Friday, February 14, 2014


Cupid, in Roman mythology, was the son of Mars and Venus, the god of war and the goddess of beauty.  According to myth, he was once sent on an errand (by his own manipulating mother)  to go into a mortal’s (Psyche) bedroom to destroy her with an arrow, poisoned to make Psyche fall madly in love with an evil man.  On his way in, Cupid fell and cut himself with his own arrow – poisoning himself and becoming mentally ill.  For the rest of his existence, he followed other mortals around, shooting at them with the same poisoned arrows – in the hopes that they would become as crazy as he was. 

We have taken the Roman god, Cupid, and made him the symbol of romance (and of Valentine’s Day)  often depicted as an angel with a bow and arrows. 

The truth is that his character was a mama’s boy who tripped on his way to poison a woman his mother was jealous of.  He ended up falling madly in love with Psyche – the woman Venus was trying to destroy.  Cupid's weakness and stupidity make him a good mascot for the oddest holiday of the year.

This misunderstood holiday is a day that we celebrate our twisted version of romance.  Commercially, it is the time where the prices of chocolates, cards, and flowers are inflated.  Played well, it can be the perfect day to exploit romance, not celebrate it.

I may sound a little cynical about this holiday.  I guess it is because our single friends feel so unloved and so alone.  I never have been alone on Valentine’s Day, but I’m literally protective and perturbed for the people who are.  These are amazing, awesome people who feel reminded on this one day that their dreams of romance and true love are not being realized.   

The origin of the holiday is supposed to be based on the life of a Catholic Saint, named Valentine.  What we know about him (from the traditional descriptions written in the 1200’s) Valentine was an evangelical man, preaching Jesus Christ and calling everyone to know Him...and His love.  Apparently the Roman emperor at the time (Claudius, in the year 280) opposed proselytizing in any religion, including those his subjects practiced freely.

He called Valentine to his presence and asked for his repentance.  Valentine refused, saying that not preaching the Gospel was to deny Christ. 

The act of wilful defiance to an emperor was punishable by death, and Claudius ordered it for Valentine the following day – February 14.  Before his head was cut off,  the Roman guard (Valentine’s jailer) asked Valentine to pray for his young daughter who was blind and going deaf.   Apparently, Valentine asked for the girl to be brought to him and prayed that God would restore her sight and hearing.

She was miraculously healed (this is why the Catholic church made him a “saint”).  So, St. Valentine’s Day is the anniversary of his execution, not his birthday. 

It was Chaucer (who wrote Canterbury Tales)  that proclaimed St. Valentine’s Day to be “A Day for Lovers” in his poem “Parlement of Foules” (Assembly of Birds). 

I’m not falling for that.  Mario and I celebrate the holiday by boycotting it.  We make a choice to celebrate the day after, when chocolates were 50% off and the cards that didn’t sell were priced to go.  We would try to out-do each other with the cheesiest cards we could find.  I once gave him a “left-over” card that showed the silhouette of an African-American woman (complete with afro and formal gown) and said “With deepest love from your brown sugar.”

This makes me smile... we beat the holiday pressure at its own game.

Want to know the greatest tale of romance?  Jesus Christ was born and died and rose again to make it possible for someone as messed up as me to receive my Heavenly Father’s love.  That’s true love. 

Happy Valentine’s Day.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Baby Rodriguez!

I can’t call you anything but promise right now, because that’s what you are.  

You are a promise living inside of your mother.  The promise is this: soon you will come out from that beautiful warm place and be among us.

I once had your father in that beautiful place and even then, I knew he would change my life.  I was so awestruck at the life inside of me…it was a magical time. 

What’s funny is that I did so much preparation of the world he would be coming into without thinking once that he was already there… like you are already here with us.

What can I tell you about your world? 

It is filled with unique and glowing things.  It is either cold or warm and it is rarely the correct, perfect temperature that you experience right now in your mother’s womb.  The best thing that we can find here is something we call joy and peace, and it is sometimes hard to find.  Your Grandpa and I believe that God, the one who created us, is the only ONE who can give us joy and peace.

Many people in this world disagree with us.

