Saturday, July 19, 2014

Progress at the gazebo

The first work party to clean up and reinstall the windows went very well: it didn't rain! The turnout was good, and we got a lot done.

The old, broken windows were removed:

They looked very sad in the garbage can. Connie Huffman decided to see if she could salvage a couple of them.

Eric Glos and Hans Mölders did the carpentry and removal work.

With all the rain and sun we've had this season, the shrubs and weeds had grown profusely (as have the flowers), so we did quite a bit of weeding, pruning, and stump removing. Carla Helfferich donated a whole wheelbarrow full of flowers to the cause, both perennials and annuals.

Included in the mix are: lobelia (white, lavender, magenta, blue), geraniums (red and pink), a purple trailing petunia, two yellow nasturtiums, a Maltese Cross, a Scarlett, a six-pack of marigolds donated by Anne's Greenhouse, dianthus (red, magenta, white, pink-flecked), two columbines, and a brilliant white Asiatic lily. We also transplanted several columbines and delphiniums from Ansgar's cabin (escapees from the flower beds up there).

Mike Musick created a new access path to the gazebo around the southern end of the large flower bed, closer to the path to the park and more directly opposite the path from the post office. (He referred to it as the "Ester Post Office Loop Trail.") The large rocks from it will become a fire ring at some point in the future.

Ritchie Musick clearing the leaf litter between the gazebo and the outhouse. Weeds and leaf mulch were piled into the compost bins, almost filling one up. All that's needed now is horse manure!

Monday, July 7, 2014

July at the library

Fourth of July was HOT! We gave away loads of t-shirts and membership forms (not to mention pink lemonade) and talked with lots of people about the plans for the new library, the Clausen Cabin, and the gardens.

This month, our work party schedule includes repairing and re-installing the stained glass windows at the Ida Lane Clausen Gazebo on July 19 & 20th, 11 am to 5 pm. You recall these five lovely windows, created by Denise Akert-Mohr:

 The windows were destroyed, shot out by a .22, in winter or spring 2012-13. A sixth window, showing a robin, was left untouched. We promptly covered it with plexiglass to help protect it (at least from flying rocks or BB guns). Denise was crushed, and the community was, justifiably, outraged.

However, we rallied, and the library set aside monies through the Community Revenue Sharing fund program to recreate the broken windows. Denise provided original drawings to Expressions in Glass, where Debbie Matthews matched the glass and designs as closely as possible from the photos we took, doing a beautiful job.

At the annual meeting in 2013, the JTEL announced a fund drive to pay for Lexan to cover the new windows. The drive earned $1,020 by the middle of December.

So now it's time to put our plan in action, come together, and make beautiful construction music at the gazebo!

Come on down on Saturday & Sunday, July 19th & 20th, any time between 11 am and 5 pm. We'll feed the volunteers, fix up the gazebo, tidy up the gardens, and make our public art available to the public again.

And, as a bonus, Denise made another window! (We'll install it at the work party.)

See you there!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Birch syrup at the library

In the last weeks, we've had leafout, but before the buds actually burst, the sap was running from the ground up through the roots and trunks of trees. Millions of gallons of sap rise in the trees around us, and the trees change color as their bark and limbs prepare for spring, the catkins come out and the pollen from willows and aspens and cottonwoods spreads. That's the sap-tappers' time of year, and when birch syrup is made.

The JTEL is working with the OneTree Alaska program to begin a regular tapping program on our property on Village Road. After a Memorandum of Agreement is drawn up, we can arrange to use OneTree's reverse osmosis machine and tapping equipment. (You may have seen Birch Pavelsky and Jan Dawe of OneTree as well as Deirdre Helfferich and Hans Mölders of the JTEL board recently, traipsing about on the property, checking buckets.)

