Wednesday, December 12, 2018

So Long, Farewell ...

If you missed your chance to geek out with Worldbuilders over the last two weeks, you can always support their charitable efforts through the Worldbuilders Market, or support Heifer International directly all year long.  If you like to get a little something in return for your giving, I suggest swinging through Heifer's virtual gift shop where money from sales go straight to the makers (I recommend the Confetti Farm Animal Ornaments because turquoise cows, and hot pink pigs speak to my soul on a truly profound level).

Another charity worth checking out, if you haven't already, is new kid on the block: BStrong.  Polarizing Real New York Housewife, Bethenny Frankel, has always known how to leverage her exposure, and popularity for maximum benefit, but she really hit her stride when she expanded into disaster relief after watching the chaos that followed Hurricane Maria (2017), and the lackluster response the region received.  Love her, or hater her she is dedicated to getting cash into the hands of people who need it most, and uses her voice to educate donors on how to spot a less than charitable organization, and how some of the ones we've been led to believe are the most reputable only deliver pennies on the dollar to those in need.  I really think this is one to watch.  I personally feel completely comfortable donating money to her disaster relief initiative, with the boots on the ground belonging to volunteers, and the transportation covered by generous vehicle and space donations, I believe any money received is going exactly where it needs to be going.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

It's a Wrap! -- Winter Craft Project

I thought with schools about to press pause for winter break, that's a lot of days with a lot of hands with nothing to do until Christmas morning in some households (you can only bake, and decorate so many batches of cookies).  Also, with a lot of families looking for ways to minimize screen time, it can be fun to sit down together, and make some ornaments for your tree, or tabletop decorations.  I first learned about yarn wrapped sheep from The Inadvertent Farmer, during my search for a craft my niece could tackle ... Leave it to little folks to ask, "What else could we make?"

This is my answer to that.  

So, if you've got your supplies ready, we can jump right in!  All templates, and knitting instructions can be found at the bottom of this post.

Before we begin, you'll need your templates.  You can save, and print the sheets below, and transfer the animal shapes onto a sturdy card stock (some of you hardcore crafters out there print directly onto your card stock, so I know you're already ahead of the curve!) ... Cereal, and snack boxes work for this, also think of the unused back covers of spiral notebooks, they have a nice weight to them, and you won't have to worry about applying extra coats of paint to obscure any advertising.  If you're doing this craft with a table full of children, I recommend pre-cutting several thick templates so no one has to fuss with flimsy printer paper that one slipped pencil, or rogue cut can ruin. 
Step One: Choose yarn, and paint colors.
Clip your clothespins to an empty, and cleaned out tuna can (disposable cup, whatever) and give them each a good coat of acrylic craft pain.  Get a good cover on the springs, just in case you like your animals a little thinner (I like mine fat, and fluffy, so the springs rarely show on mine).  Set aside to dry while you cut out your animal bodies.
Step Two: Paint.
Get a nice coat of paint on both the head, and the rump area of your animals' bodies (both sides).  The heads will be exposed, of course, but I like some color on the back end as well, just in case the yarn gets a little thin, or if it spaces funny after you've finished, there won't be any glaring "bald" spots.  If your paint is a little thin, this might take a couple of coats, which is not a setback.  Heavy paint layers are likely to make your card stock warp, and buckle, so go easy.  If your legs are already dry, clip them onto the bodies to hold them steady while it's their turn to dry.

If you want to make any of your animals into Christmas tree ornaments (I think they'd be adorable on wildlife, woodland, or children's themed trees), this is when to use a small hole punch, and run some floral wire through the hole before wrapping your critter with yarn.  Leave a long enough tail of wire, so it doesn't get swallowed up by your yarn!
Step Three: The wrap.
Once your paint is no longer tacky, and you're ready to wrap find a permanent, and balanced place for your legs, and dab a dot of glue under the clamps of your clothespins.  Slip your strand of yarn between one of your pins and the card stock for a little "insurance" that it won't unravel.

