Posted in Just for Fun

A History of Celebrations

As we celebrate 243 years of independence tomorrow, it’s hard to remember that our most important national holiday is but a newbie to global festivities. In comparison, the Chinese New Year is believed to be over 3,000 years old, while the Persian celebration of Nowruz survived Alexander the Great way back in 333 BC.

A quick peek at websites like On This Day provides ooodles of interesting things to celebrate such as the birth or death of famous authors, presidents, or activists. In addition, they note historical moments that help us remember the social and cultural climate of the time. For lovers of dead tree reading, books also exist to keep us informed of benchmarks in our history, like this library copy of The American Book of Days.


At 945 pages long, it’s clear that Americans love their celebrations.

That said, long before we became America, the land was already filled with celebration. Indigenous peoples across the country ushered in the return of the sun with spring time festivities and celebrated the life of those who came before them. Native ceremonies encompassed the natural world and often lasted a week or more compared to the single day, anniversary-type holidays European Americans tend to focus on.

New though Europeans and their traditions are to this land, here are some Fourth of July facts to get you through the weekend.

  • The Continental Congress decided on July 2, 1776, to declare their independence.
  • Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence was approved on July 4th.
  • It wasn’t signed until August 2nd, and Great Britain didn’t get the memo until November.
  • As of July 1776, an estimated 2.5 million people lived in our newly independent nation. That number has swelled to an estimated 329,091,242.

How do all those people celebrate? With parades, fireworks, family and friends, water sports, and barbecues and beer. Unfortunately, all this fun combines to make the Fourth of July a dangerous time of year. In fact, it ranks as the highest US holiday for personal injury–in large part due to fireworks. Sparklers burn at roughly 2,000 degrees, contributing to the high rates of hand and eye burns. Other risk factors include traffic and boating accidents.

What do we eat? Meat. Billions of dollars of meat. $1,522,000 in 2017 to be exact. Beef tops the grill more often than any other, with chicken a distant second and pork coming in third. In addition, we don’t like our meat naked. Instead, we slather on the teriyaki and Worcestershire sauces.

My wish as I prepare simple shredded turkey sandwiches for my family over the Fourth of July weekend is that we celebrate our diversity as well as our inclusion. I pray for the safety of those who choose to enjoy the revelry that goes with this holiday. And most of all, I hope that someday, we will all find independence.

As I say to my kids when they leave the house, “Be good, be safe, and have fun!”

happy celebrating~ jody

For more information on celebrations, please check out some of the resources I used.

Posted in Just for Fun

Hocking Puts the C in Community

As in caterpillar. And a very hungry one at that.

hungry cat

In case you missed the Water Tower Festival parade last week, The Very Hungry Caterpillar float created by Hocking won first place. Almost immediately after the parade, I received a text from Jack Beery wondering if we wanted to adopt the caterpillar and the beautiful butterfly he turns into.

Uhm, yes! He’s gorgeous. Someone put a ton of work into him, and it would be a tragedy to tear such an iconic character apart. Also, is anything more awesome than community looking out for community? I love partnering with area businesses, organizations, and individuals for any reason. Bringing a hungry critter to the library to delight patrons of all ages seems like one of the best reasons.

Even before he was unloaded, wide-eyed little ones were giddy with excitement.

Of course, we are too.

This blog post, and the joy you will find visiting our new friend, was made possible by Eric Carle and the wonderfully talented staff at Hocking. No caterpillars were harmed in the making of this post.



Posted in Just for Fun

On Wings and Wisdom

baby bird

As I prepare for a final push through driver’s training with my youngest, I find myself reflecting on what it means to successfully raise a child. This introspection has taken me down many a memory lane–some good, some not great, most incredibly amazing. It has also taken me to parenting blogs and a whole host of poems and quotations.

Probably, the most well-known parenting quote goes something like this: children need both wings and roots. One to stay grounded, the other to explore their independence. That said, this baby bird didn’t look too happy when momma and poppa shoved him out of the nest. While his much bigger brother seemingly got the hang of his new wings quite quickly, I’m not sure if this little one ever did. He wasn’t around the next day.

