|Maggie and I in my library|
Contrary to what my kids and some of my siblings think, I am not a hoarder. No one exactly accuses me of that, but they often bring up funny episodes they’ve seen on TV about hoarders. Wouldn’t you get the feeling they are sending out hints? Maybe it’s because my garage located out by the barn has no room for my car. It’s not as if I have narrow passage ways through newspapers stacked from floor to ceiling or anything. I use my newspapers for the bird cages, to mulch my gardens or take them to the recycling center. I’m also seriously thinking of taking all my past issues of Writer’s Digests and The Writer to the recycling center. I did take a bunch to my local writers group to give away. I only took a few back home. That was a start, wasn’t it?
|Bookcase in the laundry room with Malice books.|
If I have trouble getting rid of things, it’s because I was born at the end of the Great Depression and grew up being taught not to waste things. Also, I have sentimental attachments to things that hold memories. As an environmentalist, I hate throwing anything into the trash, also. I started recycling when the first recycling center was started in our county forty or fifty years ago even though it wasn’t close to where I lived.
So I don’t consider myself a hoarder except with one thing. Books. I have bookshelves in every room of my house except the kitchen and bathrooms. But there is a small table holding some of my cookbooks in the kitchen, and the back of the toilets have books lined up on them. My library shelves are full to overflowing. The living room has one book case and books on top of the piano and the seat of an old school desk as well as on the coffee table. The sun room and laundry room each have two book cases. The room off the upstairs bathroom with a desk and a few chairs has three shorter book cases with only three shelves each. Until a few days ago, I had one book case in my bedroom, one in the spare bedroom, one in the upstairs hall and I was running out of places to put books. It got worse when my sister Suzanne asked me if I’d take a box of my dad’s books that were taking up space in her storage area. Of course, I said yes. So she brought me four old Jack London volumes from the early 20th century, four Sinclair Lewis volumes – two I already have in paperback, but hey, these were my father’s. And there’s a matched set of twelve O’Henry novels, and a few others, too. Sigh.
|Some of the books in my living room.|
The books stayed in the box my sister brought for over a month and then I saw two sturdy white wooden bookcases at my daughter-in-law’s business – The Shabby Cedar Barn. I wanted them. I needed them. So I bought them and my son and daughter-in-law delivered them last week. I moved the bookcase I’d had in my bedroom to the spare room, and the two new bookcases fit nicely side by side on one wall. So I’ve been sorting and rearranging books and also filled bags and bags of books and took them to my church rummage sale which starts today. So I’m not really a hoarder, am I? Just a lover of books. I’ll try to stay away from the tables of books when I go to the rummage sale today or tomorrow.
|The new bookcases in my bedroom|
I pack the leftover books from the sale.
Leftovers from the lives of my mother and father.
Leftovers no one wanted, not even strangers.
I remember these books, bright colorful splashes
mitigating all that green -
our celery green shelves, celery green walls,
gray-green carpet, and a big over-stuffed chair
aged to an indeterminate color and texture;
a perfect place to hibernate Sunday afternoons
when the snow buried our little Cape Cod,
and boots melted by the back door.
My brother Jerry played “The Flight of the Bumblebee,”
the music undulating, mixing with warm brown smells
of pot roast with onions, potatoes and carrots.
Dad did the cooking Sundays,
ahead of his time in gender correctness,
while Mom, ripening with another bibliophile
soon to be baby sister Cathi, read and dozed nearby.
My sisters Elaine and Suzanne played with paper dolls,
cutting and snipping, giggling and chattering
as Christ on his Crucifix looked down on
The Silver Chalice, The Golden Bough,
Main Street, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,
There were two walls of books -
a time line of books going back to my parents’ youth
Girl of the Limberlost, O’ Pioneers,
The Life of James A. Garfield, The Pickwick Club
and stretching forward into my future.
In those days I’d snuggle deep
in the comfort of that over-stuffed chair,
galloping the plains on Wildfire, Flicka and Thunderhead
or solving mysteries with Nancy Drew.
In that chair, the future was only a nebulous vision
of a ranch with hundreds of beautiful horses.
And so I sort these books, the pile of books
I find I can’t part with growing higher and higher.
Books from my past to add to
the already overflowing shelves of my present,
to be read someday in the future.
What do you collect or can’t bear to part with?