Monday, June 29, 2015

10 Simple Things That Give Me Joy

I have much to be joyful about—three sons, two grandsons, a pending granddaughter, lovely wife, income, published books, et al—but these are the deep-seated joys, the ones that infuse the fabric of life with a cheerful background color. And they are often (far too often) taken for granted. But, acknowledged or not, they are not the things that make your life truly joyful.

And I am not alone in thinking this:

“Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life,” says my alleged great (great, great…) grand Uncle Ben. "Thus, if you teach a poor young man to shave himself, and keep his razor in order, you may contribute more to the happiness of his life than in giving him a thousand guineas.”
My favorite portrait of Uncle Ben, who also said:
"If you give a man a fish, he will eat today,

teach a man to fish and he'll sit in a boat and drink beer all day."
Wait a minute...I may be wrong on that one.
A kind word from a stranger, a laugh shared with the bus driver, an unexpectedly fine cup of tea—link a few of these together and you have a good day, live without them for very long, and life becomes monotonous and dreary.

That said, and to follow up my Modern Anxiety list, I offer here a few of the things that, throughout my day, I can count on to inject a little cheer:

This is a bottle of Baylis and Harding hand wash (Sweet Mandarin & Grapfruit). By scratching out a portion of the D, I made myself part owner in the company, and every time I look at it I want to giggle like a school girl.
My very own brand of hand soap.
Shower Squeegee
My shower resembles a glass phone booth with a shower head instead of a phone. It’s a nice shower, but the sight of the glass walls speckled with water spots made my inner OCD cleaner uneasy. Then I found a shower squeegee. Now, after a couple of deep-knee bends while holding the squeegee against the glass, I have a sparkling clean cubicle every day.
Squeegee. Photo taken through the squeaky (literally) clean walls of my shower. 
Mirror Hob
We have one of those newfangled hobs with pictures instead of burners and electronics instead of dials. I hate it. You have to wait for it to boot up, then fiddle with the buttons to get it to do anything and then it has only two settings: not hot enough and way too hot. Also, it gets dirty easily.

Fortunately, a quick scrub with Hob Brite makes it glow like an obsidian mirror.
Disclaimer: This is not my actual reflection.
The View
I liked the view from our previous flat, but I love the view from here. And it is especially pleasing when I think that almost everyone else in this block of flats gets to enjoy the panorama of Sainsbury's car park.
What I see.
What they see.

The Balcony
Unlike the balcony on our previous flat, this one is actually a usable size, and it has become one of our favortie rooms.

In agreeable weather, we eat breakfast in the warm morning sunshine, and spend lazy afternoons reading and enjoying the view. It’s a marvellous enhancement, and yet no one else seems to bother with theirs.

Most of them contain a few neglected plant boxes or even a small table and chair set, as if the residents had initial enthusiasm but then decided they couldn't be arsed. And since this is a more "upscale" location, I don't even see people popping out for a fag. It's sad really, but only sad for them; we're very happy.
If people don't start using their balconies, 'they' will take them away.
Future generations may thank us.
Pipe Tool
A friend of mine gave his father's pipe tool to me. I was overwhelmed, but he said he didn't smoke and, although the pipe tool was over 60 years old and had belonged to his father, it really didn't hold any value for him so he thought I should have it.

My friend's generosity, and the pipe tool's pedigree, are never far from my mind as I enjoy the convenience it affords. But this is not the main reason it brings me joy.

I have decided to bequeath it to my son, who has also been known to enjoy a pipe, and I am going to tell him the original owner was an RAF pilot in the Battle of Britain, and that the dent is from hitting the side of his Hawker Hurricane as he was bailing out over the Channel.

Family legends have to start somewhere, so I figured, why not start my own.

Pipe tool, with Battle of Britain dent.

Seeing 10,000 On My Pedometer
My wife and I have pedometers. The type we use has a little man that appears and raises his arms up and down in a congratulatory "touchdown" motion when you hit 10,000 steps. Needless to say, seeing this little man is always a cause for celebration.
Ohhhh! Twelve thousand! That was a particularly good day.
Our Galileo Thermometer
A friend of ours gave this to us and it has brought unanticipated joy. Being, as it is, a crude measure of temperature, it mostly doubles as an ornamenta sort of lava lamp for the incredibly patient. Accordingly, seeing a bauble rise to the top or sink to the bottom brings the same sort of exhilaration usually reserved for bird watchers sighting a Hudsonian Whimbrel.

Galileo Thermometer

Hudsonian Whimbrel
Our New Electric Kettle
An electric kettle boils watera simple but useful task—and that was all we looked for in a new one after our old one broke. But when I turned on the new one, I found it also glowed in the dark. A patently useless feature, but one I never get tired of seeing.

It boils water, and glows! Seriously, how cool is that?
My Bialetti Coffee Maker
After years of trying one gadget or anotheralways with disappointing resultsand eventually consigning myself to a life of instant coffee, a German Hausfrau introduced me to the Bailetti. It makes the best cup of coffee I have ever tasted and I am thankful for every sip.

Thanks for telling me about this, Mella, it's brilliant!
I could go on, but I think it's time you went out and found a few of your own. Little joys are everywhere, if you care to look,

And while you're at it, think about exchanging a few kind words with a stranger; you may be the joy that brightens up their day.


  1. I am so confused over the usage of the verb "arsed" and the noun "arse". What is the connection between the two and what is the definition of "arsed"? I thought that "arse" was just a milder expression of "ass" but is it really? Don't the Brits use words like fanny, tuckus, butt or ass? (When I was a child back in the 40's, we were taught to say "seater". This caused great confusion in my mind because my mom had a cedar chest!)

    1. Arse = Ass. But the saying, "I can't be arsed" means you can't be bothered. It's a British thing.

      Love the Cedar chest confusion though ;)

    2. Thanks, Michael!

  2. You mentioned several things that got me thinking. We recently got the iPhone 6's and your activity schedule comes on it.... meaning it tells you just how many steps you have taken that day whether you want to know or not. Find ourselves walking up and down the stairs just so the stupid thing doesn't end the day with only 200 steps. Also...we have a gas Aga... so when you mentioned *hobs*, you made me think of it... and the fact that you never have to wait for it to "boot up". The other thing you mentioned was your electric kettle. We don't have one of those, but... the new Keurig 2.0 coffee maker also has a night light... (and I thought it only made coffee). You even get to pick out the color night light you want... blue, green, white, or yellow? Isn't technology marvelous?

  3. Love the pipe tool story, Mike, and so glad the object itself is bringing you pleasure!