Stupid Hobbies

Good morning!

I’m Hugh Hollowell, your host, and this is Life Is So Beautiful, an exercise in finding beauty in the world around us.

I think it really hit me hardest during the lockdown in 2020 when we were all put on Zoom and invited strangers into our houses. Suddenly we saw people’s living rooms and bedrooms – virtually – and we all had a small glimpse of how other people live.

A thing that struck me was how often people I knew who were incredibly well put together – who spent good money on clothes and their car and their appearance – sometimes lived in homes with no art and blank walls and poor lighting.

It was as if they put all of their effort into their outside life, and economized on where they actually lived. Much like when I go to NYC and rent minimal accommodations because I intend to only sleep there.

But whereas I am only in NYC for a few days and am practically camping out in my cheap hotel, this is where people sleep and eat and raise their families and make love and create their lives.

I want to be clear that I’m not shaming anyone – we all make choices, based on what’s important to us, and our options and agency. But I determined I wanted to create a world from which I did not want to escape. Rather than have to chase around the world to find beautiful things once or twice a year, I wanted to create a home where I am surrounded by beauty every day.

So we built a huge deck that overlooks our backyard, which contains rose bushes and flowers, and our vegetable garden, and now the new water feature I’m in the process of putting in after work each day. It’s an expense, but my total budget for this water feature is less than we spent just for food the last time we went to NYC for a week. So, it’s all relative. Again, priorities, options, and agency.

But things like posters and potted plants (artificial ones if you are convinced you will kill the live ones, although keeping plants alive is a learnable skill) and opening the blinds so the light streams in or listening to music when you eat supper instead of doomscrolling on your phone all cost very little, and help create an environment from which you don’t want to escape.

Five things I thought were beautiful

  • When you subscribe to this newsletter these days, I send an email, asking what you are into. This does several things – increases future deliverability, helps build a connection between you and me, and perhaps most importantly, gives me insight into what sort of things I ought to be looking for. In the latest spate of subscribers, I had several people say they liked “space stuff”. Me too. This is why I am gaga over the photography of Andrew McCarthy, whose solar and lunar photography is pretty amazing, and it inspires awe, in the genuine sense of the word.
  • Somewhat related, here is a timelapse of the night sky over Joshua Tree national park. (I was convinced I had shared this before, but my examination of the archives says otherwise).
  • Since installing a camera near my birdfeeder, I’ve become captivated by wild animal cameras – basically, video shot by always-on cameras, so humans are not there. Like this footage from a video camera set up on a beaver dam in Minnesota this past winter. (Also, – you should totally read this newsletter article in praise of stupid hobbies – such as my birdfeeder camera)
  • Ariel Adkins makes clothes inspired by art. Her whole Instagram account makes me smile.
  • Representation matters. So it excited me to come across this resource – high-resolution posters, free to download, that feature people from “hidden history”.


Next Monday is Memorial Day, so no newsletter.

Also, I’m trying to teach myself video editing and the ways of Youtube for a future potential project. This is my new YouTube account – if you would do me a favor and subscribe, I would appreciate it – I need a certain number of subscribers to unlock various features on the account.

1 Comment

  1. Hi! I did sign up to be a patron this morning. I’m not clear yet about the video business. My granddaughter is learning video editing at Cincinnati University. I have yet to get involved in video. I’m too busy with photography in general, but I’m keeping my eyes and ears open.

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