Saturday, May 26, 2012

Little Free Library

When I was a very little girl in New Jersey in the 1960s, my mother introduced me to our local public library. 

Built in 1897, the old school house was no longer needed as a school building and had been put to use as the town's Public Library. It was painted barn red and still sported the old bell. Inside it was quiet, peaceful, and, to my young eyes, full to the brim with books. I proudly received my very own library card while in the first grade. I thoroughly enjoyed our bi-weekly visits where I'd pick out another four or five books to take home. A voracious reader, my childhood was heavily influenced by the the wealth of material free for the borrowing. I can honestly say that my love of history was strongly fostered by reading every historical book for young readers that I could get my hands on. By the time I hit the 6th grade, I was well acquainted with the Kings and Queens of England, the Puritans, the Pilgrims, the Revolutionary War soldiers.  All because I could find those books in my public library (see the picture just below).

Recognized for its historic value, this 1897 school house (above) is now part of the Board of Education complex in Wall Township, NJ. Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, the school house served as the township's Public Library.

In February of this year, I read a USA today article about the Little Free Library movement. Little Free Libraries exist all over the world, and are in 40 of the 50 United States. Upon finishing the article, my mind immediately began hatching plans; plans that would have to involve my husband's mad construction skills, since I can barely swing a hammer. 

Two old kitchen cabinets were placed back to back, then roofed and faced. The doors were given plexiglass inserts and painted white. In homage to the public library of my childhood, we painted our Little Free Library red.

Little Free Library #0816 of Chubbuck, Idaho, sits in front of our pasture. (The horses won't mind.)

Here are Hubby and Number 7 putting on the finishing touches after placing the library on its pedestal.

The Little Free Libraries are as much about community as they are about literacy. Our LFL contains books both for children and adults. Earlier this afternoon, we had our first customer -- a car pulled up to the sidewalk and a child got out in the pouring rain. I hope she found something she liked and will come back again. Better yet -- I hope she brings her friends next time.

- Catherine

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Casey at the Bat? Nah!

It's the bottom of the first and the bases are loaded.

At bat: one of the team's worst hitters (if not THE worst).

That would be little ole me.

The pitcher threw a couple of balls and then a couple of strikes. On the third would-be strike, I managed to actually connect with the ball.

Result:  a double.  And an RBI of 3.  To top it all off, I went on to score two runs in the game.

This experience -- for a one-time high school non-athlete with a C average in gym class -- comes courtesy of our church softball league. Because here sportsmanship is everything and winning is a distant second. As I jumped up and down in glee on second base, an opposing teammate (the second base-woman) came over and high-fived me. We both exclaimed with great enthusiasm that it's amazing and wonderful when you can get on base!

Incidentally, my skills as a catcher are improving too, both in fielding and throwing the ball.

So, I have a bonafide statistic of my own now and a couple of successful at-bats under my belt. Yeah!  Who says you can't learn new things in middle age???

P.S. -- Tim took me out for a celebratory dinner. I earned it! Woo hoo!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Of Flesh and Spirit

The medieval looking candelabra was not quite to my taste, but it was funky so we left it where we found it when we moved into this house -- hanging over the fireplace in the family room. We knew nothing of its origin or how it came to be part of the decoration of the previous owner.

A friend who lived in the basement while we did the initial renovating and repainting of the house said that he was sure some kind of spirit was living here. I was skeptical for a number of reasons.

About nine months ago I began having accidental injuries in the kitchen -- all involving deep cuts from sharp blades. I'm kind of klutzy, but this has been extreme. By March I'd sustained five or six serious lacerations.

Sometime last Fall, Tim had the unmistakable physical sensation of something sitting down on the bed beside him.

About a month ago I had a nearly identical experience to Tim's, followed by a skin-crawling chill going through me. I was awake at the time and it could not have been a dream.

Just last Sunday morning a voice as clear as day spoke a very crude question to Tim as he was preparing to get up out of bed. (I won't repeat it here.) Tim was startled, to say the least.

After I got to church, I walked up to a friend and said words I never thought I'd utter -- "some kind of presence is living in our house."

Tonight our pastor and two other friends came over. After prayer together, we began the business of walking through the house and the property, anointing all with oil and praying for God's holy presence to drive out anything that was not of Him. As we started the process in the basement guest room, our pastor noted a distinct feeling of annoyance and anger coming at him from something he couldn't see.

When we entered the family room, I turned on the light switch -- only to have the bulb in the overhead light immediately go out with a loud crack. Turning on other lamps, we began to bless and anoint the family room. The longer we prayed, the more the black, gothic-style candelabra bothered me. It was suspended from chains and looked for all the world like something that would have hung in a dungeon of pain and oppression. Finally I realized it had to leave the house.

