And Then There Were Four

My quest for hardcover copies of the Harry Potter series has passed the halfway mark! I know! I know! This might be the biggest news item of the decade, if not the century. Or maybe not. At any rate, I’m ecstatic.

For those of you unfamiliar with my quest, here’s a quick overview:


Purchase a complete set of Harry Potter books


  • Hard cover in excellent condition
  • Purchase in order of publication
  • Purchase only from estate sales, garage sales, or secondhand stores
  • Purchase only one book at a time
  • One may not ask if the seller has any Harry Potter books (new rule; however, I’ve abided by it since the first find)


To replace a mismatched set of Harry Potter books that I donated to a school library several years ago


I’m a crazy person with way too much time on my hands.

Current Status: I found book four at a garage sale in Tallahassee on the morning of October 12.

Fun Side Note:

I actually found two copies of book four (I don’t believe that’s a violation of the rules since both books were the same volume.)

Why Two Copies?

The woman selling the books said she’d had two sets of the Harry Potter series, and that one child had purchased one set of the books, but didn’t need book 4 because he already owned it.

As you can see from the photo, the two books are different sizes:

I couldn’t remember which size of books 1, 2, and 3, I’d purchased in my earlier adventures, but I knew those books were all the same size. Heck, I didn’t even know they were offered in two different hard cover sizes. The only way to be sure I’d keep my collection uniform was to purchase both books. Now I’ll donate the odd one. By the way, the one on the left is the keeper. I’m the seeker. Wink, wink.

Peace, people.

Uno, Dos, Tres!

My Quest:

Find and purchase copies of the Harry Potter novels


  • Hard cover in excellent condition
  • Purchase in order of publication
  • Purchase only from estate sales, garage sales, or secondhand stores
  • Purchase only one book at a time


To replace a mismatched set of Harry Potter books that I donated to a school library several years ago


I’m a crazy person with way too much time on my hands.

Current Status:

After several weeks of searching I located book three at an estate sale in Tallahassee. I can’t explain how happy that makes me.

Fun Side Note:

Refrain from trying to explain to anyone at a estate sale or garage sale or secondhand shop what I’m doing. People look at me like I’m annoying or crazy or both..

Peace, people!

Mission Implausible

Everyone needs a hobby. Some of us have more than one. Among mine are writing and reading, painting badly, and talking to myself. Recently, inspired by an estate sale find, I embarked on a new hobby; although, perhaps it would best be called an eccentric pursuit.

Here’s what prompted my search:

A hardback copy of the first book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Nothing special, right? In fact, at one time I owned every book in the series; although, some were the paperback editions. I donated that collection to a school library in Champaign, Illinois. A librarian friend had put out a request for Harry Potter books, and I couldn’t let her down.

But when I saw that copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone sitting all by itself on a table at an estate sale it seemed to say, “Take me home.” So, I did. Well, after paying for it. I’m no thief.

On my drive home from the sale I devised a plan to buy all of the books in the series again, but, with certain rules:

1) Buy only hardcover books in good condition.

2) Purchase only one book per location.

3) Buy them in order of publication.

4) Only buy the books from garage or estate sales. I’m still wrangling over whether I should allow thrift store purchases.

Yesterday, I found the second book in the series at a huge estate sale in Tallahassee.

It fit all of my requirements. And even though I could’ve purchased books 3 and 4 at the same venue, I slapped myself on the wrist and carried my book to the cashier.

Now, to me this search sounds perfectly reasonable, but when I tried explaining it to the woman in line to pay behind me, she gave me an odd look and slowly took two steps back. It seems there’s a fine line between eccentric and outright crazy.

Peace, people!

Well, That’s Odd

Some days this semi-retirement gig is a drag. Most days I have more than enough to keep me busy, but some days, like yesterday, I find myself suffering from the worst kind of ennui. At ten a.m. I was still in my pajamas, wondering what to do with my day.