Begin wrapping, by getting good coverage on the bum first.  You want to anchor the yarn around the legs, up near the body to keep your yarn taught, and discourage it from sliding off the curve.  Later on, the parts of the legs you need to help you do this part will no longer be exposed, plus, as you keep wrapping and bulking up your animal, the more the new layers of yarn keep the rump's yarn in place, so it's best to get this out of the way now.  Once you're satisfied with the plumpness of your animal it's time to tie it off.

Step Four: Knotting, and securing.
First, find a nice fluffy spot that looks like it has room under it to tuck a knot.  Pull your yarn taught, and wrap it toward the back side of your animal, and snip it just longer than the spot you've found to hide your loose strand.  Tie a knot at the end of your yarn, and trim off any unwanted fuzz.  In your hiding spot, put a little more than just a dot of glue, and with your bamboo skewer (or in my case, my trusty Dollar Store chopstick) tuck your knotted end into the glue.
Keep poking until there is no sign of slack in your yarn.  Before the glue is completely dry, zhush the top layer of yarn to obscure the opening you created.  To finish off, if you've selected a llama, or camel, cut 3-4 pieces of 2" long yarn, gather, and tie securely in a tight knot to form the fringe (or bangs).  Untwist, and fray the yarn to create a nice bit of fluff.  Place a dot of glue under the knot you created, and place on the top of the animal head.
If you've chosen to make a bison, you will wrap its body, the same way you wrap all of the other animals, except you'll be adding a big, cozy mane on top of the yarn you've already wrapped.  For my bison, I use a combination of Lion Brand Yarn: Homespun + Lion Brand Yarn: Quick & Cozy.  There's no real mystery to it, once you finish with one yarn, and knot, glue & tuck like you do for all of the other animals, you just start wrapping right on top with a new yarn - that's it!  This is also how I add extra "frizz" to the highland cattle.  I wrap Homespun first, and then add a top layer or two of Fun Fur (or "eyelash" yarn).  To add the bison's fuzzy little hood, measure out a piece of yarn so that when you double it a couple of times you end up with 4 strands of yarn at about 4" long, and knot one end together.  With your finger, bamboo skewer, or chopstick, gently pull back the yarn from the bison's face, and tuck the knotted end securely under the wrapped yarn.  Before releasing the yarn you're holding back, squeeze a little glue in there to hold everything in place.  Release the yarn, and zhush into place.  Do the same with the other side.  For me it's easier to start by tucking the end with the not, first, and it gives the slightest anchor, so when you're tucking the other side in you're less likely to end up yanking out the piece you've already tucked.

Step Five: Finishing touches.
Once the gang's all wrapped up, and the glue has set up, you can decide how you want to decorate your herd.  With a fine paint brush you can add facial features, and expressions, or you can leave them more minimal looking.  I'm typically a "more is more" kind of girl, but I also have a soft spot for leaving them with blank faces. 
I had some heart shaped confetti lying around, so I decided to use it, and give my animals some rosy cheeks.  It could also be very cute to mist the tops, and backs of the animals, and lightly dust with clear, or white glitter (or a mixture of the two!) for a snowy appearance.  If you knit up any of the accessories below, a little craft glue on the tips of hats or scarves, and some glitter could give it a playful look as well.  The point is, be creative, and let your imagination go where it wants to.  This is a great project to do with someone you want to slow down with, and just enjoy each other's company, so grab a snack, and if you don't knit, don't worry!  You can easily use fabric or felt scraps to make any of the accessories below, and to come up with your own wardrobe.  I mean ... A tiny pair of mittens hanging from a string, and draped over the llama's neck, anyone?

What I love about this project is that it's a great way to use up materials that there just isn't enough of to do anything else with.  If you knit or sew, you know what it's like to have those random left overs that aren't big enough to be a project in their own right, but are way too big to feel comfortable just throwing away.  Craft ideas like these, turn something almost useless into something sweet, and it keeps one more thing out of our landfills.  Also, if you're on social media, and you make any of these, please hashtag it with #LSDitsawrap so we can all find your wonderful creations!

Click on each sheet of templates to make them larger, right click, and save image as, and you're ready to print them at home!

