Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snowy Day Projects

It snowed--not a lot, but enough and cold enough temperatures to go with it to keep us indoors all day. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. It's a project that's been waiting for months. Well, maybe a few years.

The big bookshelf in the living room needed attention. It needed all the books taken off and dusted, the shelves washed and polished and then all the books re-set in some kind of reasonable order. This isn't a quick project. It takes hours because who can resist browsing when there are so many books to look at?

We got them off the shelves pretty quickly. Larry was sure he'd never seen the big shelf empty, but that's not true. I'm pretty sure I've cleaned it a few times in our 25 years of marriage! Sometimes I just do one shelf at a time, though, and maybe he wasn't here when I did the big clean like I did today.

Dusty, dusty

Then I got sidetracked. A friend and I are writing a storytelling grant together and it's due Monday. We have a lot of pieces to put together to make the grant application together and we did a lot of it over the phone and by email. Of course, phone calls to people who are involved always means a longer conversations because we have to catch up. I tweaked documents, figured a budget and a schedule and put together plans. We got a lot done and I think we can finish tomorrow.

Miss Charley thought she was helping with the grant by staring at me.

That inspired me. I recalled that another grant opportunity was available for a professional development grant for artists. I downloaded the forms and got to work on that grant, one I had not really planned on applying for but since I had time today--and didn't want to get back to work on the big shelf project--I decided to give it a try. Two hours later the application was complete and now it's ready to be mailed. Will we get either one? Who knows? I expect there will be plenty of competition this year with money as tight as it is now.

By 9:00pm the grant was finished and the books were staring at me. I had to get back to it; who would want to look at that mess in the morning?

I cajoled Larry off the couch and we dug into the pile.

The thing is, it's not just putting them back--it's establishing some kind of order. I'm a librarian but I'm not fanatic about my own books being in Dewey order (actually, I prefer Library of Congress cataloging, but that's a different story). I try to organize them loosely into categories: books about storytelling process, folklore, mythology, storytelling for children. Collections of stories from different cultures, ghost stories, British stories and folklore, music and ballads, poetry and writing. Gardening. History. West Virginia (although the bulk of that collection is in my office, I don't have room for all of it in there). Larry's masonry and carpentry books. (Cookbooks are in the kitchen). Et cetera, et cetera.

I ended up with two piles that will not go back on the shelves. One pile is for Goodwill, the other is books that I need to give away to someone. Some of the second pile already have homes--I know who wants those. Others, I'll have to think about. Only 2 books hit the trash, books so far gone and falling apart that they weren't worth saving, and one of them I'd already replaced anyway.

We finished at 11:00pm. The shelves look fine, organized and tidy. I think I know where everything is, although time will tell. One thing is sure: there is no dust anywhere on those shelves or books and that is an accomplishment indeed.


Connie said...

Ah, Granny Sue, dammit. Now I've got to do mine.

It's never been in any kind of order and there are (roughly) 60 linear feet in the one bookcase and that only houses about a third of my books. (Who needs a library when you need books to help hold up the house. :) )

Organizing the books has been on my list forever, but I get the vapors just thinking about how to go about it. Besides which, they need serious and brutal culling.

Lainie said...

I love all of your literary links and poems, Granny Sue. What a way to warm the heart in these cold winter days. Keep it coming!

Jason Burns said...

You remind me that I've wanted to re-organize my bookshelves for months, but really haven't got around to it. Something about a house renovation that makes that a low priority. Still, I like doing things like this because it gives me a small, but solid, sense of accomplishment.

I've got three bookcases that need done, but I think I'll start with one and go from there. Ugh. A very good project for the cold months, definitely.

Granny Sue said...

Connie and Jason: It's a big job, and dusty. Mine were much less dusty than I expected, probably because I am pulling through them all the time. I am so glad it's done, though; it was worth the effort. I still need to do something better in my office--I don't have enough room for all the books I keep in there. These are the ones I use most often, mostly WV history and ballad books. Something's got to give in there!

