Spring is off to a rough start this year. Usually I would write about the thrill of new beginnings in my spring blog and newsletter. But in this year, in the grip of a worldwide pandemic, many of us feel anxiety instead of anticipation, worry instead of wonder. What can we do to put that joy back into our hearts? How can we bring back that sense of renewal?

Joyful and Rewarding Things to Do

Buy Flowers: Where I live, although seniors are advised to stay in our homes, we are allowed out to shop for food and medical supplies. Many grocery and drug stores have baskets of cheerful spring flowers—brilliant tulips, bright yellow daffodils, and pussy willows for a striking contrast. We pick up a bunch or two whenever we can. It’s fun to watch the tulip stems grow wild and unruly as they unfold, while the daffodils bring rays of sunshine as they open.

Daffodils

Call a friend: So what if you can’t meet that special friend for lunch because the restaurants are closed! Just pick up the phone and call him or her.

Volunteer: If you’re healthy and under 60, take advantage of the new trend while it lasts:  volunteer to support the at-risk elderly by asking what they need, shopping for them, and asking what you can do to help.

Start spring cleaning: There’s always spring cleaning! This week, I picked up where last spring’s Kondo spurt fizzled:  I Kondoized my sock and underwear drawers. Ah! What a sense of accomplishment! Then I tackled my writer’s den. Frankly, writing something new (like this letter) is more fun than deciding whether to file or throw something I wrote five years ago. Do I really need to keep those outdated brochures from each of the 62 countries we visited during our circumnavigation?

Read a good book: This is the time to look through those books on your nightstand you’ve been neglecting. Pick up each one, then select the one(s) you want to read first. Which would bring you the most joy? And if you’re looking for way to escape all the COVID-19 talk, consider sailing around the world while in the comfort of your armchair. My book series will take you through adventures and those special and rare moments of bliss.

About the Author: Lois and Günter Hofmann lived their dream by having a 43-foot ocean-going catamaran built for them in the south of France and sailing around the world. Learn more about their travel adventures by reading Lois’s award winning nautical adventure trilogy. Read more about Lois and her adventures at her website and stay in touch with Lois by liking her Facebook page.


I’ve been doing a lot of gardening at Northern Bliss, our Wisconsin lake home, this summer. In between gardening and visitors, I’ve been writing my third book in the series, In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss. I’ve been noticing how gardening and writing flow together: engaging in one activity prepares me for the other. Today, I realized why. When I’m gardening, I’m enjoying all five senses; when I’m writing I’m doing the same.

What do you notice first as you come upon a gorgeous garden? I notice the overall garden design, how it flows together. Then I focus on the characteristics of individual plants—colors, textures and how foliage and flowers combine to complement each other—these are all related to the sense of sight.

You’re probably familiar with the oft-repeated command, “Stop and smell the roses.”  I only have one rose bush, but I do have a couple of lilacs, a few honeysuckle vines, and many groupings of oriental lilies. And I have a half-barrel overflowing with wonderfully scented herbs including lavender, basil, coriander, chives and even Mojito.

Touch is another sensual delight of the garden. I love to run my fingers over the smooth waxy leaves of a magnolia; touch the feathery fronds of astilbe; and feel the soft wooly texture of silver sage.

Gardening is best when you leave those earphones or iPods inside. I love to listen to the songs of birds, so I have birdhouses, bird feeders, and birdbaths in my gardens. The swish-swish of hummingbirds in flight and the soft rustle of leaves blowing in the breeze is music enough to my ears. I recently read that a scientific study has proven that the sound of birdsong opens up blossoms. Amazing synergy!

Last but not least is the enticing scent of taste. I love to grab a raspberry or blackberry on the way to the garden, and though I do not grow vegetables because of the deer, I am growing nasturtiums this year for salads.

My dream is to plant as many fruit trees as I can at Northern Bliss, so that can see and smell the delicate, fragrant blossoms, feel the breeze blowing through them, attract even more birds, and pick fruit right off the trees. Meanwhile I’ll continue to enjoy both writing and gardening!

Bluebirds at Northern Bliss (photo by Holly Ricke)
Bluebirds at Northern Bliss (by Holly Ricke)
P1080704 Delphium and hostas
Delphinium and hostas
P1080860 Astilbe and Hydrangea
Astilbes and hydrangeas
P1080881 Nasturtiums and other herbs
Nasturtiums and other herbs


How I love spring!

Even in San Diego, we do have the seasons. The signs of spring are subtle here, but they are evident: the days last longer; college students on spring break flood the streets with energy; and a pair of house finches flits back and forth, building a nest in my trumpet vine. My favorite sign of spring is flowers—they are blooming everywhere!

Gunter and I attended Orchids by the Sea, an annual rite of spring at the Scottish Rite Temple last Sunday. I was in heaven!  Orchids are my favorite flower.

First, I walked through the huge show hall, checking out all the displays. Elegant Phalaenopsis, moth orchids, cascaded like waterfalls from tall stems. Cymbidiums, commonly used for spring corsages and easy to grow as a patio plant in Southern California, were available in many of the booths. Miltonia, pansy orchids, were new to me. Vandas take up a lot of space and require full sun; that wouldn’t work for me. But I can grow Oncidiums. They require less humidity than other orchids. I love their tall, delicate stems and blossoms. By far the most stunning and sensual orchids are Paphiopedilum, lady’s slippers; they originate in the jungles of Indonesia.

Second, I attended a class on how to keep and fertilize orchids when they’re blooming and when they’re not. The lecturer repeated advice I often tell my friends: “Don’t worry about killing orchids. Buy them and just enjoy the bloom, which will last for six weeks.  You could pay for—and throw out—cut flowers three times and easily equal the cost of one multi-stemmed orchid. So try to keep the plant until it blooms again, but if it doesn’t, you haven’t lost a thing. Above all, don’t feel guilty!”

Third, I purchased an assortment of orchids for half price. Such a deal! I invite you to view my orchid show albums and my home display in the albums below:

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