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books – feh.

I hate books!

Okay, no, I don’t, as you well know, quite the opposite. But right now, I am drowning in books. Tossing them, stacking them, boxing them. Here’s the latest cull, by my front door, ready to go out to the Little Free Library, and believe me, this hurts.

At least a hundred, not counting the ones that have already gone out (plus a few bookshelves). And still the boxes pile up.

At the front of an old alphabet book that I am most definitely keeping, I found this:

Love is. Found a few books from my parents, including one when I was four signed “With love from Gordin and Sylvia.” Must have been a bad patch.

This culling is immensely valuable, no question. Yesterday I tackled my sock drawer, wherein used to dwell at least 40 pairs of socks, socks of every hue, many with bright stripes bought in European markets, and every day, I’d open the drawer and pull out a black pair. Yesterday, as I walked, I realized my socks were full of holes. Now there are far fewer in the drawer, and I am wearing a dazzling pair I just unearthed. Grey.

Lani wrote to say, what exactly are you doing in the house? Monique came over yesterday with the original plan in mind and was confused by what she saw.  Everything changed a few months ago, when I realized that to establish a whole new apartment on the second and third floor would rip the house apart and cost the earth. So then the plan changed, in a most satisfactory direction.

Now, there’s a new bright basement room which used to be my storage space; it will be the bedroom for the basement apartment, hitherto a bachelor, soon a one-bedroom. But as of Tuesday I will be sleeping down there for 2 or 3 months while they rip apart my upstairs. Because the tenant will take over my washer/dryer, we had to create space for an apartment-sized set for me upstairs, and once we started to do that, we – that’s Jean-Marc and I – got ambitious. We are now tearing down walls to let in more light and create space for the appliances.

But then JM got the idea to enclose the stairs to the third floor; it’s an open spiral staircase, covered with a curtain of heavy material to give a sense of privacy. There couldn’t be a door to that floor because the second floor hall is too narrow. But, said JM, what if we smash this wall and move this door? Then there’s room. He overcame my natural resistance, and now there will be a door. And once the wall to my bedroom and the spare bedroom started to be smashed, why not, said JM, go all the way and create a new space, a walk-in closet, between the two rooms? So each room will be rebuilt a bit smaller, the walls and doors moved, and in-between – a closet. Where I can stand and admire all my clothes, all in a tidy row. At least, that’s the plan.

I will be able to rent the top floor as a more private space and will also put a kitchenette up there with a microwave and toaster oven, so a tenant can make simple meals and not use my kitchen.

This is all in the interests of creating more income from the house, so I can afford to stay here after I finally retire, if I ever do. Plus one day – yes, must think of this – one day a caregiver for my decrepit self could live up there, if necessary. Yes? Who knows?

And while we’re ripping everything apart, I’m replacing a few windows that don’t open any more, repairing the front door full of cracks that let the wind whistle in, and other necessary repairs. It’ll all be disruptive and a great mess, and then it’ll be finished and the house will shine. That’s the plan. Paid for by the Royal Bank of Canada, God bless their little hearts. With a little help from Auntie Do.

In the middle of all this, I’m going to try to finish the last rewrite of the memoir and get it out.

This mild, grey morning – record gloom in Toronto this November – a burst of joy. I rode to the market and returned with the usual, fresh apples, bread, sausages, Merchants of Green Coffee beans, nuts. Made a big pot of coffee, toasted sourdough for smoked salmon and cream cheese, with the newspapers spread before me, no men hammering in the basement. Wayson is out of hospital and I’m going to visit him soon with a large pot of Sam’s shepherd’s pie. Then on to the theatre. Listening to Bach.

I could weep with joy and gratitude. We are here.

Here’s the poem that came in today from the Poem A Day guy:

I sincerely hope
you have not
come to believe,
that simply because
you ran off & got
married behind
my back, you
are somehow
entitled to keep

my tape measure

Leonard Cohen (2002)



2 Responses to “books – feh.”

  1. theresa says:

    Every time I go into various rooms of our house, the ones with high and laden book shelves, I hope that I am spared an earthquake in my life….

  2. beth says:

    Or a renovation! It was "Don Quixote" that did it for me. I've carried this enormous tome around for years, intending to read it, ashamed that I have not yet. Yesterday I thought, I can let this go. When I want to read it, I'll get it out of the library. But still, it felt like sacrilege, putting it on the give away pile.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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