My Little Part in the Local Summer Reading Program

I have been involved with donating a prize for the Summer Reading Program to our small town library for the past few years now, and this year I decided to go big. Past years have seen jars of little origami stars, yarn pom-pom bookmarks, there was a set of books and a wooden cobra.  Little things. Nothing that was terribly extravagant because I could never get my butt in gear to get anything done.  Running the produce business with my mom during our busiest season didn’t afford a lot of time for making things, and I rarely like to purchase anything for reading programs, coming up with something fun on my own. The origami stars in a jar were always fun, especially with little quotes about  the stars and such. Easy to do, since I spent my tv watching time folding them and it was something I had jars and jars of.

But this year, I decided that I wanted to go big. I was flipping through a Southern Living  or something along the lines of that, I can’t remember now, and in one of the articles, there was this image of a Jenga game. And not just any Jenga, but a giant one. One made with two by fours. One that was super classy looking with nautical colors, being played on a lake dock, mind you. It was so cool.

So I started hunting for two by fours at our local cabinet shop since they tend to throw out a lot of scraps. No dice. I found nothing but some two by sixes or eights. It would have required a lot of ripping and sanding and futzing with. As it was, I was enlisting Mr. B’s help in the process because hey, he’s the one with all the tools.  So I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, because purchasing the wood isn’t cheap. They say it might cost you around $25, but that’s only if you are probably getting the inexpensive, twisted 2×4’s.

Then serendipity struck. Mr. B has been hard at work cleaning out his garage filled with, well, stuff. A lot of stuff. Mostly wood stuff. Boards, trim, blocks, wood.  And he had been collecting really pretty plywood with nice veneers for a while. We are talking cherry, oak, birch, poplar, douglas fir, etc. Nice stuff. Really nice stuff.  Well, he was going to just burn it or chuck it, when I asked, “hey, could you use this?”

Turns out you could. So, after a lot of cutting (57 blocks because hey, he thought we needed more) and a lot of sanding (a LOT of sanding) and painting (after I finally found what paint I wanted at our 2nd hand store) and painting some more (and having my librarian ask when the heck I was going to have my project done… okay, she was a lot sweeter about my dilly dallying than that statement) and finally making a carrying case (Mr. B couldn’t just make a box, no, we ended up with a snazzy tool box carrying case)….. And almost a month into the whole thing, the project was done.

This is a heavy , outdoorsy, cool game that turned out so cool. I mean, I wanted to keep it it was so cool, but I was also afraid to play it because if you know Jenga, you know it eventually topples.  And I’m working with a stack that is probably around 10-15 pounds. (the case and game all together are pretty hefty)

But this thing turned out so incredibly well! I’m excited to have made it. I may never do it again, but still.  It looks soooooo cool. And I have specific family I hope wins the thing since their kids are readers….. But we shall see.

What do you think? You can see several stages of the game below. Pretty nifty, huh?

 

So, I’m pretty happy with the whole thing. Now I need to start now, thinking about what I’m going to do next year….

Kate

Getting Smacked in the Face by Censorship in Today’s Society

Over the years I’ve read about censorship with books, from the Nazis burning books, to various other books being banned throughout our country for various reasons. Books, like Harry Potter and Maya Angelou’s ‘Why the Caged Bird Sings’.  Books that were banned for their content, for no other reason than the content made someone uncomfortable.

But I thought in our ‘enlightened’ time of free speech (though I have seen plenty of instances where even that right is protested by the youth of today…) that censoring books was gone. Don’t get me wrong, I have had people gasp that I read and like Harry Potter, yet they are perfectly okay with The Lord of the Rings……. crickets chirping…….. really people, there is no difference other than J.R.R. Tolkien was a catholic…   I never thought I would run into ‘hiding books’ because they were a certain kind of book.

Last week I wrote about my book display the librarian allowed me to set up, see the post Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys, and how the prudish women volunteers (yes, I am going to call them that even if the title hurts) were uncomfortable with romance books being set up on a table that had, in the past, been used in the children’s section. See the display made them uncomfortable…….

Censorship at its best all starts with someone being uncomfortable.

‘I don’t like what that book is about’,  ‘I don’t want to read about racism in our country’,  ‘I don’t like hearing about childhood rape’, ‘Sorcery is a bad thing, children can’t read about that’, I don’t have a romantic life, I don’t want to read about romance and possibly hot sex’……..  The last line is my own addition to what I feel might be the root of the problem in my case. Am I trying to be mean? No, just making an assumption. Because not wanting romance sitting out where everyone can see it, (Come on people, children are oblivious to A LOT!) says to me that you have a more psychological problem with sex and romance.  Which is rather ironic in my mind because I can bet you, had I put a display of Shakespeare’s plays out, no one would have said a thing.  Or maybe a display of Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Steinbeck, who are considered some of our greatest writers who wrote about love and sex! I’m sure a display of those would have been fine.enhanced-buzz-11259-1379943626-5

Again, it goes back to one’s perceived discomfort with something. As a whole, people don’t want to be around something that makes them uncomfortable. We avoid it and try to stay as far away from it as possible. As a voracious reader, one whom the volunteers at the library have dubbed ” one of our best customers”, I have read my fair share of things that have made me uncomfortable.  Eli Wiesel’s ‘Night’ comes to mind as a book I highly recommend and everyone should read it, but it gave me nightmares and a case of depression for weeks.  See, the things that tend to make me uncomfortable tend to deal with the sufferings of mankind. Not a sexy bed scene. Sure, I have read graphic murders in a mystery book— won’t read about that again— and some sadistic sorcerer murders in another young adult book — definitely won’t read that again— but that’s all you do. You put the book down.

You say, “Oh, I can’t read this anymore.” You don’t go out and try to ‘burn’ all those books you don’t want to read. You don’t tell someone they can’t read such and such because it makes YOU uncomfortable. You just deal. Life is about dealing with uncomfortable things, not letting them define you, but realizing that they are out there.

There will always be books that are going to make you uncomfortable, and books you don’t want to read.  That is your choice. Your freedom. But it is also the freedom for others to read those same books and for you to not tell them they can’t.

CensorshipNow my display was ‘ruined’ and the attitude of those involved with removing the display and the librarian compromising to the point of a form of censorship, is not okay. Granted the books are still out, albeit, high on the top shelf where no child could, gasp, reach them, but still….. Children are going to be confronted with romance books. Go to any grocery store and, gasp, the romance books are where children’s books are. The grocery store isn’t going to hid the adult books from kids. And we are not talking porn magazines and such.

This image was borrowed from Melville House, where it illustrates an article  if you click on the image. garydrobson.com

Romance, love, sex, are all part of life…… uh and the reason we have kids…..   Hiding it in itself is childish.

Again, I will clarify the fact that I kept the more questionable romances in the back of the library, I.E. Fifty Shades, etc. But to remove the other normal ones from any child’s eyes is so ridiculous. Again, it is showing your issues.

People tell me to keep fighting, Mims and Shala, thank you, and others, Dona, who understand my not wanting to offend people. My first post/rant was not posted on Facebook because I’m connected to the librarian and others that are part of the library. But as someone reminded me today, none of these volunteers cared about offending me. SO this is one post that is going up on Facebook because this is a bigger issue than just my feelings getting hurt or my display and ideas being moved.

Censorship is clearly alive and well, unfortunately so. And there is a good chance you will find that in rural areas people’s ideas and beliefs trump the right o read what we please without interference.

Not that anyone has ever stopped me from reading whatever the heck I want, but I don’t need to be judged by it either.

Oh, and the whole point of the library is to encourage people, not just children, to read, including books that have been banned……….

Kate

“Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys”

13406986_10153566220727371_623513095724235842_nA few weeks ago I came across this statement. I fell in love with it and it has become entirely too applicable in my life. Today I was brutally slapped with it again as I had to deal with some craziness that while affected me, was not my circus. Thank God. I can walk away.

