A genuine interest

An everyday moment, now a treasured memory. Dixon, California, January 2003

An everyday moment, now a treasured memory. Dixon, California, January 2003

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”William Morris

I like to keep a camera handy so I can capture everyday moments, the type that seem commonplace.  Now that most people have cell phones with cameras, this is happening more often, and I think that’s mostly a good thing.  As with all such innovations, it can be overdone or misused, but I think cameras can help us be more aware of how wonderful even the seemingly dullest day can be.

When I was working as a youth services librarian in California, there was a lively group of kids who came to the public library every afternoon after school because there was no one at home and they didn’t want to be alone.  Sensing that they needed something different to do while they spent so much time in the small “children’s room” of the library, one of the other staff members and I decided to start a craft day for them.  Each week we would work together on some sort of simple craft, and soon other young visitors and parents joined in regularly.

There was nothing particularly special about the day I snapped this photo.  I just happened to have my camera along with me.  I look at it now and it brings me such joy to remember these precious children I saw almost every day.  After more than eleven years, they are all adults now, and many of them probably have children of their own.  If so, I hope they take their kids to the library with fond memories of what a fun place it can be.

Are there everyday moments you have captured, on film or in your memory, that bring you joy to this day?  I hope you will look around today and take some snapshots, with a camera or just with your mind, to remind you of all the often-unnoticed things that make up your daily life.  I’ve found that what Morris said holds true; when we look closely at our lives, they become quite interesting, and bring us deep happiness.

One year ago today:

After ecstasy

And speaking of daily life, you might enjoy a visit to one of my favorite blogs. It’s called Pictures from Everyday Life.  I love to go there and take a mini-escape to England, where I can go for a virtual walk in the lovely countryside with Jez, Max, and Julia.  She has a gift for capturing the beautiful moments of “normal” days.  It’s a great way to enjoy everyday life in England, something I’ve always wished I could do in reality!


  1. raynard

    Julia as I look to my right and see my only 4 photo albums, those pictures were taken in the 80’s and 90’s. Most of my recently picture are digital and posted( on Facebook.) I embraced social media in a different way from most. While I didnt connect to my children and grandchild like I hoped, it connected me to a few family members, in laws, younger co workers and a few neighbors. Most of the people mentioned I usually dont see everyday, week or month for that matter. I enjoy posting pictures of my cakes and anything I believe encouraged me and hopes of it doing the same for others. be blessed

    • Raynard, I think that’s one of the strengths of the online world; each of us can individualize it to fit our own situations. Some do none of the social media sites; some do all of them (I have no idea how they manage it) and some pick just one or two on which to focus. Some use it for business, some for fun, some both. Some spend hours a day, some only hours a week or even month. The great thing is it can be an asset in any of these ways. I think when we posts photos of what we are doing (crafts, cakes, outings with friends, whatever) it helps us to be mindful of the blessings in our lives, as well as the lives of other people, and that’s a great thing. I don’t bake cakes as you do or make exquisite crafts as Boomdee does, or compose amazing, stunning photo essays as Michael Lai does, or garden and organize as Alys does, or create art as Z does, on and on I could go…yet reading about these things I can enjoy them in a small way. That’s what is so great about sharing! Thanks for being here with us.

  2. I had to smile when I read your post today. Yesterday I pulled out my camera, went to the camera shop and bought myself a new battery. I hadn’t fired up that camera in a while since it’s so hard to find camera shops these days–everything is online. I can’t wait to get back to spending the day capturing all the wonderful sights around me that I sometimes forget.

    • Thank you, Kathy! I’m so happy to hear you are going to be taking photos and sharing the joy. I appreciate your visit here, and your comment.

  3. Sheila

    Julia, your blog is the perfect mix of your words, combined with your photos and fitting quotes. I appreciate the many “acquaintances” that I’ve made here, too. I’m sure that those afternoons at the library meant more to those children than you ever imagined. I see it in their faces. You have such a special gift of caring, genuinely from your heart. I hope that Jeff is doing well. 🙂 We’ve all enjoyed the weekend and warmer temps, although Saturday was the prettier day here. We are back in Garden City, thinking the weekend was much too fast!
    I’ll be thinking of y’all this week. 🙂

    • Sheila, thanks for your kind words; those kids gave me more than I ever gave them. I am so happy you had a lovely weekend! Today was chillier for us too, but still beautiful. I just love that sunshine! YES those weekends go by too quickly, don’t they? 🙂

  4. Sounds like you would have had a bunch of grateful parents and kids back in California. I didn’t know libraries did these kind of activities! My Library card is due now for renewal, it’s only $22.00 a year, so wow, what value. I wish we could check out the periodicals too.

