Easily Amused

Illustration by Judith R. Robinson


I‘m having fun already.” Cindy sighs, her brown ponytail lolling against the headrest.


“I know, right? But then, you are easily amused.” I take my eyes off the road and glance to where she sits in the passenger seat.

That sentiment, of being easily amused, goes back more than fifty years. First as teenagers, then roomies and drinking buddies, and now as mothers and grandmothers, the two of us find joy in simply hanging out. No lavish spa days, jam-packed cruises, or cross-country concerts are necessary.  A glass of wine, a People magazine, and we’re good to go.

Today, we head to one of the many small wineries near where we live.

I watch the road. Semi-rural, it winds, rises, and falls like a kiddie park roller-coaster.  Warmth beams through the windshield, tossing a virtual blanket around our shoulders. Cows and llamas and sheep voice what seems to be pastoral glee. Oak trees bud, showing off tiny bright green growth. Emerald grasses, thick before summer’s inevitable scorch, remind me that, perhaps, life will prevail.

It’s February. For most of our long friendship, Cindy and I would have encountered cool and foggy conditions on such a day. But today is very different. Gradually over the last decade, we’ve come to expect and curse the mild, springlike conditions in the middle of winter.

Each hot dry year brings a new and unexpected consequence. This year, temperatures never drop far enough or long enough to kill off mosquito larvae. As a result, we now swat at insects that should be relegated to late-summer cookouts.

Silent Sisters
Profiles of the Short Lives of Karen Carpenter, Patsy Cline, Cass Elliot, Ruby Elzy, Janis Joplin and Selena Quintanilla-Perez
by Ellen Hunter Ulken
With raging talent and heartfelt bonhomie, these twentieth-century American women sang their way to stardom. All died before the age of 36. Within separate chapters, one for each celebrity, the book reveals their triumphs and tragedies, the details of their final hours, and explores the notion that frantic, constant, touring schedules may have contributed to the anxieties and dramas surrounding their early deaths. Through these illustrated pages, the reader will become familiar with these outstanding singers and their music. Endnotes, bibliography and discography are given for each subject. Ellen Ulken began writing later in life as a retired person. In 2005, she wrote Beautiful Dreamer, The Life of Stephen Collins Foster. Through Arcadia Publishing, in 2009, along with Rebecca Watts and Clarence Lyons, she contributed to a history with pictures and captions of Peachtree City, Georgia, where she lives with her companion, Jerry Watts, MD. Silent Sisters: Profiles of the Short Lives of Karen Carpenter, Patsy Cline, Cass Elliot, Ruby Elzy, Janis Joplin and Selena Quintanilla Perez was published in 2014. She and Jerry are members of The Peachtree City Writer’s Circle, The Friends of the Peachtree City Library, The Peachtree City Garden Club, and three historical societies. Available from Amazon,, or your independent bookstore.

Fewer trees are planted and more are removed. Gardens become rock and wood chips. This isn’t the end of it either. Our town, our county, the entire planet has changed. And not for the  better.

I almost say, “Wow. It shouldn’t be this warm.” But I’m tired of stating the obvious, and with Cindy, I don’t have to. She knows.

“There it is.” She points across the steering wheel to the winery’s driveway. I turn left, my car tires crunching on the gravel lot. Snug between a Toyota and a beat-up truck, I brake to a stop.

The moment I open the door, I’m greeted by the holy trinity of amusements: food, wine, and music.

Smokey barbacoa and sizzling onions coalesce to invoke deep memories of hot summer days. A warm rush lifts my hair, and I want to be happy.

Spicy beef and blackened veggies soak my plate. Bluesy notes set my toes to tapping. Local Zinfandel fills my glass.

We move to a grassy hill that overlooks a gazebo.

While we set up lawn chairs, the Conger Ice Shelf melts. In the time it takes to smile at a trio of toddlers, wildfires rip through Colorado. And as we sip red wine, drought locks wild salmon in a death grip.

I want to believe all is well on this day here at the winery. It’s hard, but I make up my mind, in this moment, to set aside harsh reality. And I, too, am easily amused.



Author's Comment

Worry over a loved one’s illness and my displeasure with the state of the world had dampened my ability to relax and enjoy small pleasures. The day that my friend and I visited a winery, I decided to set aside my concern about the things that I can’t control. And when I did, I was able to feel the small sweet experiences around me.


Lynette Blumhardt began writing fiction, non-fiction, and creative nonfiction six years ago. Long before children took up all of her time, energy, and money, she wrote freelance pieces for Woman’s World, Grit, the Sacramento Bee, and California Game and Fish. An essay of hers was published in HerStry in 2021.     

Judith R. Robinson is an editor, teacher, fiction writer, poet and visual artist. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, she is listed in the Directory of American Poets and Writers. She has published 100+ poems, five poetry collections, one fiction collection; one novel; edited or co-edited eleven poetry collections. Teacher: Osher at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. Her newest poetry collection, Buy A Ticket, was published this year, and is available from Amazon.


  1. We often begin our days with the news and all the terrible things we can do nothing about but worry. It is good and necessary for us to escape and find things to enjoy. I like this story.

  2. Thank you for illustrating daily parallel universes and a commitment to enjoy the pleasures life offers so succinctly. Your writing stimulated this passage in my mind, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

  3. Very good essay! I travelled with you towards the winery and today I will drink red wine with muy eldest daughter un Chile and we will s
    ay Salud! For you!

  4. Wow, that story was me, is me and I’m going to try to live more in the moment. Thank you
    I always knew you were good, say hi to Will
    Love Sue

  5. Loved this so much! We all could really benefit from a day away from reality. Really love the way you write.

  6. Great stacation for a day for me, Lynette. Thanks for reminding me of the joy that still exist no matter what the world is up too! Congrats and Aloha

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *