Little Free Library

I love reading books. When I was 11 years old, my love of reading began when my sister Betty told me to read Nancy Drew mystery stories. The rest is history. I have shelves and shelves full of books – some that I’ve read, some that are my kids, and some on a shelf to read ‘in retirement’ (whenever that is). So when I first heard about Little Free Libraries, I was intrigued and excited!
Little Free Libraries is just like a library only a ‘borrower’ can keep the book if they want or return it or another. There are over 36,000 registered LFLs all over the world. I LOVE libraries – our little library in town is barely bigger than my house but I can get any book I want through the inter-library loan system. My kids love reading books too. I wanted to bring that experience to others…. but with a twist.
I wanted my Little Free Library at the river where I live. Yes, I wanted to be able to have books available to anyone using the Rideau River whether it be in a canoe, motor boat, seadoo, kayak, and even on skates or a skidoo in the winter. I had a plan.
My late husband Chris was always making things out of wood. With some leftover pieces of pine used to make a rocking horse for our granddaughter Kalia, he crafted a mailbox that looked like our house. Unfortunately, the post office replaced our individual mailboxes with a community mailbox so this project was placed on the top shelf, unfinished, in his workshop. Fast forward 12 years – I thought it would be PERFECT to re-purpose it for my Little Free Library project! I would just have to assemble all the other parts, like the base, and figure out how to make one side of the roof ‘hinged’ to open and get books out.

WM
I first sketched our replica house’s doors and windows on one side then dug out my paints. Luckily I had the right colours of blue for the house and white for trim. First I painted all the blue siding then the darker blue roof. Then I painstakingly painted the windows with grids and doors. All these steps took days to dry in between coats of paint.
I didn’t have the type of piano hinge I wanted for the roof section: I wanted the back half of the roof fixed and screwed in place (yes I actually found the drill and remembered to charge up the battery). But I wanted to put a piano hinge at the peak for the two sections of roof to join. However, I didn’t want to spend any money for a new one! I’m not cheap (okay maybe I’m frugal) but I wanted this project to be sustainable and I wanted to use the materials I had on hand. Heaven knows that my Chris NEVER threw anything out and there are drawers full of screws and washers and little hinges and you name it! That’s the first place I always look and usually I find it too.
I thought about that roof for a few weeks. I had to use something that would allow opening and closing AND would keep the contents inside dry….. Finally I figured out a solution: I used two swatches of indoor/outdoor carpet and secured them to the roof peak with bolts, washers, and nuts. I couldn’t use screws because they would stick out on the underside and possibly scratch someone. Then I caulked the peak joint with flexible caulking, along with all the seams inside my Little Free Library house.

WM2.png
I found a piece of previously used wood for the base that was a bit bigger than the LFL house. I used wood glue to secure it and when that was dry, I screwed it to my LFL house. It was ready to go! I put it in my wheelbarrow (it was heavy) and took it down to our dock. I had purchased a shiny hand-held windmill and a couple of Canada flags to attach to the dock and act as an attractant. I created a sign, printed it at home, and laminated it then screwed it onto the dock post. My (unofficial) Little Free Library was screwed onto the end of my dock and filled with books for little kids, teenagers, and adults – I packed each book in a plastic zipper-loc seal bag just in case. It has rained since and the inside of the LFL has remained dry.
Now, I just have to dedicate some funds to register it officially ($54) – hopefully by the end of the summer. I want to take a LFL sign down to the provincial park just down the road and speak with the administrator about it. On weekends, they have ‘events’ for campers and a free nearby water-access library might be of interest to them. There is also the local newspaper and radio (both of which have an online presence) that I’m going to contact as well.

WM@river
The other day, I watched a child with their father using the “library on the water” and I knew I had done the right thing. And on the weekend, my granddaughter Livi ‘borrowed’ a few books as well.
As far as I know, my (unofficial) Little Free Library is the only water-access library in the world. And on a UNESCO World Heritage Site to boot!

WMLFL

 

 

https://littlefreelibrary.org/

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A Day in A Life that Was

It’s been 8 years today since Chris died.  This year, I salute his life in a series of unpublished pictures to try to show what our life with him was like.

1.1992 Teaching Nellie Mini-putt

Chris was a patient person, even trying to teach baby Nellie Mini-putt!  We always tried to find mini-putt whenever we went on vacation since the kids loved it so much.  Chris would do anything for the kids and me.

2. Carving Pumpkins

2b.Pumpkinmobile

At Halloween, every kid had their own pumpkin to carve…..after Chris scooped out most the seeds!  One year, he created the “Pumpkinmobile” for Halloween night by strapping onto the top of the van, a large carved pumpkin with a blue flashing light inside.  We drove the kids around our neighbourhood and nearby homes so the kids could trick-or-treat.

