Sunday, August 31, 2008


One Saturday morning more than two years ago some friends came over to help me haul hundreds of pounds of books to my new house across town. This was something I simply couldn't have done myself, and something for which I will be forever grateful. On that same day, these friends bought me a housewarming gift of a very large, high-quality bookcase. They also helped me move the box containing this bookcase into my house.

I own a double-block house. This is in effect two residences, side-by-side, each a mirror image of the other. My grandmother had lived on one side and had rented out the other side since the mid-1970's deaths of her brother and sister, who had been living there. Both sides are now empty, and while my grandmother's side is still furnished much as it had been when she last lived there in the early 1990's, the other side is unfurnished and much the worse for wear after continuous occupation by tenants and their pets up until just before I purchased the house. I use this side for storage and staging, and it was here that my friends moved the books and the bookcase on June 24, 2006.

And it is here that those books remain, still in footlockers and plastic totes.

The bookcase is also still here. It is a very beautiful thing, and will be a focal point in the front library/study of my house whenever I get around to making the house my own. Until then it shall remain, disassembled, on the other side.

Winter is coming. In addition to being unfurnished, the other side is unheated - heat necessary to keep any residual water in the drained pipes from freezing bleeds across the common central wall in the Winter, and I believe this is cheaper than heating both sides of an unoccupied double-block (and much cheaper than getting the gas and electric utilities turned back on on that side.) Plaster walls provide some insulation, as does the aluminum siding and the insulation underneath it. Still, the unoccupied side radiates heat away very quickly.

Bookcases filled with books should make good insulation, right?

So I've been putting up bookcases. Not the good, expensive ones, but the cheap ones that have suddenly become available during back-to-school time.* And the books have been coming out of the footlockers and the totes and going onto the shelves. Maybe by the time overnight temperatures start dipping below freezing I'll have everything up.

It probably won't make much difference. But at least I'll have these books out of storage and onto shelves. Some of them will be seeing the light of day for the first time in over a decade. And someday, when I decide to put up the good bookcases on the other side and stock them with books, the selection process will be that much easier.

But for now, I have a few more bookcases to put together. I'll be heading over there shortly to carry on with this.

Note: The ones from Wal-Mart are very cheaply made, and I just hope they last for more than a few months before they sag and/or collapse. Sauder stuff is great, but relatively expensive. I'll be putting together a three-shelf bookcase from Target today. We'll see how that works out.

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