TLC Little Free Library

Renovations are the sign of a new birth.  Sometimes they give birth to unexpected things.  In 2009, Todd Bol of Wisconsin was renovating his garage when he ripped off the door and paused before discarding because he truly liked the wood.  He decided to build a small box to post outside his home with books for passers-by as a tribute to his mother, who had been a schoolteacher.

People were intrigued and when he had his garage sale, a brilliant idea dawned on him.  “I put up my library and noticed my neighbors talking to it like it was a little puppy,” said in an interview with The Washington Post in 2013. “And I realized there was some kind of magic about it.”

Assisted by Henry Miller, an Amish craftsman, Mr. Bol began building these mini-libraries and started the non-profit organization, Little Free Library, to provide a place where people could purchase or get instructions on how to build these libraries for their own neighborhoods.

The idea quickly took off.

As many people from Rockaway Beach and surrounding areas remember, Hurricane Sandy devastated many areas, literally sowing the earth with salt.  We suffered deaths, massive destruction, and privation.  I myself remember being stunned as my basement windows burst shooting forth gushes of sea water as in the movie Titanic.  Following Sandy, we were stranded with no homes, food, hot water, with people desperate for gasoline to operate generators to pump out water if they were lucky enough to gain use of one.  Walking around my ravaged neighborhood in a surreal state of shock, I felt like I was in the apocalyptic movie Road Warrior.  Titanic and Road Warrior are not movies one imagines being in until it happens.

A perhaps less life-threatening, but also sad result was that the public libraries in The Rockaways and other areas were flooded and unusable.  Having heard about the Little Free Libraries, I created two of them that I installed outside my home.  In thanks to rocker Patti Smith, also a Rockaway resident, for all the spiritual help and organizational effort she dedicated to help rebuild Rockaway, “Stone by stone”, I dedicated the adult one to her, installing a plaque commemorating The Patti Smith Free Library, and I named the other one the Kids’ Rock-A-Book Library.  I stocked them with books of my choice that I wanted to share, and my neighbors enthusiastically joined, once it became clear that they were not birdhouses.

The Rockaway Times was kind enough to do an article on them back in 2014 and it has since thrilled my heart to watch as people make use of the “Take A Book, And Leave A Book” concept of both, resulting in constantly changing inventory.  My sweetest memory is seeing a little girl pull her grandfather by the hand, urging him to “Come, I’ll show you how it works!” opening the door and proudly taking a book out.

Soon another Little Free Library appeared in a few blocks away and my heart sang!  I believe there are three now in Rockaway.  Little Free Libraries are worldwide, thanks to Todd Bol, even stretching as far as the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia, for reindeer herders and their families.

When Todd Bol died recently, library stewards were asked to put a white and silver ribbon on their libraries in commemoration of this extraordinary man’s life. It was with great sadness that I and my daughter Marlene tied our ribbons on the libraries.  While the world has lost a real live Book Angel, his spirit lives on in every Little Free Library in the world.   

For more information, or to start your own Little Free Library, go to

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Abendempfindung an Laura, Song for Voice and Piano, K. 523

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Abendempfindung an Laura, Song for Voice and Piano, K. 523

Mozart’s Lieder with piano was composed on June 24th, 1787, less than a month after his father Leopold’s death on May 28th. The text of this melancholy poem is thought to have been written by Joachim Heinrich Campe.

In this quatrain, which is a form of poem set in stanzas of four lines each (condensed below), the narrator speaks of his presentment of death to Laura, a name used since Petrarch to refer to the universal cherished woman. He reflects on life’s inevitable end and asks her to shed a tear on his grave which will be the “fairest pearl” in his heavenly diadem. These quatrains alternate in ten and seven syllable lines in an a-b-a pattern.

“It is evening, the sun has disappeared and the moon beams silvery light; Thus flee life’s lovliest hours flee away as if in dance. Soon are life’s colorful scenes flown and the curtain drops. Our play is over! The tears of our friends already flow over our grave. Soon perhaps, a quiet foreboding, like the quiet west wind, pains me; I end this Life’s pilgrimage, and fly to the land of Peace. Shall you then weep over my grave, mourn over my ashes, then oh friends, I shall appear to you and Heaven will comfort you. Shed a tear for me, and gather one violet for my grave, and look down on me with longing glance. Don’t be ashamed to weep for me, for your tears shall become the most beautiful pearls in my diadem.”

These moving words are set to connected arpeggiated chords beginning in F major passing through several harmonies, corresponding with the changing thoughts in the text.

The 18th Century French writer Saint-Foix suggested that the recent death of Mozart’s father led him to compose this Lieder. In a letter Mozart posted to his father, he wrote “Now I hear that you are seriously ill! . . .. I have accustomed myself in all things to anticipate the worst – that death (properly understood) is the true goal of life, so in the last few years have become so well acquainted with this true best friend of humanity that its visage not only no longer inspires terror in me but actually arouses deep feelings of calm and reassurance!

Mind Field – With Milo Heenan

Mind Field – With Milo Heenan

MIND FIELD by Milo Heenan

Mind Field tests your Literary IQ. This issue, we will concentrate on how well you know your Fiction writers. A score of 30 proves you have an excellent grasp of literature; score of 29-20, pretty good and you can keep your head up; 19-11, you are no dummy, but you need work; 10 and below, better read up. Answers on Monday.


