To Build a Bookshelf


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Another episode in the wake of the great water heater flood of 2013
Saturday I built a bookshelf. That statement may evoke visions of sawing, hammering, sanding, staining and lovingly polishing, of creating something unique from a few pieces of raw wood. Wow, that Sue is so talented. You can smell the sawdust, can’t you?
But no. I tore open a long heavy Home Depot box delivered by the UPS guy, removed a ton of foam rubber and cardboard packing material, laid out pieces of wood-finished pressboard and a baggie of screws, nails, dowels and brackets, and started putting it all together. Each part was lettered, and the screw holes were already drilled. I just had to follow steps one through six on the instruction sheet with the added attraction of learning how the same instructions would be translated into Spanish and French. Tools required: one hammer, one screwdriver, and two people. I made do with one human and a dog.
You may recall that my previous bookshelves got wet when my water heater gushed water all over my laundry room and den a month ago. The water damage experts sent out by my insurance company declared the shelves deceased and tossed them into the front yard, to be taken to the dump. They sat there for three weeks before my neighbor got sick of looking at them, hacked them up with an ax and burned them in his fire pit. We had a nice visit while I watched my bookshelves turn to ashes. In replacing them, the insurance company would only cover shelves that were similarly inexpensive, hence the fake-wood bookshelf kits.  
It sounds mindless, but after I carefully nailed the backing on with 22 little nails and tilted the shelf up to admire my work, I discovered the backing was on backwards. Oh no! Did I mention I’m not mechanically gifted? I had to lay the shelf back down on the throw rug on the bare concrete of my damaged den and take out 22 little nails I had hammered in good and tight.
I had brought the bookshelf components from the garage to the den one or two pieces at a time because I couldn’t lift the 75-pound box, and I couldn’t think of anywhere big enough to assemble a six-foot tall, five-shelf monster except on the floor. Oh my aching knees and back. Luckily, I had the TV to entertain me. It took a movie, “Monster-in-Law” with Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda, plus an episode of “Friends”—the one where Monica and Chandler get approved to adopt a baby—but I got it done. I got parts A, C, C1, G, G2, F, P and P1 all in the right places. Why weren’t there any B’s, D, E’s or H through O’s?
Anyway, the shelf is up. It doesn’t match much of anything. Why did I order royal cherry “wood?” But it’s pretty. I’m dying to put books on it, but I can’t until I get my carpet, which is scheduled to be installed on Oct. 2, hopefully after the water damage guys finish patching and painting the closet. The books will remain on the kitchen floor, on the guest room floor and bed, stacked in the living room, and tucked here and there in the laundry room. I’m only moving them once.
I have three more shelves to build. I find the whole process fascinating. The kits are sheer genius with all those perfectly matched parts. But yesterday, when an unemployed friend at church offered to build the rest of the shelves for me, I said yes. Why should I hog all the fun?
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Author: Sue Fagalde Lick

writer/musician California native, Oregon resident Author of Freelancing for Newspapers, Shoes Full of Sand, Azorean Dreams, Stories Grandma Never Told, and Childless by Marriage. I have published hundreds of articles, plus essays, fiction and poetry. I teach writing workshops and offer individual editing and mentoring. I'm also pretty good at singing and playing guitar and piano.

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