Little Free Library Tour

27 Flower 1

27 Flower 2

27 Flower 3

27 Flower 4

Summertime is for a lot of things…even reading, right? Whether it’s because you live in steamy hot Phoenix where reading is one of the few things you can do or you enjoy reading on a nice sandy beach or poolside, it’s a fun pastime. So I went on a self-guided tour of 5 Little Free Libraries the other day. None of these are in my immediate neighborhood but they are in my general area, central Phoenix. This was my favorite; it was gorgeous with mosaic tile on it. The whole yard was full of beautiful artistic touches…I wish I knew the owners and could be friends with them!

27 Flower Totem

27 Flower Bird

And it looks like they like birds!

27 Flower Cat

And cats! We need to be friends!!!

Georgia 1

This one was also very pretty, matching their house. It’s such a nice thing to do, I think, to promote literacy and build community by maintaining one of these libraries. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors.

Georgia 2


Pinchot 1

This library also matched the vivid blue trim on their house. This particular one seemed to be mostly full of children’s books.

Pinchot 2

I like how there is a little bench by the next one so you can peruse before you choose your book. Very welcoming.

Sheridan 1

Sheridan 2

Sheridan 3

Do you have any in your neighborhood? Would you like one? I definitely want one but we have sprinklers in our yard that would damage it fairly soon, I think, so I’m trying to figure out how we could get around that. This is the one I would like from the Little Free Library website: the Urban Reader. It’s also one of the cheaper ones they have and it’s made of stucco so I’m thinking it might be more durable. Then you fill it with some books and become the “steward” of your library. You can register it on their website so that it shows up on the map and you’re in business! (You don’t have to use their libraries if you prefer to build or make one yourself. I’m considering making a portable one out of a wooden crate with wheels so I can bring it in at night.)


Here’s the 5th library I saw but this one seems a little weather-beaten and it apparently is not a registered Little Free Library. It still had some good books in it and serves the same purpose.


No little free libraries around you? Everyone but me probably knew this already but most public libraries now have e-books you can download to your various e-readers for FREE! All these years I’ve been helping Amazon grow when I could have gotten a lot of them for nothing. The only drawback is you (at least in the case of the Phoenix Public Library) only have 2 weeks before the book disappears from your device but sometimes you can renew. If the book is really good, 2 weeks is more than enough time to finish it.


The book above (that I paid for) is one of my 2 favorite books I’ve read so far this summer. The other is this one, by a local Phoenix journalist and author (that I also paid for, in hardback):


Check ’em out!

Edit: Phoenix New Times used some of the photos from this blog post on their blog!


Obsessive Birders

DSC_2752 aGila Woodpecker, male

As I’ve mentioned, it’s hot in Phoenix so I have not been birding as much as I would like. But, in June and July, I’ve been reading about birders and the ones who have books written about or by themselves seem to be a very obsessive bunch.

I’m on my third such book and I think that the books all could appeal to a more general audience because they’re not about the actual birds as much as about the choices these birders made in their lives. So here are a couple of mini-reviews:

Life List: A Woman’s Quest for the World’s Most Amazing Birds by Olivia Gentile is about Phoebe Snetsinger, a birder famous for having seen over 8,398 species (there are about 10,000 identified species in the world now) by the time of her death in 1999 (while she was birding in Madagascar). She still remains as one of the top Big Listers. She estimated that she spent about $2 million dollars in her pursuit. This book is far more than a book about birding, however. It’s about a woman’s desire to have her own accomplishments and rewards, it’s about balancing family life and personal interests, it’s about what do you owe others when their needs and wants might overshadow your own? How do you choose? Phoebe’s life may cause you to question your own choices.

DSC_3063_edited-1Anna’s Hummingbird, male

I then read Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder by Kenn Kaufman. I thought Phoebe Snetsinger was obsessed but she was able to do her birding (albeit hers was throughout the world and Kenn’s was in North America) with plenty of money to back her travels. Kenn was only 16 when he hit the road to pursue his passion, with his parents’ blessings. At the age of 19, when he embarked on his winning Big Year, he was able to spend only $1,000 for the whole 12 months of crisscrossing the continent for 69,000 miles, much of it hitchhiking, and rolling out his sleeping bag any place he could find. Now one of the world’s top bird experts and bird artists, it paid off for him and he has given up listing for the joy of truly learning about birds.

