Our Little Free Library Becomes a Work of Art

Feast your eyes on our redesigned Little Free Library.

Thanks to the extraordinary talents of artist Donna Pierre, Our Little Free Library is now a work of art.

My friend Nick Timmerman built our library in January, 2014. He used reclaimed materials, then added a small light connected to our low voltage landscape lighting. What a gem!

Although the box remains structurally sound, it took a bit of a beating with the sun shining down on it day after day. This year’s rains exposed a small leak, and with that I knew it needed a bit of TLC.

Somehow, that “TLC” morphed into a magical, whimsical, fantastical library. (Click on individual photos for a closer look)

Our Little Free Library or LFL has been a joy from the start.  I love the whole concept of a book exchanges on sidewalks, country roads, inside coffee houses and in neighborhood parks. As of November 2016,

there are over 50,000 registered Little Free Library book exchanges in all 50 U.S. states and over 70 countries around the world. – source LittleFreeLibrary.org

How’s that for exciting?  The idea of linking people with books and communities with tiny libraries is both simple and profound. It’s such an honor to be a part of it.

In the early days of the library, I went searching for books. I asked friends and neighbors and occasionally searched our local thrift stores when children’s books were in short supply.

Then the magic happened.

  • Bloggers from around the world sent special books for the Little Free Library debut. Books arrived from Anne in Australia, Kelly in Canada and Julia from the state of Virginia. Pauline and Ann who are also artists, sent me a supply of bookmarks.
  • My friend Barbara bought three large bins of children’s books at a garage sale and donated them to our library.
  • When our neighbor Bernice moved house, she called and offered me several boxes of children’s books for a variety of ages.
  • A neighbor a few blocks over regularly stops by and tidies the library. She leaves bags of books on my doorstep from Friends of the Library sales.
  • My friend Kristi sent several books via Amazon in honor of our friendship and in memory of her Aunt Vicki.
  • And twice in recent months, a neighbor I’ve never met pulled up to the curb and offered me several bags of children books.
  • Just last week I received a box of books from Marlene at In Search of it All.

It’s also fun watching the books come and go organically. The Little Free Library motto is take a book, give a book and it works.

Here’s another gallery of photos showing Donna at work.

A big thank you to Donna for sharing her talents.  You can see more of her work here and here.

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Summer Arrives with a Brutal Heatwave

Summer solstice is just two hours away. It officially hits this coast at 9:24 pm Pacific Time.

Unfortunately, a brutal heat wave arrived over the weekend, ushering in summer in San Jose with a three-digit preview: 104 F (40C).  We don’t have central air conditioning at home, so one day we escaped for a few hours to a mediocre movie, just for the excuse to sit in a cool theater for a few hours. All three kitties dragged themselves around the house from spot to spot to benefit from the ceiling fans and the cool tile floor. The heat really crept up on us.

In the past, heatwaves lasted for three days, then cooler temperatures prevailed. This week, however, it’s going back up again, expecting to peak at 101 F on Thursday. They’ve called a heat advisory along with a request to turn off all unnecessary appliances between noon and 9 for fear of over-stressing the grid. Good times!

I added ice cubes to one of the bird baths, and we’re keeping the other one topped up with rain water from the tanks.

I halfheartedly pulled a few weeds that stubbornly grow between the ground cover making them hard to reach. Every time I hear them snap, I know they’ll be back the following week.  Honestly, though, it’s just unbearable to be outdoors for long. My peace garden is in terrible shape. Even with extra watering the baby tears turned brown. What a sorry sight.

What’s up with the weather in your neighborhood? For my southern hemisphere friends, you’ve reached the shortest day of the year. It’s all up hill from here.

The Summer Solstice is Upon Us: Check out the gorgeous graphics and photos in this article. My favorites are the mobile pics at Stonehenge and the rainbow map of North America.

Tips for Planning for a Power Outage

Excessive Heat Warning: Public Alert

 

 

 

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Time with Tessa and the Last of the Sweet Peas

Our Tiny Tessa is relaxing and getting used to her new surroundings. She’s sleeping on top of things, rather than hiding under the bed. She met Lindy (who hissed once and left the room) and she met Mouse (who did the same). We’re giving the resident cats lots of TLC, letting them know they’ve not lost their standing.  I haven’t lived with a kitten for nearly thirty years. I’d forgotten how tiny they are and how energetic and curious. She’s a delight.

