Reading

An avid reader will find any and all places to indulge. I am seldom without a book of some type. It can be light and fun summer reading such as the kind you would take to the beach, or it can be a weighty tome for times when you are off by yourself at home. For vacations, I tend to opt for lighter fare that doesn’t mind a few distractions nearby. When you are basking in the sun and enjoying the warmth of the sand at the beach, it is a great time to pick up that book you have been neglecting. No matter the screaming kids nearby. And then there is the crushingly glorious sound of crashing waves. People are scurrying about trying to get some shade and are putting up their beach umbrellas for protection.

Given that reading is not ideal with too much sun glare, I also want my own umbrella to sit under to enjoy my book in the shade. I look around and see many kinds large and small. Some are metal in construction and some basic wood. I don’t care. I want it to be easy to erect and just as easy to take down. It can’t be too heavy as I have to tote it along with my ice chest and towel. I don’t want to risk twisting my wrist in the process. They now make lightweight umbrellas if you don’t mind not having a vast amount of shade. They are big enough to cover your limbs and maybe your lunch.

I saw a mother struggling with an umbrella while two unruly kids sat by watching intently. Each child wanted to grab another end of the thing and they kept pulling it apart. There was a lot of squawking going on. Each child has his own agenda. The mother was practically in tears. The kids were being exposed to the sun and kept bemoaning the fact that they had no sunscreen. I saw no progress being made. I was sure that the umbrella wasn’t sturdy enough to withstand this onslaught and sure enough it came apart. I heard a loud disconcerting rip. Then the kids tried to poke the fabric back in place. They bent the wire spokes into all kinds of uncompromising directions. This umbrella was not long for this world.

Not long after this scene, the lifeguard came to the rescue. He seemed to appear out of nowhere. But he brandished a large yellow umbrella that he placed strategically over the mother with one deft movement of his left hand. Where did it come from? Inside his little hut? No matter. The problem was solved. The kids scrambled to get under and it was just big enough to accommodate them. The mother started to open the sacks of lunch she had brought and placed sandwiches on the towel beneath the umbrella. Thermoses of lemonade were next. She offered me a glass, knowing I had patiently witnessed this trying scene. As for me, I was firmly ensconced under my umbrella, happy as a clam.

There is nothing worse than book damage due to mold from excess humidity. Those who live in certain climates are particularly prone to this problem. If you have ever been to New Orleans or the Midwest in the summer, you know what I mean. In any case, any book lover will squirm when you mention this plight. Most people don’t do much in the way of protection for valuable tomes and thus some valuable and beloved books become harmed. Collectors, budding or veteran, need to know the ropes when it comes to preventing loss to one’s precious collection. A dehumidifier is most definitely in order.

I, myself, have had this problem and have had to toss away more than one favorite read. It pains me to do so and I usually struggle to find an instant replacement. This takes considerable time, which is not always available. I hate to see my book accumulation in decline and I lament every speck of mold. It took me a while to tune into a solution in the form of a simple appliance. Let me tell you how.

A dehumidifier basically removes excess moisture from the air, known to cause foxing of paper and other sorts of significant mold damage. It cannot be repaired. You either live with it and accept the devaluation of the item, or you prevent it ahead of time, the preferred approach. You can’t be too vigilant with artwork either. It undergoes the same transformation as do rate books. Prints and original works on paper can succumb to moisture overtime, even if the art is framed. It has nothing to do with the age of collectibles. It will simply happen when moisture exists a great deal of the time.

Out comes the dehumidifier in the museum and rare book shop. Curators and entrepreneurs know how to preserve value by plugging in this trusty device. A lot of money is saved by using basic principles of conservation. You may feel out of your element in selecting a good one, but it can be done quickly online. You can ask the professionals by phone or email, or go to reputable sites on the Internet like Humidity Helper and read the descriptions and reviews.

You will find various styles and sizes at every price point within the average range. Depending upon the size of your room and the types of objects in question, you will make a choice. If you have a budget, you needn’t worry. The low cost of a unit may not indicate its quality, only its capacity. Mold, allergens, and mildew be gone! People who store books in basements are particularly prone. On top of a monetary loss from humidity damage, there is also the matter of personal health. Some models also are effective in reducing or eliminating telltale odors.