You are coming into a world that is filled with love.  It is filled with people who need each other.  It is also filled with children laughing and dogs that lick your face.  This world is also filled with hate and fear, too.  Sometimes people treat each other badly and are unforgiving. 

As your Grandmother, I wish I could make this part of the world be far away from you.  I wish I could tell you that you will never experience it as long as I’m alive. 

But I can’t.

Instead, I will tell you this:  God is perfect and I will pray that you find Him in this life.  He is the one who created your beautiful self…such a beautiful girl you already are!

I want you to know some things about your life that I can tell you now: 
It’s going to be alright.

You are loved by your family and you are already a treasure.

God is real and He loves you. 

I want you to know that you will change your parents’ lives.  Once they see your face, they will never be the same.  They love you so much already and they can’t wait to see you.

Until you come to us, you are a promise.  A promise of life and love and hope and a future.  You are the promise of hope for many generations to come.  You are a promise that I treasure and wait for. 

I love you,



Once upon a time in a big tall juniper there lived a Mommy and Daddy squirrel who loved to eat nuts that grew on any tree.  Mommy and Daddy squirrel were so healthy and fit that they could walk the power lines across the neighboring yards and lots. 

Daddy squirrel was able to detach acorns from the Cromley oak with a quick snap and carry it back to Mommy in just thirty seconds. 

Not to be outdone, Mommy could do the same thing in just twenty five seconds.

Daddy and Mommy were so happy in that tall juniper that they decided to bring new life into it.  After all, a squirrels’ life is so speedy and happy that making new life just seemed to be a part of it. 

Three babies came in February, and Mommy and Daddy padded the nest inside of the juniper so it would be lovely and warm.   The infants all looked the same, almost blue and slick, and Daddy and Mommy quickly named them “A, B, and C.” Please don’t be discouraged by this, Alannah.  Most squirrels are so fast they can’t be bothered to think of  names for their children – in fact Daddy Squirrel’s name was “1” and Mommy’s was “Beep”. 

Anyway, Daddy and Mommy were so happy that they had babies!  They started gathering even more nuts than they had before.  It was amazing to see them: darting back and forth along fences, tightrope walking the power lines.  Zip, zip, zip! They gathered and fed, gathered and ate, gathered and fed….

All day long – and they loved it.

Soon the babies grew fur and opened their eyes. 

A and B wanted to go out with Daddy and Mommy to go find the beautiful acorns and nuts, but they said no.  Daddy and Mommy yelled and screamed and chattered so much that it was easy for A and B to see that leaving the juniper would be out of the question. 

Baby C had no such desire to leave the nest.  C was happy and warm with her blankie and binkie and was so satisfied to curl up and sleep all day long.  The only time she ever got up was to eat the nuts that Daddy and Mommy brought home.

“Why don’t you get out of bed, sleepy head?” A asked her one day.

“What for?” C yawned.  “All you and B do is look out of the leaves and wait for Mommy and Daddy.  I’d rather sleep and relax.”

A and B shook their heads at each other and said that their sister C wasn’t much like a squirrel.  After all, squirrels were fast and busy.  C was slow and lazy. 

A and B passed their time in the nest by learning to watch for trouble.  In between they would play games in the nest, which disturbed the sleep of C sometimes. 

One morning, Mommy and Daddy woke up and bolted out the front branches to find morning nuts.  A and B watched them, chattering goodbye as they left.  Baby C fell back asleep until she was awakened by a sickening scream – coming from the big white cat that lived in the Rodriguez house!

Daddy had been cornered by this cat in the yard and was tangled up in the netting around the raised beds.  The big white cat had Daddy cornered and helpless and A and B were so frightened that they couldn't even squeak!

“What is it?” C asked, bolting out of bed.  She made her way to the front window and looked through the leaves to see the terrible scene in the garden.  Daddy was thrashing about, tangled up in the netting and the cat was walking in slow circles around him. 

“Where’s Mommy?” C whispered in terror.

A and B were frozen with fear, unable to answer.

“We should go down there and help Daddy!” C whispered louder.  She could see A and B shaking with fear, not moving at all.  It was then that C knew that she must try to rescue her father herself, no matter the danger!

