Day 12 #Happiness


My boyfriend’s neck

It smells like home.

Day 11 #Happiness

This sticker

I found it running an errand today; in a hurry, PMSing, frustrated by some kid who opened the door to his Kardashianesque Mother’s Escalade into my little car and then laughed, totally not looking for nor expecting to find something quite so cool…and perfectly timed.

It was the last one. It was a mere $1. And I love it.

“There will always be flowers for those who want to see them.”

Amen to THAT!

Life is good.

It really is that simple

Day 10 #Happiness

Heart shaped rocks

This one’s dumb, but bear with me…the purpose of these posts isn’t to wow the blogosphere, it’s to write about what makes you happy on a given day.

I have always liked rocks. Had a thing for them, you might even say. Everywhere I’d go as a little kid, I picked up “beauty rocks” and gave them to my Mum.  These were nothing more than bits of quartz or mica I spotted wherever it was we were walking, but to me they were pretty and well, my mom was pretty too…you get the idea.

And at the beach! Oh, the poor woman…I’d fill my pail with smooth or unusual beach rocks and yes, every one of them would have to come home with us. I actually still use a couple flat beach rocks to burn incense cones on.

Anyway, as I got a bit older and had discovered boys, I became fascinated one day when, out walking my horse after a ride, I stumbled upon a rock in the field that resembled a heart.

In typical teenage fashion, I was engaged in a crush on some boy who didn’t even know I existed. I picked up the rock, pocketed it and decided it was a sign. A little hint from the universe that maybe, just maybe he liked me too.

He didn’t, but the magic of that heart shaped rock stayed with me just the same.

For a long time, whenever I found a heart shaped rock in my travels, I picked it up. There were times in my life for whatever reason, I came upon quite a few. I actually collected them in a mason jar during my marriage, taking the abundance of them as a sign as I did in my youth. When the marriage ended and I relocated back to the east coast I took that as a sign too, and I dumped the jar out in the woods along a hiking trail before I left.

I hadn’t noticed a heart shaped rock since.

Until today.

This time, in my wizened middle age, I just photographed it; I didn’t pick it up…I left it there to perhaps bring some joy and wonder into the life of the next person to find it.

But I’ve been feeling giddy ever since, just like I did that first time, out in the field; punch drunk and light-hearted and full of exciting “what ifs”. I had forgotten over the last few years how great it is to feel that way.

Some days, life just rocks ; )

Day 9 #Happiness

Free will.

Oh yeah, there’s a story.

Back before the demise of my first marriage, my then husband asserted that if I would only join his church, all our marital troubles (which had nothing to do with spirituality by the way) would magically disappear and we would live happily ever after.

You know how I said I have the tendency to stay in relationships past the point of productivity? This was one of those times. In an attempt to save our marriage, I joined his church.

I know…never EVER change something as fundamental as your spiritual core values to suit someone else. I get it. Lesson learned. Teeeee-rust me!

Anyway, fast forward 7 years, to the day he tells me he’s leaving because marriage is “too hard” because you have to actually, you know, co-habitate with another human on a day to day basis and, like, talk to ’em and stuff.

The elders from his (now our) church come over to comfort me and assure me that I have a place in the congregation with or without my husband and that it is in my spiritual best interest to continue on as a member; after all I would need their support now more than ever, blah, blah, blah.

Um, okay. I was pretty much planning on never setting foot in there again, but I figured maybe they had a point – I’d never been through a divorce before after all.  So I decided to give it a try solo.

At the next church meeting, I was introduced by one of the elders to a recent addition to the congregation. A newly separated man who’s wife had committed adultery and left the fold. He was very well spoken of, the equivalent of a deacon, had three small children and was basically looking for a “good christian woman” to step in and assume the wifely and motherly duties. Not me mind you…just any suitable, female member in good standing.

And hey, there was poor abandoned Zoe…how on earth would she survive in the world without a man to take care of her? They tried to sell me on this guy like you’d try to sell a used car.

No thought was given to matters of compatibility, affinity or, dare I even say it, attraction; just a brother in need of a wife and a sister in need of a household head. Match made in heaven (pun intended), right?

Wrong. I went home, thoroughly freaked out, and wrote my letter of resignation (my term, not theirs) that night.