    I can think of one ‘everyday’ photo at the moment. My dad’s got his paper out all over and my brother is stretched out on the sofa and his Sherpard, ‘Rhambo’ is enjoying a rare visit on the furniture. He has such a big smile on his face. I love that photo.

    • K, that photo sounds wonderful and I love the name “Rhambo” for a dog. It’s amazing how many different things are done at libraries nowadays. Not all of them have craft programs but some have even more creative things going on. CHECK IT OUT (pun intended)!

      Some of our libraries here do allow checkout of the back issue of periodicals, but I am now hooked on the Zinio database offered free by many of our public libraries, which allows me to download and KEEP full color digital copies of all the biggest mass-circulation magazines. Oh dear, you don’t even want to know how many of them I already have on my Nook HD! I still like the print versions but the digital versions make it easy to share articles, look up web links etc. Check and see if your library has Zinio!

      I have never known of a public library here that charges a yearly fee to local residents, but perhaps they should start. Funding is always a major issue and as you point out, even at $22 a year it’s a tremendous bargain. I am glad they don’t charge by the number of items checked out or I would be in trouble. 🙂

      • I will check on Zinio, that sounds awesome. Do you have to have a reading tablet I wonder? Is a ‘Nook HD’ just for books and magazines?
        I think I mentioned before that our Libraries seem lacking, so I really don’t mind the fee. I’d pay more if they’d get more books I like 😀 I do think they’re indispensable for low income folks too. The computers are always busy and in use, not everyone can afford one or the monthly wi-fi. We generally pay more for Cell and Internet than in America…mostly because there’s way fewer of us and the distances between services is so vast. We get great coverage downtown but at the lake it was practically impossible to use.

        • For obvious reasons, you would want a color tablet such as the Kindle Fire or Nook HD – magazines just wouldn’t be the same in black and white. The Nook HD is a tablet similar to an Android, but more limited in that you can’t do all the Google-based stuff without an adapter card (or so I’m told). But it does work with Zinio, though the interface isn’t quite as easy to set up (like Amazon, Nook wants readers to buy magazines from their store).

          We have the same problem here with spotty internet coverage outside of cities. AT times our connection in York Co. is so slow as to be maddening, probably like yours at the lake. Supposedly we are getting FiOs there soon, but I’m not holding my breath. It is true that large customer bases enable more efficient pricing in many areas. Also things such as public transportation tend to be better and/or more extensive in bigger cities. I guess crowded living has to have some perks! 🙂 On the other hand, when there are more people using the service, it can bog things down. I notice a definite drop in speeds many evenings in Alexandria, during the “prime time” hours of heavy use after folks get home from work.

          • I just got an iPod Mini (Just got it as a prize, I inherited it) so I wonder if I can use it for the magazine app? I’m having a tricky time getting used to it. So different than my Mac Notebook.

            We are subscribing to WI-FI thru the company we both used to work for. We figure since our pensions are left there, we best contribute to the financial health of the company. We get our Television service, Cell and Data service and WI-FI from them. So far, no complaints.

            • I would want a big screen to look at magazine pages – my Nook is 9″ — how big is the iPod Mini? You could use your Mac Notebook for the same purpose if you didn’t mind taking it along with you wherever you would want to be reading. One great thing about Zinio is that you can download the copies and keep them on your device so you don’t need to have WiFi to use it once you have it downloaded. Great for those of us who take lots of car trips and don’t have 4G or any other sort of mobile broadband. I agree that it’s wise to go with the company where you have investments. May as well put a tiny bit of your fees back into your own pockets!

              • I’ve been on my computer for a good part of the day, LOL. I was so behind on mail. Then I wanted to post about our Tea Party. I’m a terribly slow typist on my iPod Mini. I just measured it at 4.5 x 6.25 inches. Mr B has a iPad and it’s a little bigger. My Notebook is about 11 x7 but the windows aren’t open full up either. There’s a shortcut I use a lot, “command + =” enlarges what I’m viewing. Getting to be more and more of a requirement. HA.

