Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sorting My Worldly Goods

My elderly Siamese, Eggnog, sprawls despondantly by
a stack of books destined for the county library.

During the 12 Wyoming years of moving from one house to another as J. built and then sold them, I did a
fair amount of editing my belongings. I parted with stacks of Victoria magazines which went back to the first published issues.  I took them along with quilting magazines to the local library which had a large rack for give-away publications.
I sifted through the flotsam and jetsom which most of us seem to accumulate. Some items went to the Neat Repeats, some were consigned to the dump run.
Still, I arrived here with way more "stuff" than can be nicely accomodated in this small cottage.
I have spent frustrated hours during the last years pawing in various cartons and storage bins, searching for something I supposed I needed: muffin tins, sewing supplies, books--always another book which I wanted for reference or re-reading.

J. spent many weeks renovating and upgrading the cottage. New flooring went down in all but two rooms; the old kitchen was torn apart and new cabinetry and appliances installed. He turned a desolate basement area into a handsome family room complete with tiled floor and a wood-burning stove.
I heard vague references to book shelves.  Custom built, designed to take best advantage of the space, adequate to house my books and perhaps some decorative "collectables" as well.
Perhaps the book shelves were never very high on the list of priorities.
J. readily and competantly delves into big jobs such as building a house from the ground up.
Fiddly things like book shelves don't really inspire him, especially when there is outdoor work to be done.

I have hoped that suitable and affordable bookcases would appear--none have come through the local auction barn.  The furniture store where I bought my desk has a few--towering, heavy [pricey] things better suited to a barrister's office than a simple cottage.
I've considered hiring one of the local Amish carpenters--there are some expert ones--and some who, I've heard, don't take as much care.
But--hire a carpenter when I 'm married to one?

It is questionable whether I could ever corral all my books!
I live with books on the bedside stand, books beside my rocking chair, books in heaps around my desk.
Books follow me to the dining table, travel with me in the car or truck.
Gardening books; quilting books; kitchen planning books; books of essays; series of mysteries; large glossy books replete with photos of impossibly tidy gardens; Books on crafting--how to make everything from a wreath of dried herbs and botanicals to directions for a stenciled floor cloth!
In the interest of sanity and space, some of these books have to go away!

The battered childhood books will stay. Old favorite novels are revisited every few years during those times when the cold winds blow [either literally or figuratively] and I need the comfort of the familiar.
Well worn volumes by nature writers and essayists are old friends who must not be displaced.
I have haunted second hand book stores for years. I regularly place orders with alibris.
I can't imagine giving up real books in exchange for a kindle.
I started my book sorting several weeks ago.
The librarian snatched eagerly at the stack of house design and decorating tomes
 which we piled on her desk.
Today I gathered up great armloads of books, ferried them down to the family room--DUMPED them on the day bed and in cascading heaps on the floor--surrounding my one, totally inadequate, bookcase.

Some of the books were in cartons in the big cupboard which J. made at the end of the basement hallway.
While digging grimly through cartons of books I was derailed into cartons of carefully wrapped collectables--mostly the cat figurines which I have gathered since childhood. Some have sentimental value, little tokens from friends or family over the years.  Many such already sit happily gathering dust throughout the house.
Above are some of the tiny treasures unearthed today--ones that for various reasons, will remain with me.

Here are others which have been dusted and set aside for consideration.

Perhaps I have ADD [?] I started with books, was side-tracked to cat trifles and china bits, returned to surveying the books.  Here is an assortment gathered more or less untidily near a living room chair.

A staggering of books old and new in one of the fireplace cupboards.

Willis, who found his way in through the basement door, decided I am beyond help.
He watched for awhile from his slanted amber eyes, then flopped down in my shabby armchair in the family room.

Sorting and parting with things is nearly as tiring as weeding the garden!
I have to persevere as the family room is now a disaster zone with books in heaps and tipples.
Lawd, have mercy!


  1. We can always "titter" around...needing to reorganize this or that but it's the books that always need the organization. And we like to have them close, not boxed away in the basement. I understand!


