Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Little Free Libraries

Book lovers rejoice! Free books are available everywhere now, even in your own neighborhood. I've seen shelves in coffee shops where the customers are invited to "take a book and leave a book." Since my husband and I are avid readers I thought it was a great way to circulate our ever-expanding pile of books. It wasn't until my sister, Janet, sent me the photo below that my interest was sparked in the Little Free Library that is springing up with 32,000 book exchanges in all 50 states and 70 countries around the world.
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This Little Free Library, which is painted in University of Wyoming Cowboys' colors of brown and gold, is proudly planted outside a bank in Cheyenne, Wyoming. My mother, Rosemary, and my sister have unofficially adopted this book exchange. They often visit it to donate good reads and to straighten up any topsy-turvy books. They reported that it's a very active library and the popular books are exchanged quickly. Their enthusiasm even has me considering putting a Little Free Library out on the corner of my property.

These Little Free Library book exchanges are meant to have a special community building atmosphere about them. Some libraries are focused on school children stopping by. What a great way to encourage kids to read. This is a library on Race St. in Denver, Colorado. 

 
What child could resist stopping to pick up a book with inviting chairs and stools to beckon them?


For those interested in setting up a little free library its easy and fun to do. You can purchase kits from the Little Free Library web site or make your own. I found this kit in a hardware store in Boulder, Colorado. 



There are no rules about what your library should look like. By clicking on this link you'll see many designs of the Little Free Library that will spark your creativity. As you plan your Little Free Library, it might be wise to check with your homeowners association (if you have one) to make sure you are within covenant restrictions. Additionally, to use the name Little Free Library which is registered and trademarked, it's asked that you register your library so it becomes a part of the Little Free Library network. By doing this it will have an official sign and charter number on it. You can also register it on the 


In the picture above with the little chairs, did you notice the recycled chair used for the library stand in the front yard? Here is a closer view of it. 


In Old Town Arvada, Colorado, there is a garden container holding the books on a driveway.


Look at how much room is available in this idea.


Another Little Free Library in Arvada, Colorado, cheers on the Broncos Football Team in their bright orange and blue colors. 


The Little Free Library was started in 2009 and became non-profit in 2012. Over a million books have been exchanged since then. You can find them on Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and a few other social media sites.  It's worth taking a look because the Little Free Libraries come in all shapes, sizes and colors. It's a marvel to enjoy. They have a newsletter you can sign up for also.

After my sister told me about the Little Free Library I went in search of any in my neighborhood. I was so excited to find this one not very far away. I might not have even realized what it was if it wasn't for the heads up from her.


The original box of books was  built in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin. It was a one room school house design. His mother had been a former school teacher who loved reading. He built it as a tribute to her. You can read more of the history of the Little Free Library here. Below is an adorable red barn. I bet it's in memory of a family farm. 


The map feature on the Little Free Library web site is a great place to find local places for these book exchanges. In my hometown of Arvada, Colorado, I found nine locations of the little libraries. What fascinated me was by hovering my mouse over each location it often told me the story behind each Little Free Library. Some are dedicated to parents, or located across from a school to encourage children coming by. One even said it was a replica of the house she grew up in (sorry there was no picture and I haven't been able to make a field trip to the site; latitudes and longitudes are given).  I noticed some of the book boxes are decorated for the seasons. Here's an idea for that book lover in the family! Help to build or buy one of these adorable book boxes for that bibliophile who would love to share his/her love of books with others. It could become a family project.  

I was driving down a street in the Park Hill Neighborhood of Denver and found this Little Free Library on the corner. I had to quickly turn at the corner to visit it. I haven't taken any books from any of the libraries I've visited but I might have to start carrying my excess of read books in my car to add to the collections I come across.


Even though I haven't taken a book yet, I still open and close the doors on each library and have the fun of reading the titles available. I am partial to mysteries and I suspect they are quickly taken
 

The sign on this Little Free Library says "Celebrating Neighbors". It's in a lovely neighborhood and is so inviting. The mission statement of the Little Free Library includes wanting to build a sense of community and this definitely is doing that. 




I love seeing neighborhood libraries with sitting available to peruse the books or for a quick read. This is one of  my favorite pictures so far. My mother, sister and her husband, Steve, found it in Cheyenne. From the picture I can't tell if it's registered yet with the Little Free Library. It's easy to make one official and with that you receive a charter sign to display. This outdoor library looks so peaceful and welcoming. I could imagine a quilt thrown over the back and a pillow tucked into the corner. The fall colors encourage me to linger. I wonder if they'd bring me out a cup of coffee? 


