Hiking: Real and Virtual

April felt like a very long month. I’m skeptical of my calendar saying it was only thirty days; I think an extra week or two might have been snuck in this year. As essential as it has been to stay home and stay indoors whenever possible, it has been a mental struggle for some (okay, at least for me). With the spring weather showing up my mind kept wandering to the outdoors and what hiking trails I’d like to explore before I remembered that outdoor recreation sites – like so many things – were closed to keep us safe.

Rejoice, though! Starting on May 5th the restrictions on some outdoor activities that can be done safely were relaxed, opening up state lands to hikers – with the expectation that those partaking in recreation activities follow safe social distancing procedures.

So why not check out some of the hiking ebooks we offer to get you ready for your next outdoor adventure?

One of the provisions in the new outdoor recreation guidelines is the request that those who wish to hike try to stay as close to their home area as possible to help reduce the risk of accidental spread of covid-19.

To help you with that, one great book is Take a Walk : 110 Walks within 30 Minutes of Seattle and the Greater Puget Sound. Sorted by city and full of information on nearby trails, parks and nature preserves, this guide has something for everyone who wants some ideas on where to take in some fresh air.

Another great series of trail guides are the Day Hike! books published by Sasquatch Publishing. Each title covers a specific region, such as the Olympic Peninsula, Columbia River Gorge, or probably the most relevant to readers of this blog, the North Cascades. Each hike listed can be done in a day, perfect for a quick getaway without needing to pack a tent (which is good, because camping is still prohibited).

For those seeking a more leisurely stroll instead of something more strenuous, The Creaky Knees Guide, Washington: the 100 Best Easy Hikes offers plentiful suggestions for trails suitable for all ages (including children) and athletic abilities.

Always be sure to check for the latest information before planning a trip to municipal, county, state or federal areas as restrictions may vary.

That said, maybe it’s just best to stay home, relax, and let someone else do the hiking. One of my favorite books is Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, his humorous memoir of trying to tackle America’s famed Appalachian Trail. Spanning over two thousand miles, there’s plenty of room for eccentric characters and beautiful landscapes, all brought to life by Bryson’s signature wit and keen observations. It’s an enjoyable read and you won’t even need to risk blistered feet, bug bites, or unexpected wildlife encounters to get a laugh.

We also offer a few outdoor related digital magazine titles as well. On Libby you can access issues of Backpacker Magazine, full of trail highlights from around the world, gear reviews, and other articles focusing on trail life, as well as Field & Stream magazine for content more focused on hunting, fishing and outdoorsmanship.

Learn Yoga with Rodney Yee

If you’re trying to stay active while stuck at home, and you’ve always thought yoga sounded intriguing but never had time to try it, I have great news! Hoopla, one of the library’s free video apps, has a great Beginner Yoga video taught by Rodney Yee, a famous yoga teacher: Rodney Yee’s Yoga for Beginners. Best of all, this video is part of Hoopla’s Bonus Borrows Collection which means you can watch it repeatedly and it does NOT count toward your monthly limit of Hoopla borrows.

Rodney Yee’s Yoga for Beginners has three parts: a Morning practice of about 20 minutes, an Evening practice of about 20 minutes and a Pose Guide. Mr. Yee says that you should watch the Pose Guide video before you try either of the practices. In the Pose Guide, he gives instruction on the correct alignment for each yoga pose and points out common mistakes beginners make – I found this especially helpful.

Hoopla also has another Rodney Yee yoga video in the Bonus Borrows Collection that is geared toward yoga enthusiasts at all levels (beginner to advanced): Rodney Yee A.M. Yoga for Your Week. This is composed of five different videos of about 20 minutes each: Forward Bends, Standing Poses, Twists, Back Bends and Hip Openers.

If you enjoy these videos, there are many more Rodney Yee yoga videos available on Hoopla (although most of them are not part of the Bonus Borrows Collection).

How to Make a Face Mask

Masks made by EPL staff for mailing to family and sharing locally.
The City of Everett is accepting mask/face covering donations. Instructions can be found here.

The CDC is now recommending that everyone wear a face covering when going out in public places to help control the spread of the coronavirus that caused COVID-19.  

“CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

From “Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19” This article contains three designs; two are no-sew.


As you’ve probably heard, masks for medical professionals are in very short supply. In response, many people were sewing hundreds of thousands of masks for hospitals through Providence’s “100 Million Mask Challenge.” According to that website, no more are needed because local manufacturing companies have now jumped in to help and are mass producing masks and shields – great news indeed!

