Tag Archives: happythings

5 Happy Things: December 2018

Happy things for December 2018?

1.Fabulous books!

Lies Sleeping coverI got given the latest Ben Aaronovitch at a publishing Secret Santa, and I’m part-way through it; I’m also getting to read some of the best SFF from 2018, and I’m currently adoring Alix Harrow’s A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies (published in Apex in February) – it may have made me cry a little bit. At work. Possibly. (It’s just SO GOOD. And so relatable to any librarian that I really want to just quote the entire damn thing at everyone!)

I’ve also been re-reading the Etiquette&Espionage series, am halfway through The Tethered Mage, and have even managed to start Norman Davies’ Vanished Kingdoms. Hopefully I’ll have some more time for personal reading over Christmas…

2.I’m dating again!

I’ve been seeing someone for the past few months, and they’re wonderful: they make me ridiculously happy. I’m not going to go into any more detail than that simply because I prefer the privacy, but if you see me and I have a stupid smile on my face…that may be why!

3.Small fluffballs

They’re cute. (And pains in the butt. But cute.)

Jodie’s getting used to being picked up and having scritches – so we may shortly be able to get cuddle-able fluffballs! (Peter’s not so sure, which is fair. We’re not forcing it.) They are also nearly Doing Laps – or at least eating treats off laps, so there’s progress there too.

4. Winning games

Not that I’m vindictive or anything – and I’m definitely not competitive! But there’s something extremely satisfying about winning one hand of Dominion and then two games of Seven Wonders in a row – and absolutely trouncing everyone in the second Seven Wonders, HAH. Having gone from feeling fairly anxious and pretty much losing every game to actually being able to hold my own – it’s incredibly satisfying. I still routinely lose, of course – but that’s part of the fun! But I’ve obviously learned enough now that I actually have something of a chance against the power-mad gamers who regularly love to screw everyone else over with a well-placed Bandit… (love you, guys!)

5.Fabulous friends (again)

I was thinking recently about the amount of friends I’ve lost, one way or another; either life has taken us in different directions, I’ve deliberately separated myself from them, or we’ve simply drifted apart. It sometimes feels that I’ve lost everyone who has been close to me, one way or another…

And then I give the weasel a glare, and tell it to shut the hell up.

I am absolutely blessed with a whole range of friends, old and new – and I love the sheer range and diversity of communication that I have with them. Some I don’t speak to for six months and then can spill everything over a burger, and nothing’s changed; some I haven’t seen in person for ten years and yet I know I could email them with anything. Some drop by my desk at work every lunchtime, some live halfway across the world. Some I trade jokes and memes, some I’m only there when they need me – but every single one is amazing, and I love the variety of people. I know a lot of people hate Facebook, and I have some reservations about it, but I love that it lets me keep up with people I otherwise wouldn’t. I get baby pictures, holidays, day-to-day life, cats and pets…and it’s wonderful. I have so many brilliant, talented and thoughtful friends in my life, and they make it richer every day.

So that’s most of the way through December! Christmas promises to be quiet, and I hope it’s going to be filled with writing, books and cat fluff – maybe that’s a sixth thing for this month 🙂

5 Happy Things: November 2018

November! In addition to Hadrian’s Wall, cats and random music, this month has been really nice for overall random happy occurrences.

1.Frosty mornings!

It’s been gorgeous across the fields, especially with the sun rising over the rooftops and trees.


I managed to get a short piece written; I don’t know if it will go anywhere, but it’s nice to have the inspiration while I’m walking across fields. Otter’s been reading some of the Ghost stories (not that I dare add No Man’s Land to their TBR yet, but shorts they can do!) and has been gently prodding me – which has led to me, in standard Kate fashion, waving my hands and going off on random tangents as I try to explain three 70k novels, two outlines, six short stories and an entire world in as short a sequence as I can!

I was planning to do NaNoWriMo to get No Man’s Land rewritten, but that went out the window when everyone decided they wanted formatting in October and November (I love doing my freelance work, but it definitely get in the way at times). So, I’m currently planning on looking at it over Christmas and hopefully booking myself some time off in the New Year.


I feel like I’m starting to fill my outlines; starting to have more confidence in my tasks and decisions. I’m still worried I’m going to get things wrong, and I am still getting things wrong – but so far, it’s been the most wonderful, supportive and creative environment, and I still can’t believe I’m working there.

4.Baking (again!)