Looking inside this wonderful garden bench is a vast assortment of books for old and young alike. I think I see a Harry Potter book and the sticker book will probably disappear fast. 


Little Free Libraries are the personalities of their stewards. I saw some book boxes that focus on cookbooks or children's books. I've seen magazines, teen reads, science fiction, suspense and an occasional horror thriller. Opening the door of a neighborhood library and peeking in to see what your next reading adventure will be is the fun that will draw you back over and over again. Gather up that stack of books you've finished reading and share them. You might be surprised who you'll meet at the Little Free Library on your corner. 




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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Ford Escape Phoenixed

Roaming Rita wasn't doing much roaming this last month. On a balmy Saturday afternoon a young man ran into my husband's car, a 2008 Ford Escape, and totaled it. Luckily we weren't hurt.




My zippy red Mustang convertible suddenly became the family car. I spent quite a few days at home so my hubby, Rex, could take the car to work, and I wouldn't be making lots of back and forth trips. 


We almost had the Escape paid off and we really weren't anxious to take on another car payment. We debated back and forth what to do. Should we lease a car, buy a used car or try being a single car family since our life-style is slowing down as Rex gets closer to retirement. We decided not to hurry in getting another car but to wait and see what comes our way. 

 

Rex had really loved his red Ford Escape and he realized how much he was missing it as it had been a faithful car. It never gave him any problems. He was sad over its loss. 

Last week our son, Matt, was browsing used cars and found one he thought we'd like. It was a Jeep and we liked the price and low mileage on it. Rex called and made an appointment for us to see it the next day. We drove the thirty minutes to the dealership and looked around as the salesman had said the car would be ready and waiting for us at the door. We didn't see any car matching the description of the one we planned to test drive but we confidently asked for the salesman Rex had communicated with. He sheepishly announced he had left a message on our home answering machine. The car was not available; it was on "an extended test drive." 

Image result for jeopardy clipart

Question: The car you planned to look at isn't available.
Answer:  What is an extended test drive?

I was the first to ask what exactly does this mean? The salesman said "it means it won't be back for awhile." Rex showed him the printed email he had received from the Internet salesman, a different person from the one we were talking with. The buck was quickly passed and the second man came out to talk with us. He had the same strange answer as to where the car was. Rex asked "what if they want to buy it?" The salesman's response "Oh they won't." The plot thickened and the two salesmen were squirming. They were telling us they were calling the people to bring the Jeep back right away. It might be at least two hours and since we had driven some distance they would even bring the car to our home when it was returned. By this time it was obvious these men were not being forthright.   Finally, one admitted why the car was unavailable. A customer had brought in her car for repair and the car we planned to look at had been given to her as a loaner until her car was repaired.  With that we decided to take our business elsewhere. 

Across the street was the dealership we had already bought two new cars from. We asked for the salesman we had worked with before and was told he had retired two days before. This was turning out to be a crazy day. It all worked out though. The man helping us looked and looked for a car for us. He finally said a car had just come in that weekend and it hadn't even been cleaned up and processed yet but it was available. All he said was that it was the color of my shirt but didn't say anything else about it. To our amazement it was a 2012 red Escape-four years newer than our totaled car. Except for a few new upgrades it looked just like Rex's beloved Escape. I said our neighbors won't realize it's not the same car in our driveway. I keep smiling when I think about how our prayers have been answered. Our car has risen from the ashes. It's also keeping up with the tradition of red cars in the family; our 7th! The salesman told us that he's found that 90% of his customers end up buying a car the same color they are wearing. (Next time you go car shopping, be sure to wear your favorite color). Oh and two days later when the first car dealers emailed to say the Jeep was back and we could come see it, I suspect it was with a certain bit of delight when Rex told them he had already bought a car elsewhere. 


Rex and his red Explorer 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ham Radio License KEØEUS

Getting my Ham Radio Technician License has been on my mind for a long time. Now it's  a mission accomplished. It's been a journey to get here starting back in my very youthful days. I remember how my Dad and I would go outside at night and watch the skies for the Soviet and U.S.A.'s satellites going overhead in the space race of the 1950's. I still recall the excitement of spotting the moving satellite all by myself. (I suspect my Dad suggested the right direction to look).  Now that we have manned satellites, did you know licensed ham radio operators can talk to the astronauts on the International Space Station?