With great bravery, C stuck her head out of the juniper and looked around for Mommy.  Outside was cold and windy and Mommy was nowhere in sight.  C took a deep breath and ran down the side of the tree, clumsily clawing its sides.  

She could hear A and B chattering from inside the nest.  They were screaming “Don’t go!  You’ll get in trouble!”

As soon as she hit the soft grass in the Rodriguez yard, C could tell that the cat had seen her.  Instead of circling Daddy (who now looked over at C in hope and desperation), the cat began a slow hunter’s crawl toward C. 

“What should I do now?” C thought to herself, sweating profusely.  Without thinking, she ran down the length of the house.  Her heart was beating heavily in her chest, but the wind was in her ears and C felt free and powerful, racing toward the fence.  

As soon as she reached it, she clawed her way up, and looked down, to see the breathless white cat looking up at her.  C was so happy!  She had run across the Rodriguez yard and had beaten the cat to the fence.  Without much chance to celebrate, she looked back at the netting and was surprised to see that Daddy wasn’t there.  Was she looking in the right place?

Suddenly, C heard excited chattering from the other end of the yard.  It was Daddy and Mommy, standing in front of the juniper tree - waving their arms at her and chattering for her to come to them!

But now C was afraid.  The fence she was standing on suddenly felt so high and unstable.  What if she fell?  The cat was there, waiting to tear her apart into pieces!

Mommy could sense the apprehension and ran toward C, deftly navigating the distance of the fence line.  As soon as she reached C she yelled and screamed and chattered:  “Didn’t I tell you not to leave the nest?  What are you doing on this fence?  Where did you learn to climb like that?  What a great job you did running across that yard!  Follow my tail and don’t look down!”

With that, Mommy turned around and ran quickly back to the nest, her fluffy tail high in the air.  C followed closely behind, going a little slower than Mommy because she was gripping the fence so tightly. 

Soon, they were in front of the tall juniper and Mommy and Daddy scaled the tree quickly.  C tried to follow them, but scaling the tree was harder than the fence.  It was filled with unpredictable things.  Soon, C was in the nest, next to her Daddy and Mommy and her sisters (whose mouths were wide open in shock). 

“What made you do that?”  Daddy asked.

“You were in trouble!” C answered. 

Daddy and Mommy looked at one another and smiled a secret squirrel smile. 

“You’re right, C!” Mommy chattered.  “We squirrels help each other when we are in trouble.  No matter what the danger is!”

Instead of getting yelled or screamed at, C was able to receive a small bit of encouragement from her parents, before they raced out the door to collect more nuts. 

Instead of following them, C curled up in her bed with her blankie and binkie – she had had enough excitement for one day.

That night, I’m happy to say, C stuffed herself with sunflower seeds and acorns from the stash that Mommy and Daddy rarely broke into.  It was a celebration dinner in the nest and C was a hero instead of the lazy baby. 

So, Alannah, you can see that in this story there are three lessons:  1.) Squirrels always help each other when they are in trouble; 2.) In every lazy squirrel there is one who is destined to fulfill a calling of adventure that she has on her life; and 3.) there is something very special about being in your own nest again, with your blankie and binkie!  You see, my sweet girl, this world is filled with adventure and fun and a lot of unpredictable things.  At the end of a long day, a good warm place to sleep is our reward.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


The Five Steps to Joy

Photo credit

There grows, deep in a misty glen,
A tree whose trunk is tall and thin.
And on its branches lives a bird
Whose song of joy is without words.
(I’ll take you there so you can hear,
Such happiness to pierce your ear)
How can he sing, so bright and clear
With rain & mist & darkness near?
The bird sings upwards, not around –
And that explains his happy sound.
He knows for certain, on this limb:
There is a God, and it’s not him.

photo credit
Two Cranes with gilded, feather hair –
Will dance together without care.
They bounce along the grass and rock-
As though this is the way they talk.
I’m sure they speak (first one, then two):
“Please, after you!”  “No, after you!”
They’re really lovely ones to see –
I sometimes wish they’d dance with me.
But I can dance, and so can you!
Wherever God will ask us to. 
And dance the best I can, I do!