We can keep from spreading the disease to others by wearing a mask, and possibly make ourselves safer at the same time, but finding one can be very difficult. Since medical masks should be reserved for medical professionals, we are being encouraged to make our own – hence, the mask making craze that’s sweeping the nation.

Before jumping in to the video tutorials, here a some suggestions I have read multiple times:

  1. Use tightly woven cotton fabric, such as quilting cotton. Tip: Hold two layers up to the light to see how dense it is.
  2. Make sure the fit on your mask is good – gaps are to be avoided.
  3. Make sure to follow good hygiene with your mask. This article “How NOT to Wear a Mask” from the New York Times is full of good information.

There are many, many tutorials out there on making masks, and there are several styles as well. Some incorporate a pocket for a filter, some do not. Some patterns are form fitting, some pleated, some gathered. Many require a sewing machine, but there are plenty of no-sew versions as well.

Speaking of sewing, check out the Creativebug Sewing Machine Basics class. There are many other sewing classes to discover in that fun, new-to-EPL resource, so check it out.

I spent some time looking at different tutorials and found these to be easy to follow. They range from very easy with no sewing involved, to requiring a bit of machine sewing familiarity.

A simple pleated mask from Providence St. Joseph

This pattern, suitable for beginners, uses straight lines and ties. The most difficult part is probably sewing through the thick pleated sections.

A fitted mask that has space for a filter

This pattern, similar to the style I made, conforms to the face nicely with little gapping. The presenter, who happens to be a doctor, explains the process clearly. It is intended to be safe enough for medical professionals.This pattern requires a bit of sewing experience, but isn’t really difficult.


A simple but effective drawstring pattern that uses cord instead of elastic

This is a well thought out design and provides great coverage. It has no pleats to deal with and only uses straight lines. It features a filter pocket and a wire to conform around the nose.
I made one of these and it is comfortable and very easy to make. You have to be careful how you put it on so that there is no gapping – check out the Q&A video she made here. If you follow the directions for putting it on, it fits very nicely.



Besides sewn fabric masks, there are face coverings you can made from socks, bandanas or t-shirts, shop towels, and NWPP reusable shopping bags.

A quick and easy mask made from shop towels

If you have a roll of paper shop towels around, you may want to try this out. All you need is one towel, a stapler, and two rubber bands.


My mask

I wanted to make a mask to wear when visiting my 95 year old mother, so started with a free pattern from Peanut Patterns. After making one, I decided I wanted more coverage below the chin, so added about 1.5″ to the length. Here is the process I used in images. If you like the looks of this one, follow the link to get the free pattern and directions. I will admit I messed up and had to fix my first one, so consider making a test one first with a fabric you don’t love. I find this mask fits well and is sturdy, easy to wash, and quick to dry, and it fits in a small pocket in my purse for when I head over to help my mom.

1. Copy pattern onto card stock if you want to make several – it’s quick to trace. Then double fabric and cut out two of these shapes, resulting in four pieces. 2. Stack two pieces right sides together and sew the long, most curved edge at the top of the photo. Use 3/8″ seam allowance. Do this to both sets. 3. Press the seam apart (I found it easier to press them back as shown. 4. Open the two sets and place right sides together, making sure you have the curves matching (It would be easy to turn them opposite ways) 5. Sew along the top edge. 6. Turn right side out and press. 7. Open out and press 3/8″ seam along sides, fold over and press again. 8. Attach elastic at the same time that you sew down the seam pressed in step 7. (I used looped hair ties) 9. Close up photo of attached elastic. 10. Fold mask closed and top stitch top edge 1/8″ from edge. 11. Turn inside out and sew bottom edge. 12. Turn right side out through open ends. 13. Sew ends closed and top stitch bottom edge. Done!

If you make a mask or two, remember to wear them wisely, as described in this article, wash after use, and definitely keep washing your hands! Use what you have at home for mask making instead of leaving home to find materials. If you enjoy it and want to make more to donate, visit this City web page and follow the specific instructions on how to properly and safely donate masks. Stay home, and stay safe.


Did You Know? (Brain Sand Edition)

That your pineal gland produces tiny gritty bone particles that are called ‘brain sand?’

I found this on page 12 in the book A World of Information by James Brown and Richard Platt. If I was going to have just one reference book, this would be it! Planets, anatomy, music, morse code, roman numerals etc, etc. are all in here. Perfect for answering all the questions kids (and adults) have. Descartes and others wrote of the pineal gland (which is pine cone shaped) with great reverence. It has been called the seat of the soul and referred to as the ‘third eye.’ It is a split pea sized endocrine gland located in the geometric center of the brain, and it gathers an increasing amount of mineral deposits or ‘brain sand’ as you age.