Knitting Instructions (Needles: 3.25mm, Size: US・3, UK・10)
(Yarn: Vanna's Glamour weight = 2, fine)
Blanket: Cast on 13 stitches, work in garter stitch until length = 4".  Bind off, weave in ends.
Saddle: Cast on 7 stitches, work in garter stitch until length = 3".  Bind off, weave in ends, stitch onto blanket with contrasting yarn, and knot.

(I used a discontinued yarn, but two strands of a fine weight yarn used together will work)
Hat: Cast on 20 stitches, work in stockinette stitch until piece measures 3/4", and begin decreasing k,k,k,k2tog,k repeat across row, purl, k,k,k2tog,k repeat across row, purl, k,k2tog,k repeat across row, purl, on the final knit row bind off.  Thread tail through bind off row, and cinch.  Stitch the two sides of the hat together to form a seam, and securely knot at the rim of the hat.

(Yarn: Vanna's Glamour weight = 2, fine)
Carpet: Cast on 10 stitches, work in garter stitch until length = 5".  Bind off, weave in ends. Feel free, with a contrasting yarn, to embellish your carpet, and stitch designs into it.

(Yarn: Vanna's Glamour weight = 2, fine)
Scarf: Cast on 7 stitches, work in garter stitch until length = 8".  Bind off, weave in ends.
*Optional: Cut twenty 2" lengths of yarn and secure them two by two on each end of the scarf to create 5 sections of fringe.  You may also wish to embellish the scarf with contrasting stitching.
Hat: Same as Llama.

Highland Cattle
(Yarn: Vanna's Glamour weight = 2, fine)
Lariat Scarf: Using 2-3 strands of yarn, begin with a simple slip knot, and work in a single chain / finger braid until length = 15.5" + 1.5" tails on either end.

(Yarn: Vanna's Glamour weight = 2, fine)
Collar: Cast on 4 stitches, work in garter stitch until length = 5".  Bind off, weave in ends.  Cut a separate, small collection of yarns to connect to the ends of the collar, and use to tie it off.  Attach bells, or ghungroo bells.
Fringe Scarf: Gather a selection of 9 strands of novelty yarns, cut at 22" lengths, and tie a secure knot in the center of the bunch.

Mini Tassels 
Cut 2 two inch pieces of yarn, hold out your index + middle fingers horizontally, and place one of the yarns near the top of your index finger (this will be what connects the tassel to your knitted piece).  Wrap the yarn you've chosen for your tassel 5 times around your two fingers, and cut it free from the skein.  Pinch the two inch piece, and use it to help remove the loops from your fingers.  With another length of yarn, securely tie the "neck" of your tassel (a dot of glue helps here), cut off loose ends, snip your loops, and trim them evenly.  Using a yarn needle, connect it to your scarf, blanket, carpet, etc., securely knot, and dot with glue.

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Bookworm's Favorite Holiday Tradition + Gift Guide

Every year around this time, ye olde Jólabókaflóðið (Jolabokaflod: Christmas book flood) posts get passed around social media, telling tales about cold Icelandic nights, and cozy Christmas Eves spent snuggled up with chocolate, and books ... As idyllic a way to spend the holiday as it sounds, I wanted to know more.  Is this really a tradition?  How did it get started?  
A lot of people point to WWII era rationing for the reason Jolabokaflod exists, since there were few restrictions placed on paper, and really, what's a lovelier paper gift to give, or receive than a book?  But I wasn't so sure it was quite as simple, or as new as all that, and while you can certainly read about its rise to current popularity, here, I kept digging.  

Thanks to Alda Sigmundsdóttir, I learned about a little something called kvöldvaka, or evening wakeIn her post she tells us of a rich history in Iceland where people gathered together for work, worship, entertainment, and education through story telling, the sharing of folklore, traditions, and more (I'm particularly enchanted by rökkurstund / twilight hour).  If spending time through the winter months looked anything like this, it's little wonder that a culture based on that would lead the scoreboard of most books per capita until recently being edged out of first place by Britain.

With that in mind, I know there are a lot of Americans who would be delighted to begin their own Jolabokaflod, and kvöldvaka family customs, so I've put together a little list of a few personal friends of mine.  With this gift guide we are supporting up and coming authors, independent artists, and self-publishers who are all just trying to make their dreams come true, which, to me, makes the purchase of these books a lovely gift to both the recipients, and the authors.
(alphabetically by first name).

