I ran across a photo of me reading a class “book” (student’s large papers connected together) to my first graders of what made them happy. Each started with Happiness is. . . . It was modeled after Charles M. Schultz’s children’s book Happiness Is a Warm Puppy, which I read to the class before having them do their own. One of my favorites was Linus saying.”Happiness is a thumb and a blanket.” I always enjoyed seeing that happiness was different for each child.
So it got me thinking about what makes me happy nowadays. After some pondering, here’s what I’ve come up with.
First of all, happiness is SUNSHINE. We’ve never had such a rainy winter in the 32 years I’ve lived here. The last couple of weeks, we’ve actually had more sunny days than rainy ones! We can’t quite believe it, but we’re enjoying it.
This morning, happiness was sleeping in, and last night, happiness was having a root beer float after dinner. Sometimes it’s the little stuff.
This past Sunday, however, was a milestone event for me. Happiness was buying a new car. I bought a new wine red, four-door, four-cylinder Camry. I traded in my 1999 dark green, four-door, six-cylinder Camry. It was the first time for me to buy a new car. In the past, it was my husband doing all the talking with me tagging along. So this really was a milestone event in my life!
When I headed to the dealership, I didn’t even bring the old car’s title or clean stuff out of the trunk. On TV, I saw that big sales were happening at Toyota dealerships. So I was going to look and determine if another Camry was what I really wanted. I had done my homework by reading through my Consumer Reports and discovering that Toyota Camrys and Subaru Foresters were the best buys for used cars and among the best for new cars—reliable and long-lasting. (I can attest to that. I would have had my Camry 19 years this September with almost 200,000 miles on it.)
I went online and found cars for sale in both types of vehicles at dealerships in Oregon. On the dealership in Eugene, where I’d bought my 1999, there were a few vehicles listed that were new and also some used. So I filled in my information. Within an hour, I received a phone call. I learned that, not only would I receive a rebate for contacting them online if I bought a new car, but this weekend ONLY were very special discounts on new cars. Used cars were at the fairgrounds, also with special pricing. So how could I resist! I made an appointment for Sunday on Memorial Day Weekend. If I bought anything, I thought, it would be a used six-cylinder. I would only look at the new cars. Famous last words!
When I arrived on Sunday, I let them know I couldn’t go over a set limit out-the-door price. After some discussion and taking a test drive, I decided that that car would work for me. What convinced me was that this four-cylinder was more powerful than ones I had driven in the past (so I didn’t need the six-cylinder), the seat was higher and made it easier for me to get in and out (so I didn’t need to switch to an SUV), there was a back-up camera and a couple more safety features (which I really wanted), and they took off $4,000 Memorial Day discount and $2,750 online discount. I did opt for the extra shield protection on the front of the car to protect against chips in the paint. And still, the out-the-door price was under my set price. So how could I not buy this car! I feel like I got a really good deal.
It’s now Day 5 since buying my beautiful red Camry, and I have no buyer’s remorse. I love it! I even took it to the dump yesterday; my two garbage cans fit snugly in the trunk (I was afraid that they wouldn’t fit) and all my recycling inside the car. Got a lot of ribbing for taking a brand new car to the dump! But, hey, that’s going to be one of its uses!
Moving on to other stuff . . .
When it comes to my books, new edition arrivals and book sales always make me happy.
Last week, happiness was the arrival of the third edition of The Crossings Guide. I was down to less than 30 copies and the truck with the books had left Grand Rapids, Michigan, the week before. I was expecting them at any time for several days. Last Thursday the truck finally arrived and delivered 1,000 copies. They were supposed to call ahead. And they did––15 minutes before arrival. Fortunately, I was home. I checked out the books, and they are perfect. So I’m happy and relieved!
Two weeks ago, I headed south to restock books at places that have been selling my books for the past few years. In this case, happiness was hearing familiar voices on the phone saying, yes, we’d like more of the “big one” and the “little one.” So I headed south on a beautiful, sunny day and stopped in North Bend, Coos Bay, and Bandon and sold a total of 36 bridge books at four stops. Even ate the lunch I’d packed at a scenic viewpoint south of Bandon. The coast is gorgeous when the sun is shining.
Three weeks ago, happiness was selling $810 worth of books in one day. That is not a typo. Who knew what a great day it would turn out to be when I started out that morning. I was scheduled to do an historic bridge PowerPoint presentation at the convention center at Chinook Winds in Lincoln City to the Oregon Retired Educators at their annual convention. I got up at 4 a.m. to get on the road by 6:15 to be there by 8:15. I wanted to be set up before they got underway at 9 a.m. My program was scheduled for 9:30.
The presentation went very well and there was time for questions before the audience took a break. Then folks lined up to buy books—lots of folks. I sold $705 worth of books in about 40 minutes. Many bought both bridge books, and I even sold two copies of Devil Cat. I usually sell some books when I give presentations, but nothing like this. These folks were not from the coast, and most did not know about the bridges. So they were eager to learn more, and I was only too happy to offer them the opportunity.
On the way home, I stopped at Mari’s books in Yachats. Mari’s first words were, “I was just going to call you. We’re out of books.” So I sold her $105 worth of books. What a day!
For most of April, I was in California visiting friends and family. Happiness was finding the state so green and patches of wildflowers and reservoirs filled with water. Happiness was also spending time with friends. I saw Theresa, who used to be the newspaper editor in Florence, on the front end of the trip and Teeta, my roommate from college, on the back end of the trip. Both of those were wonderful visits—nothing so special as long-time friendships. Happiness was, of course, spending two and a half weeks with my family—mom, sister, brother and sister in law, and nephew—and finding them all in good health. My mom is still going strong at almost 105. We all had great meals together, and mom and I played cards many afternoons.
Happiness is finally getting started on the writing of my next book about the unexpected on the coast. I got 11 of 27 unexpecteds written while in California. And I’ve done one more since being home. I did an interview for another one this past weekend and will write it tomorrow.
And last but not least, happiness is my lovable, wonderful Groucho. He continues to do well and must be somewhere between 13 and 16 years old. I know he won’t last forever, so I relish each day with him.
I wish each of you some happiness in your life.