Friday, 17 August 2012

Life's Little Pleasures (1)

I was exceptionally tired one day last week, but still determined to change the bed linen before brushing my teeth and falling into bed.  I had found a duvet cover that had been lying at the back of the linen shelf for about a year (I’m not very tidy) and it was like bumping into an old friend.  It has a blue background with a palm tree and various unidentifiable shapes around it in gold and green, but all in muted colours – nothing bright. 

And it was heaven – the feel of the clean, cool sheet and duvet cover against my skin and my face on the pillow slip smelling of lavender.  I’m sure I fell asleep within seconds with a smile on my face, and awoke the following morning feeling totally refreshed. 

As I drove to work I was remembering this and it struck me that there are so many things in our lives that bring us small nuggets of pleasure; why not try to list them?  The big pleasures in life are the same for most of us, I thought, but the little moments that seem to make everything else seem better, brighter and more comfortable are also worth recording and could be different from other people's.  I reckoned I should be able to come up with a dozen or so, and could write a post about it.

Since then my brain has bombarded me with LLPs (Life’s Little Pleasures) – all day, every day, ever since.  I scribble them on the backs of envelopes, the spaces on the back covers of magazines in between the ads, e-mails to myself from work, and in a little notebook I also carry around with me. 

Having now assembled them into some sort of order, I’ll see where this leads me.  It will take several posts, but I probably won’t make them concurrent, since each one can stand alone.  I’d love to know what other bloggers think of my choices, and if they have any to add themselves.

Home and Hearth

“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.”
~ Jane Austen

Sleep – I love that brief moment before I drift off, then waking in the middle of the night to the reassuring sight of the digital alarm-clock which tells me I have a few hours’ more sleep before it screams into life.  And if you can add to that the thrumming sound of rain outside and the combined warm and reassuring bulk of John’s back and the cats on the bed... bliss.  Please share with me this lovely little poem by Robert Louis Stevenson.

A Hot Bath – sinking into the hot sudsy water with a sponge to support my neck and a ten-minute read before my ginger cat Rusty’s curiosity has got the better of him and he’s jumped onto the rim of the bath.  He sways slightly to regain his balance as I hold my breath – the water would be too hot for him if he were to fall in.  He just manages to edge his way round two of the sides, fascinated by the bubbles, and then keenly interested in the feet beneath, which he tries to reach with his paw.  Getting braver he leans cautiously into the water, determined to catch the ‘things’, but eventually gives up and jumps off with his whiskers covered in foam.

The cats – I’ve written regularly about them on both blogs, but the small pleasures come from suddenly realising that I understand what a look on the little face means – something around the eyes, the tilt of the chin.  And it makes me laugh with delight at its pragmatism:  that’s my chair, get off it… you haven’t fed me for hours… I’m lying on your side of the bed because I feel like it, so lump it… I’m purring because I must ensure you like me enough to feed me on demand… .  Occasionally they lie on the bed purring while I stroke them, and yet there’s no food in sight.  They may be reaffirming their bond with me, but I resolutely ignore it and assume it’s because they love me.  Cuddle time is one of life’s best little pleasures.

Non-Housework - I’ve already admitted that I’m untidy, and there’s another pleasure to be gained from this.  Good housekeepers keep their houses tidy because they couldn’t bear to live any other way, whereas the unique pleasure I derive from seeing my garden and house tidy and clean once a fortnight is because I haven’t had to do it myself.  Certainly there have been times when I tackled the garden and enjoyed planting and watching the flowers come up, but what it made me feel was fierce pride and satisfaction and even a hint of obsession, because I couldn’t sit still to admire it if there were still weeds around to be pulled up.  Or if having vacuumed the house and dusted the furniture I’d see red if anyone walked on ‘my floor’ or put a teacup down on ‘my coffee table’... The pleasure was in there somewhere, but it was altogether a stronger and possessive feeling, far more complex than a simple pleasure. 

My list has only just begun.  Watch this space.  And tell me what your little pleasures are.


Photo Finish
from Lonicera's non-digital archives

A visit to Bowood House, Wiltshire



Lonicera said...

In case anyone's noticed, these 3 weeks are the longest time I've ever had between posts. Not a sign of losing interest in blogging, quite the opposite, but I admit to being a bit taken over by the Olympics, and at the same time I was writing a series of nine posts about these "LLPs", of which this post is the first. I preferred to plan it all first and then write the whole lot, rather than one at a time.

For next week I have a story already written, and after that it will be post 2 of LLP's, etc.

You're not rid of me yet.


Sara said...

I share each one of these LLPs. Amazing! I love falling asleep to the sound and smell of rain.

Tina said...

oh..Im not a bath taker but the rest are really nice. There are so many little pleasures when you stop and think about it. this is a lovely thing!


Lonicera said...

Sara - in fact if I'm at my computer at any time of day and hear the rain on the roof of the conservatory next door I have to force myself not to wander into my bedroom like a sleepwalker and lie down and go to sleep! What a wuss. You're right, the smell of rain is lovely too.
Tina - I usually take showers because it's the only way to wake up, but every few weeks I have an evening bath, particularly in the winter...
Sooo glad you both liked the idea.

Reddirt Woman said...

One of MY LLPs is finding you here with your wonderful ideas like LLP posts. I think you'll find your LLPs are a lot like most of your readers LLPs but I'll give you one of mine a little different than your's in this post... discovering the first bloom bursting out in a loved plant in spring. Reaffirmation that life does, indeed, go on... and I agree with the moment just before sleep and sinking into a nice warm bath. My 'cats' are mini-schnauzers and there is a ton of little pleasures they grace me with on a daily basis. Maybe I should write on LLPs also... maybe a weekly LLP. You may have started something, Caroline!

Thank you for all the ideas and I hope we aren't rid of you for a long, long time.

Lonicera said...

Wow Helen - thank you so much! Having followed your blog for so long I'm not in the least surprised that top of your list are your schnauzers and your lovely plants surviving the intense heat and cold where you live, and sprouting in spring.

Sandy said...

Love the idea. Must get a post started about this. You are so right. I find it's the little things that make for a happy life. Love the cat in the bath story. I could just visualize the whole scene and secretly hoping the cat would take the plunge.

Lonicera said...

Thanks Sandy - it would be fun if we started a trend!

Matvi. said...

Writing down or just making ourselves aware of our LLP's is a sure stairway to whatever happiness we can attain on our brief journey through life.
Being a father of a four-year old boy, I loved RLS's poem, but I can't figgure out what's a slice of wedding cake has to do in his bed.

Lonicera said...

Something to munch on I suppose - British children when they're older love the idea of a 'midnight feast', when they smuggle food and drink into their bedrooms with their siblings, or friends (if at boarding school or staying the night somewhere else) and feel very wicked when they eat cake and sandwiches late into the night and the grownups don't know...

Joyful said...

I'm glad to see your posts again so I'm glad the Olympics are over! LOL. I like this idea of remembering the little pleasures. I have so many. I like cats like you but don't take baths anymore. I like the feel of fresh clean sheets, a wonderful cup of coffee, a good book, a cosy fire, and rain falling when I'm sleeping.

Lonicera said...

Coffee - that's a good one. I should have included that! I love coffee (though I shock the purists by preferring expensive instant over percolated...)

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