Allison DeBoer Criswell

This book is quite literally, everything you need to know about college writing, and a crucial tool for any student (or regular folks) out there looking to brush up their skills, especially in academic writing.

Autumn Toennis
Bright Bones: Contemporary Montana Writing (Pre-order)

The above anthology includes work from multifaceted talent, Autumn Toennis, who, as far as her readers are concerned, is quite possibly made of magic. 

Gerri Ravyn Stanfield
Revolution of the Spirit: Awaken the Healer: An Invitation to Radical Healing

On the smörgåsbord of the self-help, and healing genre, Holistic Medical Practitioner, Gerri Ravyn Stanfield serves us soul food with this book.

Jen Brady
To Write of Hope (40 page debut collection of poetry + photography)

Path of the Brave (Second poetry + photography collection)

Jen Brady's poetry is also featured on track #4 of Hannah Busse's debut album: Underneath Our Surface.

José Rafael Prieto
Soul (Debut novel)
     Kindle Edition

A true Renaissance man, as a novelist, and poet, José Rafael Prieto, offers a rich, enveloping, and lyrical experience to the reader.

Philip Kramer
Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Northern California: Section Hiking from Tuolumne Meadows to Donomore Pass 

Adventure and travel photographer, Philip Kramer, stumbled into writing quite by accident, but judging by his debut publication wherein he shares his wealth of knowledge on hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, in a laid back, friendly, yet experienced manner, he's definitely hit his stride!  You can read more of my hype, here.

Trish Nichol
The Mechanics of Dreaming 
     Cover art by: Autumn Toennis

In her own words, "I am a rambler, a roamer, an anywhere I lay my head is homer."  Daydreamer extraordinaire, Trish Nichol, has compiled her debut collection of poetry to whet the imagination of her readers, while she works out the details of what is practical and absurd.  

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Wondrous Wrath

Glittering sunlight
Crone Beira's deluge

Friday, November 30, 2018

Timberland Regional Library: The Plot Thickens ...

Last month, I composed, delivered, and posted here, a letter regarding something called The Capital Facilities Proposal that recommended the closure, and / or consolidation of 1/3 of the libraries across 5 counties in Southwestern Washington to each member of the Timberland Regional Library Board of Trustees in a hasty attempt to persuade the board to table the matter until further research, and discussion could be had in order to develop a better plan for all of the communities involved.  Turns out, I wasn't the only one ... Not even close.  In the face of an ever changing schedule, and new sessions frantically added, inboxes were flooded with outcry, board and city council meetings alike were reduced to standing room only as community members showed up to support their local libraries, and plead with board members, and city leaders to allow these crucial gathering places, and services to remain open, and operational in their static locations. 

One thing that sent folks scrambling to make sure their voices were heard was the surprise addition of the October 10, 2018 board meeting, which left people unsure if the end of the month meeting would even take place, or if something severe would be decided at this new date that would make efforts to organize, and appear at the October 24th meeting pointless.  

With that said, there are a few things to clear up before we move on to le scandale ... oh yes, my friends, it turns out libraries can have seedy underbellies!  With many of us on a mad dash to assemble our thoughts, and respect the notion of brevity, a few things were lost in translation as made clear by the use of one of my first lines in the recording of the October 10th meeting.  I believe its use was meant to put people at ease over the redistribution of funds, and to assure the listening audience that this was not, in fact, a case of the Haves versus the Have Nots.