Photo credit
Three pigs asleep on a pebbled path,
Have never, ever had a bath.
And yet, they sleep so peacefully –
Because they are so sweetly free.
Their lives are simply warm and sunny.
They have no cares for time or money;
They don’t even know how its spent.
These piggies really are content!
I’m thankful I’m a human being –
But their simple life looks so appealing!

photo credit

Four kittens all along a fence –
All wait for Mama in suspense.
Her love is more than food and care,
They know she lives to find them there.
It’s wonderful when we belong -
And have each other to lean upon. 
 Remember this: that you are loved!
Even when you’re scared or shoved.
Your Mama cares so much for you!
And God Himself - He loves you, too!

The Big Five Grandma left behind –
Are all majestic, heart and mind.
Lion – king of all the beasts;
Leopard – hunter in the trees;
Rhino – White and black, so fierce;
Elephant – with giant ears,
And Buffalo (my favorite one!)
I left to live in African sun.

I came to see my big five –
Granddaughters, growing and alive!
It's such a privilege to  see –
The beauty of God’s majesty –
Made perfect in our family. 
(And one more is on the way!)
Another girl (Hooray! Hooray!)  

Dear Harmony, you see in these-
Five steps, your happiness is ease:
To praise our God, even in rain;
To dance like we are born again;
To take delight in simple rest;
To know you’re cherished, loved and blessed.
And last of all, my sweet big five:
Be grateful for your precious life!
Your seed has bloomed where you were planted.
Never take your life for granted!

One, two, three, four, five … oy!

Such simple steps to finding joy!


A beautiful Mexican Rainbow Burro Pinata
Available here

Abuela sat down in the wooden chair that the girls brought into the room for story time.  She was wearing her Mexican house dress, the one with white flowers embroidered across the front.  She began by smiling, leaning forward ever so slightly in the dimly lit room.

 “Jalisco was a piñata that dreamed of being beaten apart for a special child’s birthday party…”
“What, Abuela?  What did you just say?” Lauren, the youngest (at five years old) sat up in bed. 

“Jalisco was a piñata that dreamed of being beaten apart for a special child’s birthday party.”

“I don't think that a piñata dreams of that, Abuela!”

“Oh, yes they do, Lauren!  Every piñata dreams of that!  That’s what piñatas are made for!  Do you want to hear this story or not?”

Lauren laid back down in bed and nodded her head, yes.  She did want to hear this story, so Abuela told it.  It went something like this:

Jalisco was a piñata that dreamed of being beaten apart for a special child’s birthday party.

 He had been made for that purpose, as every piñata is made.  A man named Luis fashioned him out of cardboard and paper mache until he took on the shape of a donkey. 

After he had a form, he was covered with strips of tissue paper in neat rows, making a rainbow.  After that, he was given two large jiggle eyes with long plastic eyelashes attached to them.

 His insides were hollow, made especially to be stuffed with treats like candy and cookies wrapped neatly in plastic.

 Jalisco loved being a piñata and on the way to the store, he and all of the other piñatas discussed the special day that they would all be broken open and spill out the candy inside of them. 

“I hope I am cracked apart after every child has been given a chance,” one round piñata said. 

“I want to be cracked by a small child,” the star-shaped piñata hoped.  “The little ones never get a chance to break a piñata and I want to be the piñata who makes a special memory in their heart!”

 “I have only one wish,” Jalisco said. “I want to be cracked open by the birthday girl or birthday boy.  Every child dreams of cracking the piñata on the day of their birthday!  I want that piñata to be me!” 

Soon, the truck stopped in front of a large carnicería, the Mexican grocery store.  (You know which one I’m talking about, don’t you?  It’s the one that Abuela takes you to for the spices to make the carne asada.)

 The driver unloaded a lot of piñatas and the store owners hung them with fishing wire from the store’s ceiling. 

For weeks, customers would choose from the colorful array of piñatas available until only one was left: Jalisco. It was hard for Jalisco not to feel lonely without all of his piñata friends; it was also hard for him not to feel neglected and ugly.  After all, he was the only one left – something must be wrong with him.  He began to wonder if he was dusty, or if his rainbow was not bright enough.  Maybe he wasn’t big enough, or he wasn’t festive enough. 