I’ve made natas and macarons, plum cake and pancakes, fairy cakes and muffins, cheese straws and pizza dough. I feel like I’ve got a lot of memories associated with many of the recipes; pizza dough was hard, as was leafing through my favourite cookbook – but I’m now making an effort to overlay other memories. The originals won’t sting any less, but maybe they won’t be the first thing that I think of.


ThudthudthudTHUDTHUD MEOW!


Trrrrrrlllll? Which essentially translates to, “Brother, where are you? I wish to murder you.”

“Jodie, are you trying to kill your brother again?”

*very innocent cat sitting in the hallway*

They’re both still very adorable! Leaves are The Best Thing Ever, and Peter brought a stick in the other day – which was treasured and adored until it had been chased under the coffee table fifteen times and chewed to pieces, at which point he went to find another one…

Holiday Update: Hadrian’s Wall

So I was on holiday at Hadrian’s Wall last week! We got SO LUCKY with the weather; only minor spots of rain, some nicely dramatic skies, and it was pretty warm for the entire week. It was a bit windy (as in “let’s not go up that cliff, we’re in serious danger of getting blown off”) but even that was amazing. The skies were the best thing; I love the drama and the wind.

I also got to squeak about Romans, so I was Very Happy! We did Housesteads, Steel Rig, Walltown Quarry, a brief stop at Brocolita’s Mithraic Temple, and a visit to Chesters; we also got over to Carlisle, Hexham and Newcastle – including the cat cafe! I got in so many naps (it was amazing) and read exactly one book. Well…eh. I can’t do everything.

5 Happy Things: October 2018

Happy things for October! (How the heck have we got to October?!)

Two black cats curled on the sofa, october 2018

I had a bit of a mental health blip this month…ok, a lot of a blip. It was partly due to moving house and life throwing a load of things at me, and partly due to being back on some pills that I knew wouldn’t be great. However, I didn’t think they’d be that bad….and I was wrong. But hey ho! In good news, I am surrounded by amazing people and the ones I reached out to (because that’s usually the only way I’ll accept help) were absolutely wonderful. I’m doing a lot better now – I’m off the damn pills for a start, despite the side effects of that – and I’m back to Happy Kate! I’m a bit tired but other than that, coping with everything again – so far, at least.

Despite the blip, though, there’s been a load of stuff this month that’s made me happy!

1.Being snarky at films.

As anyone who knows me may have figured, I’m not great with TV or films; I find them too intense, and really struggle to watch things (with some exceptions – I’m happy to admit I don’t entirely know how I work). But I’ve been watching more silent films with Badger, and I have been snarking my cynical little heart out – with said Badger laughing at me the entire time! It entirely suits the over-acting of the films, too; there’s just something ridiculous about the drama (although to be fair, we last watched Metropolis), and if cynical snarking means it’s bearable enough for me to watch…well, that seems to be a win.

2.Walking across the fields.

Field of grass, Oxford September 2018

My commute is now across the water meadows on the west side of Oxford, and while they’ve been a source of solace and beauty over the last six months, it was only this week when I got to show my friend Otter my walk home that I realised how much I love them.

A picture of one path is my phone background; I always turn and look at another as I reach a small rise, watching the tracks drop down across the field and into the distance, matched by the march of the pylons overhead. I get the sunrise from behind the trees and church, spilling gold across the fog that lingers on the fields and hollows; I get the sunset that dips behind the hills, lighting the sky with fire even as the track fades into dusk and shade, pooling shadows under every hedgerow. I love the line of the railway bridge as it tumbles down to skim across the lake; the abrupt change from flat stillness, only broken by the haunting calls of the birds, to the lines and edges and glints of the railway, the heaps of stones and barrier fences, the roar of the trains as they rumble past uncaring – and then back down to the tiny path that winds between the willows and ash and elder, the smooth trunks rising in turn until they’re replaced by the pylons again, soaring out of the pool of still water under the crooked causeway bridge. To hear someone else say with wonder, “I never knew this was here…” – and to be able to spread my arms and spin and say, “Yes, and now I can share it with you!”


Two cats on a cushion and a sofa, october 2018

Our two have learned that the wooden floors are great for skidding on, humans give scritches in exchange for treats, yowling doesn’t get them food any faster but it’s still worth a go, and that THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED CAKE. We had an argument, which I won – eventually. (I suspect it may be a repeated one, though.) Other than that they’re settling in to life: they just skidded around the corner into my bedroom, saw me, panicked that There Is A Human There and promptly ran off again – but they’re slowly getting used to the idea that Humans Do Move, and that the house isn’t too scary, so I think they’re pretty happy.

