The past two weeks were some of the most eventful, stressful, nerve-wracking, joyful, hope-filling, despair-inducing weeks I've had in a long, long time.

It started with book drive preparation, which took over my life, my home, even my dreams. The cardboard collection boxes were free, but ugly. We decided to paint them... during a thunderstorm. Have you ever painted cardboard? In 100% humidity? Not a pretty sight. The final product looked pretty good:

Til the tape holding the signs in place came off. Turns out damp cardboard and tape don't mesh well. So I tried a stronger tape, then glue-stick, then finally Elmers. All together, I attached the signs 4 times before they stuck.

The big bins went in large drop-off locations like Locos and Earth Fare. These smaller bins were for the First American bank branches.

18 bins in all, and my niece MK delivered most of them. It was total chaos at my house for days.... I don't think I've ever eaten so much fast food and takeout in my life. Sleep was lowest priority on the totem pole.

Next: a book drive kick-off party at Hendershots. I told the Books for Keeps story - in public - for the first time ever. Thankfully, it's one of the first times I've ever gotten through the story without choking up or flat-out crying. Sorry, but the thought of a child at home without a single book... counting the days til summer ends so she can read again... still kills me. I sort of hope it always will, know what I mean?

I was convinced nobody would show up, but I'd say there were 60-75 people in total over the three hours. People brought their kids....

... and a few guests did readings from children's books.

As if telling the story publicly wasn't nerve-wracking enough, a UGA TV reporter showed up at the party, camera in tow and I gave my first-ever TV interview. No idea about an air date yet.

With the book drive underway, my thoughts turned to getting organized. I'd been using my personal funds to purchase sturdy boxes and plastic bins to store the boxes in, but those funds dried up and I was despairing over what to do.

As is typical in Books for Keeps' brief history, somebody stepped in to help just at the moment I wanted to give up. Cathy K contacted Barnes and Noble and arranged for us to have access to as many of their book boxes as we needed. Relief!

Then... just as my shoulder and neck muscles started to relax: my first-ever radio show. I think it went ok. If I can find a transcript or feed I'll post it; no luck so far.

So here we are today, and a major milestone is underway: Books for Keeps' very own SORTING AND STORAGE SPACE! Hallelujah. I mean, look at my dining room. Would you want this in your house?

But there are a few hurdles to jump. Here's the current state of what will become the Books for Keeps sorting room:

This will be the storage room, just as soon as we clean out everybody else's stored stuff.

Bayne is over at the former school-turned-storage space, home to Whatever It Takes. He's cleaning, and took about 2,000 books with him. I'm at home, preparing to conduct my first ever "Sort Training". Cathy - the same Cathy who scored the Barnes and Noble boxes - has offered to become a Perma-Sorter: someone who learns to sort well enough to teach others how to do it.

I'm ready for her! I have a diagram, a flow chart, and labels on the sorting table.

So we'll sort for a little while, then head over to our new space and start cleaning.

Things always seem to get a bit worse before they get waaaay better, and I'm hoping that's what's happening for Books for Keeps. If all goes well, this week I'll get to focus on how to utilize all the folks who've offered to help.

It's a beautiful day here in Athens! The Dawgs finally won, the weather is perfect, and Books for Keeps is entering a new phase. One I hope and pray will ultimately enable us to give more books to more kids... which will enable more kids to read over summer... which will lead to the end of summer slide in this wonderful town I call home.

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