When I wrote:
Primarily, I am deeply disturbed by the recommendation that public libraries in small, isolated, and economically depressed communities be shuttered in order to allocate funds toward expansion programs for facilities located near, and around our State’s Capital; an area with the population to support innovative fundraising techniques.
It was in the context of, and in direct relation to the proposal in its entirety.  The other people who echoed similar sentiments, and I were not speaking of a literal, straight across trade -- X location closes so Y can take all of X's allotted funding, and expand.  I don't think anyone who joined the discussion was confused by the proposal to that degree.  However, when it's necessary to reduce an entire near-90-page document into talking points in order to compose a response, the reader must take into consideration, and keep intact, the overall frame of reference the conversation is held in.  When that is done, it is obvious what is implied within the body of text.  Taking one line out of a 5-page letter, and drilling down on it as if it is a stand alone point while disregarding the document it's countering in order to lay a new interpretation on it comes across disingenuous, and exposes a willingness to seemingly purposely misunderstand public outcry, which of course, makes it incredibly easy to pacify some, whilst silencing others. 
To put it more simply, when you frame a thing as something it's not, it's quite easy to say, "Oh no, that's not what this is; that's not what we're doing here," and wash your hands of the topic, and walk away with a clear conscience. 
I should have taken the time to spell it all the way out, and perhaps I would have if I'd been given a full year to draft a line-by-line rebuttal, which is the same amount of time that was allotted to whomever drafted The Capital Facilities Plan in secrecy.  Apparently the line needs to read, "Primarily, I am deeply disturbed by the recommendation that public libraries in small, isolated, and economically depressed communities be shuttered in order to allocate funds toward expansion programs including, but not limited to facilities located near, and around our State’s Capital; an area with the population to support innovative fundraising techniques," since there were ideas of expansion being floated for several locations, as well as the rolling-out of new additional services to certain areas within the entire region.

The fact remains, however, that it had been recommended that small towns, cut off from other services, and opportunities where local schools do not have their own in-house libraries lose their city library facilities, if not completely, they were to be replaced with locker systems, or bookmobiles.  Let me say this again, because I can't quite believe it myself.
Municipalities that can not even provide libraries on school grounds for their children's education were slated to lose their local city libraries. 
Excuse me, but how does that even work?  How does homework get done?  How can anyone research, or find reference materials for papers, and class projects?  This might come as a surprise to some of my readers, but not every home in America has (1) a computer, (2) an Internet connection, or (3) a printer, and that is the case for a lot of families in these rural communities, so if they can't get their hands on the proper materials, they can't even Google it at home.  How are children supposed to function in any sort of academic way, let alone graduate when they've been stripped of all of their resources?  Thievery of this nature sets residents up for a whole slough of social problems that can last generations.

I mean ... The board could sit there, and try to put lipstick on a pig, but everyone paying attention could all still see (a marginally more attractive) pig wagging its squiggly little tail.  When poorer communities are deprived of their services, and resources in order to redistribute funding, and that funding ends up in part going to wealthier regions, in order to correct an overall deficit, it quite literally is taking from the Have Nots, and giving to the Haves no matter how it is sliced.  "Under performing" libraries in locations with sparser populations were chosen as potential closures because they exhibited dead hours, and lower library card usage, especially compared to more heavily populated areas.  Yeah, that's how that works.  When people have to work multiple jobs, or take overtime shifts in order to make ends meet (because in many of these towns, the cost of living is the same as larger cities, with a much lower median income) no one is going to the library at 10 am.  As it is now, many of the facilities are barely open much past a typical "quitting time" for the majority of the week.
It shouldn't be as complicated as making a Doctor's appointment, just to get into a local library.
In fact, many metropolitan museums are facing the same problems with their hours of operation, and are being encouraged to open their doors for evening patrons which will not only offer communities a richer experience, but also potentially curbs both problems of dead hours, and weekend over-crowding.  I think libraries should also take a hard look at their hours, especially in an age where most families are living in two-income households just to survive.  Who is going to be able to duck out of work early in order to make it to their rural library in time?  I think if the board of directors, and the administration at large are not willing to overhaul library business hours for our modern age, then they really aren't serious about increasing traffic, and supporting the Librarians' efforts to keep their communities engaged, and the locations that are currently struggling will always continue to struggle.  Sadly, it's not quite as simple as the get a library card, and use it sentiment that is floating around in the wake of this brouhaha.  I had a lot to say about this in my last letter, and how judging library usage by card swipes alone was a dishonest approach, a total misunderstanding of how local libraries, and their services can be and are used, and leads to figures that very likely paint an inaccurate picture of library traffic.  And at the end of the day, so what?

