Monday, September 26, 2011

More than just bookshelves

Far wall of the guest room
It seems I'm on a roll talking about reviewing and my bookshelves, but a comment from Jackie, a friend from DorothyL, reminded me that sometimes bookshelves are far more than pieces of wood.

The place in which I lived previously was a Craftsman house I'd rented for--good grief--21 years.  In that time I'd acquired over 5,000 books.  Actually it was almost double that, but I'd done a massive cull several years before.  However, now I received notice that my landlord was moving his kids, now of college age, into the house and I had eight weeks to vacate.  Eight weeks to pack up 21 years and find a new place to live.

I panicked, I cried, I did another massive cull  cutting my books down to about 2,500 and I packed.  In the end, there were 107 boxes, 74 of which were books.  The day came and, with the help of many dear friends and the movers, I moved 8 blocks to my new, bigger place which has lots of wall space and--ta-dah--a den.  In that 8' x 14" den, we stacked the non-kitchen, bath, bedroom boxes wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, three stacks deep.

I have always done bracket-and-board, and yes, some brick and board, shelving as it's (1) cheap and (2) provides the maximum board-feet of space for books.  I had a fair amount of materials from the old place, but it's not something easy to put up by one's self although I did get some of them up.  But here's where the "more" comes in."

Guests will always find something to read
It began with Jody and Jane.  Jody I've known since 1985.  We bonded over her allocating a home computer and modem to me from where we worked and my helping her cut down a live Christmas tree and have been good friends ever since.  Jane I met in 2000 as she was part of a vendor team working for me.  After we all stopped working for that company, we would get together or talk on the phone finding that we always made each other laugh. 

Jody had scheduled a day to help me with shelves and, when I happened to talk to Jane, she volunteered to come as well.  The three of us spend 4 hours measuring, laughing, re-measuring and putting up shelves.  Every time I walk into my guest room, I see not shelves, but the three of us putting the shelves up and laughing.  Very sadly, a couple year's ago, Janie at 62 years old developed a very fast moving cancer and was gone only two months after the last time we'd spoken promising to meet for lunch.

Long wall of the entry hall
Even after the shelves in the guest room were up, I still had at least 30 boxes of books which needed a home.  It was the Saturday before my birthday when came a knock on my door and there was Jody with a circular saw in her hand.  Okay, that was curious.  Right behind her was the perfectly manicured Georgianne, whom I've know since 1989 when I taught her needlepoint--but that's another story altogether.  They knew, knowing me, I had a materials list and dimensions for the shelves I needed all done up, and they there were there to take me to the lumber yard, brickyard and hardware store to buy me everything we needed and help me put them up.

The three of us measured, cut, stained and by the end of that day I had shelves on both sides of my long entry hall plus a coat rack.  By the end of the weekend, every book was unpacked and I stood there stroking their spines--you have to be a reader to appreciate that, 

And then there's my friend, Linda, from my mystery group.  Since I hurt my back having my car(s) rear-ended twice in one month, reaching isn't always easy.  That means books don't always get shelved as often as I'd like.  Linda, bless her, periodically comes over to help cull, and shelve, and then we crochet/knit and chat.  She says she likes looking at my books, but it really is a gift.

So you see, my bookshelves aren't bookshelves; they are living memories of the love and kindness, and blessing of friends knowing just how much doing these things would mean--not just on those days, but every day.


  1. What a fabulous read! Thanks so much L. J.!

  2. Coming from a real writer, that's high praise, indeed. Thank you!

  3. How lovely to look at your bookshelves and see so much more friendship there than the 'friends' in your books. In everyroom! I love your teddy bears too. :)

  4. Almost everything I have was either passed to me by, or acquired from, a friend or family, or bought during antiquing with a friend, they all have stories. And the teddy bears? They are all made from old mink coats except the one that is sable. The reason behind building that collection is a story of its own.

  5. I feel the same way. About books and mementos. I have garbage bags full of stuffed bears, dolls, dogs, etc. that people have given me and each one tells a story. Each book tells a story. When I read Little Women I thought of my sisters and some of the things we did growing up. Other books bring back memories, good and the bad. I can't stand to throw anything away so I "collect" specially if that something has come from a friend. The crafts I do make and keep have a story behind every stitch, dab of glue,or googly eye. lol.

  6. Absolutely, Anne. My entire house is that way. Things aren't just "thing", they are memories. And I hadn't really thought about it until someone once commented how they loved that I name all my project on Ravelry as it shows the love I put into every stitch. Isn't that lovely? It made me really aware of how true that is for all of us who work with our hands, whether through fiber arts, cooking, everything we do.