Little Joys: New Friends and Fresh Flowers

Hello friends, and happy summer-of-crazy!

After a ridiculous semester that began as terrifyingly hard and finished as what-in-the-world-is-going-on difficult, then taking a few weeks off from writing, I am finally back at my keyboard. Ready to read and write again, after banishing my brain to simply rest and recoup once the school year was done!

Here on the blog we’re not going to focus on the chaos of the world (especially right now!), but on joy that runs deeper than all the craziness. We’re seeking out little joys that can be found in everyday life. So my friends, please tell me the joy you’re finding in your day-to-day life! Goodness knows we all need to share in celebrating each other’s joys, little and big, this year.

I’m back, and I’m here to stay. So it’s time for Life Updates!

Let’s see, where to start? First of all. . . I moved. From a tiny town, to a dinky one! The last time I moved (barring college, which really doesn’t count), I was only 2 years old. So it’s been awhile. Why did I leave my ancestral home though, the only house I can remember ever living? Well, I’m married!

That fella you met last blog post is now officially part of the family, and that brings so much joy to our lives. Because of, well, world events, our wedding changed, and despite the day looking drastically different than we had originally planned, it was perfect. We moved the date up a month, and had a tiny ceremony with only our immediate family and wedding party, and it was wonderful. Extended family and friends even showed up to surprise us with a celebratory send-off!

Photo credit: Marissa Tyler photo.

So that’s why I left my hometown, and am creating memories in our new home-town.

Caleb and I live in the heart of our little village, and go on walks every evening around the neighborhoods surrounding us. And in the last two and half weeks, we have had grand adventures of an ordinary sort that give me great joy. Finding an old piano falling apart on the lawn of an abandoned house, stuffed with leaves and bare of keys. Watching an orphan robin get back to its mama after falling on the road. Peering in the windows of an old building that’s being made into a coffee shop (they must have known I was coming!) Gawking daily (alright, I’m the one gawking and Caleb’s chuckling at me, I’ll admit) at what I am convinced is Boo Radley’s house from To Kill A Mockingbird, completely covered in gorgeous beauty bushes. Whenever we walk past it, I’m struck by it, and husband makes sure I get to “ogle it” on our walks. These little joys sprinkle our newly-formed daily routines, and I don’t know about you, but my soul is searching for every joyous thing it can find in the middle of these crazy times.

And this past week has been my favorite.

As we’ve been exploring, this tiny town has shown its hospitality to the new schoolteacher’s wife, and I’m happily making new friends as we wander the town. After looking into the thrift store’s window yesterday, the woman walking past told me to “make sure you come in next week! We’ll only be open a couple days, but we’ll be back!”, and I learned she was a volunteer–and I quickly told her that I’d like to volunteer as well. (If I’m going to get to know the community, what better way than to begin by meeting my fellow thrift-lovers and bargain-hunters?)

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Home is more complete with plants on the windowsill. ♥️ #movingday #succulents

A post shared by Amalia (@amaliacharis) on

And just a few days before on our nightly walk, one of Caleb’s coworkers had stepped out of her home to talk to us, and explained. . .

the Mystery of the Missing House.

You see, in the two days we had between wedding and mini-honeymoon to The City nearby, Caleb and I had come across an old, seemingly abandoned, and to me quite creepy house, just a few blocks from us. Black spray paint had been scrawled across the sides, telling passersby that “the end is neer”, as well as proclaiming either approbation or disappointment (which, we’ll never know) for the “KC chefs”. Walking together at dusk, this eerie place had set me on edge, and rather than take a picture to hold on to for future story-writing as I should have, we quickly headed home. And ever since we got back from our mini-moon, we’ve been walking and searching for that house in my quest to take a picture, unsure of where it was.

For a week and a half we’ve been walking from one end of the town to the other, searching for the house, thinking perhaps they’d re-painted, or somehow we’d just missed this rather obvious house, going down back roads and alleys to look for it. And while we were searching, we came across a plot of bare land, obviously being worked on as if to put up a new house, or perhaps having just removed the remains of an old one? Bu surely they hadn’t taken it down in the 3 days we were gone! Could the work be done so quickly? And so when this coworker stepped out, and mentioned a demolished house, we questioned her, and indeed, that is where the eerie, curious house had been. And she told us the story. . .

The house had been sitting empty, abandoned for years.

It had once been beautiful, but after the owners left, the house was bought by a neighbor who had never rented or sold it, and came to shambles. This new owner decided he wanted to burn the house, and so he took spray paint to the walls, preparing to torch it shortly thereafter. But the city told him that he couldn’t burn the building that was sitting in the heart of a residential neighborhood, and so there it sat, spray painted with spelling errors and all, for weeks. Until finally he had it demolished, perfectly timed within the few days we were out of town!

(In case you didn’t know, I love stories, and so this house had fascinated me, as I questioned who and why anyone would spray paint their house in this way–especially since, when we saw it, there was a “for sale” sign sitting outside!)

We could hardly believe that this empty plot was where that house had once sat. And yet, now we knew. And were slightly jealous that we didn’t get to see the machine that the coworker described, that came in and flattened the house to take it away.

So we walked home that night with a mystery solved. And as we walked, I kept stopping to smell the flowers. . .

which brings me to the next night.

At the very beginning of our evening walk, we stopped to admire peony bushes, and, perfectly timed, another coworker walked up as we were standing there and said “if you like ’em, take ’em home!” It just so happened to be her house, and she loaded us up with fresh pink peonies to fill our vase and our home. We walked home laughing, hands full of blossoms, for it had been just the day before that I was telling Caleb that I must befriend everyone in town so that poor flower-garden-less me could steal fresh cut flowers from their yards. Who knew this would happen so soon?

So here I sit, happily at home in my new town. I’ve been nervous about finding new friends and creating a new community (let’s face it, living in the same place forever, I just haven’t had to practice that skill very much!) But between new friends and fresh flowers, I’m confident and content. Rather than focusing on the chaos around us, I’m fixing my eyes on the future, finding little joys in daily routines, and always stopping to smell the roses–or perhaps the peonies.

What joys does your summer hold?

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