Friday, May 25, 2018

Expedient Triumph

Long tenure in an old house under contemporary conditions has taught me the value of scratching high design values in favor of just getting on with the project, whatever it may be. Mine is not a situation that depends on resale value in a single family market.


When I moved in, there were vestiges of one of the original door frames in the pass pantry that had been modified to allow direct access from the family parlor (aka dining room) to the production kitchen. What was left of the door frame wasn't pretty, so I decided to cover the wall with pegboard. It's out of view unless one is in the pantry. I painted it to match the walls and was astonished by how instantly useful the pegs became. Now it's hard to imagine keeping house without at least one vertical storage facade. Thirty dollars' worth of materials and a couple of hours fiddling have paid off in countless hours of efficient staging of shopping outings, minor restoration projects, and office tasks -30-
More after the jump.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Nail Polish

A simple drugstore rack of cheap nail polish has become my got-to for minor maintenance and restoration projects. It's hard to find model builder's jars of oil-based paint on my usual shopping rounds. Now that nail polish covers the rainbow, it's trivial to pick up the right color, apply it with the internal brush, and recycle the remainder with the nearest young adult -30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Urban Security

An East Bay friend explained that the skaters in his local park and ride deterred car prowling.

A Detroit matron in a declining neighborhood said that embellishing fences with graffiti murals attracted drive-by visitors who provided automatic surveillance of the area -30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Dinosaur

The other day I spotted a good quality oak cabinetmaker's tool chest in one of the thrift stores on the Ave. It was clean and complete down to the keys. I contemplated the thing for a couple of long minutes and concluded that current technology is a better deal, for my purposes, at ten times the price. A similar metal chest of drawers from Shamrock is easier to handle, modular with the mates in its line, and easier to maintain. The old piece, though, is worth conserving in the right situation, because of the resources embedded in it and because it does not recycle. It would be a good low table in the right room, and the format is convenient for storing art and craft supplies.


I have yet to find an improvement on the combination of lockable metal tool storage, adjustable coated wire shelving on heavy wheels, and legally acquired industrial grade dairy crates. Anything I want to store I can secure with that combination of amenities coupled with plastic bags, archival quality heavy paperboard boxes, and Raptor's system of travel cubes and envelopes -30-

More after the jump.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Frugal Countertop

Around 1985, I paid through the nose for chrome yellow designer oilcloth from a stylish local fabric store. While browsing, I decided on the spot that it might be worth restoring the oilcloth that had covered the splendid bullnosed straight grain Doug fir counters in my 1890 pass pantry when I moved into the house. Oilcloth had gone out of use when housekeepers realized it was not a good idea to cover food prep surfaces with a layer of pest habitat. I reasoned that double-sticky tape would frustrate little crawling critters and on went the new stock.

The first week it was in place, I set the daily paper on a damp spot and discovered the ink transferred beautifully. It took a few years of daily wiping for the image to fade, but eventually I forgot about it. Thirty years later, I have not had reason to regret that particular piece of historic restoration in the 1890 pass pantry.


A few years later I set a square of flashy Mexican oilcloth on a utility table on the back porch, that is roofed and latticed. The cloth has been exposed to wind, rain, and occasional sun ever since, is frequently cleaned with window spray, and shows minor fading but little other sign of wear -30-
More after the jump.

Friday, May 18, 2018

This Old Drain

The drain in an ancient powder room sink was losing its enthusiasm. Pouring a couple of kettles full of boiling water not only cleared whatever was slowing it down, they left the porous enamel surprisingly bright and clean. I had forgotten that the ancient way is still valid for pipes made of metal -30-
More after the jump.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Vinegar Spray

I find it convenient to insert the spray mechanism from one of the small bottles my drugstore carries into an unbreakable pint of white vinegar. One set-up lives over the kitchen sink to sanitize salad greens (after a similar spray of hydrogen peroxide). The other lives in the bathroom cabinet, where it is available to rinse sink, tub, and shower curtain free of soap residue. I usually clean those surfaces with window spray, but now and then a vinegar finish improves the result -30-
More after the jump.