Over the past 26 years as a parent, I have learned only two things:

  • I make mistakes every single day. Each decision I make and each interaction I have with my children impacts how they will act and react with the world around them.
  • There is not, and should never be, a parenting book meant for all parents and all children. Raising kids requires flexibility for the time and space you are in, which is as fluid as the water in my mug. Because of this, the world is full of conflicting advice. In fact, I couldn’t even find a cohesive quote on parenting that wasn’t almost immediately contradicted by another.

Oh yeah, and a third thing–letting go never gets easier despite the fact that releasing our children into the world as healthy, happy adults is the end goal.

My hope for you and the youth in your life is that you understand and embrace the uniqueness of yourself and your children. No two parents and no two children are the same. While using a good parenting book can help get your own feet rooted in the right place, just know that you may have to find the one that works for the time and space you are in right now. The more children you have, the more books you may need.

If you have used a great parenting book, please let us know so we can consider it for our shelves. If you are in need of a parenting book, we can help you find one.

I have one more day before my youngest will be driving me around. I can only hope I’ve given him a solid road map to get us safely to our destinations.

Wonder where the books are on time travel? I might need to get that figured out before my nest is completely empty!

happy reading~ jody


Posted in Get Connected, Just for Fun, News

Digital Escape Rooms and Free Kindles

In honor of the 2019 Water Tower Festival, we are hosting an online escape room in conjunction with a drawing for a free kindle. Anyone can enter the drawing and/or join in the challenge to Escape to the Water Tower Festival.

  • What do you win?  A chance to win a free Kindle just in time for the Fourth of July  weekend. With a Kindle (or Kindle App) and a PCLS library card, it’s easy to access free library books from our Overdrive catalog.
    • If completing Escape to the Water Tower Festival, you also get the satisfaction of winning our first ever digital escape room, your name entered into the Kindle drawing, and a bonus drawing for a free e-book (value up to $15). Kudos to you! Your first name will be listed as an escape room winner on the blog.
  • What do you have to do? Stop in the library and enter your name in the drawing.
    • If completing the escape room, you must beat the challenges to enter your name into the bonus drawing.
  • Who can enter? Anyone who uses Meinders Community Library for checking out books, borrowing DVDs, reading the paper, attending programs, or just hanging out.
  • How many times can you enter? As many times as you use the library between now and July 1, 2019.
  • When will winners be notified? We will contact winners by phone at the close of business on July 1 to verify eligibility. Winners will be posted on the blog July 2, or after verification.
  • Who is eligible to win?
    • Anyone 8-108 who is a resident of the Meinders Community Library service area.
    • Winners must provide a valid phone number.
    • Winners must be willing to pick up their prize at the library and have their photo taken for the blog.

Digital Escape Room


  • Click on the library doors to enter the game.
  • Complete the challenges found within.
  • Once you’ve completed all the tasks, be sure to fill out the comment card on the last page to get your name in the drawings for the free kindle and e-book.
  • Only one digital entry is accepted per person.

If you would like to learn how to make your own escape rooms, contact the library to sign up for our DIY Escape Room Workshop on Wednesday, June 19. This hands-on program is perfect for educators, parents, youth leaders, librarians, and coaches who want to challenge those around them in new and exciting ways.

Good luck, enjoy, and hope to see you at the Water Tower Festival next week!

Posted in Just for Fun

My Ventriloquism Aha Moment

Because I’m me, and curiosity doesn’t just belong to cats, I couldn’t let James Wedgwood show up today without knowing a bit more about ventriloquism. A quick search on the almighty google provided me with a plethora of websites outlining the history of this fascinating art.

It, quite literally, is ancient.

While I had known about the priestess Pythia, the Greeks, and the Delphi, I never actually said, “Self, Pythia is a ventriloquist. The earliest of ventriloquists, used as a vessel for Apollo’s voice.” While this revelation takes some of the magic away from Pythia and her ilk, it actually makes me respect the culture in which ventriloquism arose.

Think of the power and energy that went into this deception. Think of the vulnerability and need of the people to hear directly from a god. Was it manipulation or compassion that allowed ventriloquism to arise?

And who was the first puppet master of inanimate objects? Was some Greek boy schlepping along in his sandals thinking, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if I could talk without moving my mouth?” Or did he do it to get the bullies off his back, turning the objects around him into living testaments of his power?

