I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the small pleasures in life, and the new things that have caught my attention or made me happy. This summer was an extremely difficult time for me for a variety of reasons, and August was quite exhausting. These days, I am constantly behind schedule on all that I have to do, I’m frequently mentally wiped out, I will never get through my “To Do” list, and there doesn’t seem to be much joyous news in the world in general. Wherever I go, whether on social media sites or simply overhearing people talk in the post office queue, there seems to be a definite sense of grimness in the air. More than usual, I think. The headlines have been filled with an abundance of tragedies or conflicts, to the point where I’ve often had to look away from my Facebook feed, or seek mental or emotional refuge in simpler, happier things. Although one can’t live life as an ostrich sticking one’s head in the sand, there’s much to be said for trying to focus on the small joys in life.
In short, I thought it was time to bring back the Questions game, centered on the things that have brought all of you joy lately. A more leisurely post, en effet, a time to chat, as I work through my daily testing. Right now, I’m finally getting around to an Italian series which I had initially scheduled for some months ago. I will be focusing on different houses, especially some of the smaller, less widely explored ones, and will be making only a few occasional day-trips to other countries. I am working slower than usual these days, undoubtedly due to the aforementioned mental exhaustion, but I wanted to take a small break first to share some of the things that have brought me pleasure in the last few months, and then turn the floor over to hear from all of you.
Some of you loathe Facebook, and I can certainly understand your feelings on the matter. These days, I rather dread it myself, thanks to the veritable swill of bad news that is constantly inundating me, whether shared by friends or from general media sites. There seems to be no bloody escape from the deluge — ISIS! Ebola! The Ukraine! Ferguson, Missouri! Rape Gangs! Robin Williams! Plane Crashes! General political craziness! — and it simply goes on, and on, and on. Even the amazing, fantastic Humans of New York page has filled me with feelings of sadness and guilt during Brandon’s current tour of war-torn or painfully impoverished areas of the world. It puts things into very necessary perspective, and fills me with admiration for those he interviews, but it also makes me feel like the most terrible, spoilt person on earth.
In the midst of all the sadness and ugliness, two things have consistently provided a smile or a break. The first is a Facebook page that I highly recommend to everyone who appreciates natural beauty. It is called “Amazing Landscapes, Nature, Animals and Places,” and features exquisite photographs in all the aforementioned categories taken by a plethora of extremely talented people. If photography could be a form of Zen, be soothing to the soul, or capable of transporting you elsewhere, this page would qualify. Here are just a few of the photos posted there daily or hourly:
The second thing on Facebook which has constantly given me great joy is something that would only appeal to me, but since I’m sharing my small pleasures in life, I’ll mention it here nonetheless. It’s the page of a famous, elite, high-end German shepherd breeder. Some of you know that I’m hugely animal obsessive, with a particular interest in giant or large-breed dogs, but in German shepherds above all. And, it’s true, I’m wholly obsessed. I love GSDs more than perfume, more than most things in life, including a lot of human beings, I’m afraid to say. I particularly love the more unusual red-and-blacks, which is what this particular breeder specializes in.
So, every time I look at the Alta-Tollhaus German Shepherd Dogs Facebook page, I practically drool on myself. Some people yearn for fancy cars, big diamonds, or a penthouse suite. I want the puppies that they show, even if it would give a certain someone in my life a complete fit of jealousy. There are wait-lists for an Alta-Tollhaus puppy, and they are expensive (though they do not cost an arm, leg, and kidney as compared to some breeders who can charge $3,000, $4,000, and up), but the real thing stopping me is the realisation that I’m rather monogamous in my attentions and love. Or, perhaps it’s the certainty that “The Hairy German” really would be hurt.