Lainie, I'm glad you enjoy those links. I like the hunt for them.

Mike said...

Hey Granny Sue,

Been a while since my last visit. I can see you've been busy both online and off. Lots of changes happening to your west, as well in WV, too.

I have met someone from your dear WV and am considering leaving my flatland digs to return home to the mountains to be with her. (Of course, she is a writer, too. ;) ).

Maybe I will get to meet you at one of your engagements then and spend some time tormenting poor Tommy as well.

I have lived all over the world, but there is still no place I have ever been that feels like home more than the mountains. I look forward to her warm cabin along the Buckhannon and her special company. I bet some new poems are right around the corner. :D

Until next time,


Nessa said...

Rabbit, Rabbit

Good luck with your grant.

That is a beautiful book shelf.

Granny Sue said...

Hi Mike, good luck on the new relationship. Sounds like interesting times are ahead for you.

Nessa, I should explain that the bookshelf was built while we were building the house in 1975-76. we used leftovers from the flooring for the back, and the whole thing is built into the wall. It's plenty sturdy and can hold a lot of books. Only downside is it is too close to the woodstove (what did we know about wood heat and such back then?). So any books of value I keep elsewhere so they're not as exposed to the heat and dust of the stove. But the brick hearth wall is a good place to perch and browse :-)

Markin said...

Rabbit rabbit white rabbit. [grins @ Nessa]

I think it was Alistair Cooke who organized his shelves geographically, picturing them as one large world map. That is now more or less how I've organized my myth / folklore / occult collection: by continent; then by region; then alphabetically by country. Within each geographical unit I sort by general; beliefs, including superstitions and the occult; tales (myths, folklore, fairy tales, etc.); and ghost stories. It works out pretty well, although I am tempted to segregate the ghost stories into a separate shelf.

Like you, I prefer LC call numbers, but I can't see applying that at home.

Granny Sue said...

Now THAT is organized, Markin! I had mine organized geographicaly within the categories before, but this time I didn't go quite that far. I still have another cabinet of books to sort into some kind of order--they're just in there, haphazard so every time I look for something it turns into browsing time. Which is fun but not always what I need to be doing.

Markin said...

Well, at last count I had at least 300 books in that general category, and probably more -- I'll know better when I get them all loaded into LibraryThing. (Only 257 in that "collection" added so far.) I have far too many books not to catalogue them (for inventory control; I was already duplicating, either because I forgot I had something already, or because I couldn't find it) and organize them (for finding), so I finally just plain got to it.

Granny Sue said...

Wow. I bet I have 100 or so in the myth/folklore category, about 100-200 in history, and another 100+ in story collections. Then there are the storytelling how-to books, the poetry/writing books, the ballads and music books, farming, gardening and herbs, cookbooks, animal care and probably 100 or more WV books. And the misc stuff, one or two of this and certainly adds up. One day maybe I need to do the librarything too, although that would be a busman's holiday.

Janet, said...

Miss Charley is so pretty! Looks like you've been feeding her well. I have lots of books, but I think my daughter in law has more. We got them a bookcase for Christmas to add to the many they already have.

Granny Sue said...

I work hard to keep my book collection under control, Janet, or it would take over my house. I weed--librarianspeak for getting rid of books. If I haven't used a book in some time, out it goes. If the information is outdated (like medical books ) it's out. I keep very little fiction because I get get that at the library. if it's something I used to be but no longer have an interest in, it's out.

I have to find homes for all the weeds, of course. A friend, a family member, the local library used book sale or the Goodwill usually get them and I try to be careful who gets what. I ask friends and family first, and if they're not interested the book sale or Goodwill get them The ones with outdated information, of course, go in the trash--they're no good to anyone. It's a constant job, but it keeps my collection focused and relevant to my needs.

Tipper said...

The shelf looks great. Love the photos in the first post-glad you stopped to take them for us : )

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