  2. Book-Lovers of the world unite. Is it a disease, this book-collecting urge? It's one I would not wish to recover from; but bags of fabric is another. I don't know which is worse, or more loved!

    I hope your bookshelves materialise; I'm promised some more, too, but a new back door is more important at the moment.

  3. I guess I'm not the only one blowing up your photos to see the titles of the books! Snap on the South Riding - that's my bedtime book at the moment - G bought it for me for Christmas.

    I have gotten rid of about 20 boxes of our books (well, I say our, but mainly MINE!) K is always very loath to part with a single book!

    I think you will have to corral your husband and get him to Set To Or Else!

  4. I am really not a collector, but oh! my husband is! He has literally hundreds of books and we had to rent a small office to accommodate some of them. Nearly all my knick knacks have been bought by him while on his many journeys.

  5. You have just described the kind of "sorting out" days that we have here. I too need another bookcase and I`m always on the look-out in the local second hand/ charity shops. The house has piles of books all over the place but the minute I try to cull some, I will need one of those books for something!

  6. Shanon; You have seen my muddled heaps of this and that. The quality of the houses I've lived in improved over the years, but my organizational skills didn't keep pace! Maybe tidy houses are boring [?]
    Ann; If I even think about the fabric collection I shall go mad! I did sort great bags of "scraps" before leaving Wyoming. They were eagerly scarfed up by members of the quilt group.
    BB; Can you imagine if you and I could get at each other's book stash? I just got South Riding from alibris--as well as The Land of Green Ginger which I read last week. There are still more boxes to unload, but I dare not decant more books until the present avalanch is sorted!
    Chris: I think I've given away literally hundreds of books in the past decade. Your Tale of Robin Lyth is my current read.
    DW: One of the problems with my "sorting out" is that I end up cramped on the floor or huddled on the edge of a book pile, READING!

  7. Books, books, books, they're everywhere in our house too. I broke down and bought a gtablet that's like a small laptop and download Kindle for it, and though it's handy when we're traveling so I don't have to carry a half dozen books with me it will never take the place of a book in my hand.

  8. I empathis MM, we have lived in happy chaos for the past year, but I did laugh at your comment when youre supposed to be sorting you end up reading a book. I could SO identify with that LOL

  9. Must be something in the air - I've just cleared stacks of books from the library to charity shops just to get my shelves back in some order........

  10. Brilliant post ....I collect cats ...I have two cabinets full ...collected and given over the years. I used to collect jugs but managed to part with most of them when I moved. The hardest thing to part with was a set of magazines. They have moved from room to room ...cupboard to cupboard ...even the loft...I've offered them to any one who might be interested but no takers ...too heavey to sell on ebay so finally they went out this week with the rubbish ...what were they?? the first year of a Jazz magazine c1960 ... belonged to hubby sad I understand where you are comming from ....good luck with the thinning out ...or the discovery of a giant book case going cheap.xx

  11. I don't envy you sorting out books to part with - I do the same sort of thing every so often and it's never easy. I have a constant flow of books arriving from Amazon and Abebooks not to mention the local bookstore so occasionally I have to try and make some room for them. And like BB I've been blowing up your photos to try and read the titles:)

  12. Having got rid of many of my books when the house was sold, (oxfam came to collect them in a van) I have now started collecting more again, mostly to replace the ones I have given away, and of course from Oxfam!
    And no I shall never ever get a Kindle, how can a screen ever replace a proper book..

    In the olden days of the 60s you could build bookcases from bricks and planks of wood...

  13. Over the years I have found some relatively inexpensive shelving, though made of hardwood, at Target. Also, LL Bean offers some lovely bookshelves. I have seen some shorter shelves at Staples. Good luck. I know my bookshelves are very important to me. I love the order of shelved books.

  14. I really appreciate the commiseration and suggestions re the plight of book hounds.
    No immediate solution though I've been investigating an on-line source for "real wood" bookcases.
    J. when threatened with such a purchase remarked sensibly enough that one wouldn't want to buy them sight-unseen. I suppose he has a point.