I'm sitting in a chair, maybe having a glass of wine. Dead ahead of me, a bookshelf.
Last night I trained my beady eye on 3 or 4 dictionaries, French, English anda Roget's. Tattered, loved, read. I used to consult these things. Not all that long ago. Now I get this info online. Two Webster's desk dictionaries, my high school one and newer edition (there's a third in California, along with a leatherbound, yellow, 2-volume edition that belonged to my grandparents).
Finally, sadly, I took the oldest one, I removed the page that had all my old names on it in my teenage, then 20s handwriting, two or three former addresses. I bore it in both hands to the trash, but I didn't put it in, I laid it on top of the bin; maybe someone in the building was studying English, and...
The other volumes (Robert 1 and 2, rhyming etc) I moved from my study to the living room reference book shelf, at which point I remembered a word I'd been wanting to look up in the OED. I meant to go to the Stanford Library. I'd looked and looked online and not found anything. It's the word "stranger," as Coleridge uses it in "Frost at Midnight," and there it was, on page 3082, meaning 3b: "any of the things which are popularly imagined to forbode the coming of an unexpected visitor; e.g. a piece of soot flapping on the bar of the grate..."
The OED stays. I've never found it online. But if I did I probably wouldn't need a magnifying glass to read it.