The Happiness Tag

This morning I found that I’d be given The Happiness Tag by a favorite fellow blogger, Becky Ellis at – here’s the link:

Becky’s blog encompasses information about my favorite bubbly adult beverages and frequently pairs them with amazing recipes; I hope you’ll check her out!

To accept The Happiness Tag:

  • 5  Things that Make Me Happy
  • 5  Songs that Make Me Happy
  • 5  Bloggers who Make Me Happy and Notify those Bloggers

5 Things that Make Me Happy

Being married to my soulmate.  Spence and I spent 18 years together before making it legal. As we approach our 7th wedding anniversary in a few weeks, I’m grateful knowing how lucky we are to have found each other and made this life together.

Being Cat Mom to Tipper and Biscotti.  Our two kitties were born in our back yard. Once they’d made eye contact with us we had to make them a part of our lives. Seven years later and each day they show me love with snugggles, purrs and playfulness.

When they were kittens…

Cooking. If you’ve followed my blog you could have predicted that it would make the list. There is something soothing and zen that happens to me during the creative process of preparing delicious food.  Learning new techniques, trying out recipes, tantalizing aromas filling our home and of course, sharing the meals with others who enjoy them all equal happy to me.

My garden.  In the first warm days of Spring, my hands start itching for contact with the dirt and with each week that passes, I’m in some stage of planting, pruning, gathering blooms and herbs, weeding and photographing it. Since retiring I’m able to spend more time enjoying it, stopping to smell the roses.


Travel.  A goal of mine since retiring two years ago was to travel with Spence as much as possible. Our travel is comprised of new destinations and returning to places we love.  I have chronicled many of our trips in my blog and hope to share many more!

5 Songs that Make Me Happy

  1. Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars – no matter how many times I hear it I can’t resist the urge to break into dance. Every.Single.Time.
  2. Locomotive Breath – Jethro Tull – a throwback to my teenage years, this has remained a classic rock favorite that never loses it luster for me. The beat, the lyrics, the imagery plus the power to transport me back in time, simply brilliant.
  3. September – Earth, Wind & Fire – doesn’t this song make everyone happy? I defy you not to smile and stay in your seat.
  4. God Only Knows – The Beach Boys – one of the greatest songs about love. Ever.
  5. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond – so many great memories of this song, seeing Neil Diamond perform it when I was a teen, singing and dancing along to it in the ensuing years at numerous parties with great friends.

5 Blogs that Make Me Happy – Chef Anne is not only responsible for creating healthy, delicious recipes but her food photography is unequaled.  She plates like an artist and I only wish she was in Michigan so that I could try her food. – Stuart M. Perkins has a writing style that is honest, touching and his stories make me slow down to savor each word. – This blog may have begun with Chris, The Baddest Cat You’ll Ever Love (and he looks like my Biscotti) but he shares this blog with his siblings including recently adopted and adorable kitten, Floki.  Cat lovers, this blog is one you need to check out. – Purrseidon is the star of this blog and is a cat. A cat who a fearless lover of water and a water sports enthusiast. But more than that, many posts written to Purrseidon’s “Furiends”  feature stories of siblings, selfies and everything that is good, informative and helpful for cat moms and dads.  “Purr-fectly fun”! – Frances is a breath of fresh air, pairing beautifully photographed flowers with perfect quotes and sharing delicious recipes.  Retired since 2013 her posts are like a welcome visit with that friend that truly “gets” you. Simpatico.







Just Three Songs?

From our third Writing 101 assignment participants are asked to free write about the three most important songs in our life.

My first thought “ugh”.  Not because I don’t love music but rather because I LOVE MUSIC.  In order to complete the assignment without completely losing my mind I’m going to slightly alter it to choose my three favorite albums.

  • Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell
  • Aqualung by Jethro Tull
  • Live at the Troubadour by Carole King and James Taylor

The first two were easy enough since I owned them on LP, cassette, CD and full downloads to my iPod.  The third I happened upon quite by accident at my neighborhood Blockbuster check-out counter which featured a CD/DVD pack of a live performance by the incomparable Carole King and James Taylor.


Court and Spark:  The brilliance that is Joni Mitchell is never brighter than on this compilation (in my humble opinion).  I know the words to every song and they still evoke emotions at age 58 though in a different way than they did when I discovered it in high school.  The songs are lyrical, painting musical pictures.  Her voice resonates.  I have listened to this during happy times but also when nursing a broken heart. It is in a word…..divine.