It appears that the Freemasons and other secret societies have referred to the awakened pineal gland as the Philosopher’s Stone. The Source Field by David Wilcock talks all about this and the symbolism of pine cones through out history.

Becoming Supernatural by Dr. Joe Dispenza tells us about the pineal gland, energies in your body, brain chemistry, your bodies’ electrical fields, the movement of cerebrospinal fluid, heart rhythm patterns and much more. He describes how the pineal gland works with adrenal hormones, melatonin, and serotonin. According to the author, it is your bodies’ energy center. This revolutionary book is touted as a “body of knowledge and a set of tools that allow ordinary people … to reach extraordinary states of being.” I’ll admit, I just kind of skipped around and read bits of it. It seemed to me rather technical, but Dr. Dispenza made it fairly easy to understand, in spite of all the big words!

For children, or for those of us with an aversion to big words, the Ultimate Body-pedia by Christina Wilson has excellent pictures of the body and all of its systems, including the endocrine system showing. It also explains all of the glands in the body, including the pineal gland.

Imagine how much brain sand it would take to fill a beach. I think I’d rather just have regular sand on my beach! Two fun stories featuring beach sand are Pig Kahuna Pirates by Jennifer Sattler where Fergus and little brother Dink make a sand castle pirate ship, and If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, DON’T by Elise Parsley. Parsley’s book is a cute story telling the dangers of having your piano at the beach.

And then, there is quicksand! Quicksand is a colloid hydrogel consisting of fine granular material (such as sand or silt), clay, and water. Quicksand forms in saturated loose sand when the sand is suddenly agitated. When water in the sand cannot escape, it creates a liquefied soil that loses strength and cannot support weight. Quicksand can form in standing water or in upward flowing water (as from an artesian spring).

Finally, there is the novel Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito which is touted as the Best Swedish Crime Novel of the year for 2016. Maja and Sebastian have a ‘relationship.’ A mass murder shooting occurs at the high school they attend and Maja is one of the few people to survive. She is accused of pulling the trigger for some of the murders, but this gripping story will make you wonder if she was really to blame. Maja finds herself sinking as if in quicksand as the trial goes on. Hmmmmm….. Maybe her glands made her do it?

Depression isn’t forever

Writing of a personal nature— sharing a part of my life, I take the risk of allowing myself to be exposed.

I grew up in a big family and as a kid I felt loved and secure, but once I got into my teens my world turned upside down. During those years music and books impacted me. The spellbinding music of the 60’s and 70’s coupled with books like Go Ask Alice, published anonymously in 1971, and I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, published in 1964, fueled my young easily-influenced brain, tightening the tentacles of darkness. I experienced a deep depression and was ripe for self-destruction. I considered thoughts of taking my life.

Sadly, there are many people (young, old and in between) who out of desperation view suicide as the only solution to their pain. Depression is a tough subject to discuss, yet it’s a conversation that cannot be ignored. Consider the character of Eleanor in Gail Honeyman’s debut novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. The reader quickly discovers that Eleanor is not fine. She fastidiously maintains her Monday through Friday job keeping to herself, then on Friday night with equal purpose she stops off to pick-up a frozen pizza and 2 bottles of Vodka which she proceeds to drink over the weekend.

It is easier to discuss a complex character in a book than it is to admit you may be struggling with depression or suicide. It’s awkward, no one knows what to say, so often nothing is said at all — It is my sincere intent to open up the dialogue in hopes that lives may be saved. Indeed it is a hard subject to discuss because those who suffer feel stuck and weighed down by the stigma of shame.

Today more and more resources are becoming available, which is encouraging, because the truth is that mental illness comes in a multitude of manifestations, depression being one of them. I recently came across two books in the Library’s collection that offer insight and hope.

Just Peachy: Comics About Depression, Anxiety, Love, and Finding the Humor In Being Sad by Holly Chisholm is a great little book, a quick read and an outstanding example of the power of art as a tool for recovery.

If You Feel too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped for is a collection of personal essays by Jamie Tworkowski. The book evolved after he wrote an earlier story about helping a friend in her struggle with depression, drugs and self-injury. The piece was called “To Write Love on Her Arms.The piece went viral and the outcome led to the organization TWLOHA an internationally recognized leader in suicide prevention worldwide.

Grace June’s “Phil”

Last October my daughter-in-law, who bravely admits her own struggle with depression, received grant funding to develop a forum bringing light on the subject of suicide. She used the medium of photography to convey a message of hope and healing dubbing the project Survivor Series. The photo essay was compiled into a book of individuals who had either lost a loved one to suicide or had contemplated taking their own life.