This is a religion that practices shunning, so once I quit, as it were, none of them could talk with or associate with me for fear my “deviltry” would somehow rub off. Which, as you can guess as a poser anyway, suited me just fine.

Fast forward again, this time 18 years, to today. I was leaving my local Post Office and who do I see in the parking lot? The matchmaking elder from long, long ago.

Now, despite my deviltry, I have aged pretty well and look very much as I did back then, save a few more crows feet and, well, the tattoos. He recognized me right away and actually altered his path across the parking lot, heading toward me at a jog. His arm raised, his finger extended, he gesticulated wildly, as if I were a taxi he were flagging down.

This honestly surprised me, what with the shunning and all, but then I remembered that elders could talk to us lost sheep, with a view to getting us to see the error of our sinful ways and come back.

Aw HELLS no…I was right by my car, so I hopped in and got my poor, misguided  self outta there, quickstyle.

On my way back to work I stopped at a local sandwich shop to grab lunch and who was hanging around my car when I came out? You guessed it. Was he hungry too or had he followed me there? Judging by his proximity to my car, probably the second.

My clams were officially steamed now.

He was smart enough not to loiter too close to my vehicle. I attempted to ignore him and just get into my car and leave, but he closed the distance between us and said, “Zoe, I need to speak with you. It’s about your soul…”

I couldn’t help but laugh. Not to mock his beliefs, but just because the whole thing was so effing strange.

It’s about your soul“? Seriously?

Shit like this only happens to me.

At least a million statements, ranging from witty to sarcastic to downright snarky ran through my head at warp speed. I mean, I don’t take kindly to zealots of any kind FOLLOWING ME. I even toyed with flashing him the ASL hand sign for Satan and winking, just to mess with him.

But no. I am a free moral agent. I don’t base my behavior on that of other people, or deities. I decide for myself what is right and what is wrong according to my own moral compass.

I took the high road (and the rational one, which seemed to be in short supply during this event). Not because I feared for the consequences on my soul, or retribution in some kind of after life, or because I cared one iota for this individual…or any other reason aside from the fact that I choose to be the kind of person who takes the high road.

I put my hand up and brought my finger to my lips (as in, shhhhhh) and he stopped babbling about the works of the devil, mid-sentence.

I said, “Shunning works both ways”, as I strode by him.

He stood there with his mouth agape. I don’t think he had envisioned the conversation going quite like that.

Giving him my winningest smile, I got into my car and pulled away.

Happiness  =  Free Will.



Day 8 #Happiness



The world moves for love. It kneels before it, in awe……..

Day 7 #Happiness

The country.

My boyfriend has a wonderful home. He lives about 45 minutes from me…just far enough up the road to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city. Where I live.

Today we are spending the day in the country. Peace. Quiet. Nothing but the sound of rain falling softly and the occasional cry of a bird.

I feel so relaxed it’s as though every muscle in my body has unclenched. Except the ones required to smile…


Day 6 #Happiness

Because they don’t make a “Little Miss Acerbic”

This Little Miss character started out as somewhat of a joke. You see, for those of you who don’t know me in person, I’m what you would call a Handful.

I’m loud, feisty, opinionated, klutzy, competitive, driven, type capital A, and I can, in certain situations, lack patience. And tact.

Because I’m a gregarious dork, I talk with anyone and everyone. I have been known to drop bags of grapes in the grocery check out line and then yell the F-bomb without even realizing I’ve done it, to the horror of everyone around me. I have excused myself, gone to the Ladies Room and climbed out the window to get away from a bad first date. I swear like a truck driving pirate and I once told an ex that I wouldn’t date him again as an adult because I remembered him from High School and his penis, while adequately sized for someone who didn’t know any better then, simply wouldn’t do now.

I think all of this makes me rather an interesting person to hang around with, but for some reason people tell me they are a wee bit afraid of me.

The weak ones do anyway ; )

So, I acquired the nickname of Little Miss Sunshine from one of my bosses, on a day when I was in a particularly bad mood.

Gradually along the way, I accumulated some LMS stuff…someone gave me an old, grubby action figure of her they picked up at a yard sale, I found a t-shirt at Target that had her on it…which I actually love and often wear – thus earning me the nickname from my boyfriend even – though hopefully not in a sarcastic way, I buy stickers of her now whenever I can find them and put them in my new yellow Filofax…you get the idea.

