Ernest (Arlen) Saves Thanksgiving…

28 11 2014

One of my principal mottos is “done is good.” For this Thanksgiving, it was particularly important.

We’d known for some time the dishwasher and food disposal would need replacing,

but things came to a head this past weekend — dishwasher leaking out onto the kitchen floor and food disposal frozen and limiting drainage down the kitchen sink.

Alas! The kitchen would be unusable to prepare the Thanksgiving Feast

So we bit the bullet and got a deal on a new dishwasher and disposal (and sink and faucet in the bargain).

But for an old guy to be under the counter and all over the floor installing these appliances is an invitation to creaky stiffness.

And voila! By Wednesday night everything was installed and operational – leaks resolved and ready to go.


I confess to some sexist guilt around how manly this made me feel…  but it felt damned good.


with dishwasher





sink and faucet




Shaking off the Rust

10 07 2014

2 happy years at North Sarasota Library and, in addition to all the happy stuff (great teammates, great leadership in our organization, consistent successes), I’m now about to realize something I felt was meant to be way, way back when I was starting to volunteer here.

radio librarian

I’m staging “Conquerin’ John” (one of my SideWalk Chalk street theater/folktale trunk shows) at the library for families to enjoy.

And I haven’t seriously directed anything in quite a few years. So, I’ll be trying to flake off the rust to get back to my actual skills during the rehearsing of it. And I’m ending up acting in it, too. That’s not my ideal circumstance.

The other 2 (lovely) actors are relatively inexperienced. And I’m asking them to venture into a unique and demanding style of performing.

I could comfort myself by saying, “Be careful what you wish for” but that would be the easy way out.

It’s important to me to offer a high quality, entertaining event for those who’ll be in attendance.

And there are possibilities for future performances that might ensue from a successful performance this first time in Sarasota.

Much of the pressure and anxiety may be arising from the fact that we haven’t begun rehearsing. When we’re actually at work, we feel as if we’re doing something about the challenges and obstacles (perceived or literal) in our path. Until we’re actually doing something, our conscience will be kicking us in the butt and yelling at us go “get a move on!”   🙂

Take good care, everybody. Fingers crossed please.

And please don’t forget to check out the 5 minute radio show (now in Year 2) “Have You Heard?” on WSLR (96.5 LP FM, Community Radio in Sarasota). It airs Wednesday evenings around 6:25 PM and Friday mornings around 8:55 AM and can be streamed from the station’s website:

Back episodes can be heard as podcasts from PodOMatic. And you can find the show’s Facebook page at Have You Heard? on WSLR  (Twitter = @HYHwslr).

Then, now and looking forward

3 09 2013

On Tuesday, September 10, we’re holding a Civil Rights commemoration at North Sarasota Library starting at 6 PM (with singing of Freedom Songs starting at 5:40 PM while people are arriving).

The impetus to gather people was mainly the upcoming 50th Anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, in which Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley and Carol Robertson lost their lives. But with the current attacks on voting rights since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (like the Voter Purges here in Florida), Civil Rights are as immediate and pressing now as they have ever been.

Here’s the flyer –
Sept 10 event poster corrected draft

We’re fortunate that County Commissioner Carolyn Mason will join us to read some of her original poetry, and we have young people from the neighborhood involved, and we’re fortunate that all the available seats have already been reserved (and we’ll be maintaining a waiting list, to fill in spaces for those who can’t make it that night). If you can’t be there, WSLR (96.5 FM Community Radio in Sarasota) is slated to record audio of the event and broadcast it on the actual September 15th Anniversary of the tragedy.

We’re working to join the threads, the generations, and the purpose all together.

19 07 2013

This is a human disaster in the making. Pray, write, protest, holler, jump up and down, boycott and do whatever you can, please.

Miami-Dade County Public Library – “County may shutter 42 libraries, lay off 260 employees”

15 07 2013

In solidarity with the working families and citizens in need, as well as with library staff, in Miami-Dade County, I offer this link to a newspaper article that “mysteriously disappeared” from the paper’s web site before too many people saw it…

Praying the leaders of Miami-Dade County come to their senses, practice some human compassion for those who need the services of the library on a daily basis, and find a way to avoid this potential tragedy and horrible nightmare.

Undergraduate sunset

5 07 2013

More precisely, the sun is setting on my son’s undergraduate career. But he’s dragging it out as long as possible. And I don’t blame him.

Nolan E. Bensen graduated this past May from New College of Florida here in Sarasota. It’s a very special place with a unique culture that I believe approaches the ideal in undergraduate education. But more on that another time.

Nolan took some time off from college and had to earn his way back to his current position of achievement. He returned in a much better place to appreciate the possibilities at New College and he’s leaving there with goals that’ll probably contribute to a career path and a vocation. He’s bonded with many friends and contributed to the learning community in which he earned his undergraduate degree.

The sun setting on a major chapter from somebody's life.

The sun setting on a major chapter from somebody’s life.

Although he graduated in May, he’s still on campus working for the summer. In August, he’ll relocate to New York City to attend graduate school at Columbia University.

I took the sunset photo as his student colleagues were crossing the stage to shake the hand of the New College president and receive their diplomas. I hoped he’d like to see some time how the sunset looked while he was graduating. And I look forward to seeing what new chapters dawn for Nolan in the months and years ahead. But it’s a poignant end to a happy time during which my son was enthusiastically excelling in the same town where I’m living. It may never be so easy to enjoy seeing him again. His accessibility will certainly be more limited. And the energies will continue to eddy and swirl in the wake of his departure…

Telling the library story – afterthoughts from Denver

20 06 2013

It was a great honor to be a part of the team representing Sarasota County at the All-America City competition in Denver this past weekend.

The 3 stories we highlighted in our application included: the new Patriot Plaza at the Sarasota National Cemetery; the Institute for the Ages (Sarasota County has the highest proportion of people over 85 years old of any large county in the United States; and the resurgence of the library where I work – the North Sarasota Library.

We had a highly committed, enthusiastic team of people representing a cross section of the County’s population. We were extremely well-prepared. And we were NOT 1 of the 10 All-America cities this year.

I’m betting every member of our team will continue to replay choices we might’ve made and things we wish we’d done better. For example, if we’d known the Talent portion of the Cultural Fair would take place in a street fair atmosphere with a thousand people loudly milling about we’d have chosen different offerings.

Sarasota County's talent performers at the AAC Cultural & Entertainment Fair

Sarasota County’s talent performers at the AAC Cultural & Entertainment Fair

But for library advocates (if you’re not interested, you can tune out here… :-)),
there are important lessons regarding “telling the library story.” In a break-out session on Community and Early Childhood Education, if our delegation hadn’t been in attendance, it’s possible no one would’ve mentioned libraries’ active involvement in this area during the whole session! It turned out to be important for us to be there and tell the library story; to remind people the library is a resource and is working on this issue.

At the same time, it was a pleasure to have an opportunity to tell our library’s story in a situation where we weren’t angling for funding, or a grant, or a donation, or political support. We were there because we love our library and that authenticity contributed to the honor of participating. Sure, I could’ve suggested different ways to tell it, along with different data, that might’ve helped push us over the top for the award jurors. But that wasn’t up to me, and nobody asked… 🙂

Overall, the message for me (and from me) is related to the question, “Where & When is it appropriate to tell your library’s story?” And I think the answer is: “Everywhere – all the time.” At least that’s what the lesson of Denver feels like to me.

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