October 29, 2009

The White Bookcase

Behind me is a white bookcase filled with stuff and more stuff. It’s been there 16 years.

Himself: Slept sitting up a bit. Still coughing. Not really good yesterday. Still haven’t gotten stuff from the gvt about his un-check now two un-checks soon to be three un-checks.

Herself: I had slept so badly the night before, then last night coughed again so will call the doc to make appointments today.

Reading: Skimmed all the magazines.

Balance: Unearthing the bookcase.

There are things in life you remember fondly and fight to keep. Yesterday, I finished a brief article, illustrated with my own photographs, on ocean liner historians, then moved myself down to the garage. When we first moved in here, we put grandmother’s old white bookcase on the far wall and have used it for storage ever since. I’ve always fought to keep this bookcase.

Perhaps because grandmother loved me without reservations and I was a selfish, self-centered granddaughter, I’ve kept all her belongings and loved them perhaps too well ever since her death.

I was always grateful for this bookcase though I felt it was too small. I remember it half empty on the far wall of grandma’s apartment above Balboa Park. She had kept a full set of Dumas and one shelf had her pewter tea set. Near the central support was her new radio. Something happened to her giant free standing tube set, and this small one was purchased. Gunny, my father, came and installed brackets on the back of both sides of the case and strung antenna wire so she could get better reception. The brackets are still there.

It’s a big and massive wood bookcase and was designed to break down into a packing crate. I’ve never seen it broken down. By the time I met it on “A” street, it was one shelf taller and white. I’ve had custody of it since the early seventies when mother moved from #20 to Shelter Island. I’ve carted it from one house to another sometimes double shelving the books inside it.

When we moved in here, G built me a floor to ceiling case in the living room, and we had the three teachers cases in the bedroom. Grandma’s bookcase stayed in the garage. But now my cookbook collection is totally out of hand. The science fiction is doubled up so there would be more room for the cookbooks. Not expensive cookbooks mind you. Often local organizational fund-raising cookbooks or major author cook books from chef’s like James Beard.

Books have always been my nemesis.

So down I went to move the car, move the truck, put the watercolor stuff away and stare at the poor old, white bookcase. I even cleared off a shelf here or there while I stared. Storing the dining room table on top chipped the paint. One trim piece is falling off. One corner is dinged.

It’s all repairable, says Mr. Geee-zer. Motivation will get it fixed, says Mrs. G eyeing all the cookbooks loose in the living room.


  1. There are one or two items I've keep from my grandparents, nothing from my father (he was an extreme non-materialist), and I got left out with all the other handing down being in Germany and away from any postal services (wink!). Yet, in the end, I kind of like the fact that there is not a clutter. When I am honest, the things that I do have from my deceased relatives hold not meaning whatsoever to my children. When is it good to give these things up?

  2. I sympathize with your book problem, Mage. I have a massive case of bookitis, too, cookbooks in particular. I put some of my "lesser" ones away when we moved here and I had less shelfspace near the kitchen where cookbooks ought to be. Then I broke down and bought a bigger bookcase and can't locate the "put aside" books anywhere. Every now and then I wish I had one or another and still can't find them! Hope you get all those cookbooks taken care of in good time.

    Lilalia poses a great question in her comment. When is it good to give these things up when the children don't hold the same sentiments. Why don't we all blog on it one day and compare our thoughts?

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