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When I was 13 years old, I spent my nights turning the radio dial to pick up far away  radio transmissions. I would be thrilled to land on a station in another state. I already suspected that radio waves traveled farther at night but I had no idea about radio frequencies, wavelengths and the workings of the ionosphere in picking up these radio stations.  

I didn't even recognize I was heading into the world of ham radio until years ago when a dear neighbor passed away. His wife mentioned he had a ham radio set up she was going to offer to the local ham radio club. My heart beat a bit faster hearing this but since I had no license or knowledge I didn't feel I could offer to buy his equipment. I never forgot that extra pitter-patter of my heart when this subject came up. I just pondered it quietly until a year and a half ago. 



In 2014 I bought my first ham radio books to study. I bought a Ham Radio for Dummies and the HamRadioSchool.com Technician License Course.  The study books for licensing are changed  every few years and the books have dates on them. The book I had in hand was current only until the middle of last summer. As Murphy's Law would have it, after getting this close to getting my ham radio license, I had to have two shoulder surgeries which threw me  off track on my studies and my book reaching it's expiration date. 


In May, 2015, my friend, Theresa, sent an email  to our group of girls saying she wanted to get her Ham Radio license and would anyone like to join her. I was thrilled to find a kindred spirit. The test date was only 2 weeks away so I got the updated books and went into a study frenzy. For 2 weeks all I concentrated on was absorbing what I would need to know to get a Ham Radio Technician License.  I wrote notes from the book, took practice exams on line and carried my notes and book everywhere with me. Theresa and I even got together to help each other in our studies.  Did you know: wavelength (in meters) = 300 ÷ frequency (in megahertz)? Technician band privileges are a very important thing to know as well. Following FCC rules is a must.

 

The night of the exam the 5 volunteer examiners commented that we were among the largest group they had seen taking the test. I estimated there were maybe 15 of us and all three levels of licensing hopefuls were accounted for: Technicians, General and Extra. 

For the Technician exam, out of a pool of 426 possible questions, the test had 35 questions with each of the 10 areas of study represented. To pass, 26 answers had to be correct or about 74%. It was multiple choice with 4 options to choose from. For the test I was to bring my ID, 2 pencils, a pen and a calculator. The cost to take the test was $14.00 (some exams are $15.00 depending on what test is used). 


Checking in, paperwork was passed through 3 different volunteer examiners. At the end of the table I was handed the test booklet and could start on it immediately. When finished I handed it to the first person at the end of the examiner's table. I was surprised the results were looked over by 3 different people. No chance of cheating on this test. 

Finally my name was called out and my passing score for a Technician License. I was pleased to pass in flying colors. As my friend told me "I over studied." Theresa and I high-fived over the thrill of passing our tests and we celebrated with these pictures of us. 

Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy!

I will be getting my transceiver soon and then it's a whole new learning curve to master it. There are a lot of fun things to do with a ham radio. To check out some ideas look at this page of  65 great things about Ham Radio printed in the CQ Amateur Radio Magazine. Additionally, there are contests (i.e. to see how many stations one can reach in a given time), Hamfests, Field Days and the ham radio can be used in emergency communications. This unit mounted on a bike shows a creative use of one's radio license. 


I spotted this car last week in the Costco parking lot. I was hoping it's owner would come out so I could chat with him. See the 73 on the car? In "ham language" it means Best Regards. Abbreviations are frequently used to keep radio transmissions brief and efficient. It's fun reading this car. It tells quite a story about it's owner. 




If NØPQV ever sees this post, 73 from KEØEUS!

Now that I have my call sign I'll be looking for you. Send me your call sign and we can chat.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Operation Blue Santa



Operation Blue Santa, Fill the Cruiser Toy Drive, collected toys for underprivileged kids in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, on November 28th, Black Friday, 2014. If you missed us at Walmart yesterday, you can still drop off a new, unwrapped toy at the Wheat Ridge Police Department at 7500 W 29th Ave, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033 until December 9th, 2014. 