As a birder myself on a far less grand scale, I loved hearing about the birds but I was mostly fascinated by how he lived during those early years. I’m about the same age as Kenn so I understand what the culture was like when he was following his dream and it was also a very exciting time for birding. Kenn (as did Phoebe) knew all the “famous” birders and ornithologists and many had a part in his successes.

Mock at CL'sNorthern Mockingbird

I’m now about 2/3 through To See Every Bird on Earth: A Father, a Son, and a Lifelong Obsession by Dan Koeppel about his father. Dr. Richard Koeppel (who died in 2012) was also a Big Lister who saw over 7,000 species of birds, a number achieved by fewer than a dozen others at that time. It focuses on Dan Koeppel’s attempts to understand the obsession that ruled his father’s life, ruined his marriage, and strained his relationships with his sons. It also examines the culture of highly competitive birders who travel the world making lists of their sightings, and discusses the history and rules of listing. It also reveals the creative ways Dr. Koeppel made a living as a medical doctor to fund his extensive travels. All three books mention many other well-known birders, ornithologists, bird tour leaders, etc., and discuss their obsessions, too.

Mock 7.10.15

I won’t go into why I probably won’t be reading Harper Lee’s prequel/sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird. It just seems to negate the original book too much and I’m not interested in the presumably racist content.

Mock Casa 7.2.15

Verdin 2.14.15_edited-1Verdin

Music and Old Paintings

bass detail

Without music, life would be a mistake.

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

It almost looks like I was at Phoenix’s beautiful and impressive Musical Instrument Museum but I was just at home. Tony is a musician and this is his upright bass, one of his many musical instruments.

I don’t often really like when I add a texture to a photo but I like how this one turned out (Kim Klassen texture) because it reminds me of an old painting and, if you’ve read The Goldfinch, you’ll understand why old paintings appeal to me right now. I highly recommend the book but it’s a definite commitment at 755 pages!

Language of Flowers

What could this bouquet mean?

The language of flowers, sometimes called floriography, was a Victorian-era means of communication in which various flowers and floral arrangements were used to send coded messages, allowing individuals to express feelings which otherwise could not be spoken. This language was most commonly communicated through Tussie-Mussies, an art which has a following today. “Tussie-mussie” is a quaint, endearing term from the early 1400s for small, round bouquets of herbs and flowers with ­symbolic meanings (Wikipedia).

Apparently Kate Middleton chose her wedding flowers based on their symbolic meanings.

I’m currently reading a lovely novel called The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, set in present-day San Francisco, where the main characters do communicate through floriography (and photography is also one of the elements).

Poppy: Oblivion ~ Red Poppy: Consolation ~ White Poppy: Sleep

Sunflower: pure and lofty thoughts

Daffodil: chivalry

Pink Rose: friendship, grace ~ White Rose: I am worthy of you

Red Rose: true love

Who would think that delicious Basil represents hatred?

Geranium: gentility

Hibiscus: rare beauty, delicate beauty

Gerbera Daisy: innocence and cheerfulness

Marigold: despair and grief

Stargazer Lily: youthfulness and beauty

I can’t remember what this flower is. Do you know? One of the problems with flower meanings (and the characters in the novel encounter this, too) is that there are many language of flowers dictionaries and the meanings are not always the same. Or the meanings can be entirely different depending on the color or subspecies. I’ve been looking online and the sources are endless and often contradictory. It’s a complicated and potentially dangerous art form.

If you’re going to communicate through flowers, you have to be cautious, I guess. Or just make sure they’re really pretty.

Here are a couple of sources in addition to the Wikipedia article cited above: Language of Flowers and Phillips 1-800 Florals.

And, if you read and like The Language of Flowers, try this one, too: Hot House Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire by Margot Berwin; it relies on plant properties, too, and is very lush and fanciful.


Thanks for this day, 
for all birds safe in their nests, 
for whatever this is, 
for life.~Barbara Kingsolver

These are a few more photos from our staycation last weekend at the beautiful Hermosa Inn.

So, I’ve been working on my gratitude journal (in words and through the lens) that I mentioned in a previous post, based on One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp but things can get one down, as we all know, and it’s sometimes difficult to see the gifts. As I like to share inspirational quotes, I’ll share one (not quite so positive) by a friend of mine from the other day:

Not to rain on your parade, but I’ve done the grateful journaling thing and my life is still crappy.~Mary

Ugh, I hope that isn’t the conclusion I make…