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.

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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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Shoreline Naturalization

I’ve lived along the shores of the Rideau River for almost 35 years.  I’m grateful that nature has shared it with me and others.  This river and the canal system that’s part of it, is a National Historic Site, Canadian Heritage River, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it remains the most extensive, well preserved and significant example of a continuous working canal/river in North America.  Most sections of the river remain in their natural state, even rugged wilderness, while other areas support farms, homes, small towns, two big cities, and historic lock stations.

Our local conservation association is helping waterfront homeowners to restore their shoreline to a natural state to encourage a more positive ecosystem for flora and fauna through their Shoreline Naturalization Program.  I first heard about this program a few years ago and even talked to someone at the local Ecofair last year.   I read up on it and even found the guidebook On the Living Edge Handbook: Your Handbook to Waterfront Living at last fall’s book fair.  I believe I already follow sustainable waterfront living, as mentioned in the book, like using clean recycled 45 gallon plastic drums (we were told they used to hold Coca-cola syrup) for our docks. But I was also guilty of a few things like making a beach 33 years ago with trucks of sand for the kids to play in.  In the last few years, I’ve let the cattails and natural plants grow back in along the beach.

Siberian Iris among the cattails

Siberian Iris among the cattails

This spring, I contacted the conservation authority to say that I was interested.  I was too late for this spring’s projects but I had an on-site shoreline consultation about my vision.   Luckily, I agreed to receive the ‘surplus stock’ from this years’ plantings:  a variety of 106 native trees and bushes including White Pine; Red Maple; Sugar Maple; White Birch; Bur Oak; Tamarack; Cedar; Sweet Gale; and Pagoda Dogwood.  They came as bare-rooted seedlings from 12-36” (less than a meter) tall.  I planted them in 3 days.

Most of the tree seedlings were planted along the sides of the property – sugar maples closer to the house for easier accessibility for tapping in the spring when there might still be snow on the ground.  The lower growing bushes, Sweet Gale and Pagoda Dogwood, were planted down along the river and up along the sides.  I’ve saved a few for my ditch project.

Daisy

Daisy

Along with these plantings, I’m practicing natural management of my grass cutting along the river.  I’ve left a wavy swath 5-15 feet wide along the river’s edge this year with a path to the dock.  I’m so thrilled that I have my own wee meadow!  There are all kinds of native plants already growing like Daisies, Siberian Iris, native Irises, ferns, Joe Pye Weed, orange Daylillies, and wild Morning Glories.  I’ve transplanted some ostrich ferns and other plants that love wet areas.  I also have some Rue Meadow growing prolifically on the path by my pond that I’m going to transplant down by the river.  Yesterday I noticed places where snapping turtles have probably laid their eggs.  And I think we have a resident muskrat under the old dock.

I’m looking forward to watching nature do her thing down by the river.

"Flags" wild Iris

“Flags” wild Iris

Grammom vs. Oil Goliath

It’s true.  The rumours I heard about a nearby Natural Gas pipeline being converted into an oil pipeline are true – TransCanada Pipeline’s Energy East Project.  And I am horrified.   This aging pipeline passes under our Rideau River just a few kilometers downstream from my home.  Now that the shock has settled in, I’m fighting mad!  Just like a mother Grizzly Bear defending her cubs, I feel like I have to do my own little Grammom part to defend my children and grandchildren.  I won’t accept this quietly.

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The Energy East proposal is about converting a 50+ year old pipeline that was built to transport Natural Gas to an oil pipeline.  The purpose of this conversion is to pump over a MILLION barrels a day of thick (like pudding), toxic, Alberta tar sands bitumen oil through my area to St. John, New Brunswick.

This  pipeline discreetly passes under farmers fields and beneath the road leading to the nearest town a few kilometers up the road from me – it’s hardly noticeable!  It also passes under highway 416 unbeknownst to the thousands of vehicles that drive over it daily.  But the biggest, scariest part is that this old pipeline runs across the bottom of the Rideau River through Baxter Conservation Area, a sensitive ecosystem – which just happens to be too close for comfort to me.

Buried under Farmers' fields

Buried under Farmers’ fields

I could go on and on about the risks of this proposal.  First and foremost, is the very likely risk of a pipeline rupture creating a devastating oil spill either on land, underground, or in the precious river system.  Such a spill would kill our river (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) immediately and for future generations.  The impact of this cannot be underestimated.

It’s a nightmarish daydream to believe that this pipeline will increase our oil security.  This oil is slated for shipment to international markets at a premium price not to Canadians as the oil companies have erroneously allowed us to believe.  Canadians will end up paying more at the pumps because our oil will command more costly OPEC prices.  Shouldn’t we be trying to be more carbon neutral rather that carbon gluttonous?  Do the intelligent specimens in the corporate offices understand that their product is a major contributor to climate change?  Did the 2013 downtown Calgary flood (where their head offices are located) or the “hundred year” weather-every-ten-years, stimulate their curiosity?  Everything is out of whack and this pipeline proposal for more, more, more oil just exacerbates the world’s negative climate change condition.

pipeline

I’m sure you’ve heard of the XL pipeline proposal which was slated to go from Alberta through the United States to the Gulf of Mexico until citizens made it an election issue and the whole deal was postponed.  Around that time, Enbridge’s westward Gateway pipeline proposal received opposition from citizens, governments, and native groups in British Columbia, putting that project on hold.  So going east was the only way that TransCanada Pipeline could go now that it is backed into a corner.  Company profit is a huge motivator.

So the ordinary citizen has been motivated too.  One of my favourite sayings is from Margaret Mead:  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Groups and people like me are rallying against the oil pipeline:  Ecology Ottawa, Sustainable North Grenville, The Green Party of Canada, and Rideau River Friends Against the Oil Pipeline , to name a few.   And we’re just getting started…… There are petitions to sign, rallies to attend, protests to support, etc.

Personally, I’ve signed the petitions and plan to attend rallies and local ‘open houses’ hosted by TransCanada Pipeline or Sustainable North Grenville / Ecology Ottawa.  In addition, I am making a large 4×8 sign to hang on a tree at my river’s edge which simply says “Stop the Oil Pipeline” inside a large red ‘stop circle’.  Thousands and thousands of people use the river during the summer boating season and the winter snowmobiling season.  Many of them might not be unaware of the impending disruption to their peaceful lives with this disastrous pipeline proposal.  It’s my duty to bring it to their attention.  I’ve written my local municipal counsellor to ask him where HE stands on this pipeline proposal…………let’s just say he’s not getting MY vote next election!   I plan to write to my provincial and federal elected officials as well and let them know that I will put my next vote where it counts:  against the Energy East oil pipeline.

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