The post-Christmas clean-up is under way – get the presents out from under the tree, clean up the bits of wrappings and boxes, and generally put the house back in order. We’ve got guests coming over tomorrow (really) and it would be nice for them not to have to choose their steps carefully to avoid stepping on something like we do. Sometimes getting from one room to another in this place is like running a Tough Mudder obstacle race, only with less mud. In most rooms, at least.
With cleaning on the mind, thoughts naturally turn to, “How the heck are we ever going to pack all this stuff up when we finally sell the house?” The obvious answer is that we’re not, and that some sacrifices will have to be made. One of the biggest obstacles we’ll face to moving across the country is our books. We have a library – literally. Where normal people would put a living room, we built a library, with an entire wall of built-in bookcases. There are about 72 lineal feet of shelves in that bookcase alone, and every inch is packed with books. There are piles of books on the floor in front of the shelves. Upstairs, each kid has another ten or twelve feet of book shelves, and we’ve got another bookcase in our bedroom just for my prepping and homesteading books. There are three more huge bookcases in the bonus room, a built-in shelf unit in my office, and countless books free-ranging around the house at any time. And don’t get me started on what’s in the attic.
So, yeah – we’ve got a book problem.
Anyway, after dinner my son began to wax eloquently about what we should do about said books. His suggestions boiled down to getting rid of almost all of them. I listened patiently while casting a glance at Mrs. P, who was grinding her teeth at the mere thought of tampering with The Books. My son (I haven’t come up with a good code name for him yet) made a good case for liquidation, but in the end, I quietly said, “But you don’t realize that those books serve a purpose beyond just reading.” At his quizzical look, I explained, “I won’t go into detail except to say that stacks of books are excellent at absorbing radiation.” He looked at me with that special brand of shocked dismay that often attends conversations between teenage sons and their catastrophically stupid fathers and blurted out, “So you’re going to build a fallout shelter from stacks of books? That’s by far the craziest thing I’ve ever heard you say!”
It may well be the craziest thing I’ve ever said out loud to him, but by no means does it peg my personal crazy meter. After all, I’ve been to some pretty dark places in my mental journey toward preparedness. And while a nuclear exchange is admittedly a low-probability event, it’s not zero, and with the things going on in the news, I don’t see the probability dropping anytime soon. Besides, as low as the risk may be, the consequences are mighty high, and not having at least war-gamed the scenario is not acceptable to my way of thinking.
Is that crazy talk? Maybe to some, but to me it seems a measured response to a possible threat to my family’s health and well-being. Shoveling three feet of dirt onto my floor right now would be as crazy as Richard Dreyfuss made it seem in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Keeping books around that serve a useful purpose everyday and might be re-tasked into a field-expedient shelter? Seems legit to me.
Still, I’m not looking forward to packing all these books up and carting them to Idaho someday. So we’ll probably have to pare the collection down considerably someday. Until that day comes, here’s hoping that The Books stay on the shelves, quietly and peacefully gathering dust.