So take a tip from this blog and get yourself an acceptable dehumidifier if you are a fellow traveler in the book sphere. You will save yourself a lot of grief-and money!

Food & Wine graces my coffee table alongside Wine Spectator. There are others, but these are my favorites in which I get the latest, greatest wine reviews. They cover the gamut to satisfy any aficionado, and recently there was a bonus. One of these illustrious gourmet magazines featured wine coolers as well, so now I am up to speed on proper refrigeration. I expect that a new wine cooler is going to come on premises soon. They give all the specs, prices, brands, and measurements. Along with online reviews, I can’t go wrong.

I am not only passionate about wine for entertaining, but also for myself – for relaxing and sipping, especially when curled up with a good book. I have enough of a collection to merit a wine fridge of my own so I can unburden my regular one as soon as possible. Wine can take up a lot of space. Plus, it needs temperature control, which you don’t get with the family fridge. Using the reviews I have been reading, I am going to select dual digital control, a 32 bottle capacity, stainless steel design, interior lighting, noise and vibration free operation, and more. It’s going to run at least three hundred dollars. It is going to make a big difference in how long I have to wait to uncork my beverage. Red line likes to breathe at room temperature!

As a reader, I have a certain perspective on what is important in life. Some people like to wine and dine, and that’s commendable; but for me, it is all about dine and read. Yes, I combine the best of both worlds and couldn’t be happier. The wine fridge has its place in my home just as my shelves of books occupy vital space. It is a marriage of convenience and love. Both count for a lot of personal contentment during my leisure time. Neither gets short shrift.

Do I just drink any wine within reach? Not so. I feel that certain wines go with certain books. You don’t pair a white with a heavy tome like The Red and the Black. You don’t drink red with books you would read on the beach during vacation. There is a bit of an art to it. Light fare such as Nicholas Sparks speaks for itself. When you delve into literature, you can get selective. The Hunger Games? Not sure. I would go with red since it is an intense story. How about historical fiction? If you are reading up on Napoleon, the Civil War, or the Great Depression—why not red as well. For The Secret Garden, go white. You can have a lot of fun debating the book/wine pairing idea with friends who share your passion.

You can spark up some pretty intense conversations with strangers on this subject, so it is a great way to socialize and make new friends. You can then invite them over to sample any of your special selections. Meanwhile you have a lot ahead of you if you have a significant book collection and want to start the pairings in advance.

Do you ever look in the store or online and see a great bookshelf and think, god, I want that! And then you see the price and it’s—nevermind! Why are bookcases so expensive? Half the time, they aren’t even made out of real wood. My old bookcase is bursting at the seams, so I had to do something. I mentioned to my dad that I liked the look of built-in bookcases and you know how the daddies of girls are—that was all he needed to hear. Really, I think he wanted to spend some time together and have an excuse to use all those expensive tools he keeps in the garage. Either way, though, I was in.

I showed him the shelving units I liked best and he picked two tall bookcases with a kind of entertainment center in the middle I can put my TV on. It would be the easiest to build, he said. We used to do things together like this when I was little; we built our old dog, Lucy, an impressive dog house years ago. My dad ordered the wood and we set a weekend aside to get the actual work done.

My dad cut the wood because he is much better at the saw than I am. Then he brought it to my place and we sanded and painted everything white. You might think that’s boring but it is actually the color of my walls, so the bookcases blend in very nicely.

That took us about the whole first day.

The next day he came over with a nail gun and an air compressor to run it. I thought that sounded way better than swinging a hammer all day long. He’s got this little “hot dog” air compressor (He used to have a different one, so I asked him what kind this was as he was lugging it into the house, and that’s what he told me. It definitely made it seem cute) that very nicely attaches to his pneumatic nail gun. It only took a minute for the compressor to get up and running. My dad warned me that it might seem loud, but we were actually talking while it was running and I could hear him just fine. I liked that it ran on electricity—his old one was gas powered and it had to be outside. We were able to get all the nails in pretty quickly so that the bookcase assembled like a dream. I really liked it. I think if I decide to do more assembly projects like this, I might get my own air compressor and nail gun!

Now I have both a great, custom-made dream storage unit and I got to spend time with my dad. Definitely a win-win.

What do you think? Have you ever made something like this? Would you use manual tools or do something like we did, a pneumatic nail gun and an air compressor?