Building community and inspiring a love of reading: Free Little Libraries

Griffin Fire Station

Free Little Libraries (LFLs) are small libraries that can be found in front of homes, businesses and in public spaces. The idea is to build community by sharing books with your neighbors. Watch this great explainer video to see how LFLs work! These little libraries vary widely in terms of size, style and decoration. As of November 2016, there were over 50,000 Little Free Libraries registered worldwide — in all 50 states in the U.S. and 70 countries! — including more than a dozen in Olympia.

The Little Free Library at Griffin Fire StationLocal residents and the Friends of the Olympia Library sponsored a Little Free Library at the Griffin Fire Station on Steamboat Island Road. We checked it out recently and even picked up a book. There was a good selection of titles and it was easy to find and there’s easily accessible parking out front.

Some Little Free Libraries also serve as seed exchanges. Some have taken the same concept and built free pantries to share food items. The Little Free Library organization recently gave away 100 LFLs to police stations. And the U.S. Girl Scouts have installed 500 LFLs!

Coming soon! A second Free Little Library on Steamboat Island. We are putting up our own Little Free Library. We plan to have a seed exchange and a game exchange.

Today’s weather: I didn’t notice any rain until after 12 noon and then it was off and on. I have three categories of rain: light rain, raining cats and dogs, and please make it stop or I’ll need to build an ark. Today was really a light rain day and totally manageable. Also, not as cold and in the 40s around noon.

For the Love of Pizza

Island Market

I love pizza. It’s a comfort food and a reward food. Whenever I am in a new town, I like to try all the pizza I can find. I will eat a wide range of pizza, from the classic cheese pizza to vegan gluten-free roasted veggie pizza, gourmet pizza (hello, brie), unusual pizza (I’m thinking of you, potato curry pizza), frozen pizza (Trader Joe’s), fast food pizza (I was a fan of the Subway pizza). But I do have favorites and my current favorite is the pizza made at the Island Market on Steamboat Island Peninsula.

Island Market is a mini grocery store with produce, staples, a post office and more. It’s also my neighborhood store. But the best part of Island Market is the pizza. Comes in one size, large. We freeze the extra slices and they are great heated up in the toaster oven. It reminds me of the pizza of my youth, Vennari’s Pizza. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s the closest that I have had and I am a big fan.

If you don’t need a whole pizza, sometimes you can get slices and they have a loyalty punch card. Be sure to call ahead to order, 360-866-2536.

Hours: Monday – Saturday: 6am – 10pm, Sunday: 7am – 10pm

Location: 3403 Steamboat Island Rd NW, Olympia, Washington 98502


Today’s weather: cold and cloudy but no rain. About 35°F at noon. Rain is coming! We took down holiday decorations today so that we wouldn’t need to do it in the rain this weekend. Weather app says six days of rain ahead. Stay tuned!

Burfoot Park

The beach at Burfoot Park

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Burfoot ParkWe checked out Burfoot Park, a Thurston County Park. This 50-acre park includes saltwater beach frontage on the Budd Inlet near Boston Harbor. From the park, you can see the Washington State Capitol and the Olympic Mountains. The park is right off Boston Harbor Road and is clearly marked.

There’s a large green space with picnic tables and playground equipment. With a few parking areas, there is plenty of parking. The park includes three picnic shelters that can be reserved online. One of these is really in the woods–not your typical city park shelter. There are also bathrooms with sinks and flush toilets. Nothing fancy but an upgrade from port-a-potties and outhouses. We also saw several joggers running the perimeter of the green space.

Dogs are permitted but need to be licensed and on a leash. For everyone’s safety and comfort, please observe leash laws even if your dogs are friendly. Burfoot Park is open year-round, 9am-dusk.

There are several marked trails: we took the trail marked “Beach.” We could not find a trail map at the park, but I’ll update the post when I find one.

Location: 6927 Boston Harbor Rd NE, Olympia WA 98506

Difficulty Rating: Beginner+
I am truly a novice hiker and parts of this trail down to the beach and back were challenging especially because it was wet and a bit muddy. I noticed a couple of hikers had poles and that seemed like a good idea. I recently started the 9-minute workout from the New York Times, so a couple of muscle groups complained. We saw small children to senior citizens during our visit. 

What to see: Definitely worth the trip down to the beach. Even with low visibility, we could see the Olympic Mountains.

