Sunday Stills: Your #Happy Place

If you have followed my blog for very long, you know that I write about the concepts of recreation and leisure and our ultimate pursuit of happiness.

The year 2020 has shown most of us that, like it or not, we are living in a new normal. Oh, how I resisted that notion! After all, isn’t “normal” being able to hike trails without wearing a mask or worrying if we are 6 feet apart from others?

Hiking in Valley of Fire State Park
More walking in the Valley of Fire

Isn’t “normal” having the ability to travel without fear of taking a flight to visit friends, family or traveling abroad? How about simply being able to use your local gym, campground, swimming pool or neighborhood park without fear of infection or the disappointment of closure?


The fundamental spaces and places we love and visit on a regular basis have been compromised due to the new normal of living within a pandemic.

For me, March 18 was the day California shut down, exactly 7 months ago.

Sacramento County has recently re-opened with some restrictions and I am so happy to be able to get back to my gym! I’ve been a member there since 2008 and have made many friends, and I get great workouts, too. One of my happy places. I will miss this gym once we move.

exercise equipment

As motivated as I am for physical activity, our hot smokey summer deterred me from being able to get outside. I tried my share of working out to youtube exercise videos, but I settled for walking the dogs a few days a week.

Walking two dogs

On my walks around my neighborhood, there is only one street in which I am fond. No, not mine, as you will read shortly, but a street a few short blocks away. This photo shows a morning walk in early Fall.

favorite neighborhood

There is something about this street with its well-kept yards, lack of chain-link fences, and fewer cars parked on the street. Really a gem in an otherwise deteriorating neighborhood. Autumn will show its lovely face on this street in November with elms, birch, and liquid amber trees that will look more like this photo taken two years ago.

liquid sunshine in liquid amber tree

As we kinda got used to our own backyards, many of us found them to be our new happy places. We longed for our vacations abroad, road trips in our RVs with abundant campground choices, open restaurants, and the like, but grudgingly stayed home to stay safe.

My backyard has been a happy place for me since June 2019 after my foot surgery, and then more so in late March, 2020. Here I planted sunflowers, plumeria, hydrangea and other garden flowers and enjoyed the hummingbird shows.

Sadly that summer, bound to my backyard by crutches and my knee scooter, I was exposed to one neighbors’ rantings and ravings as she loudly cursed her children and dropped the F-bomb all day. These were new renters behind us that shared our backyard fence, so there was no getting away from her. This behavior led us to begin our search for another place to live and inspired us to move to Washington to be closer to family and enjoy semi-rural living.

You will be happy to know that the renters were evicted after the owner discovered they destroyed the house! The new renters are quiet. The random shouts of happiness from their young children playing in their backyard is music to our ears! Their yard sounds like their happy place.

This Monday, we are on the road north with a moving truck full of boxes and furniture. Hubby is driving the U-Haul while I follow behind in his Ford truck. Our first stop is near Bend, OR, then we are back on the road Tuesday to Spokane. Wednesday we will unload into a storage unit and get that much closer to our new happy place.

We love this walk near where my in-laws live in Spokane Valley.

Spokane's Urban Forest

Even in the smoky air, there is beauty in nearby Washington’s Riverside State Park along the Spokane River. A short 15 minutes from our new home.

We won’t make the final move until mid-December.

Other happy places I’ve visited include Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, the delta and lakes, beaches, and rivers, near and far. But as 2021 approaches I am still open to find more happy places to discover and love!

Forgive me if what you’re reading sounds like my post “Happiest at Home,” published in early June. With our world turning the way it is, I predict we will continue to enjoy our happy places at home or close to it!

I am thrilled to link my happy places with this week’s Lens-Artists Challenge: My Hideaway!

Some images are inspired by Becky B’s Kinda Squares, Dawn’s Festival of Leaves, and Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Is your happy place a state of mind or a place you can visit and enjoy? Share your interpretations through images, stories, poetry, and music!

Autumn SIGNature

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Sunday Stills: #Plant Life Grows Around Us

Dogwood Trees bloom in May

This week’s Sunday Stills photo challenge is all about plant life. Many folks are still limited to where they can go, but we can all walk in our backyards and gardens and enjoy plant life. While there, why not snap a few new pics to share with us this week?

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.

Audrey Hepburn

My hydrangeas love the warm May weather.

Captured just as the hydrangea began blooming…

Opening hydrangeas

Just days later, now in full bloom!

Blue hydrangea bloomed

I was blessed to take a road trip last month to visit our property in Washington State and take care of some details. More about that next week!

The day we drove to look at our property, the ground was alive with coneflowers and purple lupine. I took that as a sign that we will love this property when we move there!


We also enjoyed a second Spring in Washington. I actually had to ask what kind of trees these were! Pink Dogwoods, by the way.

Dogwood Trees bloom in May

Not only did we make the drive to Washington in May, that same week we took two more short road trips through Memorial Day weekend!

We drove past a vast Oregon orchard…

Central Oregon Vineyard

To a thistle-framed sunset in the Sacramento River Delta,

A mundane thistle looks beautiful in a sunset

To the delicate sunlit oak in the Sierra foothills,

Sunny Oak Tree

Plant life is everywhere.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

John Muir

Looking forward to another summer of plumeria and sunflowers blooming in my backyard.

Happy 80th birthday this week to my mom in Heaven. She loved her garden and was ecstatic when her yellow hibiscus grew and flourished.

Yellow hibiscus

Flowers submitted for Cee’s Flower of the Day.

I am excited to see what creative ideas you have showing plant life for Sunday Stills this week!

my signature w/ hibiscus

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Resilient Hummingbirds: Backyard Birdwatching

Puffed up hummingbird enjoying the rain

Puffed up hummingbird enjoying the rain

I have a hummingbird family living in my backyard! I believe they are the “Allen’s” species which are known to stay year-round even in Northern California. Since most hummers migrate to warmer climates, it’s nice to see this little family sticking around.

I captured this photo as the male hummingbird finished feeding. It had rained hailed, then the sun came out and suddenly he flew toward the feeder (see photo below).

After his feast, he perched high up in our redwood and fluffed up his feathers, apparently taking a shower as the drops from the pine branches dripped on him. Do you detect a glint of self-satisfaction in his eye? He seems to be smiling!

I’m not sure which species are more Resilient, the ones that migrate or the ones that spend their winters in colder climates. At least it doesn’t snow here and I keep the feeder well stocked.

Rainy day does not stop this hummer from feeding
A rainy day does not stop this hummer from feeding!

I took these photos with my new camera, a Panasonic Lumix FZ300, recommended by fellow blogger/photographer Frank at Petaluma Spectator PhotoBlog.

He has taken me “under his wing” (pun intended in this case) to recommend this camera and to assist me with tips and knowledge on how to use it. Maybe it’s because we are Northern California neighbors and have been participating in the Weekly photo challenge these past two years!

I still have a lot to learn, so don’t blame him for the not-so-sharp photo of the hummer with the feeder. I’m still messing with the settings!

For more information on hummingbirds, click here.

These photos were submitted for the WordPress weekly photo challenge. Thanks for stopping by!