Happy Birthday, Harry Potter

Happy Birthday, Harry Potter

And a big Thank You to JK Rowling for writing the novels that captivated me, an old lady. After seeing the first movie in 2001, I was totally hooked on Potter and his world of witches, wizards, spells, and potions.  I was thoroughly entranced by the movie, and I thought the casting of the main characters was as perfect as it ever could be.  Even today, the first movie is my favorite, and we watch it every so often. Of course, I have all the books, and have read them all dozens of times.  I am collecting the illustrated editions, and can hardly wait for Goblet of Fire this October.  I am a Pottermore user, and have been sorted into my houses at both Hogwarts (Slytherin) and Ilvermorny (Horned Serpent-see a pattern here?).  I have got my wand (pine wood with unicorn tail hair), and Patronus (stoat).

JK Rowling, for me, is just like Dorothy L. Sayers, in creating real people in her characters.  Peter Wimsey, Sayers’s aristocrat detective, seemed just like someone you might meet, and if you look closely, you will see elements that Rowling pulled from Sayers in the Harry Potter oeuvre (where else would she have found the name Cattermole, but in “Gaudy Night”?).

Best wishes to all the Potters, and all the Wizarding World!

Random thoughts on Saturday

School dreams.  We all have them.  There are numerous variations on the situation where you find yourself in class, and it’s test day and you haven’t reviewed any of the course material.  The textbook is a fat volume of stories and you haven’t opened it all semester.  And you’re naked.

I have been having an entirely new variation on the school dream.  I am playing in an orchestra, and it’s concert time.  I open my violin case, and my violin is just a pile of sticks.  Or my bow has broken in half.  This one actually has a small connection to something that happened to me in real life.  I opened my case, and one of my bows had lost half its hair!  Another time, I opened my case and discovered that I had bugs, and they had eaten away part of the tip of my bow (you could see the little bite-marks-gross!). I had to fumigate the case and get the bow repaired, which just happened a couple of weeks ago.

On an entirely different subject, I feel a brag coming on.  I have been keeping a running tally of my finances lately, to show progress toward my goal of financial independence when I retire.  My total of investments at my primary investment company, Vanguard, is now comfortably over a million dollars.  About $650,000 is in my retirement accounts.  I am now a “Flagship” investor at Vanguard, and am entitled to a free meeting with a financial advisor, which I intend to set up sometime in August.  And in keeping track, I discovered that I have run out of digits on my little calculator!  Frustrating, but in a good way.

Last weekend, we took our first drive of the season up to the Diablo Lake Overlook in the North Cascades.  I have zillions of pictures of that area, but I always take my camera and get more.  Here are a couple.

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This is the Skagit River around the town of Rockport.

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This is Lake Diablo.  People for scale over on the left.  The water is always that bright blue-green color, as it is glacier-fed.  However, the temperature that day was about 85 at the overlook, and 92 at Newhalem, the town just where the road goes into the mountains.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

It’s Leavenworth Time!

Once again, its mid-June, and time for the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration.  Hubby and I took last Thursday and Friday off from work, and drove the 2 hours up US2 to the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth.  As usual, it was a beautiful drive, with nice scenery all the way up and over Stevens Pass to Leavenworth in Chelan County.  The pretty town was much the same as previous years, but we did notice some changes on Front Street, the main “tourist trap” (but we love it).  This building had been repainted in front, and there was a new business there.

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There has always been an outdoor store on the main street, but this year the facade had been re-imagined too.  Nice!

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And inside the Festhalle, we saw more changes to the decor.  There was some new wall art.

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And a new piece of equipment.

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Of course, Leavenworth is nothing without the accordions!  There was a special exhibit this year, of very old instruments.

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And, of course, the new ones, on sale at the booth of Tempo Trend Music of Victoria, BC.

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The competitions brought out many new players who we had not seen before, and a few familiar faces.  I especially love the kids, ranging in age from about seven to teenagers.  Here’s a group picture of all this year’s kids.  Those guys on the ends are this year’s judges!  On the left is Emmanuel Gasser of Canada, who has been competing since he was about eight years old.  On the right is everyone’s favorite pro, Gary Blair, from Scotland.

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I also took some video with my brand new iPhone.  This act was the best of the entire festival.  Every time I play it, I get all teary-eyed, since they are so cute!

Of course, I had to do my obligatory pilgrimage to the Taffy Shop on Front Street.  I found  a new product they are selling!

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The proprietor says they are selling like hotcakes.  But here is a fixture at the store that never fails to bring smiles.  How long has it been since you saw one of these?

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All in all, another great year at the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration.

Happy Holidays-Try Tiffany this Christmas

Happy Holidays-Try Tiffany this Christmas

Readers, do you want to really impress your spouse or “significant other” this year?  Have you been wracking your brain trying to think of something to give him or her for Christmas this year?  Are your gift ideas just not making it?  Well, try something from Tiffany.  That distinctive blue box under the tree will excite just about anyone, especially if they are not expecting it.

You say, “Tiffany is way too expensive for me”, or “I’m reluctant to even walk into a Tiffany store past those intimidating guards”.  Let me disabuse you of those notions.  Tiffany sells many products that are within the budget of most people.  Did you know, Tiffany sells a line of home goods, including glassware, barware, and even chopsticks?  Yes, chopsticks! I actually bought my husband a pair of their solid-walnut chopsticks, with a sterling silver end piece that I had monogrammed with his initials.  Very cool!

Get a load of this, just for those who live in cities where plastic straws are banned.  It’s a sterling silver “Crazy Straw”.