3.BuildingGarden

Chris was always building something around the house:  the front garden or the playhouse or the pond.

4.Patio

One of our favourite summer pastimes was ‘Patio’ where neighbours (human and canine) would gather at our house to visit and sing.

5.Rink

Chris prided himself in his skating rink out on the river.  This one had a rink plus a skating oval around it.  He’d spend hours cleaning it off after a snowstorm and flooding it on -20C days.  He hung lights for nighttime skating too.  Every winter, we hosted our annual skating parting for neighbours and friends.  We skated on the river, keeping warm at a bonfire at the beach then shared a potluck supper in our garage/party room.  Every Saturday night during the hockey season, we would host a ‘hockey party’ where we would watch NHL games while playing darts or pool with our friends and neighbours.

6.WhaleWatchingTadoussac.png

Chris would always take us anywhere we wanted to go at any time.  This picture shows us at Tadoussac, Quebec where we went whale watching and stayed at a cottage overlooking the St. Lawrence River.  We were on our way down home.

7.TorontoZoo

One year, we took the whole family to the Toronto Zoo and Wonderland for the weekend.

8.Waterskiing

At home, he loved boating on the river in the summertime.  He patiently taught our kids and friends to water ski.

9.JoeyVisit

He loved it when our brother-in-law Joey came up for his annual visit.  This picture shows their favourite spot to sit and talk and enjoy a cold ‘beverage’.

12.HardatWork

He loved working with Mark and Simon, travelling at times to Niagara and British Columbia on jobs.

 

9b. SantaGrampie

Chris was such a good sport:  he played Santa to all the kids in the neighbourhood at our annual Christmas Party.  Here he is with Kalia as Santa Grampie.

10.Camping

What an incredible man.  Even though he was in the middle of daily radiation treatments for cancer, Chris insisted we didn’t cancel our family camping plans.  We camped on the St. Lawrence River and him and I just drove up to the Ottawa Hospital for his treatment then back to the campground.  Pain and the side-effects from radiation treatments didn’t stop him from sleeping on the ground in a tent so the kids would still have a holiday.  He was adamant that he would try to make the kids feel like life was as normal as possible, until it wasn’t.

13.LastFamilyPhoto

Our last family photo when everyone came home in 2007.

 

 

 

Sunrise

Early morning is my favourite time of the day. I love getting up early to watch the daylight nudge away the darkness. Today was no exception. It was pretty cool at 1C degree. In fact, the water in the river was warmer because there was steam or mist rising from it. I felt the urge to go outside in my rubber boots and walk throught the moist, long grass down to the river and take some pictures to share with you …… it was quite cool standing there waiting for the sun to slowly, very slowly, show itself from over the eastern treeline. But I couldn’t resist the temptation to take pictures to show how lucky I am to see this every day.

Mist over the water and dew on the anchor

Mist over the water and dew on the anchor – waiting for the warm sun

Mallard ducks in the water and Canada Geese flying overhead waiting for the sun

Mallard ducks in the water and Canada Geese flying overhead waiting for the sun

Here comes the sun!

Here comes the sun!

second by second rising slowly

second by second rising slowly

from the dock

from the dock

Ahhh, it felt so toasty on my cold face

Ahhh, it felt so toasty on my cold face

Double sun reflecting off the water

Double sun reflecting off the water

View from the dock

View from the dock – we call this ‘Primetime’

View from back up at the house where it's shady

View from back up at the house where it’s shady

Frogs

It’s springtime!  Nighttime at my place is filled with the sounds of frogs singing in concert.

Spring peepers are the most dominant frog tonight.  Multitudes of them are ‘peeping’ alone yet in unison with the others in all directions.  I can hear them from every window in every direction.  Here’s what they sound like.  Our riverside flood plain provides the right habitat for thriving populations of spring peepers, chorus frogs, wood frogs, leopard frogs, tree frogs….. well I could go on and on.

spring_peeper_102912_7

Spring peeper

Before dark, I can hear the occasional sound of a Robin or two, trying to get a word in edgewise.  And every once in a while, I can hear a solitary Gray Tree Frog.  The other evening, it was poised right on my back window just chillin’!

Bullfrogs begin croaking in their low moan as soon as darkness settles in.  Many large bullfrogs live in my pond for the summer after they hop up from the river.  Thousand more live in the river.  I greeted some today…..

Bullfrog

Bullfrog

The most prolific frog around here is the Leopard frog.  They are everywhere from the pond, river, grass, and ditches.  Muskey Joe, an American fisherman who frequents our river, used to catch them to use as bait, in our neighbourhood ditches until my young children shooed them away back in the day.  I remember when we moved here 34 years ago, hundreds and hundreds of leopard frogs were jumping for their lives, out of the way of our kind neighbour who was cutting our 2 foot high grass with his push mower.  My 3 little boys were running ahead of him trying to catch the frogs mid-air with their hands, to save them.