One thing that really bothered me about the recent Board of Trustees meetings is the message: If you love your libraries, prove it to us.  I'm trying to be objective, but I found this to be incredibly childish.  As I pointed out in my letter, many people can not possess library cards, and thus must read their selections in-house after browsing the stacks, and therefore leave no footprint behind of ever having been there.  Beyond that, this isn't how agencies, programs, and services that directly cater to our social needs work, anyway.  You don't tell people,
"Oh, you do like having a fire department in your town?  Prove it.  Burn your house down."
Yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds, and that is precisely how silly the former sentiment sounds to me.  "You say you enjoy that park, but unless we see you spreading a picnic blanket, and eating on the green 3 times a week during dry months, and twice in the winter, we're paving over it!" That is madness.  I absolutely believe there should be enthusiastic engagement in all of the wonderful things our cities and towns offer us, especially those provided through our tax dollars, but I also believe when we start putting arbitrary expectations on people to do things in a way that satisfies the "powers that be" (whomever They may be), when we should all be free to explore in our own ways, we're flirting with fascism.  I know, I know it sounds extreme, but when there's already been one bizarre power-grab within the library administration, does it really behoove anyone to set up more groups of people, or committees to power-trip? 
Sundays we visit the park (stay off the grass), Mondays we swipe the cards for the books, Wednesdays we wear pink, and Fridays we light our homes on fire to show the fire department how much we care.
The dystopian novel could almost write itself ... albeit highly derivative, especially if Mondays, and Fridays are condensed into one activity - the characters could end up existing in a Mean Girls / Fahrenheit 451 crossover!  "On October 3rd, he asked me where I hid my overdue books..."

Anyway, the point is, while an increase in engagement would be wonderful, it shouldn't be a requirement in order to keep crucial services, and facilities open to the public.  This kind of thinking ultimately blames the public for a problem the general population didn't even know about, and allows trustees, and administrators to assuage their own guilt for letting things snowball for so long before taking any discernible action.

Little did the townsfolk know, an avalanche was coming; carefully planned, and laughably executed it ended up burying the wrong (or the right) person(s) in its path.  Now, it's no secret that small towns never have a lack of unqualified people trying to make a name for themselves, but this library mishegoss takes the cake!  It begins with a looming budget deficit the public wasn't privy to, and ends ... Well, we'll find out on December 19th exactly what the beginning of the end will look like, but from here, for some, it's appears a little bleak.

Sometime in 2017 committees were formed, and the plan to draft a proposal to [fix] the Timberland Regional Library's budget deficit was requested, and / or okayed by someone -- it would be interesting to me to find out who that someone is in order to see if it's anyone attempting to play dumb now that it's all blowing up.  Moving on, the Capital Facilities Proposal was finally released to the public at the end of September 2018 after the plan to close several library locations was leaked by an anonymous employee.  One of the first to hear the news was a member of the clergy, who in turn followed their conscience and informed their flock of what was afoot in their community.  Let me tell you, whoever threatened library employees with firings, retaliation of any kind, and kept librarians under a gag order sorely underestimated the heart, conscience, and gossips of these towns!  When I first heard about how librarians had been pressured to keep mum on the topic, I threw my head back and laughed.

"They really tried it, but they definitely don't know much about small towns!"

I cackled from my living room over the messiness of whatever person thought they were going to pull this off.  First of all, the proposal that was submitted had absolutely no math, and no analysis of what closures, consolidations, and expansions would save, or cost.  Wait, what?  It took an entire year to complete something that reads like a thirty minute Google search + a few charts, and a couple of photographs for good measure.  The document was drawn up by the Administrative Team, and Public Services Team of TRL ... Wise decision, folks, I wouldn't survive the humiliation of my personal name being attached to that disaster either.  In what other job, or office could you submit something like that and not be laughed right out of the front doors of the building?  So, to be clear, a proposal that would upend the entire Timberland Regional Library system in five counties, drafted by folks hiding behind a committee title, had absolutely no realistic looking scenarios for how any of the proposed changes would improve the overall Library's region?  This is either one of the laziest, or most cunning moves I've ever seen.  I'm betting it's a bit of both.  To me, no math says a couple of things: They didn't care enough to do it, or they didn't care period because they were going to close libraries no matter what.  I don't think this is much of a stretch when internal emails sent by Trisha Cronin, and obtained by The Daily Chronicle state, “I truly understand your feelings that it’s unfair to them [library patrons] not to tell the Randle community so that they can attempt to sway the decision. However, although we will make sure that they get to air their feelings, it would be a disservice to them to lead them to believe they can change the decision.” (emphasis my own) which led the in-the-know library employees to believe this was all a done deal.  Who am I to argue with anyone who had floor seats to this shi, erm, show?