It was a beautiful day for volunteering for such a worthy cause. The temperature reached a balmy 70 degrees so the shoppers at Walmart were cheerful and generous in their donations. Blue Santa and Police Officers along with us three Wheat Ridge Police Volunteers handed out candy canes as we collected the donated toys. 


This was the 1st Annual Operation Blue Santa. It was a combined effort between the Wheat Ridge Police Department, Wheat Ridge Optimists Club, Wheat Ridge High School and Walmart at 3600 Youngfield in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. Blue Santa has been participating in Christmas activities for many years. He's no stranger to young ones sitting on his lap telling him of their heart's desires. 


This year one little guy even got to meet Santa for the first time. You can see his picture on the Wheat Ridge Police Department Facebook page. Every year Blue Santa always has a special story that tugs at his heart. A favorite story is the time he was at a Christmas party and before a little girl could sit on his lap,  Santa was told that all she was going to ask for was for her daddy to come home for Christmas. Her daddy was serving in the military in Afghanistan.  As it was her daddy was going to be home for Christmas but the family wanted Blue Santa to be the one to promise to bring him home. What a special Christmas blessing for Santa. 

And it's not just the little ones that like to talk to Santa. Here is one of the volunteers, Helen, with Blue Santa. 


With the lights on the police cruisers blinking in front of Walmart and Blue Santa sitting in his chair, it was an inviting opportunity to welcome Black Friday shoppers. Shy children carried their gifts to donate accepting their candy canes in return. Adults cheerfully chatted as they handed over their gifts. It was obvious the shoppers were having a wonderful time picking out gifts to pass on. Those of us collecting the presents marveled at the variety and fun we were gathering. 


I would say that Operation Blue Santa was a huge success for the first year. Keep an ear tuned into the fun next year. I hope I'll see you there. 

Palmer's Olde Tyme Candy Shoppe, Sioux City, Iowa

On a recent trip to Sioux City, Iowa, I spotted this store front. Palmer's Candy Company immediately became a must-go-to spot on my itinerary. 


Walking in the front door told me I had struck gold. Look at the cute stairway and inviting sights that welcomed me.



As my eyes and taste buds eagerly scanned the store I saw display upon display of candies of every kind. 


Bulk candies in plastic covered boxes gave a huge challenge to my sweet tooth. I wanted bags of everything. 


More candy!


While drooling my way through Palmer's, I had no trouble finding the signature Bing candy bar for which Palmer's Candy Company is known. It was first made in 1923 and today the Cherry Bing is still produced by hand. 


Here is what the Cherry Bing looks like after a big bite. Of course I "had" to buy some to try. 


Wandering past the candy I was then treated to the section of specialty foods Palmer's offers. There were samples available of the Maple Bacon and Onion Jam served over cream cheese with crackers. With one bite  I picked up a jar to come home with me. It was a struggle not to buy one of everything else they offered. 


Rounding the corner once again I came face to face with the glass cases of exquisite chocolates, fudge and truffles. 


I knew I didn't dare eat all this wonderful temptation myself so the peanut butter fudge I bought became a gift for my lucky niece who I was visiting next. 


To wear off the virtual calories I was absorbing on this self-guided tour, I turned my attention to the museum and artifacts that lined a wall showing the history of this candy company that had started over 135 years ago. Five generations have kept this treasure alive. 


The museum included this bright red chocolate enrober (above) from which chocolate water-fell over the pieces passing through the machine. This model was made in Paris and was used in the 1900's. Also in the museum was a drop roller sucker press. It boasted it's ability to make an unusual double ended ball pop sucker that challenged a person to eat it without getting sticky. 

Below is the Candy Cutter and Former. 




Taffy pullers, copper cooking kettles and antique pictures, advertising and other company artifacts are nicely displayed. The years and history of Palmer's is proudly exhibited. 

I made three trips to Palmer's in one day. The first visit was just a quick run through in which I knew I had to come back. The second visit was to go slow and absorb the smell of chocolate and eat up the eye candy. The third visit was for pictures for this post. I am surprised I didn't go hog wild in buying things but I did use some self control. Besides the Bings and the bacon jam, some divinity and this package of "the best ever" chocolate dipped potato chips did follow me out the door. A sweet life indeed. 



If you want to visit in person or order any of these yummies you can find them here: 

https://www.palmercandy.com
Palmer's Olde Tyme Candy Shoppe
405 Wesley Parkway
Sioux City, IA 51103
712-258-5543

















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