For the culmination of her yearlong project, she hosted an event inviting the community and those photographed for the project. Photos were on display with a brief synopsis of each story. A portion of the evening was an open mic in a second building where a poetry group kicked things off, followed by anyone who wanted to standing up and share their story.

The evening was successful and affirming for those in the infancy of their grief as well as for others who, like my husband who lost his brother 20 years ago, have been grieving for a much longer time. It also was a catalyst for change in the Spokane community. The exhibit is currently on display at the Spokane Public Library.

Next month my husband and daughter will team up with hundreds of people to walk through the night on the streets of San Francisco in the Out of Darkness Overnight. The walk serves to raise money and bring attention and support to our nation’s increasing number of suicide deaths.

Thank you for reading this blog. It takes courage and honesty to admit the need for help. We’re not meant to walk this life alone. If you want more information on suicide prevention, there are people who are trained to help at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

No Where to Go But Up

I’m a boomer and I’m married to one. Our birth years fall before and after the peak year 1957, when 4.3 million baby boomers were born. Growing older is not an option it’s a fact and I’m not alone.

Consider this statistic: “as of 2016, the number of baby boomers ranged from 74.1 million to 81.3 million, depending on whether the generation begins with the birth year 1943 or 1946. By 2056, the population 65 years and over is projected to become larger than the population under 18 years.”  (Information cited from The Baby Boom Cohort in the United States.) The question is how golden will baby boomers ‘golden years’ be.

My folks are both still alive in their 80’s and for the most part independent. They provide me a glimpse into what my later years might well look like. When I began reading Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande it was like I’d been given a key to unlocking some of the mystery to changes I’d seen in my folks  granting me a greater understanding of those changes.

Over the past several years my mother has had two orthopedic surgeries and has elected to not have another because of the long grueling process of getting back to a measure of normality. Consequently the severe arthritis she suffers from will eventually limit her mobility, which we’ve briefly discussed.

My Dad has been on blood thinners most of his adult life prompted by a surgery gone awry in his 30’s. While he celebrated his 70th skiing Sun Valley, he has slowed down considerably. A bypass surgery and circulation issues have taken a toll despite his disciplined diet and exercise. On my husband’s side we have had the unique experience of participating in hospice care for both his dad and mom; the one in their own home the other in ours.

You need look no farther than the evening news to hear about the latest medication to ‘ask your doctor about’ with a promise of eliminating the discomforts of getting older. The good news is that there is more hope than advertisements suggest for staying youthful and finding anti-aging supplements.

There are many books on staying young, but I recently came across several books on the subject of aging which is what attracted me to Gawande’s book and taking a candid look at this topic. I recently listened to a local webinar about servicing the aging population in our libraries giving me food for thought and leading me to investigate what our library has available on the subject.

Popular blogger Ashton Applewhite writes This Chair that Rocks. The library has her latest book by the same title This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism. Applewhite is passionate about the subject, and is widely recognized as somewhat of an expert by the American Society on Aging. She asserts that stigmas associated with aging are largely overlooked when it comes to marketing, despite the fact that the ‘silver market’ is the fastest growing. Advertisers cater to 15 to 35 year olds. For a well-researched look at this topic, this is the book that looks to be very relevant.

I remember when I turned 50 years old and felt enthusiastic to make some sort of contribution to society, as if raising a family and working the greater portion of my life wasn’t enough. I surveyed my first 50 years and rationalized that the larger portion of my life had passed and if anything meaningful and creative were to occur I’d best get started.  Laurie Russell’s Journey to 50: How to Live with Gratitude, Grace, and the Effects of Gravity captures the same spirit I once aspired to. She offers women a practical approach to navigating the 50th decade, sprinkled with humor and spiritual insights. Here is a quote: Giving up is easy. Letting go takes effort and can be painful- but it frees you to become anew.

Eric B. Larson, MD is an expert on the science and subject of healthy aging. He has spent much of the past 40 years studying the aging process. From our own backyard in the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Larson is a clinical professor of medicine at the University Of Washington School Of Medicine and of health services at the UW School of Public Health. He has worked and cared for thousands of elderly people. In his book Enlightened Aging: Building Resilience for a Long Active Life, co-authored with journalist Joan DeClaire, Dr. Larson shares case studies giving the reader a scientific and medical perspective. Right up front he states “There is no magic bullet’,” He believes resilience in those who age well is born out of their capacity to adapt and grow stronger in the face of adversity and stress. The book discusses key concepts that contribute to individuals in the aging process. They are proactivity, acceptance, and the three reservoirs: mental, physical, and social.