Thankfully, people risked unemployment in order to speak out, not just about this topic, but also the overall tyrannical culture cultivated within the library administration, and the fear that many library employees operate under on a daily basis.  Without the few souls who spoke up, it's hard telling what would've been voted on, and passed behind the backs of the communities it would've impacted the most.  I'm thankful to each, and every one of them, as well as Alex Brown and his reporting for uncovering something whose surface was only being scratched by the whistle blowers.  A huge "thank you" also needs to go out to Lewis County Commissioner Edna Fund for not dropping the topic, and ensuring that this continues to be looked into, and corrected long term.

However, beyond the drama of the slated closures, etc, there is still the matter of money mismanagement that should be thoroughly investigated. I'm with Larry "No Chill" Kearns (who is quickly becoming a contender to be my new spirit animal) on this point, how exactly did we get here?  We can't blame all of the TRL's money problems on restrictions, and regulations of the timber industry.  Environmental protections have been ramping up since the late 1980s and are hardly anything new, especially in timber communities.  Trustees, and administrators have had 30+ years to research new and innovative ways to wean TRL off of dwindling timber dollars, so to see people acting dumbfounded over it now, in 2018, is jarring.  Being a longshoreman's daughter, myself, I had a front row seat from a very young age of the shift industries had to make away from relying so heavily on timber (exports in our case) as a sustainable source of cash flow.  Even though my family seemed to slip through unscathed, for a while "spotted owl" was a dirty word in my household during my childhood, followed closely by "environmentalist" because the changes that were put in place, and continued to come were hard to stomach, and devastating to some families, and even entire communities in some cases. 
Obviously, I don't think the Earth should be scorched, and animals left homeless because the hoomans want the things, but I think like most things in life it all could've been handled better for everyone involved, feathered or otherwise.
The thing about these towns, though, is that you would've had to spend your entire life under a rock not to understand the impact the loss of timber dollars was having, and be able to look down the pike and understand where things were headed in the future.  So, for me, reading articles, and looking in on board meetings where people are shrugging, throwing their hands in the air, and shaking their heads it's just a little too rich ... I mean, call the Academy, because we've got some truly Oscar-worthy performances occurring.  You can only do so much hand wringing before you look totally inept, and make people wonder why exactly you're sitting on a board to begin with.  I can only hope that the people and organizations that the TRL Administrative Team, and Board of Trustees answer to do not drop the ball, and actually get to the bottom of what happened here, and get real answers for all of the communities they serve and represent.

As of now, the TRL Board of Trustees voted unanimously to "permanently and immediately dissolve the Capital Facilities Proposal".  Read the official news release here.

Post Script:
Moving forward I put it to the men of the board to consider how their actions, and comments appear, and come across during meetings.  In particular the discussion surrounding the murder of a woman near a library that impacted procedures for library staffing for the entire region.  People often quote that violent crime has been declining since the 1990s, but a rather "invisible statistic" is that violence against women has been on a steady increase since 2009, so to see male members of the board scoff at the necessity of a 2 person staffing solution is rather disturbing.  Yes, there are jobs where 1 person is on the schedule, and oftentimes the buildings these jobs are in are fully outfitted with surveillance equipment, loud buzzers / alarms on the doors, a panic button, and a shotgun behind the counter.  If board members would like to see Timberland Regional Libraries managed and staffed the same way that 24 hour gas stations are, then that's definitely something worth putting on the agenda for future meetings, but if they don't, reacting to current staffing requirements as if they are absurd is not doing much for optics, or to encourage trust from community members, and employees of the TRL system. 

