Friday, April 02, 2004

Feeling Literary

I'm feeling literary this morning. It began when I got up and went downstairs to see if the waters rose up high in the cellar. You know, the cellar. The room under the house that's mostly under ground, and where you have your furnace -- what? OK, I'll explain furnace too. After. So you have your furnace in the cellar, and sometimes that's where your washer and dryer are too. Mostly, though, the cellar is where you keep all the stuff that you don't have room for in the rest of the house.

It's been raining here for a couple of days, a heavy rain that usually results in heavy seepage into our cellar, enough to get the bottoms of boxes wet if they aren't raised an inch or so above the cement floor. We rented this apartment based partly on the fact that there is a cellar, since we had to be in a place where we could store the 50+ boxes that we packed up in Pennsylvania in 1996, that we stored first in our daughter's cellar while we were in Ireland in 1997, and then in a rented storage locker for the three years we lived in Key West.

I went down to the cellar before going to bed last night, noticed that the seepage had started, and moved a bunch of boxes up off the floor. Good thing I did! When I went back down this morning, the water had spread further, wet some of our empty boxes, and would have hit the ones already packed with photos and other family memorabilia that we'll be storing at Betty and Lee's again this time. Those were the ones I moved. So far, so good, but the rain is expected to continue through the weekend. I can hear water running into the sump hole, and there is a pump in there which I'm hoping is working. I haven't ever heard it run, so I'm not really sure if it does.

"What does that have to do with literary", you say? I'm getting to that. But first: a furnace is a big heater that burns something -- oil, gas, wood, coal -- in order to heat water or air that is then circulated throughout the house to keep it warm. People who can't live in Key West, or someplace like it, need to have these furnaces because, if they didn't, they'd feel cold and shiver a lot for about half of the year.

No, I can't explain "cold" and "shiver" right now, there isn't time. Later, maybe, if you can't figure out what they mean by yourself. Go to Albertson's and stick your head on one of their frozen food cases for about five minutes. It's kind of like that.

The literary feeling comes from the fact that I've been moving books around, putting some into boxes to bring to the library, bringing some upstairs to list on Amazon and eBay, and generally deciding which ones I simply can't part with. Its that last lot that's difficult. I now have two boxes, plus a few more books set aside in that category. If I couldlimit myself to three boxes worth, I think Janet could be persuaded to consider that many "reasonable".

One of the volumes I was considering selling is a 1940 printing of Leaves of Grass. It's a nice edition, in heavy fabric covers and in a matching slipcase, with black & white and color illustrations, an introduction by Christopher Morley, and Whitman's own Preface to the 1855 edition. The spine is sun-faded, but the book itself is in Very Good condition. In the end, I decided to add to the "keep & store" category -- for the time being, anyway. Perhaps Whitman -- and Thoreau, Emerson, and all the others that have made their way into that category, perhaps they have a purpose yet for me, and I for them.

Choosing what to keep and what to eliminate from our lives is taking longer than we thought it would. It's April though, and we're committed to be through with most of the dispositon of our "stuff" by the end of this month, so we can be ready to go on the road by mid-May.

Before we left Key West (two years ago yesterday), our good friend Sharon gave us Alan Maltz's beautiful Key West Color, a coffee table book of great photographs of Key West and the lower Keys. We used the book as a kind of yearbook, and had many of our friends sign it in that yearbook style. I sat down with it yesterday and went through it for the first time since we got back to NH. On page 58 (Laughing Gulls), Samantha (Sam I Am) from Schooner Wharf wrote: "I feel you'll be back". Good call Sam. We hope that you're still there when we get back.

I've also assembled a small backpack of KW related materials -- the S.W. Artz map, a couple of Literary Seminar programs, the Magic magazine with the article about Magic Frank's father, etc.

The Literary Seminar for 2005 is on Humor, with a lineup of panelists of the top rank, people like Hiaasen, Dave barry, Jules Feiffer, Gary Trudeau, and many others. The Seminar is already sold out, and a second session is scheduled and filling rapidly. Could be a real hot ticket come January.

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