1. Southern writer & essayist suffered from lupus and died at the age of 39
2. Beloved British writer best known for her children’s books featuring animals
3. English writer whose career began in 1955 with a script called “Flight Into Danger”
4. American author, also a Dentist, whose works focused on the Western genre
5. Won U.S. 1953 National Book Award for book on color rendering a man invisible
6. Former RAF member who wrote stories of the macabre with twists for adults and children
7. Russian thought to be one of the greatest writers of all time who wrote “The Confession”
8. Title & author of story of enslaved African-American woman, Margaret Garner
9. Story of an aging man, obsessed with books on chivalry
10. Harlem writer whose first novel was “Go Tell It On the Mountain”
11. Best known for her 1937 novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God”
12. Welsh author of thrillers and historical novels
13. Best-selling author of all times, he wrote 25 novels of hedonism and romance
14. What famous writer was a World War I ambulance driver
15. Won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958 for Horton Hatches the Egg
16. Maine Author dealing with supernatural, horror, suspense, science fiction, fantasy
17. 1982 Novel based on Clara del Valle family and her paranormal powers
18. Pulitzer prize winner in 1948 for a story later adapted to popular Broadway show
19. Second only to Shakespeare in total world sales, she wrote 66 detective novels
20. German-born poet, novelist, and painter who wrote “The Glass Bead Game”
21. Historic novel written by Alfred Dumas about a young man who leaves home for Paris
22. Renowned fantasy writer, he served in World War I as a Lancashire Fusilier
23. Renowned English children’s writer of the famous five and secret seven series of books
24. Famous lawyer, writer known for his popular-selling legal novels, many made into films
25. English romance novelist who wrote 32 novels and sold over 400 million copies
26. English Sci-Fi Author who survived Japan occupied China in World War II
27. Mississippi writer who received acclaim for “Uncle Tom’s Children,” a book of short stories
28. Book inspired by the disappearance of Laci Petersen written after Author lost their job
29. Sci-Fi writer with mental issues asked “What constitutes the authentic human being?”
30. Told of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, at age 13, who made him want to write

ANSWERS to Mind Field:

1. Flannery O’Connor
2. Beatrix Potter
3. Arthur Hailey
4. Zane Gray
5. Ralph Ellison
6. Roald Dahl
7. Leo Tolstoy
8. Beloved by Toni Morrison
9. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
10. James Baldwin
11. Zora Neale Hurston
12. Ken Follett
13. Harold Robbins
14. Ernest Hemingway
15. Dr. Seuss
16. Stephen King
17. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
18. James Michener for Tales of the South Pacific (Broadway musical: South Pacific)
19. Agatha Christie
20. Herman Hesse
21. Three Musketeers
22. J.R.R. Tolkien
23. Enid Blyton
24. John Grisham
25. Jackie Collins
26. J.G. Ballard
27. Richard Wright
28. “Gone Girl” by Gilliam Flynn
29. Philip K. Dick
30. Ray Bradbury

The Literature of Terror Vol. 1

The Literature of Terror Vol. 1

Fascinating for criticism and analysis of the seminal yet more obscure horror/gothic stories, like Melmoth The Wanderer, The Monk and others. It’s a

print on demand book, so don’t expect to find it cheap even if it’s a used paperback. Still went ahead and bought volume 2 though, forthe analysis of works hard to find anywhere else (Peake, for instance).

Daniel Handler takes on The Myth of Sisyphus

Daniel Handler takes on The Myth of Sisyphus

What is happiness? Does it exist? Is there any meaning to why we are here?  These are some of the answers the characters in Daniel Handler’s new book, We Are Pirates, seem to be seeking.

Gwen is an overly bright and bored 14 year old with annoying parents (redundant?) who gets caught shoplifting, more out of boredom and nihilism than anything else,  Her giving of a false name, Octavia, goes nowhere, and yes, her parents are called.  Her punishment, or redemption, is to be found volunteering in an old age home reading pirate novels to an Alzheimer’s patient.  She meets up with a like minded rebel without a cause, Amber and they decide to steal a boat in the San Francisco Bay with the elderly man and become pirates themselves, in the grand old style, kids playing life as a video game in a way, in order to find meaning, excitement, and some reason for doing, okay, anything.

Gwen’s father is a familiar character, a middle aged mild mannered dissatisfied man with a droning wife and an attraction to his younger, tippling assistant.  He too, would like more. He is forced into a desperate quest (desperate, but if Gwen should die, could he use her college fund to buy that car?) to get his daughter safely home.


Handler has brilliant one-liners and sudden twisted observations that startle the reader into realizing, that hey, this guy was Lemony Snicket,  but as for the answer as to whether there is a meaning for life here, well, it is left much more open ended than Camus’s final answer.

Steinway Hall Sold

Steinway Hall Sold

It was with great sorrow that I learned that Steinway Hall on West 57th Street has been sold. The building, graced with paintings of famed composers, has been host to many musicians, famed and not, over the years. Lush and ornate, it was like entering a magical world where music reigned.

Steinway, which owns the building but leases the land, had been losing approximately five million dollars annually to maintain it.  A representative of Steinway stated that they have plans to open another venue in Manhattan, which would be more up-to-date, with soundproof studios. The current building, built in 1925, would be too costly to update for today’s needs.

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