I have had this idea since last year while watching Paris When It Sizzles, a favorite Audrey Hepburn movie. I mean, I seriously love this film. And I got this idea for my local library. What about ‘Summer When It Sizzles’ for a book theme where you pull off all the romances and steamy books and trashy romances….  okay, not super trashy, but heck, even a few Harlequins have some ‘bodice ripper’ style covers. It is what it is and hey, the library has them on their shelves. It’s not like I would insert naughty books. Heck, the Fifty Shades of Grey books are right there.

So I talked it over with the librarian this year. I thought, heck, while the kids are having their summer reading program, the adults can have a fun “summer sizzling’ kind of reading program. Nothing fancy, just all the romance are pulled out and showcased. Up on shelves with little cut out tidbits of  ‘something steamy in here’ or “sweet romance’  or ‘a classic romance’. See?  Simple.

The librarian loved it. She even said, she would pull out one of the extra kids tables and set it up by the door for me to set up the display. I was even wishing I had some red fabric for a Valentines-y look.  I was tempted to cut out hearts.  And I like to think the librarian was excited for this display because the day before the first of July, when we were going to set it up, she made sure I was coming in to do it and seemed super excited.

So, I set it up. You can see my display.

July 1st rolled by and we got a laugh when she had to hunt for a book that I had pulled out to showcase and she had to switch labels…..

The the holiday came…….

Then today.

I walk into the library with my stack of due books and before I barely get in the door, one of the volunteer ladies immediately tells me that they didn’t think it was appropriate that the children’s table had been used for ‘those kinds of books’ so they put them all back in the library and set up children’s books instead, and oh, would I call the librarian.

Fortunately the librarian was trying to catch me before I was slammed with the switch.  But I would have liked her to have maybe stood up for me a bit. I mean, I had spent two hours making the labels and wording for the sign, and another hour setting up the display. And good grief, what? The table is not specifically a ‘children’s table’ but just a small table in the kid’s section.  I didn’t know that kids could get an STD by picking up a romance novel…… which they can check out and the librarian cannot stop them (I should know, I worked in the library and when I saw a 12 year old check out Hannibal, I was shocked but couldn’t do a darn thing about it….)

The shock and horror that was in the volunteer woman’s tone was like I was this awful bad person.  Yet, aren’t we supposed to be promoting reading? At a library?  And aren’t romances part of the library? And a lot of them? And Fifty Shades made the rounds.  And yes, I’ve read some of it.  (Personally I find it terrible writing. I’ve read much better erotica in my time, but I digress)

The point being was, how petty can you be? How utterly childish and prudish can you be?  Now, I’m not naming names because I plan on sending this to a few friends who know these people, but my gosh.

This is where I say, not my circus, not my monkeys.  You can go take your own GD monkeys and well….. I’ll leave the option up to you.  Needless to say I was not happy. In fact, I was kind of fighting tears later this afternoon because honestly, one day. The display was up one day with the Librarian’s permission and people got upset.  Emma was one of the titles for pete’s sake!

It reminds me of Marian the Librarian from The Music Man (modern version best)

Professor, her kind of woman doesn’t belong on any committee.
Of course, I shouldn’t tell you this but she advocates dirty books.

Harold:
Dirty books!

Alma:
Chaucer

Ethel:
Rabelais

Eulalie:
Balzac!

OMG! Dirty books! I mean, who knew that Emma and Emilie Loring books were dirty?

And this is one reason I don’t get terribly involved with the library. And this is one reason why younger people don’t get involved with the library. It’s having to deal with anyone over the age of 55….. and their lack of , well lack of a lot.

Is this a rant? You bet it is. It hurt. And am I going to let it go? Yep. But seriously, this is the last time I bring up an idea to the library.

