Saturday, February 25, 2006


When it is February in Wisconsin even the prospect of a 40 minute drive to Mazomanie can raise the excitement level a bit and provide a welcome reprieve from winter.

Today St. Barnabas Church had one of their Estate Remnant sales. I love church sales, especial rural ones, because there is something so quaint about the battered tables, metal folding chairs, endless tacky glassware, heaps of used clothing and in the summer months sometimes you'll even see a cakewalk. And there is always the potential of finding treasure in the book section.

Three of my children came with me and, even though it was only 32 degrees outside, they shrugged out of their jackets halfway through the drive. The sun was beating down on us and I had to shield my eyes. It was hot inside the car. It's been at least four months since I've had anything even close to a Vitamin D fix via sunlight so I enjoyed the intrusiveness of the sun.

St. Barnabas Church is an old faded brown brick church with a not-very-new addition on the back where the fellowship hall and kitchen are located. We were ten minutes late for the start of the sale, which always gives me anxiety, so the children and I walked briskly to the entrance.

The first thing to catch my attention was a box of 14 hardcover novels by
Dorothy Dunnett. I’ve been to many sales during the 18 months we have had our online bookstore and had never heard of this author before. A quick glance at one of the colorful dust jackets showed an unusual publisher, Michael Joseph, and that the author lives in Scotland and writes complex, richly detailed historical novels set in the sixteenth century. These are substantive books, not dreck, and I decided to claim them all. I put my purse on top of the box, along with a Fisher Price house that my three-year-old daughter wanted, and picked through the rest of the books, looking for the usual fare: out-of-print religion books, esoteric non-fiction, unusual cookbooks. There was another man there who I thought at first might be a bookseller because he grabbed four C.S. Forester books from the Hornblower series (I later learned that Brian devoured these naval adventures as a kid) and I lamented that he spotted them before I did. But soon he put them down and I snatched them.

There were, of course, the usual interruptions from the children as I looked at all the books. One daughter wanted a $5 computer monitor, saying it was nicer than her own. She ended up buying tacky glassware instead. Another daughter wanted me to look at a typewriter. I told her we have several computers in our house. "Computers are boring," she said. Finally I boxed up all the books (bookselling is a great physical workout), made several trips to the car with our haul, and left.

As soon as we returned home I abandoned the children to their Fisher Price house and glassware...

... and raced to the computer to look up Dorothy Dunnett books on eBay. I will research the other sites tomorrow. So far it appears that we will easily more than make up our $14 Dorothy Dunnett investment. Stay tuned.

Filed under: The Excursions

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