Tim didn't hesitate. He took it down and I marched it upstairs and out of the house for good.

The Native American dream-catchers were next. Although we had blessed them to be only decorations, I still felt their presence was a hindrance.

Immediately after that purging, everything felt lighter and cleaner.

We continued on through the rest of the house, singing praises to God when we came to the part of the living room that is home to my musical instruments. By the time we were done, ending up in the very bedroom where the presence had made itself physically real to us, the house was clear.

Our friend, John, did the same process along the perimeter of our four acres and in our RV. He too felt something leave as he walked and blessed the place, anointing the corner posts of the fences and the inside of the RV.

I don't know how to sum this up. I am amazed by what I saw and felt and heard tonight. And grateful -- so very grateful -- that all aspects of our lives are covered by Jesus' sacrificial blood and by God's tremendous grace and mercy.

- Catherine

Friday, May 11, 2012

Week in review

So, the mouse is still at large somewhere in the house. But his days are numbered.

The pasture pipe has been laid, channeling the irrigation water to the sprinkler system. Should be some good greening up back there now.

The lawn mower is fixed and the lawn has been mowed.

My morning fruit/spinach smoothie is providing good all-day energy and no afternoon crash! Also cuts my sugar cravings to nothing, which I very much appreciate!

The Dish TV guy came yesterday and installed High Def receivers.  What a difference!

Tim's been clearing the brush and pruning the bottom branches of the Poplar trees that line the driveway. Everything looks neat and tidy and ready for summer! He also landscaped the front with feather grass and burning bush. Looking forward to watching that grow!

I'm home until June 18 to enjoy all the green growing things and the sunshine on the patio, and I'm mighty happy about that!

I saved the best for last in this post: Tim is feeling better and better each day, now that his Hepatitis C treatment is over and the drugs are slowly exiting his body.

Happy weekend to all!!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Timmy, come home!

First, it was the mouse. Then the lawn mower. Then the irrigation water.

And Tim has been gone for only three days.

It started Sunday morning, about 12 hours after Tim left for business meetings in North Dakota. A small dark creature scuttled across the second basement step as I opened the door to call down to Number 7 and make sure he (Number 7, not the creature) was awake. I peered more closely as the light came on. Yep. A mouse. And he was trapped by me at the top of the steps and what was apparently the great unknown eight steps down. He dithered. He sniffed. He had nowhere to hide, though.

I hate mice and so does Number 7, but we were on our own here with Tim gone.

Brandishing a baseball bat in what was probably a tiny bit of overkill, Number 7 attempted to drive the mouse back up to the top of the stairs. In an effort to keep this process painless, I had opened the door to the garage - directly opposite the basement door where the mouse was bound to appear once he caught sight of the baseball bat. A straight shot for sure.


The mouse prefers indoors, apparently, and instead of making straight for the garage (and freedom), he scurried around the corner, perilously close to my feet, and disappeared behind a radiator in the hallway leading to the kitchen.

I squealed and jumped around like a little girl. Number 7, still holding the baseball bat, appeared in the kitchen doorway and announced that he might be breaking a floor tile in his quest to get the mouse.

I begged him to spare the floor.

The mouse outsmarted us both and managed to disappear somewhere beyond the radiator, into a wall or something. No floor tiles were broken, thankfully. I spent the rest of the day giving the stink eye to anything that seemed to move.

Later that afternoon, Number 7 started his weekly task of mowing the lawn. He got the riding mower out to the front yard to begin, and the drive shaft malfunctioned. The funny part is that he called me and proceeded to explain it all  -- and I barely understood any of the concepts that he was trying to convey. Me: "You realize you are telling all of this to the wrong person? I have no clue how to fix that." Number 7: " Oh, I know. I just wanted to explain why I can't mow the lawn."


Tonight my neighbor called to tell me that the annual summer irrigation water had arrived unexpectedly and that our pasture valve was wide open - thus flooding the pasture and the lawn of at least one other neighbor as the water gushed out. Lovely. It's dark by now. Tim changed a lot of the irrigation system structure last year and I am not sure I know how to turn it off. And did I mention that it's dark? Really dark.

I put in a call to our nephew, who owns 50% of the horse population in our pasture. He agrees to come right over. In the meantime, I go outside with a flashlight and hope I don't encounter any unexpected critters in the long grass. I don't. But I do end up in cold water up to my ankles. Thankfully nephew and great-niece arrive and they are wearing boots. The valve is finally closed and, as I sit here, I hope all is well out there.

Tim, please come home before something else goes wrong!