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About those door guards…  They are just human beings, and you should not be intimidated by them.  Just think of yourself as a Customer, and like any other retailer, Tiffany loves customers, especially new customers.  So get up your courage, and walk right in, being sure to greet the guard with a smile and a hearty “Good Afternoon”.  Then, just go around and look in all the display cases, and find something that your honey will like.

Tiffany has a huge selection of sterling silver jewelry and accessories that are very affordable.  When I was single and living on a shoestring, I saved up all year to go to Tiffany and treat myself to a pair of sterling earrings.  They come out with new styles all year long, so you should be able to find something in your price range.  And from long experience, I can tell you that Tiffany salespeople understand if you are on a limited budget, so tell them what your price range is, and they will come up with something wonderful.

So, Try Tiffany this holiday season.  You won’t regret it, and your Sweetie will be delighted.  I guarantee it!

Vacation Travelogue-Hillsdale Cruise to Hawaii, Days Four and Five

Vacation Travelogue-Hillsdale Cruise to Hawaii, Days Four and Five

By Day Four, we had gotten well into the routine of morning and afternoon lectures, broken up by an awesome breakfast buffet, walks on the deck when the weather permitted, lunch by the window, and just relaxing in the stateroom.  Most of the time, it was too windy and cold on the deck to sit outside much, which was a disappointment.

Day Four began with a walk out on the Promenade Deck 7, with my camera, around 7AM.

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This is the view off the starboard bow.

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Isn’t this just the Deep Blue Sea?  I really could not get over how blue the water was in the North Pacific.  Achingly Blue.

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Look!  You can see the curvature of the earth!

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This is part of the mechanism that lifts lifeboats into and out of the water.  I took a bunch of pictures of all the equipment on board that is there to ensure that everyone gets off alive in the event of a disaster.

The first lecture of the morning was by historian and journalist John Steele Gordon, who spoke about the economy under Obama, and under Trump.  He spoke to a rapt audience, and took spirited questions later.

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Next came Walter Russell Mead, Wall Street Journal columnist, discussing the US, Israel, and the fate of my Jewish people.

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The final morning speaker was our friend Michael Walsh, whom we met on the Alaska cruise in 2016, and had dinner with on this cruise on the first evening.  His talk was on Politics and the Arts, about which he writes in his newest book The Fiery Angel.  Walsh is a delightful guy, and we met him and his delightful wife, Kate, often in our strolls around the ship, mostly after dinner at the Avenue Saloon.

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After lunch, was the lecture we’d all been waiting for.  Michael Ramirez, political cartoonist, spoke and showed pictures from his book “Give Me Liberty or Give Me ObamaCare”, which was a riot.  He had his audience laughing and groaning in turns.Ramirez0718

Mild-mannered-looking gentleman, but his wit is biting, and he knows just where to hit Liberals.

In the afternoon after the last lecture, I again walked the deck looking for likely pictures.

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My readers will know my love of clouds, and I sure found some beautiful ones on this cruise.

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Oh, yeah, and there’s the Pool Deck, where many passengers spent hours getting a tan.  See that gazebo on the left?  They had a band playing there in the afternoon.

The big lecture attraction of Day Five was Patrick Caddell, the self-described Democrat pollster, opining on what has happened to the Democratic Party.  I have already done one post on his talk, and I can’t really say much more, except that his lecture brought down the house.  He got rousing applause often during his speeches.  He deserved it!

We also heard from Roger Kimball again, and Victor Davis Hanson, who spoke on the Second World Wars.  This was in preparation for our arrival in Honolulu, home of Pearl Harbor.  Mr. Hanson spoke without notes, which was very impressive.

I admit that I took my camera to all the lectures, and sometimes I’d just point it at something in the room and snap.  The Galaxy Lounge was the place all the Broadway shows were staged, and I was intrigued by the complex lighting arrangement on the ceiling.

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Late on this day, things started to get stormy outside, and we hit some fairly rough seas.  I said many times during this voyage that we were getting great balance practice!  It’s a wonder more people didn’t fall when the ship was pitching and rolling around.   When was the last time you took a shower on a moving vehicle?  That’s an experience in itself!

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Looked at from this angle (looking down from our veranda to the Promenade Deck below), the water looks almost black.  Isn’t light wonderful?  That’s the last of Day Five.

Congratulations to My Hero

Congratulations to My Hero

On August 1, Rush Limbaugh celebrated the Thirtieth Year of EIB Excellence in Broadcasting.  Nearly singlehandedly, Rush Limbaugh started the revolution in Political Talk Radio, and he maintains it to this day.  For thirty years, he has spent three hours each weekday speaking to the American public about events and people who make America work, and about the politicians and organizations who hamper that work.

I started listening to Rush in 2001, when my boyfriend (now husband) turned on the radio in the car on our way out to dinner.  My first exclamation was “You’re not going to make me listen to Rush Limbaugh?!”; back then, I believed all his many detractors in the liberal media.  Well, I have to tell you that it only took about 15 minutes to change my mind.  Listening to his monologue turned out to be the best commentary on modern life that I had ever heard.  And he was funny, to boot!  I was totally hooked, and became a regular listener.

I was fortunate to be able to get on his show in August of 2005, and spoke to the Great One on the radio.  I was impressed by how gracious a host he was, and we carried on a spirited conversation.  He also was pleased to hear how I had become a listener.  That was a smashing experience for me, and I cherish the memory.

So, here’s to the next Thirty Years for My Hero, Rush Limbaugh!