“Papa,” the store owner’s son, Manuel, asked one day.  “Can I have this piñata for my birthday that’s coming up?”

 “No, mijo,” the store owner answered.  “That piñata is for sale.  We need the money and Mama is going to make you a piñata with a balloon.” 

Jalisco was very sad.  He was sad for Manuel and he was sad for himself.  It all seemed very bleak and he didn’t think he would ever be cracked open.  If he had a heart, it would have been breaking.

 Weeks passed and Jalisco hung from the ceiling, watching the customers go in and out and never even looking at him.  It was a cold day in February when he decided he was going to end it all and throw himself from the ceiling.  He was so unhappy that even falling limp on the floor was better than the torture of being unsold. On that day, a woman with a tall daughter entered the store.

  Immediately they looked up at him and Jalisco shook with joy. 

“Please, please, please buy me!” he thought as they spoke in Spanish about him, pointing and smiling. Jalisco suddenly realized that he was probably faded and covered with dust.  Maybe the girl and her mother were just pointing to speak about how poor of a piñata he was.  But then, the store keeper came over to him,holding the broom with the hook at the end of the handle.  Gently, he brought Jalisco down from the ceiling.

 “Look, Mama,” the girl cried out.  “He has eyelashes!” 

Jalisco was so pleased.  He tried to smile even larger than his painted on lips could manage. 

Soon, the store keeper said goodbye to the Mother and daughter and Jalisco was lifted up and taken outside.  How cold it was out there!  He could feel a gust of wind on his face, and even though it was chilly, Jalisco was happy to be out and going somewhere. 

That night, the mother and daughter stuffed the body of Jalisco with peppermints, wrapped in shiny cellophane.  They stuffed him with Rosa peanut candies, lovely and smooth.  They stuffed sticks filled with sugar, candy canes, and licorice inside of him.  At last, Jalisco knew what it felt like to be full.  He loved it! The mother and daughter sealed him back up with tape and patted his back lie he was a real burro.  Then, they shut off the lights and went to bed.

 All night long, Jalisco waited with anticipation for the party.  He remembered his wish, the first day he was dropped off at the carnicería.  Maybe the birthday girl would crack him open and he would make her day special, spilling out his contents and having all of the kids run to pick them up.

 Through the night, Jalisco remembered the life he had.  He remembered Luis, who put him together with great care.  He remembered his friends and the ride to the store, how they all dreamed of being split open and throwing candy everywhere… It was then that Jalisco remembered the store.  He remembered his loneliness, hanging from the ceiling. 

He remembered the storekeeper, sweeping the floor and stocking the shelves.  Then he remembered Manual, the storekeeper’s son.  He remembered the day he asked if Jalisco could be for his own birthday party and the storekeeper said no.

 Suddenly, Jalisco felt bad for Manuel.  Even though he was excited that he was hours away from being cracked open – his life’s purpose – he was also sad for the little boy who was the first one to ever express love for him.

 Nevertheless, a fact of a piñata’s life is that there is no choosing whose party will be the one for you.

 When the sun rose, Jalisco was patient as the Mother and daughter ate breakfast and did their morning chores.  Finally, it was time for him to be hung somewhere – Jalisco could see the mother with the rope!!

 But instead of being hung up, Jalisco was put into the car and the rope placed next to him.  After the mother and daughter got in, they drove away to the location of the party.

 Jalisco arrived in the arms of the mother to a wonderful birthday party!  Everywhere he looked there was celebration! There was a soccer game being held in the front yard and as they walked in the house, Jalisco was almost hit as the ball came whirring past them. 

As they walked into the house, an Abuela was sitting at the piano playing corridos, the old songs that the Spaniards taught us.

 Then, he was walked through the kitchen, out to the patio and hung up with rope on the back porch.  The party crowd started to gather around him, and to his delight, they all had nice things to say:

 “Look at that rainbow burro! How full he looks!” 

“I love his colors!”

