September 16, 2008

Organizing my Cookbooks

Where has the time gone--it's hard to believe that it's been almost a month since my last post. Part of the time was spent catching up on things after being out of town for a while and then I was sick for almost two weeks. Once I started catching up again after that then here came Hurricane Ike.

We survived the hurricane quite nicely in my small town just west of Houston--we were much more fortunate than many around us. It feels good to do something normal again, like post on this blog, although at the same time rather strange, in light of the devastation and problems just a short car ride away.

Someone asked in the Comments how I organized my cookbooks. I had been giving that subject quite a bit of thought these last few days, as the main room that my cookbooks are in sits at the front of the house which is almost directly beneath a 100 year-old oak tree.

I didn't voluntarily evacuate as was suggested by our Chief of Police, but I almost did, just because of that oak tree. In the end I stayed because of a stubborn cat who steadfastly refused to join her buddies in the carriers and because the west side of Houston was supposedly safe from the worst of the storm.

I keep many of my cookbooks on wall-to-wall bookshelves in this room. I have my desktop computer in here too and many of my reference books. I like having my desk at the front of the house because the street traffic I can see from the window is more interesting than that at the rear of the house. I could see a steady stream of trucks hauling away sheets of plywood last Thursday and Friday from the hardware store. The stream of mandatory evacuees from the coast was different than last time--it was actually moving. I saw more boats on trailers going down that road those two days than I saw the entire summer. Right now I have a hummingbird feeder hanging off the front of the porch that is just swarming with hummingbirds. I'm not sure if this is part of their normal migratory pattern or if it's something to do with the hurricane. There are so many of them--more than I've ever seen before.

After seeing some of the storm damage, and all those fallen oaks, I realize that although the tree didn't fall this time, it very well could the next time we get in a good blue norther. So I've decided to move the bookshelves to a room at the back of the house. It's not that big of a house, but if the tree ever does fall, they might not be totally destroyed in that room. (I seem to be obsessing over the tree falling--probably the result of a solid week's worth of media hype. Also the three days I spent picking up limbs and twigs from the yard.)

I have some plastic storage boxes of cookbooks that are in a closet. This would be the same closet that I'll be hiding in should a tornado come along, so they're already in the safest place they can be.

So far, only a part of the advertising cookbooks are catalogued in a database. I put those that are catalouged in numerical order on the bookshelves. For my purposes that works the best although sometimes I wish that they were grouped together on the shelves by manufacturer or product. Part of one shelf holds duplicates of those that are catalogued. Overall, I don't think I have that many duplicates.

The dates of the cookbooks range from the late 1800s all the way up to 2008. New ones come in the mail all the time.

I don't put them in little plastic bags although a few of them came that way. If I did scrapbooking, I daresay that I probably wouldn't be using archival supplies there either. I take my cookbooks off the shelves and look at them and use them way too often to have to be fiddling around with removing a protective wrapper. I do store all my books in air conditioning--Texas heat and humidity is murder on paper. I'm an expert on the cost of climate-controlled storage.

I spend a lot of time on these cookbooks but I really, really enjoy them and all they have to say to us.


At 8:58 PM CDT, Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Glad to hear you did okay in the hurricane - I've been thinking about that the last few days. You have quite an amazing collection. Someday, I will get all my food books catalogued and organized.

At 7:44 PM CDT, Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

Hi Kathy,
I too have been lacking in the posting department. Hopefully normalcy will return this week.
I'm so glad you were spared by the storm. We finally heard from my brother who was in Galveston. He is now at a friend's house.
I don't know what I would do if I had to leave my books. I think I wouldn't! Sounds like you have them very well organized. Although, I have some in binders in protective sleeves, like you say when I get to really using them I'm not sure how that will work. The database was a tremendous help until I reorganized since the move to my new house in PA. It use to contain their locations but alas, I'm still not totally here or there. Soon I hope...

At 7:25 AM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

T.W. - When I first started out I didn't realize what a never-ending job it would be. Might help if I quit acquring more.

louise - Glad your brother is safe--what a mess it is in Galveston. So many of the landmarks I grew up with are gone now. It will be interesting to see the island now. I am not anxious to even move these books to another room. Quite a job to keep them in order.

At 4:05 AM CDT, Blogger Rochelle R. said...

I read that most of the fatalities of the storm were from falling trees.That surprised me. I guess trees are a bigger concern that I would have thought.
I really must start doing something to organize my books. I have boxes or plastic containers in every room of my house and garage and embarrassingly even stacked on my front porch.


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