Since I know in my heart I have a really good thing going, I shoved that boredom to the side, then showered and dressed while deciding to head to a place that’s always good for a bit of fun, a place called The Other Side of Vintage in Railroad Square.

As I walked around the huge thrift shop I kept saying to myself variations of the phrase, “Well, that’s odd….” After the fifth or sixth time I realized I had a blog post in the making and began snapping pictures.

Repeat after me: “Well, that’s odd….”

As is this kimono wearing piggy faced unicorn.

And how about this Rastafarian banana sharing space with a Dia de los Muertos plaque? Olé, mon, have a nice day!

And the Elvis Bears weren’t as odd as they were cute. Obviously from Elvis’s chubby period.

These pelvic themed leggings certainly qualify as odd. I came so close to buying them.

Not odd at all, but gorgeous. I think she might be modeled on actress Gene Tierney, even though the actress was a brunette. Does anyone know?

This is definitely on the odd side. It’s some kind of short jumpsuit with a long kimono type garment attached. Can you see me wearing it to the local Publix? Très chic, baby!

The tableau below needs very little commentary, but I’ll provide some anyway. We have Erkel, keeping company with a pair of nuns, next to a display of Pinocchio and sunglasses, with a Pikachu hat-wearing mannequin dressed in an OutKast T-shirt as background. Absolutely normal, right?

Then there’s the Last Supper fan with a couple of flasks. Water into wine, anyone?

Last, but not least, I was drawn to the delicious weirdness of Jesus holding court over Camel, the Game, on the same platform as a salt lamp.

I made one purchase; although, it’s not pictured in any of the photos above.

Years ago I donated all of my Harry Potter books to a school library. Now, after finding the first book in the series, I’ve decided I’m going to track down every book, in order of publication, and add them to my book collection. That’s not too odd, is it?

Peace, people!

Photos from Girls’ Day at Universal Studios

On Wednesday evening my daughter, Ashley, who’s visiting from Illinois, and I decided we’d drive to Orlando. Studly Doright had suggested we go to one of the theme parks, offering to give us his hotel points if we wanted to spend the night. We were as giddy as little kids, and promptly made plans to visit Universal Studios.

We drove over on Thursday and went to Universal City Walk for an early dinner and a movie (Aladdin!) after checking into the Doubletree hotel. We didn’t stay out too late, though, because we planned to be at the park when it opened on Friday morning.

We arrived at Universal by eight a.m., along with those who had early admission because they were staying on property. To our surprise and delight we were waved through by one of the workers and were allowed to board the Escape from Gringott’s ride in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter along with the early admission crowd.

We rode every ride we wanted to, and one of those twice, never waiting in line for a ride more than 20 minutes, thanks to good timing and express line tickets. It was a magical day.

Above, we posed outside of Hogwarts.

Those critters above are from the Men in Black ride.

Ashley, below, wore her protective goggles with style and grace.

Below, the dragon surprised Ashley by beaching flames into the sky. It was intense.

We had fun in Toon Town:

After we posed for the two photos above we rode a couple of rides that left us soaking wet. My only regret for the whole day is that I didn’t think to take photos of us looking like a couple of drowned rats. After we left the park we had to stop at a turnpike oasis and change clothes. My tennis shoes are still wet 24 hours after the adventure.

We’re back at Doright Manor now, recuperating from the trip. Exhausted, yet happy.

Peace, people!

Read it Again, Ma’am

I read all the time. If I could no longer read for some reason I’m sure I’d wither away and die. Oh sure, I could listen to books on tape, and I suppose I could make do, but there’s something magical about the way a reader interacts with a book that a recording can’t replicate.

My taste these days runs to science fiction/fantasy, but I’m always looking for some new delicacy regardless of genre. And then there are my favorites. These are books I’ve read more than once, and for someone like me who’s always looking for the next literary thrill this repeat reading is the highest compliment I can pay a book.

So what select books are among my repeats?

1) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is number one. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve delved into the world of Scout Finch, and I read it at least once a year in the fall.