Tessa on Bob the Cat pillow

Tessa meets Bob the Cat…sort of

My friend Barbara Oertli painted this picture of her ginger cat, Bob, eyeing a squirrel on her deck. Since I’m out of wall space, I ordered a print on a pillow through Fine Prints America.

It took several attempts to get this shot. She’s always in motion. She nearly threw herself off the edge of the bed yesterday, jumping into the air and then backward. She’s keeping us happy and alert.

Outdoors, my beloved sweet pea garden has come to an end for the season. The self-seeded, rain-enhanced jungle, as one of my neighbors called it started folding up shop at the end of May. Sweet peas don’t like the heat so after the temperatures creep, they’re done. Interestingly, I have one more small plant in the back garden, blooming in a raised bed. It’s the only one I actually planted (versus self-seeded), which makes me wonder if staggered planting might extend the crop. I’ll see how much longer this one lasts and I’ll let you know.

It’s taken many hours pulling the dead vines from the ground, while at the same time collecting some of the seed pods. I also tried to save the cornflowers awhile longer, as the flowers are still blooming and attracting the bees. The birds love their seeds as well, so though it looks a little sad and droopy, it continues to provide for the birds and the bees.  Mike helped me tie the plants together to keep them from flopping over. Mouse sat with me while I pulled weeds along the walk way, then went under the cornflowers for a nap. Oh-oh.

I’m working on keeping him indoors when I can or supervising his time in the garden so that the birds have a fighting chance. I also experimented by putting a few of the cut flowers across the limb of a tree. The birds continue to come for the seeds, and surprisingly, the bees are taking nectar as well. There is always something to learn in the garden.

Check out the nectar pouch on that bee

Today was trash/recycle day. I waved at the crew as they took away the piles of spent sweet peas along with some trimmed branches and weeds. The city converts it into compost while at the same time diverting it from landfill.

There is so much happening in the garden all at once. Pumpkins, corn and sad little tomatoes are the main summer crops. I planted a pair of basil plants, too. Last year I planted them at the same time, but the basil bolted before the tomatoes were ready. This year I waited, only to be vastly disappointed in the tomato plants. I bought a six-pack of them before leaving for my trip in early April.  Two months later and they’ve barely grown.  This far into the season, I may go back and find larger plants that are further along so I can hedge my bets.

New clients, the end of the boy’s school years, a tiny kitten and home projects are keeping me a bit busier than I would like, but I’m still managing time in the garden every day.

Here in the northern hemisphere the summer solstice is just two weeks away.  I can almost taste that first red, juicy, vine-ripened tomato.

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Tessa Gets a Clean Bill of Health

More good news!

Our recently adopted kitten Tessa received a clean bill of health yesterday.

The sweetest face

She got a complete check-up, in addition to being tested for feline leukemia and FIV. Both tests came back negative. The Cat Hospital also scanned her for a microchip while I held my breath. She’s officially ours.

We’ve taken all of our cats to the same vet for nearly thirty years, so I’ve gotten to know several of the technicians. They were snuggling our little darling, snapping photos and generally fawning all over her. As it should be!

Our vet thinks Tessa is between seven and eight weeks old. She’ll go back when she’s older for spay surgery and a microchip, but for now she’s home and doing well.

=^..^=

Tessa in cat carrier

Tessa looks so tiny in the cat carrier

tessa's new fan club

Tessa’s new fan club

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It’s Kind of a Long Story

I was out-of-town for a couple of days visiting my friend Marcia in Santa Rosa. When I got home Friday evening, Mike said all was okay, but that he and my son thought they were hearing things.

“Things” they said, sounded just like a cat’s meow coming from inside Mike’s car. The sound was neither loud nor repetitive so they chalked it up to a song playing through Mike’s phone. Mike drove our son to school Friday morning, then drove across town to work. Late that afternoon they both heard it, but again, couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. Shortly before I walked in the door, Mike heard the sound coming through the living room wall. Our living room faces the back wall of our garage.

As the two of them finished the story, the three of us traipsed out to the garage and stood listening for a tell-tale meow. Nothing.

At this point, Mouse the Cat started demanding “where-have-you-been-how-dare-you-leave- town”, circling the wagons so to speak. We took a 15 minute walk around the block, an evening ritual that leaves kitty tired and content. We’ve grown used to the stares and comments by now and when asked simply joke that we’re “walking our dog.”

Back home, my kitty radar had piqued. If there really was a cat in Mike’s car, I needed to know. I suggested we sit quietly in the back seat for a while and just listen.