I also got to meet my gorgeous, arrogant poser again (I’ll ask if I’m allowed to post pictures, because he is beautiful, and also completely and utterly daft) and I’m getting cute cat pictures from another friend on a regular basis in exchange for black fluffball pics – so it’s a tough life!


I made scones! And I was bopping round the kitchen singing! It’s been really nice to feel like baking and singing again; and I got to do both while chatting about mythology (on which note, I really need to do a series of Alternative Morals For Greek Myths since my fellow-baker came up with “pack a lunch” as being the moral of Persephone…) and laughing at the cats. It was a reminder of something I loved doing, and a reminder that it is coming back. Plus, the scones were nommy!

5.And friends.

All the friends who have been playing ridiculously silly games at lunchtimes with me, texting six supportive gifs in a row and then give me a pep talk, singing karaoke very loudly in the car, telling me I’ll get through this so seriously that I have to believe them and then giving me a huge hug, randomly texting cat pictures, or checking in despite their hectic lives; all the friends that I don’t see for six months and then can catch up with in ten minutes with a hug and a laugh, and it’s like we haven’t been apart; all the friends that I can have long conversations about something completely random with, or sit with and watch something ridiculous (*cough*Metropolis*cough*) for five hours straight;  the friends I can text at stupid hours of the night to catch up with them and find out about their illuminated wardrobes (don’t ask) or their latest Arduino project; the friends who I’m just starting to get to know, and the ones I know will be there in six months or a year or two years, wherever our lives are taking us. I have some fabulous people around me, and I am absolutely blessed and grateful for them all. Thank you!

As a bonus: Peter Cat-paldi being friendly to my housemate!

Peter cat Oct 18

5 Happy Things: September 2018

It’s been a bit of an anxiety-filled month for one reason and another, but even with that, I’m still loving work, loving Oxford, and I’ve managed to still be ridiculously social! Even with all the stress, it’s still been fairly easy to come up with five things that have made me happy.

1.Kites and hawks, grass-fields and walking!

I’ve been spending quite a few lunchtimes walking  in the fields behind work, exploring and working out where the paths go; I’ve already got my favourite routes, and one of them is across the grass-fields. They’d cut them this week, and while scouting for snacks the kites decided to pick an argument with the hawk, a magpie, the crows, two bunches of seagulls, the hawk (again) and then each other…and I was able to just sit on a gate and watch. The flying’s been fantastic, and it was so windy for a couple of days that they could just hover – I absolutely adore the way kites can fly with nothing but their tails, swooping so effortlessly. It’s been wonderful.


I’ve finally got my own copy of the game and I’ve taken it into work this week to play with my ultra-competitive gaming group. We played on Monday and it was hilarious – the Serious Gamer complained that it was too damn NICE (aka. he only won one game), one person didn’t get on with it (too silly + sushi names), and the other two enjoyed it! So I count that as a success – plus, it’s always fun to collect happy little sushi.

3.Mental health.

The sheer relief that comes from both being able to be honest about how I’m feeling and having amazing people around me that get it. It’s being able to say to someone, “I’m not coping too well with the noise in the pub, I’m going to have to head off,” and they just give me a nod of understanding; it’s being able to say “I’m a bit shaky today” at work and getting the occasional quiet check-in throughout the day just to make sure I’m ok. It’s having a friend who reassures me I’m not leaving you alone when I’m screaming at the voices in my head,  too deep in an anxiety whirl to even know which thoughts are the ones I need or should be listening to. It’s knowing that people around me have my back, and I am both absolutely humbled and so, so grateful for every single one of them.

4.And as a sort-of-similar point; friends in general!

All glory to the hypnotoad

I’ve been blues dancing (which was brilliant fun even if I did run out of energy at the end, and I seriously need some practise – dancing with a partner is a whole new skill!), out for dinner with new people, out for burgers with old friends, out with someone I manage to surprise continuously (sorry, Remy – I’m sure I will manage to tell you everything I can do at some point!) – and I’ve had a couple of fun evenings this week, too. I’m still really enjoying the bonus energy, and I’ve got to do some amazing new things with amazing people in addition to what I’d class as Known Fun Stuff, which on this occasion was watching three entire seasons of Futurama in a wonderfully lazy day. Hey, if it ain’t broke then it doesn’t need fixing!

5.And finally: fog on the river.

It’s been absolutely gorgeous.

Fog on the Thames, september 2018