Or was it a mom who needed to keep her little tykes in line who first threw her voice across the room, making a stick talk to keep her kids occupied while she washed laundry? This is what I want to know. Alas, I never found out.

Regardless, gastromancy, as ventriloquy was called, was as fascinating then as it is today. The ability to speak without moving your mouth is a talent that has charmed some and scared others. It’s powerful because it’s uncommon. It’s something few of us will ever be able to take on the road–or to the Delphi.

Join us tonight to learn more about this magical art.


Posted in Just for Fun

Rogue Flowers

Spring planting is my favorite time of the year. Along with a dozen or so flower pots, I have an annual bed that is home to about 150 plants each summer. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than picking the color of the year (2019 is white and yellow with a splash of orangey-yellow); designing the bed for color, height, and foliage; and getting my hands dirty planting them.


It”s true that my back, quads, and glutes hurt from duck-walking for hours on end, but that is irrelevant when you sit back and see the finished product.

It’s also true that I inevitably end up with rogue flowers. Oodles of them. These volunteer blooms decide on their own that they want to be a part of the layout whether I planned for them or not. So, my perfectly yellow and white garden will host a spray of pink from yesteryear. It’s also home to a clump of iris that have quietly crept up from the perennial bed and inserted itself as an end cap for my annuals. My stairs will fill in with delicate purple pansies regardless of the fact that I haven’t planted them since the purple year.

Despite the color chaos they bring, nothing makes me happier than seeing these volunteer flowers eking out an existence when they were’t supposed to. Their resilience and aptitude for growing unexpectedly and quite beautifully is one of nature’s gifts.

I suspect that’s why I went to school for psychology. Humans are equally resilient, chaotic, and beautiful. They thrive despite their oft times hostile environment. They spice up a homogeneous time and space with a uniqueness all their own. And our lives are richer for the variety.

Rogue flowers make my heart smile. So do humans. Librarianship is much the same as gardening. We both go out of our way to cultivate a richer world–whether people, books, or blooms.

happy reading~ jody


Posted in Just for Fun

Good Reads from Meinders

I still remember my youngest as he was going into the 4th grade. He was part of the pilot program testing the iPad classroom with Mr. B. My youngest HATED reading. It was hard, cumbersome, and more work than pleasure. Dyslexia will do that to you.

Because of this, I worried that his reading would backslide throughout the device-in-the-classroom years. In addition, Mr. B was young. New to the teaching arena. NO BOOK REPORTS. And NEVER any homework.

I distinctly remember my youngest as he finished his year under Mr. B’s tutelage. His reading scores had skyrocketed. For the first time, he wasn’t reading significantly below his peers. Why?

If I had to guess, I would say that my youngest thrived on the premise that “when you read a book, you don’t write a report, Mom. You tell people about it.” His words, not mine. Mr. B basically had them in a giant book club for the year. After reading a book, they got into groups and talked about all the things they loved about what they had just read.

Exchanging commentary on great stories is one of the absolute best things about reading. It’s also one of the best things about reading not so great stories. Diverse discussion and exposure to new ideas, writing styles, and genres is one of the most powerful social interactions shared between people.


While the library hosts two book clubs, library staff collectively read way more than we could possibly share in two one hour sessions each month. That said, we love passing along book recommendations to others, so we started/revived the Meinders Library goodreads page.

We’ve added several shelves to help you navigate our diverse reading habits.

  • Author Programs: this shelf holds the books of authors who have presented at the library. The great thing about this is you no longer have to remember exactly who wrote what, or try to figure out what you might have missed when other plans collided with our author visits. You can simply pop over to goodreads and peruse the awesome writers who have spoken at the library.
  • Book Club: this shelf combines both our book club books into one space. You don’t have to join us for book club to enjoy reading the same books we are.
  • Camp Read: this shelf will get big, as Camp Read is a literacy training Emily and I attend each year. Books on this shelf will range from picture book (early literacy) through YA (young adult). Day care providers, educators, parents, and youth can all find vetted books on this shelf.
  • Recommended by: lastly, each staff member has a recommended by shelf. As we all like to read vastly different things, you will find a wide range of books across these shelving locations.

So, as Mr. B must have said, When you read a book, don’t write a report. Just tell others about it. 

Find us, friend us, and share your book shelves with us on goodreads!

happy reading~ jody