Kate

PAD Day 25 – Exercise – Exercise in Restraint and more poems

So my first thought this morning when I was thinking of exercise, the PAD prompt of the day, I was thinking running. Because running is an exercise in mental and physical ability. Running is how I lose weight. Nothing else burns the fat off quite as quickly. But the downside is I am not a very good runner. I have to use an inhaler for breathing, a form of exhalation asthma according to my doctor. I get worn out super fast, I can only run on a good day about two miles…. Three miles is the most I’ve ever pushed myself and it’s amazing, because I hit my wall at about a mile and a half to two miles.  So if I can get past that, well whoo hoo!  I need to get out running because this winter I put on at least 10 pounds. Even my comfy jeans are getting a bit snug…. Sigh.

But then I was walking to the library and I realized that I have to restrain myself when I go the the library. I would check out so many books, but my card has a limit. A twenty item limit. I can’t whip out my card like a credit card and just check out anything.  Lol. I would if I could and I would be carting home too many books!

And lastly, a bit of minor slam-ish poetry about how after the first four days in January, your New Year’s resolution is almost kaput.  So enjoy today’s three poems

Exercising Book Restraint

It’s an exercise in restraint to book shop
at my library when the new rotation
fills up the shelves in flashy covers
and my fingers itch to pull them down,
stuff them in my bag, greedy-like
then whipping out my library card
like it’s a platinum credit card
with no limit and endless funds.
Sadly my card is usually maxed out
at twenty items which is never enough.
New covers and new stories are my bling
my guilty pleasure, my food of living
Exercising restraint takes all the fun
out of library book shopping.

Running – Said on a Epithet

My feet hit the pavement with a slap
the rubber of my shoes absorbing impact
a hint of pain vibrating up to my knees
Running. Said on an epithet
It’s the agony that makes me cringe
the pain radiation from my shoulders out
and down to my calves that makes me
cringe and resist the exercise.
The endorphin’s buzz isn’t always enough.
Running, said on a sigh, now that’s
what makes me pull on my shoes
once or twice a week in the summer.
Knowing I’ll be in shape if I keep it up.
Running; is a casual thing for me.
Or jogging since I only run a ten minute mile
on a good week, or month, or never.
I love running the track field. Around
around, around till I hit three miles.
That magic three makes me dance and explode
in pure happiness as I pass my wall.
That stupid wall around one and a half to
two miles, and a flushed face, and a
wheezing set of lungs and the promise
of a damn good cup of coffee at home.
But three is my number, my goal, my
challenge and delight and reward.
Summer is coming and the running is
nagging me like a child tugging my skirts.
I’ve yet to acknowledge it other than
a passing glance, or a taste of guilt.

Exercise on a Slam

January — stack up the exercise books
pull out the free weights and yoga mats
Your New Year’s resolution is taunting you
You made the promise in a drunken flash
fool that you are, ignore the chip stash.
Don’t you know that booze lies?
But you are determined to win, goodbye fries.
The battle of weight and outta shape
You can ignore the cookies on the plate
Stretch and flex, you can win
It’s been four days, don’t give in.
Stick to your guns it’s only pain
and muscle you will eventually gain.
Others around will lose this battle
Heck, this lugging around isn’t just for cattle!
So step up the pace and push yourself on
Five days isn’t that far gone……..

PAD Day 9 – Hide Out

Step back into that faraway corner
right there
tucked back in poetry and plays
just look
It’s darker than the rest of rows
come see
but it’s homey and safe from eyes
that watch
So I can write all undisturbed
so quiet
and read till the clocks shut down
and stop
till she says the library’s closing
up tight
but my place is mine to claim
right there
My spot is only mine to write
for now
Until I need the books to hold
me tight
for my next writing time
just there
No one else uses this place
just see
that it’s for me and only me
to have

I like to write in the library back in the non fiction because I usually don’t get disturbed there. Not that I write there often. In fact, I probably only visit my spot a couple times a year, but I know that whenever I visit, I can have the spot all to myself because it’s very unused. So I like it. It’s kind of funny to have a spot, a hide out that rarely gets used.

But then I have other hide outs….

