210. A New Car!

I think I jinxed myself. Last year, when I paid $2700 to fix my old 2002 Prius, I kept saying that I hoped it would last until I paid off my student loans. Well, last month I paid off my library school student loans – and on December 28, when the weather had turned bitter cold, my check engine warning light went off. It still was running, but I took it in that night.

The next day they told me the hybrid motor was malfunctioning and the engine was misfiring. It would cost me $5000 to fix it. The car had 227,000 miles on it, 101,000 more than when I bought it ten years ago.

It was time to buy a new car!

So on December 29, I bought a brand-new Prius C (C for Compact). I knew I wanted another Prius, and was happy that now they have a smaller, cheaper version. I found what I wanted on the website and test drove it – and love it!

137. A Beautiful Kitchen

I’ve been going too long between posting blessings. I thought I should start posting some little blessings, nice things that I start taking for granted, but that I enjoy every day.

The first is that I have a truly lovely kitchen. Granite countertops and a sleek black stovetop, and right now I’ve got it all to myself. A beautiful kitchen warms this woman’s heart.

40. My Pretty, Pretty Prius

I got my Prius serviced today — with over 202,000 miles on it.  Though they did recommend a coolant flush (every 100,000 miles), otherwise this time there were no expensive surprises.  They told me it’s in great shape.

I bought the car in 2008 with 126,000 miles on it, crossing my fingers that it would last the four years I was making payments on it.  Now I’d like to see it go as many miles for me as it did for its previous owner.

I love my Prius.  The mileage is fantastic.  (Lately it’s usually “only” been in the high 30s, but I drive in stop-and-go traffic on Highway 50, so that’s actually very good.)  And over the years I’ve had it there have been far fewer expensive surprises than the “cheap” car I owned before it.

And I’m a small person, and I like driving a small car.  A Prius starts with its electric motor, so it always gets a head start at a green light over the cars waiting for their engines to get going.  It also shuts off during a long stop and is lovely and quiet.  This does produce some behavior of trying to get at the front of a line for a red light and hating to be behind trucks.  I also get annoyed with people who inch ahead during a red light.  My engine is off, so I don’t want to move, thank you very much.

But mostly, driving this car makes me happy.  When I bought it, Consumer Reports rated this model high for reliability, and it has been wonderful for me.  May it travel ever onward.

30. Connecting People with Good Books

I was just reminding myself of bright spots in my day — and remembered a huge blessing.  A woman walked up to me at the information desk and asked me for recommendations for something to read next.  My favorite question!  And it sounded like we have fairly similar taste.  It was very fun to get to give her recommendations.  I suggested a wide variety, with such titles as Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier, The Marriage Bureau for Rich People, by Farahad Zama, and Q & A, by Vikas Swarup.  It was a joy just to get to talk about good books.

29. An Abundance of Books

This is such an obvious one!  And I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet.

I have an overflowing abundance of books in my life — both books I own and books I can borrow from the library, my workplace.

And one of my very favorite things to do is read!

So this is a wonderful combination!

In fact, “So many books, so little time…” is my perpetual cry.  I have more books, simply checked out, than I can possibly get read.  Don’t even think about the books I own.  (And I usually only buy a book if I really want to read it.)

But this is a wonderful problem to have.  My cup runneth over.

27. My Own Personal Retreat Center


I’ve had some trouble with the Empty Nest Blues lately.  And the truth is, though it’s ticked off by my son starting his last semester of college, it’s exacerbated by the fact that I live alone.  I had always thought this would be something my husband and I would face together.  So it makes the pain of the divorce fresh.

But the other day I started reading Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation, and another book I started reading reminded me of how I’ve heard of people who take a personal retreat and spend time at a monastery — and I’ve always thought that would be a wonderful thing to do.

But then it occurred to me — I’ve got a Personal Retreat Center right where I live!  I’ve got a lake view, a path by the lake to walk, a balcony, a library of books around me, music of my choice, and all the solitude I could possibly want.  If such a place had been available to me when I was a busy mother of little ones, I would have fainted with thankfulness!

