Sunday, February 8, 2009
The books and the bees
If there is a better way to spend the afternoon than taking all one’s books off the shelves, re-alphabetizing them and putting them back on the shelves, neatly, dusted, touched and fondled, then I don’t know what it is.
I need to redo this every few years because things get out of order and more books get acquired for which there is no room in the current shelf configuration. Hence everything has to be removed and then replaced. Often this involves more bookshelves. Sometimes there is purging. But even with the best intentions the purging never equals the new acquisitions. This afternoon I managed to remove all books written in foreign languages; this included Camilo Jose Cela’s La familia de Pascual Duarte, and Alejo Carpentier’s El reino de este mundo, which together accounted for about 1 inch of shelf space. Also Hemingway’s L’adieux aux armes. I can’t imagine why I ever needed to have that book in French.
I also discovered duplicate copies of Helen Barolini’s More Italian Hours and Jennifer Boylan’s She’s Not There (Both good books). Another inch a half of shelf space gained. Not that I necessarily purge duplicate copies. There are some books, like any Isak Dinesen or Moby Dick or anything by John Hawkes, for which I will treasure multiple copies. And isn’t it interesting that two of my very favorite writers, John Hawkes and Shirley Hazzard, are right next to each other on the shelf?
For a while now I’ve been wanting to reread Julian Barnes’ Flaubert’s Parrot but couldn’t find it anywhere and couldn’t imagine where it could have gone. (Well I could imagine and that was the problem.) Aha, it was shelved in the C section (I note that Spellcheck wants to surgically put a hyphen between C and section, but I refuse.), where it did not belong, where, apparently, it never occurred to me to look. I am pretty sure I liked when I read it – after all the name Flaubert is in the title, and that bodes well.
Today I made it halfway through the H’s. The K's and J's are piled up on the floor. By my calculations, by moving all the books about Nicaragua and assorted pilgramages upstairs I have gained 10 feet of shelf space for fiction. But I have over 16 feet of books to shelf. I have no idea what I will do.
Meanwhile CSB went out to check on apian mortality rates. It’s over 50˚ out here and the bees are buzzing. Well some of them are buzzing. The ones that are still alive are buzzing. The others are dead. This always saddens us. While I know we are not responsible for the bees untimely winter death, I feel a sense of responsibility, and hence guilt. After all, they are ‘our’ bees in the sense that we own the hives they live in, and we paid real money for the bees as well, though there is a sense in which owning any living thing has an element of creepiness to it. Even an insect. So here is the tally: here in Hastings we have exactly 50% mortality with seven hives out and about, and seven hives goners.
In Irvington and Tarrytown the percentage is slightly better with a 35% mortality.
Should we have wrapped the hives with insulation? Given the recent frigid weather was there anything we could have done?