It’s the summer sun that pulls me out
to webbed and shrouded blueberries
where the dry mulch makes my skin
tingle and electrify up
A whisper of wind in the pines
warm resin scents the air a thick perfume
And I’m supposed to be watering
Or picking those ripe blue balls
but instead I’m scribbling here
or reading on that stump
the whisperings of a Frenchman
in my ear making me sleepy
and so very unmotivated to work
And I could hang my hammock under
the whispering pine trees
living out here always with the summer heat

I take a stack of books and my notebook out to the blueberries to pick… and never get to reading or writing, but I like having the option if I want to. And usually I’m listening to The French Whisperer, having those ASMR tingles going all over my head and practically falling asleep as I pick, or water. It’s rather dangerous, but I don’t get very interrupted out there, so it’s nice. The video below is one of my favorite ones to listen to. And I have this thing for a French accent…

I actually want to create a few more hide outs, but I have yet to find one that I can really hide out in. I need a spot in the shade, by the creek. I need to find one. I really like how Robert, over at Writer’s Digest talked about a hide out in a picture. I recommend reading it HERE

Kate

Down Time, Not Writing Time – Writing 101 Day 9

When I’m not writing. Well, that’s pretty much just my life.  I get up, I take care of the house, I fix meals, I garden/farm… I exist.  Life is rarely me going from one point of writing to the next. It’s more of a “Oh, yay, I have five moments of time in between what I need to do and what I have to do.”  Right now, as I type, the timer just went off reminding me to swish the hand laundry. The delicates that have been piling up for way too long and all us girls in the house are completely out of favorites. It’s a desperate time. It really is quite traumatic when we run out of that favorite blue thing…

There, I have eight more minutes to type before the timer goes off again. My life has down time, for sure, but it’s sporadic. Right now, because it’s cold and wintery, I have evenings as my down time. I don’t take the daytime as I am usually rushing to get everything done before 4pm when I have to get outside to cover rows and rows of plants growing still, and finish up taking care of the chickens for the evening. Basically I have an hour and a half of time shot every evening…. Pardon me, there goes another timer for the washer…… And today it will be even worse as it’s supposed to be even colder, so everything needs a bit more cover tonight.

But when I do have down time and I’m not writing, I do have some other things I like to do. Usually they relate to writing, or reading. I read whenever I can. Right now I have about five books started and very little hopes on finishing any of them. I have a hard time finishing books now because 1. I write more than anything so books get put to the wayside; and 2. I don’t like half the books I start. The one exception this year was the Vampire Academy series and The Lady In Gold. Other than that, I can’t think of a single other thing I finished from the library.  I did have my book review books.

I visit the library whenever I can, but I haven’t taken much time to sit down and just read there lately. I get caught up visiting the ladies and I don’t sit down and read. Granted, it was summer mostly so I couldn’t take the time earlier this year. But I love to browse the shelves of the little library. Shelves I know so well. I could close my eyes and you could put me on any isle and I could tell you what was in front of me. Most likely. I might be a little off since they changed the shelves a little and moved everything over one shelf.

I enjoy puttering outside in the sun, but usually there is something that needs to be done so puttering is more of an actual job that needs doing. Yesterday it was spreading mulch and burning.  But when I can, I have my camera with me and I am busy snapping away for anything from the business, to my cards, to just fun. I enjoy getting up close and personal with things.

Life gets in the way of a lot of writing. The fact that I’m taking time out of my day right now to write is crazy. I should be vacuuming something or picking up something else. There is enough clutter right now to make a OCD person go completely insane.

But not writing gives me a chance to mull over ideas. Which I’ve said in the past. And usually after I do a bunch of writing challenges, I need a break. I should have probably taken a break after October and writing every day, but I liked the idea of a poetry challenge. And I liked keeping up the pace, even if I don’t post every day. If I just sit down and work on a sonnet, it’s still writing. So every day I’m trying to do that. I love it. And while sometimes I get a little burned out, it doesn’t happen enough to give up writing something every day.

Kate

Saturday Inspires – Bookshelves

I have this thing about bookshelves. Maybe because I don’t have very many and what I do have is filled to the brim, but you want to see me drool, show me full, gorgeous bookshelves.  I want a house big enough for all my books, with a little room to spare.  I want to marry a man who will let me have those bookshelves… or he comes with a house that has empty bookshelves.  Honestly, I really don’t care, but I want gorgeous bookshelves.