As an aside, I wonder sometimes what things look like to a casual observer: “Oh look, Mike and Alys are sitting in the garage in the back seat of Mike’s car having a chat.”

Within minutes, we both heard the meow. It seemed to be coming from the front of the car. Mike drives an electric car called a Tesla. It’s assembled differently from a traditional car, so when you pop the hood where the motor would typically be, there is an open storage space instead.

We popped the hood…and found nothing. We searched the interior of the car, the trunk, the front compartment, and I even crawled under the front of the car to see if there was an access point we’d missed. There are two holes under the carriage of the car, but neither one of them large enough for a cat to gain access.

We coaxed and cooed and called “kitty-kitty” to no avail. Somehow, somewhere a cat remained trapped somewhere in the inner workings of the car.

I felt sick.

My son Googled “cat stuck in Tesla” and he got a match. Sure enough, someone captured this video of a cat as they freed it from inside the inner workings of the car.

It’s a different model than ours, but suddenly it seemed possible.

It was after 9 now on a Friday night so there was nothing further to be done. If there was a cat inside the car, it had now been in there for over 12 hours. We left food and water under the car and went to bed, sleeping fitfully.

We drove to the Tesla Service Center in Santa Clara Saturday morning and expressed our fears. They were terrific.  While we waited for the auto mechanic to arrive, two of the service professionals drove the car on to the lift to expose the under carriage. We heard a meow!  They worked quickly to remove one of the wheels and several surrounding parts, then started to remove the covering from the bottom of the car. When the mechanic arrived, he approached the problem from a different angle, removing the lining of the front compartment and several bolts. This exposed a shoe-box sized opening (the auxiliary battery compartment) above the electric panel and one frightened little cat.

I swooped in, nabbed her and immediately placed her in our cat carrier.  Deanna, one of the service technicians escorted me into a quiet waiting room while the team re-assembled the car. Talk about excellent customer service!

Tesla Service Team

Diana, Jimmy and Jake, Tesla Service Team, Santa Clara, California

My son was anxiously waiting at home. He asked the night before “if it’s a cat, can we keep it?”  I blurted out yes, before conferring with Mike, but I needn’t have worried. The desire to keep the cat (before ever meeting her) was unanimous.

It was love at first sight for the lot of us.  Here she is, the little darling, two minutes after her rescue.

kitten in a cat carrier

Safely ensconced in a cat carrier

It’s a holiday weekend here in the states, so our vet won’t reopen till Tuesday. We’re keeping her isolated from Mouse and Lindy till we get a well-kitty checkup, but the rest of us can’t keep our hands off of her. She has a lovely purr and enjoys nuzzling around our necks. Our little darling is a beauty, too, with soft gray kitten eyes and the loveliest markings. Look at that face! She must be quite young but she’s eating solid food so she’s old enough to be away from her mother.  Our postal scale says she weighs 24 ounces or .7 kg.

Our sweet girl has gladdened our hearts and lifted our spirits. We’ll never know her origin story, but we’re happy to have our own story to tell. Welcome to the family, Tessa.

PS: Do you remember this post from February: Loving Cats, Real and Imagined??

Pauline King quote

“It really grew like that? Then it must be a message from the fairies – isn’t it special! I love it! Maybe they are saying there is another kitty on the way ….. 🙂 ❤” – Pauline King, February 11, 2017

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One, One-Thousand

Growing up I learned to count by seconds saying “one/one-thousand, two/one-thousand” and so on. This counting device has been rattling around my brain all week as I pondered my 1,000th post. I considered other titles but you know how it goes: this one (one thousand) stuck.

Of course as soon as I realized I was a couple of posts away from 1,000 I panicked. Should I write something profound? What if I don’t have anything profound to say? Could I just keep writing and ignore the milestone? Who would know or care?

Is it time to check my ego at the door?

After all, it’s just a number. I don’t remember my 100th post or my 650th post either.

Somewhere along the way I transitioned from being a writer who blogs to a blogger who writes to connect with kindred spirits around the world. To blog is to be a part of a community. I found my people!

Of course it didn’t take 1,000 posts to figure this out. I wonder, though if I would still be blogging without you. Here is what I know:

Bloggers are kind:

gifts from bloggers

Beautiful and creative gifts from fellow bloggers

After starting a blog, trips to the mailbox became fun again. My heart still skips a beat when I see postage from another country on the top of a package or on the corner of a postcard. There is a special thrill receiving happy mail the old-fashioned way. It’s ironic too, since bloggers meet in a uniquely on-line medium. When my sweet Slinky died, I received heartfelt condolence cards in the mail. They meant so much to me. I love the sweet notes and the clever postcards you send and I’m aware of the time and care that goes into sending them. We all hear about on-line nastiness, but I seem to reside in a bubble of blogging kindness.

