Not Downsizing, but Trading Up

By Victoria Tirrel
Originally published in the January 2017 issue of the 1666 Coffman Newsletter

When Ed and I began planning to leave our house in Saint Anthony Park, one concern
was finding a new home with space for our sizeable library. Even if we downsized
ruthlessly, over his thirty years and my eighteen in our house we’d stashed books in every
room—living, dining, den, kitchen and pantry. Books slept in the bedrooms and toiled in
our offices. The back walls of both back porches, upstairs and down, were windows into
other worlds thanks to the contents of their shelves. In the attic, we kept our loftiest
books—two rooms of them! You folks are bibliophiles, so you know what I mean.

Books were on my mind when we decided to look at 1666. So it was a relief to walk
into the entryway of our Duluth model and envision poets Amy Lowell, the Bard and
Robert W. Service greeting visitors from our antique attorney’s bookshelves. In the
master bedroom, floor to ceiling shelves flanked the lovely view to the courtyard. A niche
in the living room called for books like the siren Lorelei.

But the revelation wasn’t over until we walked into the library. Wonder of wonder,
miracle of miracles! The spines of old (and new) friends welcomed me from the shelves,
and I knew I was home.

We’ve still had to downsize. Ed got us rolling by donating his scholarly books to
several university libraries. I gave books away and slowed my purchase of fiction, a
sacrifice for an aspiring novelist who wants to support fellow writers and independent

Next we gathered 800+ books we could part with and had a sale. Some things were
easy to let go of. After all, we owned three copies of Tim O’Brien’s masterpiece The
Things They Carried and two copies of Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time and
Solzhenitsyn’s Cancer Ward. In the humor section, we had primers on teaching your cat
French, volumes 1 and 2. Slowly the survivors are making their way to 1666, some into
Unit 202 but several into 1666 Library.

So while I’m downsizing a lot to live at 1666, I’ve also traded up. Unit 202 is just
steps from the library, so when I finish a book at 11 pm (or 3 am), I can slip down the
hall to our jewel to select the next. And the next. And the next.

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