Sunday, May 3, 2020

Rainy Saturday Sorting Out

I had big plans to work outside today. 

Those weeds were finally gonna get what they had coming to them, and I was going to whip the patio into shape for summer.

Or at least late spring. 

But I woke up to the splash of raindrops so my gardening plans, alas, were scratched.

I wandered downstairs, looking for a satisfying rainy day project, and blundered onto a gem.
My After shot. I'll be fine-tuning the details for weeks, no doubt, but this is a good day's work.

I cleaned and reorganized my library bookshelves. 

Now I'll be the first to admit that they weren't a total disaster before. I mean, if you don't mind a few years' accumulation of dust, which isn't so bad if you don't disturb any of it too much. Once you start sliding a dust cloth around, the smoke and mirrors disappear and suddenly you realize it's an armageddon up there. So I've been careful not to touch any horizontal surfaces.
I found this shot from March 25, 2020 on my camera roll. A bit too cluttery for my peace of mind. 

Here in my Before shot, the issue becomes a bit more clear. The shelves were stuffed. And while that isn't necessarily a bad thing - I'm a fan of book-filled bookshelves - these shelves happened to be stuffed with my husband's nonfiction collection of history, biography, and business books, which he has not touched in years. No, make that decades.

And I promise that this is not because he's concerned about disturbing the dust. 

So while he was wrapping up his third crossword puzzle for the day, I proposed to him that we sort through this entire collection and let him test for the spark of joy. 

He's not much of an organizing enthusiast, my husband, but I can be quite persuasive. 

With a minimal amount of arm-twisting, he signed on.

So before he could change his mind, I promptly yanked all the books off the shelves.
Is there anything sadder than an empty bookcase? 

Now we were properly committed.

I set about wiping down the shelves, sorting through my part of the inventory, and replacing them as my grand scheme dictated.

You bet your bottom dollar that I had a grand scheme in mind. I rarely start a project without a clear vision of the outcome. I want to see the target before I nock the arrow.
As you can see, Gracie made major contributions to this project. 

As for my husband, I sat him down on the far side of the room, behind the towers of books, and encouraged him to begin sorting. "Just browse through them," I coaxed. "I'm not saying you have to get rid of anything; keep whatever you want. I just want to make sure you value every book we put back on the shelves."

Mhmm. Took that page right out of Marie Kondo's book. 

Now I'll tell you what I was actually thinking: If he decides that he wants to keep all - ore even most - of these books, I will surely lose my mind. Guaranteed.

But the fates were kind today. My husband spent hours assessing his towering piles of tomes, and decided to get rid of nine paper grocery bags full of books. Along with a few more bags of my own donations, we did some good letting go.

* * * * *

Next came the job of putting the books all back on the shelves. 

Now it's fair to say that while we both like neat and clean, my husband and I have quite different ideas about bookshelf aesthetics. 

Which is to say, I'm about form as well as function, and I am not ashamed to turn a book around to hide its color, if need be. 

My husband disagrees. Vehemently. Bookshelves exist purely for their function. And he thinks my backward books are the sure sign of an imbalanced mind.

In the interest of family harmony and me not throwing all his books out on the front lawn in the rain,  I proposed a compromise. Just as he prefers, his books are organized by set and subject, each one put into proper order upon his exacting specifications. 

But if I don't like the color of the spine, that sucker does a 180.

The result feels like Ahhhhhh! on my brain.
Yay! It's done and I'm happy.
And now my attention turns to the big red dog who is patiently waiting for her walk. 

Not a bad result for a rainy Saturday sorting out.

* * * * *

I love to browse through other people's bookshelves and see what they like to read, so here's a quick rundown of what you'll find on our new and improved library bookshelves:

Top row

Left: Multi-volume book sets on United States history, great classics (Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare), more U.S. history, and behind the little brass cannon purchased on a family vacation to Gettysburg, Shelby Foote's history of the Civil War. 
Right: More multi-volume sets: Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and a totem pole from a different vacation to Alaska.

Second row down:
My collection of orange, red and yellow books, a mixed bag of fiction and nonfiction, anchored by a book of photographs from Berlin on the left and a shadow box on the right, along with two white origami animals. 

Third row down:

Left: My history books, a geometric ball, and two old school wood file boxes full of addresses cards. 
Right: A dictionary and encyclopedia set, my camera, and four art-related titles of mine. 

Fourth row down: 

Left: A basket full of field guides, hiking books, copies of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and a book of flags around the world, two big books of photographs, and our old Nikon.
Right: Big, beautiful art books inherited from my parents-in-law, a two-drawer chest filled with my collection of miniature notebooks, some black and white books (vertical and horizontal) on random subjects that I love the look of, plus a gold squirrel. 

Fifth row down: 

Left: A gold wire basket full of envelopes, a gold piggy bank, a stack of my husband's old chemistry textbooks. 
Right: Fifteen years worth of National Geographic magazines dating from 1888, along with an index to the rest of the magazines dating through 1988, which my father-in-law meticulously collected and passed along to us, plus my mother-in-law's point and shoot Nikon from the 1980s and another shiny geometric thing. 

Sixth row down:

Left: A considerably whittled collection of business and history books.
Right: Old books from relatives on both sides of the family tree, a copy of Century which just looks so great on the shelf, and my husband's beloved textbooks. 

And on the bottom shelf are left a few odds and ends that we are undecided upon, because Rome was not built in a day, people. 

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