LOOK WHAT I WOKE UP TO FIND… an article in the Ukiah Daily Journal about me.

Happiness Cards still blooming

This red-edged white begonia carries a quote from Beethoven. Connie Fledderjohann
Connie Fledderjohann. photo by River Wilder.

Long time photographer and Mendocino County resident Connie Fledderjohann is wrapping up a second year in the business of creating “Happiness Cards,” a line of simple cards with photos of nature on one side and quotes aimed at cheering you up on the other.

She works from Fort Bragg and has cards available in a couple of stores on the coast but mainly she’s an online business and got help from West Company to figure out the business side of things.

Fledderjohann’s operating assumption is “You can increase your happiness by making others happy.”

She came up with the concept mainly because she was eager to share her photography.

“I love photography and want to share my photos. Mendocino County has many wonderful photographers, lots of them my friends,” she explained. “But the more of us there are trying to sell our work in conventional ways the harder it becomes for each of us to make a living. In addition, I wanted a product that most anyone could afford. I began by giving away little cards with a flower photo on one side and an inspiring quotation on the other. I handed them out to friends and strangers. In return I always got a smile and ‘thank you’ and sometimes tears or a hug. And I always came away feeling happier. When my friends asked for their own cards to give away it became a business.”

And Fledderjohann says selling the cards makes her happy too.

“I treasure the many comments I’ve received from customers who relate the positive experiences they’ve had giving out Happiness Cards. I estimate that there are over 60,000 cards in circulation right now adding to the happiness of both giver and receiver.”

An example of the quotes on her cards is: “‘To play the wrong note is insignificant. To play without passion is inexcusable.’ – Beethoven.” This one comes on the back of a photo of a red-edged white begonia.

Fledderjohann works alone – and loves living so close to the Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg where she finds inspiration all the time – but gets help filling orders from a friend and neighbor when things are extra busy.

She takes inspiration from nature but also from role models “like Georgia O’Keeffe who kept creating late into life.” Why? “I’m almost 85,” she says.

Find Fledderjohann’s cards at www.happinesscards.net



I’ve got a new edition of Happiness Cards with some new images along with old favorites. I’ll be showing all 30 over the next month. Here’s the first:

We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. Buddha
We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.


These beautiful flowers begin as dust-fine seeds that produce the tubers that become begonia plants that blossom. Despite their fragile appearance, begonias are easy to grow given the right climate. A cool, wet environment is what they like. I am lucky enough to live on the Northern California coast where begonias thrive.

.Pink BegoniasBegonias are a favorite among gardeners, as a modest amount of work produces showy flowers in every color but blue and black.

I’ve had 3 baskets of hanging begonias outside my living room window for 8 or 10 years. I water them once a week, unless we have a good rain storm or it’s unusually dry and hot, and they bloom profusely.

White BegoniasThese are the blossoms from one of my 3 begonias. About a month ago the leaves began withering and dropping off. I cut it back to the tuber and it’s putting out new, healthy leaves. I never figured out the cause, nor could anyone I asked.

Begonia on Lightbox 2This is from the same plant as the flowers above, but I photographed it on a light box. The other was taken outside. Begonias are native to many tropical and sub-tropical of the world. Although I’ve read that they can be propagated from a single leaf or a cutting, I haven’t tried that myself.

Begonia close-up

Begonias have cane-like stems where they store water and are said to be drought-tolerant. Maybe, but I know they’re happiest in a cool, damp climate.

Begonias on blackThey are related to squash, pumpkins, cucumbers and melons. I didn’t realize that when I set up the flowers for this shot. I included the squash blossom for color, but now I know it’s also a family gathering.

.White Begonia CenterOften it is the sexual organs of these flowers that provide interest and variety.

Last week dahlias were my favorite flowers, but now I’m not sure. Could be begonias.


Wish I could say I’m free of fleas, but no such luck. I’m going to do a second round of bombing next week. Do you suppose that word, “bombing”  will alert Homeland Security? I can imagine the Tweet, “83 year-old woman arrested on suspicion of terrorism.” Maybe they’ll send a drone and drop a real bomb on my house. I’d even welcome that if it would get rid of my problem, but like the cockroaches, the fleas would probably survive.

Begonia close up-2

My weekly pilgrimage to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens helps keep me sane. Here are a couple of recent photographs I shot there.

Heather Garden