How long does it take: We walked down to the beach and back at a leisurely pace in about 40 minutes, taking time to enjoy the beach.

We are trying to visit every city, county and national park in the Olympia area this year. It’s beautiful here! Get outside!


Weather report for Jan 2: 35°F and cloudy at 11 am. No rain!



Happy New Year

There are a couple of things that I want to accomplish: deep work, writing, exercise and creative pursuits. So I am trying to create the conditions that result in more time spent doing the things that I care about.

I have been taking a Productivity Hacks for Writers course on Udemy by Jessica Brody. I can’t say enough good things about her and this class. A lot of the course focuses on developing good habits to be a productive writer but really it’s a great class for anyone who wants to develop good habits. Something that I learned in my Learning How to Learn course is that relying on willpower to get things done is not very efficient — you will just deplete your willpower stores too quickly. Instead, you have to access your zombies, the parts of your brain that will do things for you without resorting to willpower. This is done through habits and rituals. Habits and rituals signal to your brain that it’s time to do something and it’s up to you to develop the habits that lead to the life you want. Brody offers a number of hacks — for your routine, your devices, your workspace, even your brain! — in order to write more.

Deep work is another concept that I learned about via Learning How to Learn, and I just finished reading the book of the same name by Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown. Basically, the idea is to structure your time so that you do more work that feels in the zone or a state of flow. It’s not easy because we live and work in a distracted world and for many of us, our days are fractured by email and social media. Jessica Brody’s class is also a great jump start for operationalizing deep work.

What gets tracked gets done

There’s a work adage about metrics and success that what gets tracked gets done. Something that will help or inspire new habits is starting with some basic metrics about how we spend our time. A couple of apps or pen and paper will help you develop your baseline. I used a FitBit tracker to measure activity and sleep, a Pomodoro timer (I use the Marinara Chrome extension) and an app that tracks phone usage.

I can tell you that despite my beliefs about what’s important to me, I scored poorly on all fronts.

Newport suggests rethinking our relationship with social media and email. This is easier said than done of course because we live in an always-on digitally connected world. He suggests quitting social media for 30 days so that you can assess without the influence of daily addiction. And if you want the shock of your life, install a time-tracking program on your phone and see how many times per day you pick up your phone and how many hours of your day and life you spend on it. In Deep Work, Newport cites research that people grossly underestimate their screen time and in my case, that turned out to be true. I decided that I need to limit access to my phone, so unless I am expecting a work call, I leave it out of arm’s reach. And I am switching to an old-fashioned alarm clock so I can keep my phone off my nightstand. I am also thinking very carefully about how I want to use social media going forward.

Brody also describes a number of apps that help track habits as well as apps that remove temptation and distractions or keep you from feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list. It’s work to change old habits and develop new ones. But as John Gorka would say, work brings more good luck

Here’s to a focused and productive New Year!  

365 Days of Oly

Frye Cove Park in Olympia

We moved to Olympia last year and we are still getting to know this little evergreen town that the locals call Oly. So for 2018, I am doing this 365 days of Oly journey. I hope you will join me on this daily journey through this Pacific Northwest gem. We will go shopping, get outside, visit local attractions … I’ll also provide a daily weather report.

Olympia, Washington is located in western Washington and is one of the cities along the Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. The USGS considers the Puget Sound to be an estuary and in the United States, it is second in size only to the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. That puts Olympia just about at sea level with water all around. Olympia is also the capital of the state of Washington and has a population of about 50,000 in the city and about 250,000 in Thurston County which encompasses Olympia.

A couple of things you might not know:

It looks like Olympia is close to Seattle but if you have ever made the drive on I-5, you might feel differently. Those 50ish miles can take three or four hours to traverse depending on traffic. It’s worth the drive but I would not call it close. 

It doesn’t rain here all the time. The summers are actually pretty dry. The rest of the time you might feel like building an ark.

Those perfect summer days are wonderfully LONNNNNNNNG. I drove home from an event last summer after 9 pm and still had light all the way home. The not-so-perfect winter days are SHORT. More on coping with short days later.

There’s a salmon run here! More on that later in the year. You don’t want to miss it.

Olympia is near Olympic National Park, a vast and incredibly diverse National Park.

To know her is to love her. Welcome to Olympia!


Today’s weather: it’s cold and sunny today but with limited visibility near the water. No rain! About 37°F at 12:30 pm.