Aqualung represents the “rock chick” that I was at 16 and still am today.  This album was being released at the same time I went to see Jethro Tull in concert.  Having already discovered an earlier album by them, I was excited about the new release.  I’d never been to a concert but cannot  imagine a better performance than what I experienced that night. Ian Anderson, the lead singer and player of the flute, (that is such a defining instrument in their body of work), was electric.  I was mesmerized, gob-smacked, mind blown.  The songs are stories crafted inside of music that you can’t explain in words.  If you made me choose one song from the album, it would be “Locomotive Breath”.

And lucky me, last fall Spence and I traveled to see Jethro Tull in Buffalo, New York.  (see my earlier blog post “Flash Back – Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, then and now” for more about that experience and some little known trivia…..intrigued? I hope so.)


Live at the Troubadour is like a gift from the gods.  First of all, the life work of James Taylor and Carole King, two of the most gifted singer/songwriters is without equal (again, I’m blogging so I get to state my opinion but sense I’m not alone). Spence and I have listened to this CD (and watched the DVD) so many times it would be impossible to guess. These are songs that are lovely, evocative and so interwoven into our lives and memories that you couldn’t extricate them if you wanted to – and why would you want to?  Listening to this music brings tears to my eyes, a smile to my face and  an overall sense that everything is right with the world.

So there you have it.  Not so hard an assignment once I tweaked it a bit.

Flash Back – Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, then and now

Ian Anderson then

When I was 12 or 13, I discovered Jethro Tull’s album Stand Up. I played it endlessly on a portable record player in our treehouse.  Good times.

Fast forward, now 16, working in a donut shop, in the throes of first love and getting to attend my first rock concert, Jethro Tull.  The band had just released “Aqualung”.  I’d upgraded to a stereo (with my meager earnings slinging donuts) and nearly wore out that album.

That concert was mesmerizing – Ian Anderson playing the flute in between lyrics that were poetic –  juxtaposed with war, religion, infidelity, prostitution and an odd homeless man (the aforementioned Aqualung).  All this while standing on one leg, then high kicking said leg – while still playing the flute.  It was blazed into my memory as clearly as my first kiss – yes, pretty potent performance value.

The opportunity to see Ian Anderson perform the Best of Jethro Tull in Buffalo, Spence’s hometown, was irresistible and somehow destined. But here’s a little twist (like when the universe gives me added knowledge).  We’re staying in a HomeAway property in Sedona a few weeks ago.  A lovely home with buddhas, goddesses, fountains, yoga mats and breathtaking views (you get the idea – very zen) there were also baskets of magazines lying about.  Just one thing – all were Rolling Stone magazines. And back issues at that.  In rifling through them, I found an October 2013 issue featuring “The Walking Dead” with actor Andrew Lincoln on the cover. Now you might be thinking here, “what does this have to do with Jethro Tull?“.  Well guess what – Andrew Lincoln (who plays the lead character, Sheriff Rick Grimes in the Walking Dead) revealed in the interview that he’s married to Ian’s daughter!  Ha! Bet you didn’t see that coming. The flute-playing-on-one-leg rock and roll icon is the father-in-law of the most prolific zombie-killing survivalist in history.  “Would Ian make mention of this at the concert?” I mused.  I mean he’s gotta feel pretty proud of his son in law’s success right?  Time would tell……

Armed with this factoid and certain that 98% of those in attendance were not, I waited.  After the first song, Ian cleverly addressed the crowd with “this next song is enough to raise the Walking Dead“.   My head spun to look at Spence – ha!  Then later a song with background images that included Hitler, George Bush, Churchill and others, was a collage of photos that included that cover of Rolling Stone – right smack in the middle – and then some lyrics and images making reference to zombies.  He never made another reference.  But Ian knows.  And Spence and I know. Wink.

Back to the concert. Ian still performs on one leg (a lot), kicks (though not quite as high as before – but hey, he’s 67) and sang those same songs that blew my socks off at 16.  I was a bit freaked out that they ended without playing “Locomotive Breath” (the lyrics made such an impression that I’d composed a writing assignment for a college class in my 30’s built around that song). This music will always be part of my life’s soundtrack.

I shouldn’t have worried.  That was their encore song.  As we left I realized my face hurt from smiling.  I flashed back to my 16 year old self realizing that’s the same thing I felt leaving that first concert.

Ian Anderson now
Ian Anderson now
If you don't believe me, this is where I got my facts for this post.
If you don’t believe me, this is where I got my facts for this post.