It’s become a thing.

Well, today the same boss who originally started snarkily referring to me as Little Miss Sunshine the day I was having a bitch-fest at work, gave me the mug in the photo at the top of this post.

Why does this quality as today’s #Happiness item you ask?

Because, as he handed it to me, he said: ” You’ve earned this…because now you finally really are.”

Awwwww : )

Day 5 #Happiness

My friends.

I.   Have.   Amazing.   Friends! Today has not been an easy day for reasons I will spare you of, but all the while I have found myself laughing almost constantly and actually having a lot of fun…because of the awesome people  in my life.

So today it is YOU that make me happy.

And grateful : )

Mother’s Day Card

Happy Mother’s Day Mom,

I wish you were here. I wish I could celebrate today with you by taking you to brunch, toasting your beauty, your wisdom and our amazing & magical relationship over mimosas. I wish we could spend the rest of the day talking and laughing and just…being together.

You have no idea how much I miss you….or perhaps you do. Do you hear me talking to you? Do you see me when something happens that I know you’d get a kick out of and I cast a sideways glance toward the heavens? Can you feel me there when I go to your headstone because I need to really talk to you about something serious? And do you shake your head every time I cry over the loss of you (because I know you told me not to…but I just can’t help it)?

This place is not the same without you Mom. Nor is my life. There is a huge hole now, in both, that nothing can fill. When “things get tough”, as you always used to say, I feel alone because you were my counselor, my confidant, and you always had the best advice. When something so wonderful that it takes my breath away happens, I ache because I want to share it with you.

I still, even 5 years later, go to call you every night. Only now, where I used to actually reach for the phone, I just cast a furtive glance at it. It seems the knee-jerk reaction remains, but as the time passes, I am slowly beginning to adapt to this strange world without you in it. This is not an adaptation I am at all pleased with…but life goes on and I know you wouldn’t want me “stuck”. Thankfully I’m not anymore Mom.

But I miss you Mom. Every.  Single.  Day.

Some days, like today, I miss you so much it physically hurts.

I found a crinkled old photo of you and your sister. Its the late 60’s I think, and you are celebrating something. You both are dressed to the nines and OMG you guys have the poofiest hairdos I have ever seen! The smiles on your faces are unmistakable, even through the faded creases of the old Polaroid, and you are toasting with slim, elegant champagne glasses. Mom, you are holding the glass aloft with your bad arm…so it was taken before you got sick.

Long before either of you got sick.

“Better days” as we used to call them. Better days.

I look at that photo and your smiles are contagious. I can’t help smiling myself. Even now, through streams of tears.

That is how I think of you. Healthy, vital, glowing, happy. No pain, only celebration. Grammy and Grampy are there. And Auntie and Uncle. Celebrating with you.  And the Dom Perignon never runs out.

Every dog we’ve ever had…you’ve ever had…is there too. Frolicking, playing, chasing chipmunks and enjoying endless treats. Beasely Mae is on your lap. And she’s healthy too Mom.

To say I love you just doesn’t seem adequate. You were the most amazing person I have ever had the privilege to know. You were my best friend.  Thank you for sticking around as long as you did…I know they told you that you wouldn’t make it to see me turn five, but you stayed until I was forty-one. And I know it wasn’t easy.

Thank you for everything, Mom. Thank you for my life. Thank you for instilling within me everything that has made me who I am today. Many people have told me that the woman I have become reminds them of you. There is no higher compliment.

Happy Mother’s Day.  Words just don’t cut it…but I’m hoping that you can see me here, writing this, and know the depths of how I feel……….

I Love You… Always,

Your Little Girl


Nook Tablet vs Kindle Fire

Well, I’m getting ready to move (again) and you know what that means…cleaning out accumulated unused crap so I don’t have to pay movers to haul it to a new location where it can remain unused.

Last week I gave the Trade In Center a try at my local Best Buy and offloaded some old video games and handheld systems. My motive was mostly just to clear out closet space, but to my delight I built up enough store credit to try out the hottest topics this Holiday Season – the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire.

Sadly, the Fire was in “Demo Mode” so you couldn’t really play with it or access the content on the device. All you could do was watch a nifty little ad espousing its virtues over and over…and over.

While the Nook was accessible, there wasn’t much loaded on it beyond samples of eBooks, so I was hard pressed to make up my mind which I liked better.

