons. I’d forgotten the new California law that allows undocumented residents to apply for a driver license.

There were more than 35 people ahead of me with 2 overworked clerks. Discouraged and upset, I left to run some errands. On my return I saw I’d advanced by one number. Didn’t look promising. I returned in the afternoon, and things were only slightly better. Grrrr!

The only solution seemed to be to arrive the next morning before the doors opened. Got there at 7:30. First one to arrive. I sat in my car to stay warm until others were gathering by the doors. (Great opportunity to pass out Happiness Cards, which I did.)

Doors opened promptly at 8:00. I was second in line and was called immediately by one of the 2 clerks. I made out the necessary form and presented that and my old license to her. She scanned my papers and with a puzzled look said, “Your license hasn’t expired. You have another year! With that, I learned once again how unnecessary all the strum and drang of the past 24 hours had been.



“Flowers are love embodied. Look deeply at the color. Feel the vibrancy. Put your nose a little closer. Look deeply. Fall inside. Start your life over right here, right now, inside a flower.” ~ Lao TzuTulipWhat a tribute to flowers Lao Tzu makes in that quote! It makes me want to do just as he suggests: soak up the vibrancy and fall inside. Following are some further thoughts about the subject that I wrote for a page on my website to explain my chosen subject matter for photography.

Of all the extravagant beauty on our earth nothing is as colorful, varied, ubiquitous and downright flamboyant as flowers. They are not only lovely to look at, but our very lives depend on them. Most of our food comes from plants that flower, are pollinated and grow into fruits, vegetables and grains. Often the grains are then fed to animals that many people eat.

For a photographer flowers are perfect subjects. They can be shot on location or brought into the studio. They pose endlessly, don’t move around and need no breaks. Each blossom has its own distinctive characteristics. Their varied forms allow me to emphasize detail in a macro photograph, delineate abstract features in black and white, or portray a group of blossoms in all their brilliant color.

You need not be a photographer to enjoy flowers. Bring a bunch of spring daffodils inside to see how they brighten a room. Buy a bunch to give to your neighbor who needs some cheering up; surprise your spouse with his/her favorite blossoms. As Luther Burbank said, “Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine for the soul.” Here’s to flowers!



It isn’t a regal demeanor or a royal background or my name or age. What I share with Queen Elizabeth II of England is our birthdays. I don’t mean the dates. She was born on April 21, and I in January.

It’s that we both have two birthdays every year. Her second natal day, floats around the calendar a bit as it’s celebrated with a “Trooping the Colour” parade that always happens on a Saturday. To avoid spring rains it is scheduled for sometime in June. The Royal calendar changes with the weather.

My second birthday came about when I signed up for Facebook. My daughter-in-law instructed me, for security reasons, not to use my “real” birthday. So I didn’t…nor did I remember the date or even the fact that I’d provided the wrong one.

When I began getting birthday wishes on January 19, I was mystified. I finally figured it out, of course, and now, every year I enjoy the fraud I unintentionally perpetrated on my FB friends. It’s cool having birthday greetings twice a year, but I’m still waiting for my parade.

Give Yourself Away

I’m sharing this blog by my friend, Donna. She writes about how to find happiness by giving yourself away and says it well.

Writing for our Lives

In the group that meets each weekday morning at eight o’clock in Marie’s apartment, we currently are reading The Art of Happiness in a Troubled World  by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard C Cutler, MD. Have you noticed that scientific research and the new Positive Psychology movement are defining happiness and studying the means of achieving  it?

For a long time–ever since I first became enthralled with Mexico in 1988, I have noted that although Mexicans  have their social problems, loneliness is not one of them. In that culture, family comes first. And many Mexicans have large families. Frequently three or four  generations live in one home. By contrast, we Norte Americanos, in our separate homes, in our individual cars, valuing our independence and privacy, are so lonely we pay someone to listen to us.  The Dalai Lama reports that 25% of United States population has no one…

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Sometimes it’s handy having a 4 legged alarm, but not when I’d like to sleep in. Penny is a pretty smart cat. She’s survived for 14 years in a neighborhood with mountain lions, an occasional bear and lots of raccoons. But she doesn’t get it when I suggest we sleep past 5:15 on a Sunday morning.


Penny 1

She’s an outside cat in the summer, wandering through the house for an occasional brief visit. When the weather cool off she’s my roommate again. And she very quickly figures out when I’m usually up and available to spoon out her favorite treat – canned cat food. When I oversleep she knows just what to do.

Years ago she figured out how to wake me by putting her wet nose on my eyelid. I thought that was very sweet, and I could wake up slowly. But recently she found and even better technique: She puts her face next to my ear and MEOWs in her loudest voice. Very effective, but not so sweet. That was my wake-up call at 5:15 today.

Sleeping comes just behind eating as her favorite activity, but it’s gotta be on her schedule. If for some reason I need to move her in the middle of her snooze, she howls in protest. Despite my complaints I enjoy her company and without her I’d be “the old lady who lives alone.” Instead I’m “the old lady who lives with her cat.”

 Penny 3


With the holidays and the traditional gift-giving season behind us it’s easy focus on our own concerns and forget about giving until next year. But if one of our concerns is feeling happy, we’d be better served by finding ways to give, give, and give some more. Science has told us in many studies that giving makes us happy. An excellent, fun to read article from Happify has lots of information and clever graphics about the science behind giving and some suggestions about how to keep it going.

The article was published before Christmas when we tend to spend more on gifts than we do throughout the year, but it’s not necessary to spend anything to make yourself and someone else feel good. A smile, a hug, a kind word from you can make someone’s day…and yours, too.