It also reminds me of I Corinthians 7.  A married woman or man spends time and energy trying to please her or his spouse.  An unmarried woman can focus on trying to please the Lord.

I do want to find a partner who wants to please the Lord.  But it’s better to be single than to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t.

And meanwhile, it helps my attitude to realize what a wonderful opportunity I’ve been given for all the prayer and contemplation and reading and writing I could possibly want to do.

Who knows, maybe that reflection will help me keep from spending too much time playing mindless computer games!

23. My Lake



In April 2013, I moved into a condo overlooking a lake.  And when I say overlooking, walls on two sides are filled with big windows through which you can see the lake.

It’s not a big lake.  When I walk to the other side and back, I travel a little over a mile.  But it’s lovely.  The wildflowers growing by it change by the week.  I regularly see birds and bunnies when I walk by and have also seen squirrels, deer, and foxes.

And those birds!  I never get tired of seeing a great blue heron who likes to hang out here.  (More on that later!)  But I also see great egrets, goldfinches, cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, woodpeckers, robins, mallards, Canada geese, and other interesting or seemingly ordinary birds.

What’s more, the lake gave me back my health!  In August 2011 I had a stroke.  I had the stroke because of an accident, not from lack of fitness — but the stroke itself destroyed my fitness level.

When I moved into this condo, the lake was so enticing, I was able to get myself to walk around it regularly.  I had never in all my life done a regular exercise program before.  I feel much more fit than I was after the stroke and before I started walking.

My lake is a daily blessing I’m so thankful for.


15. Living Alone

Heron on the Housetop

Okay, I’ll admit it:  The last few days, maybe even few weeks (since I got back from visiting family on the west coast), I’ve had some bouts of the Empty Nest Blues.

My youngest son is doing a summer internship in Portland, Oregon this year.  He’s working at the same company my oldest works for.  He just turned 21.  He’s graduating after just one more semester; and he’s talking about moving back to Portland after he does.

On top of that, it seems lately I’ve gotten more than my share of bozos and scammers contacting me on the online dating site I’m on — all emphasizing that I’m living alone.

Mind you, my mind is fine with it.  I enjoy living alone!  But my heart is missing my kids, missing having a husband who’s in love with me, and, well, a little extra prone to the blues lately.

However — there are many, many wonderful things about living alone.  And I’m going to continue to go over and over those blessings in my mind — and hope the message will eventually get to my heart.

First, living alone is much, much better than living with a husband who actively dislikes me and is working to tear me down and explain why he can’t possibly live with me.  Enough said.

It’s amazing how much less time I have to spend on chores like cleaning and cooking and shopping.  I don’t have to clean up after anyone except myself!

I can play music I love as loud as I want and as long as I want.  No one is bothered a bit.

I can read as late as I want with the lights on.  No one is bothered a bit.

I can go to my gaming group every Friday night without finding out if anyone else wants to go and without feeling like I’m neglecting anyone.

I can jaunt off to the Smithsonian on a whim if I want to.

I can live in a smallish, cozy condo which I chose based on what I like (the view) and which has no yard work whatsoever.

I can be as active in my church as I wish to be — arrive early and leave late.  I’m not bothering anyone if I linger and talk.

I can spend lots of time working on my website, and again, I’m not bothering anyone by not spending time with them.  (See also less time doing chores and more time reading.)

I’m working on writing a book.  Again, spending time doing this doesn’t bother anyone.

I can do a jigsaw puzzle on the dining room table or coffee table, and it’s not in anyone’s way.

Groceries cost an impressive amount less.

I can have just as long a quiet time every day as I want.  I can memorize verses by reading them out loud — no one notices.

I can sing at the top of my lungs.

I can surround myself with things I love (meaning books, yarn, and games).

And… you know what?  I think it’s time to give my sister a call.  But I can do that, too!

Honestly, I’m telling my heart — there’s an up side….

Am I protesting too much?  No, these are indeed wonderful things.  And I really do believe that God loves me and is with me and looking after me.  I do not want to pray for patience in this season of life — I want to pray to enjoy it fully.