I enjoyed a wonderful Independence Day weekend visiting with my sister and brother-in-law in Portland, Maine this month.

One day, we took a ferry to Peaks Island. While we didn’t spend much time on the island, the time we spent was fun and surprising.

While eating lunch on the island, my brother-in-law challenged us to a game of 20 questions to figure out what Guinness World Record holder lives on Peaks Island. Even with clues, none of us were able to figure out that Nancy 3. Hoffman holds the world record for most umbrella covers. Not umbrellas. Umbrella Covers—those little sleeves umbrellas come in and most people throw away.

After lunch, we accidentally stumbled upon the umbrella cover museum. I had to go in.

Nancy invited me to join another visitor on a tour that had just begun. It’s important to note how funny it sounded to hear her say that, considering the museum is a room approximately 15′ x 15′ (and I may be overstating the size).

Nancy started by having us read the mission of the museum, which instantly transformed my experience: “The Umbrella Cover Museum is dedicated to the appreciation of the mundane in everyday life. It is about finding the wonder and beauty in the simplest of things, and about knowing that there is always a story behind the cover.”

What was good for a laugh at lunch, and an expectation of hoping to be amused, became one where I was amazed. (I was also amused—Nancy has a great sense of humor, experiences and spreads lots of happiness and joy, and collecting umbrella covers is funny, no matter how you look at it.)

I won’t spoil the experience for you by telling you everything about the tour—hopefully some day you can make it there yourself. But I will tell you an accordion and theme song were involved. (You can see her holding the accordion in the photo with me.)

When I got home, I told my daughter about Nancy and the museum. The next day Cara gave me an umbrella cover she found in her closet. She no longer has the matching umbrella, but somehow had held onto the sleeve. I sent it off to Nancy.

By the way, when I was at the museum, I asked Nancy, “What’s with the 3?”

“That’s my middle number,” she answered with a smile.

I love that.

Takeaways: always be open-minded; always look for opportunities to laugh.

I hope you’ll share a story of an unexpected pleasure you have experienced. Join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,