So, today’s inspiration is gorgeous bookshelves.  Start the drooling.

For those interested, BookshelfPorn is a really good drool-worthy site.

Signing off

Kate

Fall-Time Classics

woman_reading_romanticIt’s getting to be that time of year where I start to think about fall.  I know, it’s barely even August, but where I live; these mountain homes; autumn comes early.  We can have a freeze in three weeks. (and we just got out of one in June…..) And for some reason, this year autumn is making me think of the Classics. You know… classic books?  Jane Eyre (which I’ve not finished…), Jane Austen, Hemingway, and others.

This Classics thing is on my brain so much that I want to suggest to my librarian, whom I talk to regularly, that we need to have “The Autumn of Classics’ to get people reading them. Start pulling the classics from the scrunched in shelves, and making people sit up and take notice. Set them all around and have covers out.

It’s apple weather, it’s sweater weather…. It’s classics reading weather.

But that’s just me.

What time of year do you think the Classics fit in? See I was always a springtime early summer Jane Austen, but now… Do you read the classics at a particular time? Don’t they fit in with apples, tweed, fox hunts, plaid, straw, pumpkins and falling leaves?

Signing off

Kate

My Landing Spot

Hiding in the non-fiction. My favorite spot in all the library.

Hiding in the non-fiction. My favorite spot in all the library.

I’m sitting in the very last row of the non-fiction section of my library, which isn’t saying much since the non-fiction section is only two full shelves. Okay, it’s three, but the over-sized books are over somewhere else.  I’m reading my new copy of Foolsgold by Susan G. Wooldridge, which is silly because over in the 130’s of the non-fiction is the library copy.  I could have just picked up that copy since I have borrowed it numerous times, but I am so in love with my own copy, I had to bring it.

Cover of "Foolsgold: Making Something fro...

Cover via Amazon

Chapter 32 of Foolsgold, titled ‘foolsgold and ethel’s landing’, talks about finding a spot you find peaceful and removed.  Just a corner or nook (I love the word nook) that you can pause and be in your own realm.  Fill it with a cushion or chair and settle in.  Pause.  Maybe do nothing at all.

For me, this last row in the library is that spot.  I can usually sprawl out here and not be bothered, though just as I wrote that, Bev, a friend, has ‘intruded’ into this space to look for a book in the 900’s for the library.  Or maybe herself.

Poetry to the right

Poetry to the right

I like this spot because it doesn’t get much traffic.  To the right of me are all the poetry books and to the left are literature and travel.  Shakespeare and books on New York.  Plato and The Places in Between by Rory Stewart.  Hold on, I have to see what that book is about.  Ooh, sounds interesting; about a man walking across Afghanistan in 2002.  Maybe a winter reading book.  The title fits with the Foolsgold chapter, for in there, Ethel’s Landing is the stairs landing Susan’s mother has her spot.  And landings are neither up nor down, but between.

I love my spot and I would love to add a cushion, a couple of candles and a pot of tea.  Just

Plato, Shakespeare, and The Places in Between. See the arrow?

Plato, Shakespeare, and The Places in Between. See the arrow?

set up and stay.  I like hearing all the sounds from the library around me.  People tapping on the computers out at the front, the murmur of conversations.  It’s homey.  I should look into bringing a cushion to sit on so I’m not on the floor, but at the same time, I kind of like it the way it is.

I don’t get to sit in my spot all that often.  Usually I’m in a hurry or I’m browsing the library so I don’t just go settle down and unwind.  Life is so incredibly busy that I don’t feel like I have the right to sit and separate myself from what’s going on around me.  The thing is, I only need about ten to fifteen minutes in the back of that row and I’ll have a whole session of relaxing tingles that unwind me, a few random thoughts, maybe glancing through a magazine.  It doesn’t take much to really do nothing but be there.  Who knows, maybe I would be more writing productive if I were to pause there once a week when I stop in at the library.

Signing off

~Kate