 “What fine eyes he has, it’s almost a shame to crack him.” Jalisco was so excited, for his moment was so close! 

As all of the kids gathered together on the back porch, one little boy in the middle of them, sweaty from the soccer game, broke into a huge smile.

 “MY PINATA!” he yelled with such joy that everyone laughed. Jalisco looked and saw that the birthday boy was Manuel, the shopkeeper’s son.  He was so happy, he shook with joy and the candy inside of him rattled around.  Most of the party guests thought it was the wind that caused the shaking and Jalisco knew that this party was the very best one he could have ever hoped for.

 It was actually Manuel’s Auntie who bought him at the store.  Also, when the piñatas were first delivered to the store,  the shopkeeper had saved him for his son just for this special day! One by one the children were blindfolded and spun around, Jalisco puffed out his chest and got ready for his life’s purpose: to be cracked wide open and give candy to all of the festive children!

Abuela smiled widely.  “The End….”

“Abuela, is that the end of the story?” Lauren asked.

“Yes, it is.  Did you like it?”

Lauren scrunched up her nose like a bunny, as if she were confused.  Her face made Abuela laugh. 

“Did you like the story?”

“Yes, but you have to tell us the ending!  Who cracked the piñata?  What did Jalisco think about getting cracked open?  What ever happened to Manuel?  What did he get for his birthday?”

Abuela stood up and straightened her dress. 

“Maybe those things are meant to be left out of the story.  Every story should make the listener wonder a little bit at the end.  After all, it’s the listener that makes the story, just as much as the story teller.”

“But Abuela…”

“Lauren, most stories never end.”

Lauren sighed and knew the story was over, even though she didn’t completely know why.  Abuela hugged them all goodnight and left. 

As Lauren went to sleep , she imagined Manuel putting on a blindfold and wacking Jalisco only one time, but doing it so hard that he broke the piñata and candy sprayed everywhere.  In her imagination, Lauren saw the kids diving to pick candy up, and Manuel throwing his blindfold in the air before he did the same.  Manuel collected enough of the candy to share with his neighbor who couldn’t come to his party because he had to visit his Uncle who was sick in the hospital. 

Later on, as he opened his gifts, Lauren imagined that Manuel got everything he wanted.  He even was happy that his own Abuela got him a shiny new harmonica, even though he asked for a piano.

Then when she finished the story in her imagination, Lauren fell asleep….

Saturday, February 8, 2014


"Library" by Dani Jones
New book available here

Imogene Pepper was a young, red-haired college graduate who was as sly as a fox.  I say this, dear Lilly, because she convinced everyone in the town of Seneca, Missouri to get library cards on the same day.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. 

Let me first tell you that Imogene was born and raised in Chicago, a big city in the northern part of the USA.  Imogene was born into a family that loved reading, but not putting books away.  No one in her family would ever put the books they read back where they belonged.  Imogene decided that if she wanted organized bookshelves, she must do this job herself. 

It really was fun for her, organizing the books and putting them away.  Her cat would watch her everyday as she’d read and sort and read and sort and think to himself:  “One day, that girl is going to be a librarian!”
It turned out the cat was right. 

Imogene graduated from high school, went to college and then graduate school.  She worked long and hard for her degree in library science, surviving on curly noodles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  She graduated at the top of her class and was even crowned Dewey Decimal Queen.

 Even so, librarian jobs were hard to find in Chicago.  After trying to find a job for over a year and not finding anything, Imogene started a nation-wide search for the perfect job.  The first one that opened up was in Seneca, a small town in Missouri. 

In her phone interview with the Mayor, Imogene told him all about her desire to live in a beautiful place with her cat and be a librarian.

“Then you must come to Seneca!” he said, eagerly.  “We need a librarian, and you’ll love it here!  Once our town was even once voted the best place in the world to live.”

This impressed Imogene and she started packing immediately. 

When she first arrived in town, she drove in from old US Route 60, and noticed a large factory with shiny steel drums in front of it.  Sitting on its roof was a giant can of Milnot (an evaporated milk product).

“I guess I’m in Missouri now," Imogene thought.  “It looks very different from Chicago.”

