Saturday, April 19, 2008

Library art

With the sudden heavy snowfall we almost expected a power failure. When it came it was in the middle of a standing-room-only memorial service at our community hall. "Thanks be to God, who gives us life ... " said the pastor. The lights went out. Silence.

"Did she say 'God who gives us light?'" quipped someone from the middle of the crowd. People laughed.

In a minute a flashlight showed up. "Thanks be to God, who gives us life ... and light, we hope, soon," continued the pastor. The crowd chuckled.

Within 20 minutes the local dentist had showed up with a generator. Our cool MPP went out into the snow to help us heft equipment around and hook up a make-shift electrical supply. The handful of plugs were used to power a halogen utility light, the powerpoint slideshow apparatus, the electronic piano and the giant coffee percolator. All was good again.

The kids were home alone during the service. It shouldn't surprise me any more that my computer addicts somehow found opportunity in the power failure. Among other things they held a screaming contest, attempted to pop corn on the woodstove, sneaked a snowball into their mother's winter boot which had been left outside the front door. And they re-arranged the chaotic living room bookshelves. "Look!" Sophie pointed gleefully when I got home.

Well, I don't think a career in Library and Information Science is awaiting them any time soon. Fully cognisant of the quirky nature of their approach, they had arranged the books according to colour. It was weird. I took a picture. We speculated about someone coming into a library asking for a book "in a nice off-white, with pink lettering, please." In a library like ours that would be a simple request.

But the crowning moment was half an hour later. I'd had bread ready to go into the [electric] oven when I'd left for the memorial service and it had languished in doughy repose on the kitchen counter. We were speculating on whether it would be possible to bake our now-terribly-overproofed bread loaves inside the wood heatstove. I was wondering aloud how long they'd take to cook at whatever infernal temperature the woodstove was at. Recalling the book I'd bought a few years ago about cooking in adobe ovens, I said "now where the heck is my earth oven book?"

"Well," said Erin, "I'm not sure, but I know it's red!"

And then she proceeded to pull it off the shelf in half an instant. Oh my gosh, we laughed. What a fortuitous filing system.

We baked the bread too. The outer 5 mm was black, but once we carved that off it was quite delicious.

Power came back on a few minutes ago, meaning it was out for about 7 hours. We had Noah's quartet rehearsal in the dark again. We're getting quite used to that.


  1. Seems others like this too!

    Books by color.

  2. Anonymous7:02 am

    As a book-lover I couldn't help being nosy and checking out some of the titles on those shelves. Not surprisingly, as an off-the-beaten-path unschooling Suzuki family, our home library has notable overlap with yours (Cartoon Guide to Physics, The Way Things Work, The Self-Sufficient Life and How To Live It, The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson, The Lone Pine Bugs/Mammals/Edible Plants of B.C. --or Ontario, in our case-- etc...). But as a fellow Canadian I have to ask: Where did you get your copy of "Life of Fred"? I emailed the author some months ago to order it, and was disappointed to hear that he doesn't ship outside the States.


  3. I deeply resent your comments on the weirdness of colour organizing! I have been arranging my bookshelf by colour for a decade by now, because I can process colour more quickly than text. It's a bit hard for Ben, who is colour blind, to locate one of my novels, though...

  4. Hey Sylvie, I'm always thrilled to discover intersections with others' libraries too. "Life of Fred" was ordered early last winter along with a group of fellow Wondertree SelfDesign homeschoolers here in BC; one of us wrote to Stan and asked if he'd be willing to investigate shipping to Canada for a batch of orders. He was very open to the possibility, checked with his local post office and agreed to give it a shot. He was thrilled with how easy it was and now ships internationally based on that experience. We have only barely cracked the book open (I just bought it out of curiosity and "for the future") though it looks interesting. If you check his website now it offers international shipping.

  5. Okay L, I take back the weirdness comment. Check out the link lr&h posted above -- lots of people seem to do this. I suppose I was thrown in part because the concept of ANY organization of one's bookshelves is rather foreign to me.

  6. Anonymous4:41 pm

    Wow, thanks so much for the "Life of Fred" shipping info. And thanks for the role you played in initiating the international shipping. Much appreciated!



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