Of course, these are only a few species of frogs that inhabit this area of the planet.  I appreciate the multitude of frogs I share my life with who sing to me in melody.

Gray Treefrog

Gray Treefrog

Sure Signs of Spring

Spring has arrived late this year but there are some sure signs of Spring.  The temperature started climbing above 0 degrees celsius last week and FINALLY the snow started to melt!  In a matter of a couple of days, most of the snow in the front and back yards has melted leaving puddles.  There is still a big drift down by the shed but it’s much smaller now.  I can even walk down to the river even though most of the ground isn’t frozen any longer but more like a sponge.  It’s rubber boots time!
In my excitement, I decided that it was time to change my winter-ravaged, torn and shredded Canadian flag down at the beach, now that I could get to it.  I happened to choose a very windy day but I got the job done and now my new flag stands as a sentry along the water…….. and I can tell which way the wind is blowing.

River
And the river started to break up!  Most years, the ice has already broken up and floated down river by now but this year it’s taken until now to begin.  I noticed first that the channel in the middle of the river had a small slit of glittering water – this is the first to melt with the flow of water.  Then the next day, their was a sliver of water along the edge of the riverbank which was open.  During the windy days, the whole ice floe completely moved away from our riverbank to near the channel leaving a substantial stretch of water.  Best of all, my ‘lake of shining waters’ is back!  This is the sparkly, glittering water reflecting the sunrise.  I love it.
The Canada Geese and other migratory birds started arriving back last week.  Thankfully the Robins can now find food since most of the snow has melted.  The Geese, Loons, and Seagulls can land in the water and even stand on the ice floe.  I’ve also seen my ‘friend’ the Great Blue Heron flying down along the water, Pterodactyl-looking.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

On my way back up the yard, I noticed the rhubarb starting to poke through the ground.  The daylillies too! The grass is even greening up under all those leaves I left on the ground.  This year, I’m beginning my ‘shoreline restoration project’ where I will start to let the river’s edge go back to it’s original state rather than cutting most of my grass right to the water’s edge.  It will be better for the environment, plants, and animals who live here too.

Another important yet unpleasant job is scooping the dog poop in the back yard.  My elderly dog Yukon died in mid-February but there was still a season of his poo under all the snow.  I almost got the whole job done while reminiscing about Yukon’s years here but I found tears in my eyes near the end.

The maple sap has been flowing from my tapped maple trees for nearly two weeks now.  It did slow down to a near stop when the weather turned very cold but it’s now flowing steadily.  I’ve been boiling the sap on my wood cookstove to make maple syrup – not much because it takes about 6 litres of sap to make about half a cup of pure maple syrup.  But since I’ve been making a fire anyway, there’s no harm in boiling the sap down on my cookstove.
One important sure sign of Spring is the sound of my sump pump.  It’s strange, but I certainly like hearing that on-and-off again humming noise because it means that the ground water around and under my house is being pumped away so I don’t flood.
What better way to welcome the warm spring winds than hanging laundry outside!  There’s nothing that soothes my visual soul more than the sight of laundry drying on my clothesline.  This week the temperatures are supposed to be above normal so all the comforters and blankets on the beds and floor mats will get washed and hung outside to dry.  Nature’s sweet, fresh smell lasts for days.

Sunning
Most days, our cat is sunning himself whenever he’s not ‘chasing’ squirrels at the windows from inside the house.  I find myself instinctively cleaning out closets these days.  I can’t understand why I’ve kept papers from 20+ years ago so some of them were recycled and others are in a burn pile.  Bookshelves are not immune either so any of my children who have left their books still on Mom’s shelves, let me know if you want any of them or they’re off to the book re-sellers.
As spring slowly gives way to the warmer temperatures near summer, another Canadian tradition begins: National Hockey League hockey play-offs.  There have been times when we’ve watched NHL play-offs on a TV outside on the deck while basking in temperatures in the 30C degrees.  Let the play-offs begin because this year my team is in the play-offs!  Go Sens Go!!

My Lake of Shining Waters

My Lake of Shining Waters

Frostquake!

It’s been pretty cold lately. Abnormally cold. But then again, what is ‘normal’ anyway these days when it comes to weather with all the climate change going on – extreme weather in the summer with record-breaking heat and in the winter, polar vortexes every other week.