I went home and did excruciating web research on the pros and cons of each and went back to the store the following day.

And bought both.

You knew I was going to, you know you did.

At first this review was going to be an exhaustive hands on comparison with lots of photos. Then I realized, there are a TON of those on the web already and although I read (and watched) just about all of them, I still was left wondering which one was actually right for me. So I decided to just tell you which one I kept and why.

Before I do that, though, let’s just get one thing straight. Neither of these things is a Tablet. Their respective manufacturers can call them whatever they want, dress them up in color touch screens and get all excited about being iPad killers…but these devices are eReaders. Feature rich ones, sure, but don’t go listing your iPad on eBay quite yet.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.  I kept the Nook Tablet.

Comparing them both side by side, I can tell you hands down that the Nook Tablet’s screen is sharper, clearer and brighter. The specs say they have the very same display, but I’m here to tell you…something is different.

The Nook has what they call a Vivid View display – allegedly designed to minimize reflection and glare. I can vouch for that…you could use your reflection in the Fire to shave.

I streamed an episode of the Walking Dead on both and there was an obvious difference in the video quality.  Apart from watching the episode through a reflection of my own face, the Fire was adequate, but the details were muddy, there was occasional buffering and in one scene in particular, the zombie’s head wound just looked like she’d inadvertently scratched her forehead with spaghetti sauce on her hand, while on the Nook you could definitely see brains.  I’ll just leave it at that.

Had I been able to watch video side by side at the store there would have been no way I’d have brought home both. But I couldn’t.  Perhaps the strategy behind the Fire’s Demo Mode.

The Kindle Fire makes use of a second-rate “Cover Flow” type interface feature that will show you all your content.  Show.  It will SHOW it to you.  Good luck actually selecting any of it.

In every way Apple got Cover Flow right, Amazon got their version of it wrong. The interface is so whacked that it was almost impossible to access whatever it was I was trying to select on the first tap. The screen was either not responsive at all or too sensitive, sending the items whizzing by, long after I had stopped scrolling.

At least you can designate favorites from the ‘stream of frustration’, as I nicknamed it, on an  unorganized system of shelves below it.

The interface alone was enough to make me want to return the Fire, but I stuck with it, giving the device the benefit of the doubt and deciding the failure to actually be able to select an item must be a learning curve issue on my part.  It wasn’t.

Anyway, the home screen interface issues were vexing. Not only was the Cover Flow wannabe wonky, but you only got 4 shelves for favorites. Add stuff to create a 5th shelf and oopsie, the first shelf of favorites vanishes. Yeah, no thanks.

Oh, and there is no customization. If you don’t like the dark grey wood-grain they have chosen for you as a background, you are SOL my friend.

The home screen interface on the Nook functions pretty much the same as an android phone. You can choose the wallpaper, you can drag your apps and reading materials around and put them wherever you want and you can even load your own photos via a Micro SD card so your wallpaper can be your dog or your kid.  Or Daniel Craig in a Speedo.

I organized mine so that my books & magazines are on one home screen and my apps are on a second.

The web experience on the two were like night and day. I know Amazon has been making a big deal out of their Silk browser, but I found it to be…whatever the opposite of silky is. Again, the touch screen was more often than not unresponsive and the browser itself crashed frequently.  And when it didn’t crash, it was really slow. Yuck. The browser allows for tabs, that is about the only good thing I have to say about it.

The Nook browser on the other hand is faster, consistent and a real pleasure to use.  I don’t do a ton of web browsing, but it’s nice to have it available to look stuff up.  Neither web experiences are going to be ideal on this type of device (and nothing like the iPad) but between the two, for my use, Nook won.

Might I also add that, out of the box, the Kindle had issues getting on my Wi-fi. I thought I was crazy (or blond) until I read this article.  The Nook practically connected itself.

As I’ve said, you can Google comparisons between the two until the cows come home, and if you are considering getting either, then definitely do so. Especially if you were going to run right out and get a Fire (like I was going to).

Although Kindle’s have been around for a while, the Fire itself is a 1.0 device. With any first run gadget, there are going to be quirks. The Fire is no exception. The Nook Tablet is 2nd generation (to the Nook Color) and you can definitely tell.