2) Stephen King’s, The Stand, is a close second. The epic tale of good versus evil still gives me chills, and I become suspicious of any sniffle or cough, certain that Captain Trips is about to wipe out most of humanity.

3) A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, comes in third, and I can’t really say why. There’s something about this coming of age story that draws me in. My heart aches for these boys on the brink of manhood and all of the pitfalls awaiting them. If I pick up my well worn copy when I’m dusting or otherwise moving stuff around I can’t help but begin reading it again.

4) I’ve read all but one of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series multiple times, having read the series from the beginning every time a new book in the series was released. So I’ve read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone seven times, while I’ve only read Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows once.

I’ve recently added a new book to those deemed worthy of a rereading. This book, The Whistling Season, by Ivan Doig, is the first book that comes to mind when a friend asks for a recommendation. So when I didn’t have a new book in the queue, I thought it might be time to remember why I recommend it so often.

The Whistling Season is set in Montana in 1909. A widower with three sons takes on a housekeeper whose ad, “Can’t cook, but doesn’t bite” intrigues him. The widower and his sons get much more than they bargained for when Rose and her brother, Morrie come into their lives.

This book is an homage to education and the one room school house, and to a time when life was a bit slower, but no less complicated than it is today. The language is incredible and the story so compelling I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to reread it.

Those are mine. What books have you read repeatedly? I’m always looking for my next favorite. Looking forward to suggestions.

Peace, people!

Twice as Nice

Second Time Around

Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?

Generally when I’ve finished reading a book I’m done with it, regardless of how wonderful or well-written it was. There are two books, however, that I’ve read multiple times and will read again: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Stephen King’s The Stand.

To Kill a Mockingbird should be mandatory reading for every citizen of this country. If one ever doubted the existence of white privilege Ms. Lee spells it out in this tale of racism and heroism in a small southern town. 

King’s The Stand is the most frightening book I’ve ever read. Good and evil literally battle for dominion of the earth in this post-apocalyptic thriller. Often I joke that I read portions of it with my eyes closed. 

In both cases movies have been made from these novels, and I believe a remake of The Stand is in the works. By all means watch the films, but the books are worthy of reading and reading again. 

Note: I’ve also read all of the Harry Potter books numerous times, but I’d already broken the prompt’s rule and didn’t want to go to Daily Prompt prison.

Peace, people.”


What I’m Reading

Since I’m certain everyone is dying to know, I’m currently engrossed in The Dresden Files series by author Jim Butcher.

The Dresden Files series revolves around Chicago wizard/private investigator Harry Dresden who uses his significant powers to help find lost items and to solve crimes. Early on, Harry becomes embroiled in the supernatural happenings in the Nevernever and takes on the three, yes three courts, of vampires, setting off a war with the vampires of the Red Court.

I have something of a literary crush on Harry Dresden, whose full name I won’t reveal because names hold power, don’t you know. He’s a combination of Han Solo and Indiana Jones with a good measure of Harry Potter thrown in for good measure, and his skill for tossing out witty wisecracks is matched only by his integrity.

Deep into book 11 in the series I realized last night that I’ve been dreaming about Harry and his closest friends, Bob, Murphy, Michael, Butters, and Thomas. Even his pets, Mister and Mouse have been featured in my nocturnal adventures lately. I care about them, and that’s how I know it’s a good series.

I highly recommend The Dresden Series to readers who enjoy their scifi/fantasy mixed with humor and occasional romance. Harry and company are a whole lot of fun.


Blurb Away

Daily Prompt: BYOB(ookworm) Write the blurb for the book jacket of the book you’d write if you only had the time and inclination.

Katniss Potter was just an ordinary orphaned wizard until she found herself deposited into a maze surrounded by talking trees who demanded she choose a faction or turn to the dark side of the force. 

Follow Katniss and her faithful sidekick R2D2 as they navigate the perils of the maze and seek to learn the identity of her father.

Maybe this is a book better left inside my imagination.

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