Not only did Seneca look different than Chicago, it was different. 

Upon arrival, she noticed that town was flat and unappealing.  It had no real water to speak of around, and Imogene wondered what anyone in the town did for excitement.  At first, it bothered her that there was an absence of nightlife, but then she thought that the library might be the place that people came for fun.

Instead, people in Seneca seemed to ignore the library.  Imogene wondered why….

Imogene decided to go to the local schools to ask why.  Almost immediately, she met two good friends that worked as school librarians: Mrs. Ivey, a woman who loved knowledge and multi-media education;  and Ms. Justus, who loved knowledge and was an expert in resourcing. 

“Why is it,”  Imogene asked them after they were finished with school.  “That people don’t come to this beautiful public library more often?”

“It’s hard to say,” Ms. Justus said, scratching her cheek as she thought carefully.  “Maybe they think the library is boring.”

“Maybe they don’t have time,” Mrs. Ivey said.

Imogene thought about it everyday.   She watched people walk by and never even glance at the library.  How could she get them inside?  Once they saw how beautiful it was they were sure to love the new look!

Suddenly, Imogene had an idea.  She took it upon herself to host a party for the town and inspire people to get a library card.  It might mean tricking the people a bit, but her goal was to get everyone in Seneca to enjoy the public library. 

She visited the barber shop, the churches, the schools, even Q9 Powersports!  She handed out fliers inviting everyone to come out for a town party to be held in the library’s parking lot.

The day of the party, the whole town came out. 

Imogene had set up tents, hired a snow-cone machine and batting cages. There were balloons, face-painting, jugglers and men on stilts juggling hamsters (okay, maybe that last part is a lie, but my point is, the party was a whole lot of fun).  As everyone laughed and visited and had a blast with all of the activities, Imogene turned on a portable microphone and spoke into it.

“People of Seneca!  How good and pleasant that you’ve come together!  Now that everyone is here, I must tell you that the library will be closed until I can take all of the dangerous books inside this building OFF THE SHELVES!”

At this moment, all of the talking stopped. Men stopped slurping their snow cones, women stopped talking and rocking their babies, all of the children stopped getting their faces painted and everyone turned toward Imogene.
“What?” the Mayor asked a little too loud. 

Imogene smiled secretly to herself.  “This will get everyone interested in getting a library card!” she thought. 

“What books are dangerous in there?” asked a blonde teenage girl, chewing gum.

“Why, there are too many to even count!” Imogene yelled, pretending to be angry.  “How did the Mayor ever allow such a collection to come in?  There are stories of pigs leading governments, flying saucers invading earth, outcasts facing witches, and even children casting magic spells!”

After a hum of scandalous whispering, two boys  broke free of their mothers and ran into the library to find the books Imogene was talking about.  As their mother’s ran after them, a gang of teenagers swarmed behind them.  Before long the library was crowded with people, and Imogene was answering questions.

“Before showing everyone the books I’ve been talking about…and even more,” Imogene said, raising her eyebrows.  “You must complete a library card application form on these computers here!”  As she showed the people, the computers filled up and a line formed behind them. 

People used the computers, searched the bookshelves, sat down on bean bag chairs and read to their children.  
“Isn’t this wonderful?” Imogene asked the Mayor, who was confused about all of what was happening. 

“Isn’t what wonderful?” he asked.  “I thought you were angry with me for allowing bad books to enter here!”

Imogene smiled and sighed.  “Well, Mr. Mayor, those books I mentioned…” she leaned forward and whispered, “they’re not so bad after all.”

The Mayor was confused for a bit, but then decided that the ruse was worth it.  He enjoyed another snow cone in the parking lot and later applied for a library card.  The first book he checked out was a how-to manual on drawing faces like an artist. 

So, Lilliana, that is my story of why the town of Seneca now has that big beautiful library!  If it weren’t for a young girl who read and then put her books back where they belonged, Seneca would just be a little town with canned milk factory.  Instead, it is now a place where everyone is involved in the love of literature. 

And guess what?  When a big library in Chicago called Imogene and offered her a job, she said no thank you!  After all, she was living in the best place on earth.