Some intangibles you won’t find in the reviews that cover tech specs:

The Nook is more comfortable to hold. The rubbery, grippy sides are very easy to hang onto, and they are tapered as well, so they fit really nicely in the hand.  Having the beveled sides makes the Nook slightly larger, but I also don’t have to worry about turning the page when I didn’t want to because there is nowhere to really hold the Fire without touching screen.

The power button is up near the top on the left hand side on the Nook…almost impossible to accidentally put the thing into sleep mode with it there. Unlike the Kindle, which located it on the bottom. I put the thing to sleep almost constantly by the way I was naturally holding it.

The Nook has physical volume buttons. I didn’t think I’d give a rat’s tookus about this until I tried to stream a movie on it.  It is completely inconvenient to have to go a couple of screens into the Fire in order to access the volume control from a drop down menu.

Neither of these eReaders are going to win any design awards, but I must say that the Fire is so….black.  Black and square. And kind of blah. The Nook has a better aesthetic (in my opinion) and say what you will about that crazy carabiner thingie with the sole purpose of protecting the Micro SD slot, at least it’s  SOMETHING to set it apart.

I actually like it. It makes me think I’m rugged and might even go rock climbing one day.

Call me crazy, and I know you will, but the Fire (both the black hardware and the dark, grey, dreary color scheme for the interface) feels gloomy to me. I do not feel excited or upbeat when I turn the thing on.

The Nook on the other than feels perkier. Brighter. Friendlier even.  Subjective, I know, but that’s what you’ll get out of this review that you won’t get from the techies.

Reading on both devices is about the same. I will say, that the crisp display of the Nook was a lot easier on my eyes after long periods of time.  And the Barnes & Noble store had all of the books I wanted to download…the Amazon store traditionally has not, so I have had to mix it up between the Kindle app and the iBooks app on my iPad 2. Which is heavy and expensive, so I don’t carry it around with me for the purpose of eReading.

The Nook also has more font, layout and page options for reading preferences. Another cool feature is that by tapping and holding down on a phrase or section of text, a menu appears asking if you would like to share it on various social media sites. Handy for those of us who love posting quotes we discover.

I also like that I can go into a Barnes & Noble store if I need help. True, I could take the Fire back to Best Buy and pay to have the Geek Squad help me out should I need it, but although brick & mortar book stores are going the way of the Dodo, and that makes me nervous, for now they do exist and I like them. I like browsing around in them. For books and for potentially single men who I at least know can read.

I like that I can go into a B&N with my Nook, and even if I don’t need any help with it, I can sit down and read any book in the store on their free Wi-fi.

Yes, the Amazon store & ecosystem crush the B&N store into oblivion.  I’m  a Prime member, so as you can imagine I was very invested in liking the Kindle better, but for me it’s not as simple as “more content”…for me it’s about the overall quality of the experience.

Sure, I can stream free movies from the Amazon store on the Fire, but what good is that to me if the video quality is low and I want to throw the thing across the room on a regular basis trying to select something on the twitchy touch screen?

It is essentially the same content as a streaming only membership on Netflix (which I happen to have anyway) so I prefer paying the $7.99 a month and getting sharp, clear, higher-def looking video than streaming free stuff that looks like crap.  But that’s just me. And we all know I’m a weirdo.

Plus, I like that I have expansion options on the Nook. I bought a 16 gig Micro SD card and loaded up a few of my favorite high-def movies from my personal library (that I can WATCH…not just stream when I happen to have a Wi-fi connection), my photos in case I forget what my dog looks like while I’m at the office, and some classical music for the background while I read.

If so inclined, I can replace that eventually with a 32 gig card and load so much junk I forget what’s on the damn thing.

The bottom line is that the Nook Tablet ended up being the right choice for me.  I had both in my grubby little paws and at the end of the day, the Fire went back.

Do with this information as you will, and as always, this is only my skewed and ever-flawed personal opinion, so Kindle Fire lovers…please don’t send me hate mail.

This just in:  one of my co-workers had pre-ordered the Fire and we were both eReading one day on break.  She played around with my Nook a bit (wow, which is totally not as dirty as that sentence sounded) and really liked it.  Just today told me she was packing up the Fire and sending it back to Amazon in favor of a Nook of her own : )

It will be very interesting to see how this battle shakes out once the holiday buying frenzy has passed.



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