Days off are rare, and it's been even longer since I've had a day off where I wasn't meeting Chris at some point, and my head basically exploded trying to decide what all to cram into the next 5-8 hours. Honestly, I could have done even more, my energy was boundless, but I was limited by the setting sun and closing hours. Places I went include:
Actually, I went to three libraries. The first was just a quick stop on my way to the post office, to see if there was anything on the sale cart (nope). The second was the tiny branch that doesn't participate in interlibrary loan, so though they don't stock as much as other branches, if there's a long wait for a popular item sometimes you can "queue jump" by finding it checked in here. Sure enough, I went home with Pitch Perfect, Les Mis and Delta Rae's "Carry the Fire."
The third was my regular branch to pick up five delicious requests, including two long-awaited/eagerly anticipated interlibrary loan books -- one of which is the Lynn Hall biography I have been so desperately craving. I'm still surprised it exists; I'm over the moon that Minnesota libraries have it.
The Nature Preserve
Daylight was fast fading due to the first activity below; I wish I'd had more time, but no matter. I had time to walk about a one-mile loop on the trail AND stop by the nature center for the first time. Said nature center is amazing. For starters, it contains a black bear mount in remarkably good condition from 1960 that "at the time, was the record for the largest bear in the area." It's on all fours, but somehow that's almost scarier than a rearing one -- you try to imagine that walking toward you, and it's pretty terrifying. Almost all of the mounts are exceptionally realistic, actually, plus there's a lovely pile of touchable pelts in the kids activity center. I now know what both skunks and opossums feel like.
There is also a really cool fish tank featuring exotic fish, including a Pacu (the harmless ones that look like Piranhas), a little gallery featuring a local artist and nature photographs, and a nice sitting area in front of a fireplace. NOTE TO SELF: more dates need to happen here. If we brave a little bit of a chill (ideally before it's real snowy), we can have a nice walk and then the center is only about half a mile from the entrance. I also found a flier that says there is a holiday party on the 21st of December and while it's probably aimed at kids/families (since it includes "Santa"), it also says horse-drawn hayrides, so, WE ARE DOING THAT. (I am still mad at myself for failing to orchestrate an apple orchard visit this fall -- that was one of the biggies on my Dream Dates list)
Best of all, it has book swap bookcase -- not limited to nature stuff, it's an actual community book swap that says you can freely swap books (or movies) at a 1:1 exchange ratio. I didn't see anything I wanted, but there was an excellent and evenly divided mix of fiction, nonfiction, and children's books.
AND ALSO: on the walk back, I saw a herd of five deer. It looked like two full-grown does and three semi-grown offspring. They were a fair distance away, but they all stopped and stared back at me for a while, and one of the youngsters even took three cautious steps toward me as if to see me better. I also got to watch an extra-fat gray squirrel on a very low branch determinedly gnaw his way into a walnut. Super cute.
On the "things I wish I'd had more time for" list, I totally would have hit up a third if I'd had time. But I was pretty happy with the two, even though I didn't find anything I wanted from the $1.49 sale. I haven't been to one in at least a month.
(I did manage to find 3 books that would have been half price and down to fifty cents each if I'd gone YESTERDAY like I planned, though. Grrr. As it was, today they would have actually increased in price since Tuesday is $1.49 on that color REGARDLESS of original price, so I feel good about sneakily swapping the stickers for a different color. I didn't change the original price, I just made sure I wasn't getting hit with a today-only surcharge.)
At the first one, I found this AMAZING purple dress. It's a wide-strap halter with a plunging but very narrow neckline (shows no cleavage but stops right about the bottom of your bra, so you'd ideally need one with just a front-close clasp to keep it from showing), a rouched bodice, falls about 2-3 inches below the knee, is made of stretchy but not skintight material and fits me like a dream. It's the kind of dress I can really only see myself wearing at like a black tie/cocktail party event, maybe the kind with a ballroom space for dancing, but I don't even care; I'd find a place for Chris to take me just to show this dress off.