Bloggers are generous:

Blogging give-aways

Framed picture,left: Pauline made this art using my father’s vintage stamps. It’s a stunning piece. Framed picture, right: A blogger give away (artist Pauline King) Bavarian quilt in background, right: A a blogger giveaway from Dani who sadly is no longer blogging.

Where do I start?  Bloggers carefully and thoughtfully read your posts, then leave amazing comments. It’s an extraordinary gift. It’s also common to find that a fellow blogger took the time to do a bit of research, before dropping a link relevant to the topic at hand. Several of you have hosted generous blog give-a ways. It’s always something clever and unique. I’m delighted when I win, which has happened twice! and equally charmed to see others take home the prize.

Bloggers are creative:

When I first learned about blogging, I thought of it as words without pictures, more of a log than anything else. Boy was I wrong. I follow mixed-media artists, painters, and card-makers, as well as bloggers who sew, quilt, knit and crochet. Extraordinary photographers expand my world while brilliant writers can make me laugh or weep. I’m learning about weaving, what it means to throw a shuttle and how to turn an IKEA chair into a work of art.  I took part in a Sisterhood Traveling Sketchbook, a Craft it Forward Project and a Cards for Katherine celebration. Beautiful art graces my wall and a light-catcher bounces sunlight around my kitchen. Each year a growing number of hand-made Christmas ornaments decorate our tree.

Bloggers are a wonderful excuse to travel:

Bloggers here, bloggers there, bloggers, bloggers everywhere: New York, Alexandria, VA, Washington, D.C, Jasper, Alberta, Canada, Victoria, BC, Canada, Radford, VA

Ten years ago, I couldn’t imagine owning a mobile phone the size of a deck of cards that doubled as a camera while holding all my contact information, allowing me to listen to music or watch silly cat videos. Five years ago I couldn’t imagine that I would travel to Virginia, Washington, D.C., New York, Victoria and Edmonton to meet and spend time with fellow bloggers. Blogging opened up a whole new world. Friendships cultivated online continue to grow and thrive in person. It’s extraordinary.

And finally, what anyone who blogs, knows: A blogger’s comment can make your day.

Here I am at the end of my 1,000th post. Have I written something profound? Definitely not. But the experiences I’ve gathered along the way are profound. I owe it all to you.

Two, one-thousand…

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Our Little Free Library Gets a Makeover

Little Free Library original

Little Free Library, January, 2014

When I spotted a Little Free Library in nearby Campbell in 2013, it was love at first site. The idea of my own Little Free Library held great appeal. It took awhile to bring it all together, but in January of 2014 our curbside Little Free Library or LFL made its debut. We dedicated the library in May that year and it’s seen a steady stream of visitors ever since.

My friend Nick Timmerman built the library using reclaimed materials. It’s held up well, but last year it started to leak. I had to cover the library with  recycled packing material to keep it operational during our wet winter.

Little Free Library March 2017

Little Free Library under cover

Now the library is undergoing a facelift.  I wanted something fun and whimsical, so I reached out to my friend Donna Pierre. Donna is a talented fine artist and a muralist. It’s a treat to see the details unfold. I’m excited to share the finished library soon. Meanwhile, here are a few pics of the process:

Little Free Library Primed for painting

Primed, painted and sealed

Donna Pierre painting the Little Free Library

Donna Pierre: taping off lines for the log cabin detail

Little Free Library Log Cabin Detail

The log cabin effect

Little Free Library Log Cabin Detail

Back of the library

It’s been unseasonably hot these past few days, after a week of unseasonably cold weather. You never know these days which end is up. Once the weather improves, Donna will be back. I’m so excited.

As you can see from the last photo, my sweet pea jungle is wilting from the heat. I knew it was inevitable, but I’ll be sorry to see them go. The Nigella (love-in-a-mist) are filling in some of the vacated spots, and the cornflowers are hanging in there too. The bees love the Nigella and I love the bees so three cheers for synchronicity.

spring flower bouquet

Flowers for Kathee

My sister stops by every Sunday to pick up a small bouquet for her friend, Kathee who is on hospice.  This past weekend I added three miniature yellow roses to the small bouquet. It’s been nice to bring a bit of color to her day.

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