Freezing

At our house, when the temperature outdoors gets down to -30C or so, we get sudden BANGs which can shake the house. It’s a Frostquake or Cryoseism. I used to just  say it was frozen ground water expanding in the extreme cold, but now there’s a word for it. Living along the river, we have a fairly high water table. If there’s lots of rain in the fall, the ground becomes saturated, then freezes in the winter. We often heard them when skating on the frozen river.
Environment Canada meteorologist Geoff Coulson said the noise occurs when water filters into porous soil, freezes suddenly and becomes subject to shifting. “It’s like a low-grade earthquake,” he said. Yup, it shakes the house like an earthquake sometimes too.

Frost on the mudroom door

Frost on the mudroom door

I don’t like the cold anymore – it’s too………well, cold. I don’t drive to town on these really cold days – I wait for it to warm up a bit to just below freezing, every week or so. My faithful, 24 year old car with over 375,000 kms on it, doesn’t like going out in this kind of weather either. Instead I stay at home keeping the fire going in my cookstove or watching the birds or baking or making homemade dinners.  I don’t even have to go outside to get my firewood! I just walk through my unheated garage to the attached woodshed and bring it in. Oh, it’s just as cold as outside but it’s not technically outside – I still have to wear my winter coat especially if I’m splitting wood with my new electric 4 ton wood splitter that my two youngest kids got me for Christmas.

One thing good about the bitter cold outside is that I can get inside jobs accomplished. Like clearing out my cupboards of paperwork, deceased relatives dishes, clothes I never wear anymore, books/magazines I’ve read ….. you know simplifying my OWN life.

For now, I’ll keep feeding the birds beef suet and black oiled sunflower seeds and watch them eat while I wait for spring.

 

 

Bluejays on my apple tree *

Bluejays on my apple tree by Marty *

Enough Rain!

 

It’s been raining here for several days now – torrential downpours, thunder and lightening, light rain………. the whole gamut.  This morning when I woke up it was 0 degrees celsius (32F) outside.  If fact, not too far away, it snowed!!  So I’m feeling pretty lucky that I was too busy last weekend to get my tender vegetable seedlings planted in the garden or move my few dozen inside plants to their summer home on the back deck.

Squash seedlings

Squash seedlings

 

Fragrant Basil waiting to be planted outside with the Tomatoes

Fragrant Basil waiting to be planted outside with the Tomatoes

I just hope that some of my parsnip seeds don’t wash away in the rain or the Purple Bean seeds don’t rot.  Some weather reports had predicted that it was going to be ‘sunny with cloudy periods’ on several days this week but that never materialized.

Leaf Lettuce in the Kitchen Garden raised bed

Leaf Lettuce in the Kitchen Garden raised bed

A week ago we had a 5.2 earthquake (which surprisingly, I barely felt) but the thunder the other night rocked our house inside and out scaring the dog and the cat.   Right now, my pond is overflowing – and considering the water level was down about 25 cms (10 inches) because we hadn’t had ANY rain up till now, I’m very happy.  My rain barrels were overflowing days ago……..   Those previous record low river levels are a thing of the past – last week I could barely see the dock past the bull rushes and now it’s bobbing nice and high clearly visible from sitting here in my chair in the living room.  On the other hand, the front ditch is full of water and seems to be draining very slow or not at all……   The ostrich ferns are loving this wet weather and they’ve grown several feet tall.   Hostas as well are thriving in the rain.  Luckily, the apple blossoms had a normal spring in full bloom with bees busily going from blossom to blossom.

I’m ready for the rain to stop now.   Just a break.   It can rain again next week, overnight, to water the plants.    Last year we had a drought during the summer so I guess I shouldn’t complain.  And this rain is the tail end of that Oklahoma tornado weather so I really have to be grateful.  I could visualize that I live on the west coast during rainy season like 3 of my sons or my sister Betty…..  But I’ll just continue to get some ‘inside’ work done even although I’d rather be outside.

Here are a few pictures I took in the rain this morning:

I love Bleeding Hearts.   This little bush is a faithful specimen in the traditional ‘cottage garden’ which boast these lovely heart shaped flowers.  Unfortunately, the flowers don’t last long but the leaves are nice.

Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding Hearts

Japanese Maple trees are one of my favourites!  They are supposed to be ‘sensitive’ to harsh winter conditions but all of my 7 different ones do just fine without a lot of fuss.

Japanese Maple tree raindrops

Japanese Maple tree raindrops

Common orange day lillies love any kind of conditions but especially lots of rain at this time in their growth.  I have an large circle around my chimnea wood fireplace (where we used to have our 18 foot pool).

Raindrops on Daylilly

Raindrops on Daylilly

These outside planter impatiens are tucked under the eves next to the window and are spared the worst of the cold rain.  I like the reflection off the window of my back porch and back yard.

Impatiens in outside planter

Impatiens in outside planter

 

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