Sixteen birch trees will be coming down this summer when we start work on the driveway (more about that coming soon), so these trees were chosen for the first season's work, but instead of using only one tap, three taps per tree were used since they will be cut down. The peculiar weather reduced the tapping time, but the total collected was 57 gallons of sap. OneTree will receive two-thirds of this in exchange for the use of their equipment, and the JTEL will receive one-third of reduced sap (some syrup, some sap at 14% sugars), which can be used as prizes for upcoming events.

More to come!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Charity Walk for JTEL

It's the 12th annual Charity Walk! On May 9, Friday, aproned walkers will be walking on behalf of 58 charities in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, including the John Trigg Ester Library!

 If you would like to sponsor the  JTEL, contact Deirdre Helfferich, president of the library's board of directors (she'll be strolling downtown for the event, with apron!).You can reach her at 479-3368 or, or by Facebook

Or, if you'd like to walk in the event yourself, you can still register in person, although there will be a late fee.

Thanks, and enjoy!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

2014 Tape & Tarp Ball!

The Tape & Tarp Ball is fast approaching! This is your opportunity to show off your fashion sense and creativity using the most Alaskan of materials: duct tape, Ty-vek, tarps, visqueen, shrink wrap, and many other down-to-earth, utilitarian, recycled or otherwise dumpster-dived materials that can be found in every Alaskan's repertoire of repair and manufacture materials. Apply them to high fashion (a.ka. haute couture) and compete via People's Choice (ballot stuffing with dollars)! We have prizes from Tolovana Hot Springs, Water Wagon, Gold Hill Liquor & Gas, and more!

Tape & Tarp poster, designed by Sue Sprinkle, owner, 5th Avenue Design & Graphics, Inc. Photos by Monique Musick. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Happenings at the Clausen Cabin this month

Things have been amazingly busy at Ida and Ansgar's old cabin this month! We are converting it from a house to an actual library for children. Before we started work, we asked Ansgar's nephew, Edmund, what he thought about it, and here's what he wrote:
I’m sure that both Ansgar and Ida would be happy about the transition; Ida would be proud and Ansgar would be bemused to think that the site of so much good living and good drinking was now a children’s library. My, how times do change.…
I like the idea of opening up the inside space. Take out the walls and the bedroom closet and there should be plenty of space for tables and shelves. An office back where the heater is would indeed be small but it could work. Just remember to leave space on the windowsill to start your tomatoes in the spring.
 Many folks have been pitching in to help: Hans Mölders especially, but also Eric Glos, Shayne and Chantz Turner, and Deirdre Helfferich. Please thank them when you see them!

We could use some more carpentry and electrical help now, particularly some advice on how to deal with the log beams and distributing the weight. Call Hans at 687-6666 for more information.

On Saturday, April 26, two new volunteers showed up to the Spring Seed Library Cleaning. Callen Christiansen and Sol Traverso are interested in vertical gardening, and are going to set up a vertical bed on the back porch of the cabin, where it gets intense sunshine, and adopt a bed in the regular garden and help clean it up (plus, they'll get to grow vegetables there!). With Carla and Deirdre Helfferich, the seed library got moved off the sink and the seeds organized, and everybody had blueberry pie. Nancy Burnham, former board member, stopped in to pick up a few squash seeds, too.

Remember: if you are a library member, you can check seeds out from the seed library (just save some from your harvest at the end of the season and bring them back to us) or pick up trade seeds. We also have seed catalogs you can peruse, including local seed grower Zone 1 Grown/Pingo Farm.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Volunteering opportunity: seed library assistant

Wanted: Seed Library Assistant 
(volunteer, part-time: 4 hours per week) 

The Growing Ester's Biodiversity program is looking for a dedicated volunteer interested in improving food security, democracy, and sovereignty in the Interior and Alaska through preserving and increasing agrobiodiversity.

Duties include: assistance in maintaining and organizing collections, publicity for GEB program events, online database updates, working with other organizations both local and statewide to foster other seed libraries and seed exchanges and to create a state seed library network, and to help maintain higher profile in northern and other seed library networks to take advantage of help and useful information. 

The volunteer will work with the GEB program director to plan and conduct workshops and create handouts and other information as needed.