                • That’s hilarious you just said that because GUESS WHAT I DID not 3 seconds before reading this comment? ENLARGED MY SCREEN! Yes, more and more of a requirement – I was just thinking “isn’t it lucky to know about this feature?” You would not believe how many years I had no idea about that simple command, even though I strongly prefer the command-based approach over the mouse clicking or (gasp!) touch screen, with which I always end up doing things I don’t want to do, and can’t figure out how to undo.

                  • LOL, so I’m in good company with the ‘make it bigger’ command…too funny.
                    It’s very strange with the touch screens. My Samsung works perfectly, very responsive, always gets where I want to go. Then with MAC touch screen products it’s really hard to get response. Half the time it doesn’t react at all. I have low blood pressure and have been told that’s why I have trouble on Apple products. I got the iPod Mini for it’s portability, but I haven’t used it much for this reason.

                    • WOW – what a discovery; I too have low blood pressure and maybe that’s why I have such a hard time with touch screens. I have to use a stylus, but then I find I have misplaced them if my device case doesn’t have a tab to hold it, so sometimes I have to struggle through with my fingers, tapping repeatedly most of the time. On balance I guess low blood pressure is not a bad thing, but I never thought about how it could affect touch screens. I learn so much from reader comments!

  5. What a wonderful program and legacy for those children, Julia. I used to participate in our elementary school’s Art Vista program, and taught an art lesson once a month. I have great memories of those days.

    • Alys, I’m so happy you were able to teach through Art Vista. I love it when public schools bring in people from the community to share with the students. Drew’s kindergarten in Tennessee had a similar program and I was one of the “literature ladies” as they were called. Such FUN!

      Library work is wonderful and I hope to return to it someday if I’m able, even if only on a volunteer basis.

      • I hope you get to return to it as well, Julia. You are a natural.

        • Thank you Alys!

  6. Michael

    Recently our church has started an after school tutoring program for junior high students on Wednesday evenings. Probably, one of the most meaningful ministries out church is doing now.

    • What a wonderful idea! So many families struggle with the pressures of helping kids do well academically. I can imagine how it could just ruin the evening if there was a lot of angst about homework. In junior high, most students probably would prefer to be tutored by someone other than Mom or Dad anyway, and the parents probably appreciate the service more than the kids do.

  7. Thanks for sharing this every day photo…

    • Merry, you’re welcome. Seeing those smiling faces makes me feel happy.

  8. LB

    Julia, I’m trying to catch up on blogs this morning in between seeing patients (a challenge for sure :-).
    It was so very good to meet you by voice last night! What a treat that Skype session was, even with the technology challenges. I can’t wait for the next one!
    Thanks for the recommendation for Pictures From Everyday Life!
    Love the smiling faces in the photo 🙂

    • Thanks LB! That really was fun, wasn’t it? We had a great combination of accents, for sure. Once we get the video angle worked out it will be the next best thing to “Beam me up!” Isn’t it amazing that we could have tea with Dani and Pauline on a different day (for them) than we were in at the time? For them it was already tomorrow morning! Almost like time travel!

      I love Julia’s Pics from Everyday Life. I always feel as if I’ve been to England when I visit her site. Plus I’m totally crazy about Jez and Max, it sort of takes the edge off missing Pasha so much. So much of their personalities come through in her photos.

      I am SO FAR behind on everyone’s blogs – I really hope things will go smoothly while Matt is in the hospital and I’ll have some time to catch up while I’m sitting with him during the recovery period.

  9. Thank you Julia, for the recommendation. It’s taken me a while to catch up with this post, but I knew it was here somewhere as new visitors to my blog have said you suggested it. As you know, my real fear is that my days are so normal that they get repetitive and boring! I really musy make the effort to go somewhere a little bit different.

    • Julia, to paraphrase an old saying, one person’s normal day is another person’s dream day! One thing I have gained off of the past year is the knowledge that BORING can be WONDERFUL! When crisis hits we long for the good old days before everything became uncertain. Having said that, a bit of adventure is good for everyone, so perhaps you can find some new places to explore. and if so, I hope you will take your camera, along with Jez and Max! 🙂 Meanwhile rest assured that some of us adore reading about quiet walks in the English countryside with wonderful dogs and other surprises. You take nice nature photographs and close ups that are different with each walk. To me it is never boring. Thanks for giving me a serene place to escape to online!

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