I hope the librarians have a strong union that puts their physical safety at the top of their priorities.  I have been assured by a member of the board that the Board of Trustees takes the safety of the librarians very seriously, and I hope that is true.  I also hope that the few well-informed women of the board will no longer be put in positions to clean up the messes left by some of the more glib sounding members.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Perfect Ten!

Kicking off Giving Tuesday is Pat Rothfuss' Worldbuilders 2-week Winter charity event!  This year being the tenth anniversary of his philanthropic brainchild, we're going to see some big announcements, format changes, and wonderfully geek-themed goodies. 

Previously, the charity spanned an entire month, and was almost always extended a little bit at the end for last minute donors, but this year the six week merrymaking is being packed into just 14 days (Nov 27 - Dec 11) of money raising mayhem.

So what are we raising money for, anyway?  First of all, not all charities are created equal, and Charity Navigator is a great tool to figure out if what you're supporting is on the up & up.  If you can't find your charity there, look for the organization's personal website (it should have one), where if it's reputable, a disclosure for how much of the money raised goes where, should be displayed, and always remember big charities = big overhead, so very little of the money actually gets into the hands of the people who need it most.  With that said, all of the charities supported through Worldbuilders' fundraising efforts have at least a 3 star rating through Charity Navigator, and are forthright, and transparent about how they operate.  As always, this winter's collection of coin will be going to Heifer International, whose goal is ending hunger and poverty, globally.  What sets Heifer apart from other organizations is that it doesn't just do a food drop, or throw money at a problem, real solutions are sought and implemented in a way that not only eradicates the immediate problem, but has a real and lasting impact on entire communities through the allocation of resources, education, and infrastructure development.  You can read more about their mission here

In ten years Rothfuss has been able to rile his supporters into donating over 8 million dollars, and changing countless lives because of it.  So, if you'd like to join in, and make this the most mind-bending record breaking year to date you can go here, and donate immediately, and follow the accounts below to stay up to date on all of the coming pandemonium:

Pat's Twitch Channel
(you can find his Twitch Schedule at the bottom of this page)

 Also, if you're a little strapped for cash this year, but you still want to be involved, please do not underestimate the power of your voice.  Spread the word, share what you know, and educate others on the work that is being done.  You will end up creating a ripple effect all your own, and change lives forever.   

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Aftermath

If you're not doing this with your Thanksgiving leftovers, you're quite frankly living a life half lived!  Put down the mustard, and lettuce.

Here's what you need:
Sourdough bread
Cream cheese
Cranberry sauce (1 Tbsp per sandwich)

Here's what you do:
Coat each slice of bread on one side with a thin layer of cream cheese (not only is it delicious, but it keeps your bread from getting soggy).  Spread 1 Tbsp of cranberry sauce on top of the cream cheese on one piece of bread, and layer your turkey pieces on top of that.  Top with a dusting of salt & pepper, and finish it off with the other slice of bread.  Cut into your desired shape, and serve.  
Bon appétit!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Virgin Glögg

Here's what you need:
4 Cups water
6 Cardamom pods
6 Whole cloves
2 Cinnamon sticks
1" Knob fresh ginger (grated)

4 Cups POM juice
3-4 Tbsp pure organic maple syrup
1 Star anise
Pinch of Nutmeg
Pinch of Allspice

1/4 Cup almonds (blanched)
1/4 Cup walnuts
1/2 Cup raisins or craisins
1 Orange (sliced)

Here's what you do:
Day One-
Boil water, ginger, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods and cloves for 15 minutes.  Store it in a glass container in the refrigerator overnight.

Day Two-
Combine decoction with fruit juice, star anise, nutmeg, and allspice, and boil for 30 minutes.  Remove from heat, and add your chosen sweetener if desired.  Pour liquid through a strainer into a new container (large glass measuring cups are handy for this!) in order to clear out any large spice debris, and that's it!  Serve warm with any combination of the following: cinnamon sticks, chopped nuts, raisins, and orange pieces.

This beverage is basically just a warm punch, but I love to have it around during the cold winter months because, well, it's delicious, free of weird additives, and a good option for anyone needing to avoid refined white sugar.  It's also nice to have something festive to offer pregnant, sober, or underage guests so no one is left out of any Yuletide merrymaking.