Saturday, January 14, 2012

Books, books, and more books.....

You can call me a bookworm or you can point out my hoarder tendencies......

.....but I was raised with a deep appreciation for books.

Over the years hundreds of books have passed through my front door, both incoming and outgoing.  I aquire most of them at either very low- or no-cost.  I borrow extensively through the public library.  As a matter of fact, one of the first things I do upon any relocation is locate all the libraries around me and become a card-carrying patron.  I still have my card from my library in another state even though it has long since expired.  (I have plans for it in an upcoming project.)

Right now there are about 24 to 30 books in my living room, not including craft books.  Of these 30 or so books, about half are permanent residents and the other half will be re-donated to Goodwill once I'm done with them.  Wherever I go, there are always ones that catch my attention.

Recently I found this gem from the latter part of the last century.  I brought back a flood of memories, and thoughts on energy in general.  Just before this book was written I was in high school and working part-time.  I graduated in '72 and worked full-time, paying my own way.  In '76 I married, we bought a modest house, and thus began the homeowners' dilemmas.  For what is usually known as the "best years of one's life", mine were played out against the background of an energy crisis,the ending of a major military struggle, NOW, the Son of Sam, Watergate, an (in)famous murder in my hometown (involving a prominent politcal family), and a few other incidentals.  Don't get me teen years were personally great.  But when it comes to energy saving and consumption, it still bothers me that we're no better now than we were back then, imho.  While I was getting up before dawn to get in line at the gas station (odd-numbered days for my odd-numbered license plate), we were told that the technology existed to produce cars that would exceed 60mpg and that these would be in production by the end of the decade (by 1980.)  So where are they?  Oil prices went down and the pressure was off the car companies to increase efficiency.  Instead, they went for aerodynamic design and wowed the masses with sleek, sexy looks.  I often wonder how many gallons would have been saved if those 60mpg vehicles had come to fruition.  Thirty-plus years of half the oil usage on the roads would have made a huge dent in our total consumption of a natural resource.  But I've gotten off track.....

As a newlywed and newbie homeowner, I remember trying to save energy.  We put a Crane cooker (wood and coal stove combo) into our little cape.  We got used old-style wooden storm windows and hung them on our house, cutting down on drafts and increasing the warmth.  We had a fantastic garden and a grape arbor.  Mom taught me water-bath canning.  And there was a plethora of do-it-yourself information out there for folks like us.  It was the original return to "the old ways of our ancestors".....a combination of hippie commune and shade tree advice from grandfather, dad, or helpful older neighbor.

Mother Earth News was a leader in the movement to conserve.  Even popular magazines recognized the need for low-cost home improvements.  I remember seeing pop-in interior "shutters" or rigid insulation covered in fabric that would snuggly fit in a window to prevent heat loss.  These articles were geared for the average homeowner who wanted maximum value for minimum outlay.  So finding this book was a "validation" for me, as it were.  I knew there were more simple things that I could do without a major retrofit here in my condo and later, wherever I may be.  (You may recall my success last year, with putting up the shrinkwrap-type plastic on my sliding door and installation of the heavy-duty drape to cut back on draft and heat loss.  I've repeated the application for this winter.)

It seems that nowadays we focus on what we can buy in order to $ave.  Everything is pre-built, ready to install (or have installed by a contractor).  There is a large consumer-driven culture, as opposed to the smaller one geared at those who want to put things together or use their skills (although I do find people with those inclinations over here.)  Maybe I've just become immune to the sales hype, but I just think we need to use our noggin a little more and our wallet a little less ;)   And maybe we should learn from the mistakes we've made over the's not too late.

There's a time and a place for everything, and this book has a place in my collection.

I'd like to share this photo with you.  I've had this geranium for about twelve years.  Each Winter I cut it back and each Spring I put it outside.  It sits inside the sliding door with the shrinkwrap plastic.  This year it has decided to honor me with a mid-winter bloom!

Here's hoping that you're all staying warm and cozy this weekend!


1 comment:

Impera_Magna said...

I too the '70s and the drive to be "energy efficient"... what a treasure of a book you've found.. and what a great job you're doing to make the most of what energy you are consuming. Would it be that everyone did the same...

Your geranium applauds you!