Red, White and a Little Blue

Tomorrow is Independence Day in the United States, commonly referred to as the 4th of July. Americans celebrate in a number of ways, and we’ve probably participated in most of them: fireworks shows, classical concerts ending with the 1812 overture, block parties and the like.

This year we’re going with a quieter approach. Our boys have outgrown the neighborhood block party and frankly its a bit of a relief. I’ve always preferred smaller, quieter gatherings. Small talk wears me down and the heat of the day leaves me exhausted. The work involved setting up and tearing down tables and chairs, canopies, etc. is something I’m happy to leave in the past.

Although fireworks are illegal in Santa Clara County, we’re hearing the percussive boom of mortars going off nearby. It’s a huge strain on the cats, who’ve retreated under beds or in closets. It’s hard seeing them frightened knowing there is nothing we can do but wait it out.  Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come.

As America celebrates its hard-won independence from the British Monarchy,I hope people will stop and reflect. What is the true meaning of democracy; why is freedom of the press so important? Our sitting president is making a mockery of what this country stands for.

Here is a brief excerpt from the Declaration of Independence. Source: Wikipedia

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language”,[8] containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history”.[9] The passage came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This view was notably promoted by Abraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy, and argued that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.[10]

On the eve of what should be a great celebration, it’s hard not to feel a little blue.

Little Free Library and bookmarks

Red, white and blue books in the Little Free Library and an assortment of bookmarks for the taking

 

Save

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.

Save

Shamrocks in the Fairy Garden, Green Books in the Library

St. Patrick’s Day brings out my inner child. We loved wearing green to school when we were kids and apparently I’ve never outgrown the tradition. Green is my favorite color, so finding the right thing to wear is easy-breezy.

I’m also having fun making Leprechaun mischief in the fairy garden. It’s hard to resist.

Fairy garden house under a net

Those mischievous Leprechauns have tossed a net over the fairy house

fairy garden pot of gold

A pot of gold. Is there a rainbow nearby?

fairy garden fairies on St. Patrick's day

Charming fairies enjoy the shade. They were a gift from my friend Kristi.

fairy garden st. patrick's day

Succulents tend to like dry conditions, but they sure look green after the rain.

Since joining a Facebook group for Little Free Library stewards, I’ve found myself reinvigorated. Stewards in the group have wonderful ideas, among them setting up themes for their library.

I stocked the library with red-colored books for Valentine’s Day, and offered pink and red bookmarks and stickers.

valentine's day litttle free library collage

Last week we celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday, which was a huge hit. When I returned from our weekend away, all but one book found its way into a pair of small hands. One of my neighbors stopped by to tell me that his granddaughter was jumping up and down with excitement over one of the Seuss books. That made my day.

LFL Dr. Seuss

Celebrating Dr. Seuss, born March 2nd

If you don’t know about the Little Free Library movement you can read about it on their site. We opened our LFL two years ago. It continues to receive a warm welcome from the community

This week, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and approaching s*p*r*i*n*g, all the books are green, or green themed. books about gardening, fairy gardening, herb gardening…you get the picture. Once again, stickers and green bookmarks to entice small ones to the library. It’s such good fun.

Little Free Library st. Patrick's day

Little Free Library decked out in green

I’ve been a reader my whole life. As girls we loved our trips to the local library. I came home with the maximum books allowed, devoured all of them, then headed back for more. Having a library card felt special. When my boys came along, reading was a big part of our day. Having this LFL at the curb is a great way to build community around reading and a source of daily joy.

What do you know?

The Little Free Library mission is to:

promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.

The original goal: To build 2,510 Little Free Libraries—as many as Andrew Carnegie—and keep going.

As of January 2016, there are over 36,000 registered Little Free Library book exchanges in all 50 U.S. states and over 70 countries around the world.

Little Free Library: Take a Book, Return a Book

Little Free Bookmarks

If you do all your reading on a Kindle, please carry on. If you’re like me though and still enjoy the feel and smell of an actual book in your hands, you’ll appreciate the need for bookmarks.

I know some people ‘dog ear’ the page of a book, but we grew up reading books from the library and book mobile. Dog-earing a book was akin to graffiti. It just wasn’t done.

Now that we have a Little Free Library (LFL) at the curb, I’ve found a built-in excuse to make bookmarks. I made several out of postcards for our LFL dedication and they were a hit. There are only three left.

Postcard bookmarks

Postcard bookmarks

Using leftover scraps from card-making and other paper crafts I made another handful of bookmarks. I added stickers I had on hand, punched the curvy top with my tag-maker and voila, instant bookmarks.

paper scrap bookmarks

Bookmarks made from leftover paper scraps

If your busy and yearning for a quick crafting project, give it a try. You can create a small, functional craft in a short amount of time using minimal tools.  I’ve made bookmarks from the old pages of a wall calendar, glossy fashion magazines, postcards and paper scraps. I made one earlier this year using a seed packet.  Let your imagination be your guide.

realtor's calendar bookmark

Bookmark and an envelope made from a realtor’s calendar

calendar bookmark

Paper piecing calendar bookmark

What to do with your surplus:

  • Tuck extras in your favorite places to read. I keep several in my nightstand drawer
  • Use them for stocking stuffers at Christmas
  • Set them out as place-markers at a dinner party. Add your guests initial with stickers or fancy lettering
  • Give them to your child’s teacher as a small thank you gift
  • Drop them off at a LFL in your community
book and bookmarks

Bookmarks and a recent book donation to the LFL

Little Free Libraries in the News

It was exciting to wake up to a lovely article in the San Jose Mercury News: My Town  featuring our Little Free Library (LFL). My friend, Stacey Ross contacted the paper when she first heard about our LFL.  Thank you for all your support, Stacey.

alys and mouse and LFL

Article by Leeta-Rose Ballester, Photo by Jacqueline Ramseyer

Leeta-Rose Ballester stopped by our dedication ceremony and interviewed several guests. Leeta’s article Taking a Read opens with:

Like blowing on a dandelion to make a wish, sending its seeds windborne, local residents are spreading their love of reading throughout their neighborhoods via boxes full of books that are springing up on random street corners.

Isn’t that the best?

Thanks to Jacqueline Ramseyer of Bay Area News Group for the lovely photos.  It was fun seeing our feline friend prominently featured. He’s such a cheerful part of our community.

While delighted with the support of our community, my friend Susan shared this distressing post.  Spencer Collins,a 9-year-old Leawood, Kansas boy received a citation from his city, requiring him to remove his Little Free Library or pay a fine.  Here’s more of the story:

When [Spencer Collins]  tried to share his love for books, it started a surprisingly frustrating adventure.

“When we got home from vacation, there was a letter from the city of Leawood saying that it was in code violation and it needed to be down by [June] 19th or we would receive a citation,” said Spencer’s mother, Sarah Collins.

Leawood said the little house is an accessory structure. The city bans buildings that aren’t attached to someone’s home.

The family moved the little library to the garage, but Spencer Collins said he plans to take the issue up with City Hall.

Leawood said it has received two complaints about Spencer Collins’ library.

You can watch the news report here.

Spencer started a Facebook page yesterday. I’m following his page in solidarity and will be closely watching the outcome. Here’s the link to his page if you’re interested.

Meanwhile, if you live in the area and you haven’t already stopped by please do so. Summer is a great time to escape into a good read.The book selection changes frequently. There is always something for children and adults.