Friday, December 11, 2020


Somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty years ago, my father-in-law, a self-taught cabinetmaker, built two bookcases for me.

They were built very specifically to fit on either side of a window in our old 1926 Dutch colonial. Really a crib room since it didn’t even boast a closet, this was my sewing room, but by that time I was working my way through a degree in English and needed all the shelf space I could get. The room may have once been a small upstairs porch and closed in at some point because the measurements on either side of the window didn’t match, so he created the bookcases to fit the eccentricities of the room.

          A few years later we moved to another house, and the bookcases came with us. Lo and behold, they juuuust fit against one wall in my new office, with not a half inch to spare.

          Now here we are in the condo, and oddly enough, the bookcases now completely cover one wall in the bedroom, stopping just short of the end of the wall.

It’s so odd that the measurements for an off-kilter room have again and again been exactly what was needed in each succeeding house.

          Parenthetically, you can see from the picture that I’ve downsized and downsized and downsized again, leaving behind all the texts I used to teach, most of the reference books I used, and even just about all of my personal library. All that remains now is works on writing (top left), cookbooks (top right), and my grandmother’s set of Jane Austen that she re-read every five years without fail.

Keeping them company is Patsy Ann – my mother’s doll and then mine – a well-loved friend for many years even if she did give Mamie the jim-jams when they first met.



  1. I took all my books to the used bookstore a few years back and enjoyed having the space, but during this pandemic I have accumulated quite a few new ones. I'll do the same if we ever have a chance to return to normal. I love that picture of Mamie looking spooked by the doll! :-)

  2. How wonderful that the bookcases have been able to travel with you.
    And how I wish I could follow your example where downsizing books is concerned.

  3. That's a lovely set of bookcases and really great that they managed to fit everywhere you've lived.

  4. The doll gave your mom the jim jams, that is a cute expression. I recently ordered 6 books, I perhaps over do book purchasing, but I adore reading. I give away maybe 4 books a week to two Little Free Libraries in my neighborhood, that adds up to about 200 books a year, a good number to move out of my home. How great that your bookshelves fit in to each of your homes including your current one.

  5. Awww, Mamie! That dog is HILARIOUS.

    Those are great bookcases and it's terrific that they've worked in more than one space.


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