The only flaws (and reasons I did not buy it today) are (1) It costs $15.00 -- though it'll be half price in just five days, and I think I'm willing to risk it -- and (2) it has white stains down the side. I'm not sure what it's from -- it looks kind of like deodorant stains (they're not in the arm area, it literally looks like if you were careless with holding the stick and dropped your arm down) or maybe snow/salt, but I really can't tell. I don't know if it's possible to get them out, and I definitely don't want to pay for something unwearable. Goodwill usually doesn't put stained stuff out on the floor, so this is an anomaly. I'm going to have Mom take a look at it and see if she thinks it's workable. Because I genuinely cannot describe how extraordinary this dress made me feel.
Things I Actually Bought
A short sleeved shirt for $6 -- a splurge, but DEFINITELY worth it. I bought a shirt from Savers in the exact same style (but with a different pattern) earlier this year, and it's literally my favorite t-shirt in my closet because the center knot + gathered material at the front = a magically flattering cut that hides my stomach and makes my waist look tiny. Tripping over this (in the right size and everything) was like a tiny miracle, because the color on the other one is fine, but the color on this is IDEAL.
pic enlarges when clicked
Two books, $1 each:
No Small Thing is a book that popped up on Goodreads and which I thought I might read someday. May or may not keep depending on how central the pony is to the story, since the back warns it is "not just a horse story."
No Holly for Miss Quinn grabbed my attention partly because it's ex-library and partly because it seemed like the sort of magical vintage adult book that would appeal to me. I don't know how I identify those, but much like my beloved Aunt Jane McPhipps and her Baby Blue Chips, they just shimmer with promise. It also seems very timely, as it's a Christmas story.
When I finally checked out I had to wait for literally five minutes in line. One register had two fussy idiots buying $80.00 worth of stuff and featured such highlights as calling for a price check, a brief argument about whether or not the husband really needed that $4 bag of candy by the register, a request for an "extra large" bag, a request for a box for the other stuff (someone had to bring it to the register), and having dishware wrapped up in newspaper. Meanwhile, on the other register, the worker had apparently hit "cash" instead of "credit card" and somehow managed to invalidate the entire $30 order, or something; at any rate, a manager had to be called, items were rescanned and there were 3 people in line behind her as well. I went with the "fussy idiots" line, but fortunately it turns out I would have gotten to the register at exactly the same time regardless of which one I chose.
(This is a special pet peeve of mine. Sometimes you should choose the long line where everyone only has a couple of items, but other times that backfires because each person multiples your chance of someone being an idiot when they go to pay -- digging for exact change, splitting the order over multiple cards, questioning a price -- and there's never any clear indication which one it will be.)
I had just about given up hope here, not having found anything of interest and sighing @ my choice to drive an extra 14 miles round trip to get here, when I walked through the small and crowded toy section. SHAZAM!
OR: 3 complete or near-complete playsets plus a few scattered additional pieces. At $4, this is an excellent value. The things I'm excited about include: THE AQUARIUM (I had one, but I broke all the fragile plastic stems and lost most of the fish besides), the lovebirds in their original cage, the original cardboard insert for the blue cage (it's for a gila monster, which I have; the mice inside are magnetic mice-on-strings meant as cat toys), and the SUPER CUTE hamsters complete with wheel and water bottle).
Closeups on the cutest stuff
Bonus score not pictured: The Game of Life: Pirates of the Caribbean style, $1.50. The box is a bit water damaged and some of the money is slightly wavy, but I at least want to play one game of it. I forgot -- this was the one color-tag sale item I managed to score.
Also -- I don't think I took pictures of them before, but these are my latest scores from the library sale room. Two Lynn Halls to fill out my determined quest to Collect Them All, and Marguerite Henry's last published novel.
I should really, really try to watch Doctor Who soon, before I get spoiled any more...but I'm having such a dandy time reading again, after going 3 weeks without finishing a book this month and only reading a total of 10 books in the past 3 months prior to this week, that I just want to do that all the time.