If Our Bodies Could Talk a Guide to Operating and Maintaining a Human Body by James Hamblin M.D. is not solely about aging. It contains a plethora of subjects addressing an exhaustive list of questions; questions you may want to ask your doctor but think are too silly to ask. Take for example these two: How much sleep do I actually need? and Can I train myself to sleep less? This book is broken up into six categories associated with the body and how various parts operate. There are hand drawn diagrams that combine entertainment with educational answers, breaking up what might otherwise have been too technical. Whether you read one or two sections, you will find plenty of practical advice including the main topic of this blog: ‘Enduring: the dying parts.’ I really enjoyed the book jacket depicting a colorful word cloud.

If you’d prefer to read a less technical book with a more personal connection, there is Malachy McCourt’s memoir Death Need Not Be Fatal. Or you may find solace in reading Thomas Moore’s latest book offering a more philosophical approach, Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy.

Life is a series of seasons from youth to old age, how we weather those seasons is largely up to us. As I look forward to my golden years I’m grateful for my health and the many resources available at the library to help me through them. I realize golden may look bronze or silver, but that’s OK!

#Squadgoals: Fellow Fat Girls

Every body is a real body. Let’s get that straight right away. Often I see people online describing “real bodies” as if there is only one type of body that counts. Counts for what, exactly, I’m not sure. That’s not my jam and if you clicked on this post chances are it’s not your jam either. If you’re here looking for any body-shaming, be it against fat, skinny, tall, short, or any other size-based smack talk: you have come to the wrong place. But I hope you do stick around, because I’m here to talk about some books that feature people who look like me and maybe you’ll find something that speaks to you, too.

I’m fat. There. It’s on the internet forever! I choose to use the word fat because it’s honest and a little shocking to people who are more used to euphemisms like “big” or “curvy.” Not all fat women have curves, or curves where you’d expect them.  I started out life as a skinny kid but over time I developed the trademark family hips, thighs, stomach, and double chin. Even when I drop weight these are always going to be my problem spots, as hundred-year-old family photos will attest. I can either obsess unhelpfully over how I’m shaped or I can learn to accept my lines and still work toward a goal of a healthier me. Here are the books that are inspiring me, whose photographs of bodies that look a lot like mine inspire me, and whose text give me the tools to keep pushing forward.

When it comes to loving fashion and living life for yourself I turn to books written by women who have been there, done that, and are calling me to join them in living my life at full volume. This all started with Lindy West’s Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, which I read in a fit of joy last summer and immediately told everyone multiple times about how much I loved it. Reading Lindy West was the first time someone was telling me that I was enough. That I not only didn’t have to justify myself or my choices to anyone, but that there is absolutely nothing wrong with my body nor how I choose to dress it. I’m not exaggerating when I say it completely changed my attitude toward myself. Shrill led me to so many great books sitting on my nightstand right now that I’m rotating between: Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: a Handbook of Unapologetic Living by Jes Baker, Hot & Heavy: Fierce Girls on Life, Love & Fashion edited by Virgie Tovar, Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin…Every Inch of It by Brittany Gibbons, and the very recently published Big Fit Girl: Embrace the Body You Have by Louise Green. Just reading the titles gives me goosebumps! But checking out the covers, all featuring fat girls with positive attitudes makes my heart swell. I’ve found my support group and I’m never looking back.

I’ve never been much of an athlete but lately I’ve been obsessed with the idea of doing yoga. Because my balance is worse than a newborn goat’s and I’m insecure about the potential for a gas explosion (my own) I have never sought out a yoga class. Countless friends have told me yoga will change my life, and did I want to try one of their classes? Nope! Nothing against you, you rad woman you, or your yoga class, which I’m sure is taught by a patient and knowledgeable person. But I’m only prepared to tackle this challenge from the comfort and safety of my own living room. That’s where these yoga books are going to come in very handy: Yoga Bodies: Real People, Real Stories & the Power of Transformation by Lauren Liption and Jaimie Baird, Curvy Yoga: Love Yourself & Your Body a Little More Each Day by Anna Guest-Jelley, and the library’s most recent acquisition Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love Your Body by Jessamyn Stanley. Notice a trend? Even these very yoga-focused books also include a very healthy dollop of body acceptance and an infectious “Rawr! I can do this!” attitude.

Fat girls love themselves and have moments of insecurity just the same as women of any size have. We’re all in this together. Let’s start celebrating our differences while still finding common ground with which to bond: books!