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Pool smarts

SwimmingSchool’s out, and despite the rain at the beginning of the week, we’re in for some warm days.  If you’re looking for some pool time, check out the swim programs offered through the City of Sunnyvale.  Lessons and open recreational swim are offered at Columbia Park Pool, Sunnyvale Middle School Pool, Washington Park/Swim Center, and Sunnyvale Swim Complex at Fremont High School.  Hours and programs vary by location.  To find out more, go to the City’s Swimming and Aquatics page.

Safety is always a concern during pool season.  We may breathe a sigh of relief once our kids have learned to swim, but even swimmers need to be cautious around water.  Becoming “pool safe” is a process, and it’s a good idea for families to review water safety together before hitting the pool or beach.

The U.S. Consumer Product & Safety Commission’s Pool Safely page is rich in educational information and resources for families.  Elementary aged kids can review what they’ve learned through the interactive game Adventures of Splish and Splash.  Much of the information is available in Spanish as well. 

There’s one more resource I’d like to share.  I’ve recently run across an article titled Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning.   Marine Safety Specialist and retired U.S. Coast Guard member Mario Vittone describes how to tell if someone’s in trouble in the water.  Surprisingly, drowning doesn’t look like one might expect.  There’s no splashing and calling out; instead, it’s very quiet and it looks much like treading water.  As we all work to keep our kids happy and safe in the pool, I want to help get the word out about what to watch for.

Now let’s go out and have a safe, fun, and active summer.


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Sunnyvale Art Club annual art exhibition


Winner of Best in show award, Cleo Crouch

Our annual Sunnyvale Art Club exhibition was a hit.  Over 700 people attended the event.  The work of over sixty artists’ was on display.   A variety of media were represented from water color, oil painting and some wonderful photography.

Members of the club did outdoor painting demonstrations.   Prizes were awarded.  Kristen Olson, a noted landscape artist, was on hand to judge the exhibition and offer awards.    The best in show award was won by artist Cleo Crouch.


painting patio

Open air painting demonstration

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Baby Bird Watching

Camouflaged nestling.

Camouflaged nestling.

Recently I found a baby bird in my small backyard. Our meeting reminded me of the scene from the movie “E.T the Extra-Terrestial” when Gertie got her first look at E.T. Mutual cries of surprise erupted then a tentative friendship was reached.

In our case the little bird scurried to safety and I ran inside to grab my camera and a stool so that I could wait patiently to snap some pictures. I figured that mama bird was not faraway so I chose a spot for my stool a respectful distance from the baby and waited quietly to snap some family photos.


When you are sitting still and waiting, time goes very slowly, but eventually mama returned and as you can see from the photo to the right, she first flew to the top of the fence to look down at her baby. I learned that getting a family shot was not going to be easy because the time the two spent together was brief. Initially I snapped a lot of fuzzy photos before I learned to wait, camera poised, ready to shoot.

Mother bird came and went several times as I watched and then she suddenly decided to relocate her baby. The two scurried behind some flowerpots and then mother flew up onto the fence, hopped down to the yard and then took flight. I thought she was gone but she came up behind me and gently nudged my back. I interpretted this as an acknowledgement of my presence and possibly a warning that she was watching me. I remained in my spot making minimal movement until I had taken a picture of mother and baby together.




 Even though we live in suburbia it is still possible to have encounters with wildlife. My husband and I purposely keep our backyard somewhat natural and have been visited on many occasions by nesting birds as well as birds who are just passing through. Each spring we are visited by courting Mourning Doves who  literally spend hours just sitting on our fence. Sometimes at night in the summer a racoon shows up to dig for bugs in the yard. Our main rule is, never feed the wildlife, we don’t want them to become dependent on us nor do we want to create an environment that is unsafe for us or any of our visitors.

The Library offers books on gardening to attact wildlife and the Children’s Department has a book on designing a butterfly garden (the information will be useful whether or not you’re a kid.) Ask a librarian for assistance in locating these or any other books on gardening, birds, wildlife or whatever strikes your fancy!

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Books Meet Art: Quick Hits

Need some book-related artistic entertainment/inspiration? Here are three blogs that are definitely worth a glance, and maybe even a follow.

a sample from Corpus Libris

Even if you don’t know Chip Kidd‘s name, you definitely know his work. Kidd is a prolific and prominent book cover designer. Among his many well-known designs are Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, Naked by David Sedaris, and 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. His blog is varied and interesting, with highlights of his work mixed in with observations (often humorous) about publishing and design in general.

A fun blog that I found linked from Kidd’s is Corpus Libris, where readers submit photos of themselves replacing parts of their bodies with the images from book covers. Equal parts creative and hilarious, perhaps you’ll be inspired to contribute with a book you find in our collection?

Another Kidd link referral, artist Thomas Allen does amazing photographs using books in creative ways, particularly with his cutouts from pulp novel covers, where the characters come bursting (literally) to life out of the pages of their books.

a Thomas Allen design

On another note, several months ago on this blog, I mentioned filmmaker and Sunnyvale native Bernie Su’s web video project The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Since that post, Bernie gave a talk here at Sunnyvale Library, wrapped up the series, and announced a follow-up project in one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever. The series has become wildly popular, as this article from WIRED describes. If you haven’t taken a look, I highly recommend it (be warned, the 100+ episodes are highly addicting).

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lenore finds a friend

Lenore and Brutus

Jon Katz, author of the children’s book Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm, has a new tale to tell.  When puppy Lenore comes to Bedlam Farm, she doesn’t quite fit in.  She only wants to socialize while all the other animals have work to do.  In Lenore Finds a Friend, Katz uses his own colorful photography to tell a story of surprising friendship.  If you’ve not yet seen the Bedlam Farm books, check them out.  For regular updates on the happenings at Bedlam Farm, visit Jon Katz’s Bedlam Farm journal.

It might be hard to get to upstate New York to see Bedlam Farm in person, but if your family wants a day on the farm there are lots of options closer to home.

Hidden Villa is located in Los Altos Hills, adjoining the Rancho San Antonio open space preserve.  Visitors can tour the organic farm and gardens or explore open wilderness on over eight miles of groomed trails.  Hidden Villa offers special events throughout the year, including sheep shearing day coming up this April 6th.

An operating family farm since 1922, Webb Ranch covers over 230 acres near Stanford University.  Riding lessons are offered through Webb Ranch stables and trail rides can be booked on Saturdays as weather permits.  Local produce in season is available at the on-site farmer’s market.

In what is now known as the city of Fremont, Robert Patterson and his family settled on 205 acres of fertile farmland and called it Ardenwood.  Visitors can go back in time to the 1850′s Patterson Ranch – a working farm complete with a restored Victorian mansion, elaborate gardens, and a horse-drawn railway.  Docents are dressed in vintage garb and a blacksmith shop is open for public demonstrations.

It’s all about the goats at Harley Farms.  Set on nine acres in the coastal town of Pescadero, this restored 1910 dairy farm is home to 200 alpine goats.  Visitors can take a tour (which includes the chance to milk a goat) or simply stroll the grounds to see goats and llamas in the pens and pasture.  No visit is complete without samples of fresh ricotta, chevre and goat milk feta from the Harley Farms cheese shop.

May through September is berry picking time at Phipps Country Store and Farm.  Kids can roam acres of Pescadero farmland while picking organic strawberries and olallieberries.  An extra treat is the post berry picking stop at the Country Store, which offers fresh jam, dried herbs, local honey, and over 75 varieties of heirloom and exotic dry beans.

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