Housekeeping Twaddle:
21 November 2014

Last night, we had an impromptu housewarming — although we shall have to have another, as Kathleen couldn’t join us. Ms NOLA had been offering to help out with the move by cooking dinner chez moi, and I accepted as soon as the new kitchen was organized. We made a date for last night, but when I went to confirm it with Kathleen, she told me that there was a birthday dinner for a friend that she must attend. Ordinarily, I’d have postponed the gift of dinner in my own home, but as I felt the need of it more keenly, I let things stand. When Ms NOLA learned that Ray Soleil would be dropping by to hang pictures, she said that there would be more than enough dinner for him and for Fossil Darling, should Fossil care to come.  So we were five at dinner. It was a riotous assembly. I was surprised that nobody called the doorman to complain.

I was out for most of the afternoon, on a run of errands built around a visit to the dermatologist — the doctor whom, thanks to my fine Irish skin, I see more often than all the other doctors together — so nothing much got done on the moving-in front. But while Ray hung pictures, I took two larges boxes out of the dining area and emptied the third, which was packed with platters. This eliminated a tight squeeze around the table, and made seating five far easier and more comfortable than it would have been otherwise. Plus I gained an empty box to fill up with discarded bubble wrap. I love getting rid of boxes.

Ray hung four pictures: one painting in the book room, two in the bedroom, and a print in the book room. He measured for two other prints, and wanted very much to drive in the nails, but I forbade it, because it was just after six, and I wanted to establish, to anyone itching to complain to the doorman, that my bangings would never be prolonged. No one did complain, which was heaven. Fossil arrived and we all had a drink. It was grand, not having to worry about getting dinner ready.

Soon Ms NOLA and Mr ED blew in. The night before, Mr ED had made the main dish, a casserole of sausage and polenta that we all first had at their rehearsal dinner at Franny’s last year, versions of which both E and I have taught ourselves to make. So he joined us in the living room while Ms NOLA got to work on the salad and the vegetables. It was wildly retro, the four men sitting drinking while the lone woman slaved in the kitchen, and everyone felt a twinge of discomfort. E and I were quick on our feet to give Ms NOLA occasional assists.

At the real housewarming, of course, there will be no great wall of books, and it will not be necessary to access the dining area through the kitchen.

In order to put a dent in that wall, I am going to spend the rest of today painting bookcases.

A few hours, anyway. What wearying work. The wood drinks up the paint, and the result is a very mottled look. Not that it matters much. I’m painting the insides of the bookcases, not the outsides. Ray Soleil thinks I’m crazy, but I don’t want the parrot green (the closest match to Loeb Classics Greek dust jackets that I could find — top that for frivolous pretention!) or the dour blue peeping through the books. A few coats of off-white latex will kill the glare. Ray will paint the outside parts, after the books are in the case. He knows what he’s doing. I’m not only not very good at painting but physically incapable, a lot of the time, of even seeing what I’m doing.

I’ve tackled the hardest part, the projecting section of the breakfront case. Some of its shelves and partitions are fixed, so there are plenty of awkward corners. I also took a stab at one of the side cases — much easier. I didn’t make a lot of progress, but I didn’t make a mess, either. The great wall of books is going to come down slowly. And there’s a lovely surprise at the end: figuring out what to do with the bookcase formerly known by the letter G. We still have it, but it’s in the living room, and it contains all the art books that used to be in a bookcase that we no longer own. I could see that there would be no room for one of the two cases, and our neighbor was happy to take the one that I chose to give away. The books, however — the books I still have. Not all of them, to be sure. I did give away a lot of books. But I don’t think that I gave away enough books to empty out a bookcase.

I can’t say how many books I gave away, because I kept no records. Almost the first decision that I made when the move became certain was that I was no longer going to use ReaderWare, the only library database manager, it seems, that’s “right for me.” I’m not going to complain about ReaderWare. I’m just sorry that there isn’t a handy application for managing a moderately large private library. “Moderately large” means “too large for its owner to know where everything is,” and “private” means “limited to bookshelves of varying heights,” thus requiring a preliminary sorting by the distinctly illiterate quality of size. Neither ReaderWare nor any other database manager that I’ve seen features a data field for “Location,” which is just about the only information about any book that I need to have, along with its title. You can add the field yourself. You can do a lot of things yourself with ReaderWare. I no longer have the time. What I have is hope that Evernote will eventually come to the rescue.

Anyone betting on whether I’ll replace those milk crates before the stack topples over?

Bon weekend à tous!