Still, one can always dream, right? At the very least, the photos make me happy, whether they involve the adorable, fluffy puppies with their black coats before the “saddle” kicks in, or the magnificent red-black-gold adults. Actually, some of the best photos involve those publicly posted or shared by happy clients, showing their big Alta-Tolhaus adults with their children or in their homes. Since I don’t think it would be appropriate to use someone’s personal images here, especially not those involving kids, I’ll settle for a few less appealing photos of the handsome Alta-Tollhaus adults by themselves. First, though, the puppies. The adorable puppies!
With great difficulty, I will stop inundating you with more GSD photos, but you have to admit that the puppies are adorable. Day after day, there are photos posted, each one cuter, fluffier, or more majestic than the last, and I want them all.
Alas, if I even considered it, I suspect my very possessive Teutonic Overlord would respond much more intensely than what he’s doing to the retrieve bumper here:
Fangs and fur aren’t the only things that have kept me going. As some of you know, I’m a complete television junkie, and my latest obsession is the new series on Starz called Outlander. Based on the lengthy Diana Galbaldon novels by the same name, it’s about a British woman who travels back in time from 1945 to the Scottish Highlands of 1742. I’m simply crazy about it, though I grant you that it’s a bit slow at times and part of my interest may stem from my Game of Thrones withdrawal symptoms. One thing that stands out is the incredible cinematography. Whether the subject is a Druid ceremony at dawn or the endless beauty of Scotland itself, this is one stunning show. (I won’t deny that a certain actor and his physique are part of that beauty…. Ahem.)
I couldn’t find a lot of screencaps, and the ones I did aren’t the best, but here are a few images from the Starz network:
Outlander (and that hot body) premiered at just the right time for this television junkie. Game of Thrones is in hiatus; the World Cup is over; I poured through all of Deep Space Nine in 10 days, but Star Trek: Voyager failed to arouse much passion; the second season of The Bridge has been a source of frustration for me; and True Blood went from a few years of being terrible, to simply the worst thing imaginable. Not even my determination to continue to the excruciating, bitter end could withstand the sheer slog and ineptitude of this final season. (At least it was better than Dexter‘s ridiculous conclusion?)
PERFUME & OTHER THINGS:
There have been other small joys as well. Who knew that Trader Joe’s had delicious Asian food that only requires 4-6 minutes to heat? Their frozen Shu Mai and Yakisoba noodle packages are super. Their Mushroom Ravioli with Mushroom Truffle Sauce is also very tasty, but their Indian dishes are just okay. Regardless, as someone who is perpetually exhausted these days, no longer has time to cook, and often forgets to eat the entire day when working, Trader Joe’s has been a godsend.
Perfume-wise, I was happy to get a few things on my list: MDCI’s Chypre Palatin, Papillon’s Anubis, Hiram Green’s Moon Bloom, Patricia de Nicolai’s Amber Oud, SHL 777’s Black Gemstone and Khol de Bahrein, Tom Ford’s Black Orchid, and two other bottles that I know I’m forgetting. The sad thing is that I get to wear fragrance for myself very rarely, perhaps once every 2-3 weeks and just for a few hours at night, so I haven’t even worn some of my new purchases yet!
Nevertheless, staying positive, I was happy to finally organize my most immediate “Must Test” samples, all 80+ of them, in a tiered container unit with drawers. (The 100 or so which are not pressing are scattered all over the place in piles or in shipping boxes. They are organized, barely, but in a way that only makes sense to me.) It’s far from perfect, but even a little organisation is better than none for an OCD person.
So, those are a few of my small pleasures or sources of joy over the last few months. Now, it’s your turn. It can be perfume, or something completely unrelated which has captured your interest lately. Perhaps you’ve discovered a book series that you want to rave about in detail; have stumbled across a television show that you love; or simply learnt that you have a passion for hiking. Maybe you have found a Facebook page that brings a smile to your face, would like to share a food recipe that has rocked your world, or want to gush about your own furry child? (For the latter, please don’t hesitate to share photos or links, if you don’t mind others peeking as well.) Or, perhaps, you would simply like talk about perfumes: those you have fallen for, bought, or put on a wish list? Tell me about your latest obsessions and interests!