Friday, March 22, 2013

The Latchkey Landscape

Photo courtesy Flickr

Last Saturday was one of those God-given gardening days: just too damp, chilly, and windy to enjoy even one minute in the great outdoors. I spent the day half-watching cheesy broadcast movies and detailing the interior.

Around tea time, I realized what a stress reducer it is to manage the garden so that it can look after itself most of the time. Intensive weeding is the key; that, careful litter control, and native plants that get along with rain water.

Several of the plants leafed out yesterday in spite of the weather. It’s good to know they’re as well-managed as they can be, so I won’t have to worry about injuring baby leaves while playing catch-up on maintenance.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

In Praise Of Furniture That Melts

This one's due for a wash, looks like five year's dust on it. Photo courtesy Flickr.

In the mid-twentieth century, a brilliant designer conceived of modular welded and chromed wire shelving units. They came in standard dimensions that could quickly be adjusted by an untrained person. The units were marketed for food service and popularized by Faith Popcorn for domestic use.

This shelving dusts itself, can be washed with a hose, and is easy to store flat. It comes in many configurations and with a couple of grades of castor. I bought my first unit around 1987, and it quickly became a staple of any utility application.

The stuff comes and goes. There’s a healthy secondary market for it, but the value is so high and my excess usually so minimal that I just set it out in the alley for the community to scavenge, as we sometimes scavenge from it. There’s new need in one of the workrooms, and pard has been too busy to phone in an order. In totalitarian housekeeper mode the other day, I cruised the place attic to sump to outbuildings and realized there are enough odd pieces to reconfigure and save us three bills worth of new product.

Casting about for today’s post, I realized that the patented shelving has saved trees and space, simplified procurement and maintenance, and, if it’s ever deemed useless, can go into the recycling bin.

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More after the jump.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Shoebox

Photo courtesy Flickr

It wasn’t even a shoebox, actually, but two flimsy priority cartons of a precious family photo archive courtesy of the barely known partner of an in-law who died years ago. One was broken open when it arrived at the house, the contents spilling onto the porch in a light rain. Only chance saved the collection from turning into soggy pulp, and only chance replaced what had been spilled.

A photo archive makes obvious one of the givens of housekeeping: its museum aspect. Ship in a sturdy container, or at least reinforce the freebie with heavy tape and line any carton with a plastic bag. I’d send anything that can’t be replaced via registered mail, or at the least give the recipient a heads up. Old paper is brittle, and it would be kind to pack it as if it were glass.

I happened to be hanging around over the week-end when the in-house archaeologist opened one carton. Family memories and professional training left him studying each snapshot as if he were looking for DNA traces on a projectile point. A hardened veteran of many such occasions, I volunteered to do the rough sort, and he gladly wandered off to cook for the week.

We are managing the inventory to lay the least burden on our offspring, and I sorted first by discarding bad and redundant shots that should have ended up in the drugstore wastebasket. Then I sorted for unknown persons, retaining snaps that were inherently entertaining. A friend who raised a wife and two daughters on freelance photography kept the occasional wolf from the door by printing in a mass laboratory. He loves a good snapshot as much as I, and confessed that he made an extra print now and then of something especially wonderful.

Leslie taught me to think of a photographic image as containing information, and he said that an old shot often contains information more entertaining or valuable than that which was originally intended. Pictures of cars, beloved mutts, and a cousin proudly displaying a huge string of fish made it quickly to the top of the keepers pile.

Once that was done and obvious treasures retained, the two cartons had been reduced to a comfortable handful of prints, with a couple of piles set aside for schools and museums. Sometimes the history of a family is invisible. The work was immaculate with no scent of damp or acidic paper, speaking of a carefully maintained and heated house. 

Experts say the most important thing: in pencil, label and date every image

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Passing Glance


Photo courtesy Flickr

A revered elder of an Eastern Washington tribe died last week, and a friend was asked to attend her funeral. She wrangled a family complicated by multiple marriages and the tribe’s ways with the children of the group. No slouch at self-assertion, this five foot nothing eighty-five pound matron once ran two huge foreign poachers off her traditional berrying ground single-handed.

I thought of my grandmother when I heard the report of the ceremony. The lid of Madge’s open coffin sported a wood-burned portrait of her looking over the top of her glasses with, um, a certain disciplinary fervor in her eye.

-30  More after the jump.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Washday Shortcut


Photo courtesy Flickr

Preferring complexity in areas other than maintenance, I’ve been trying to find one liquid product that I can use for dishes, laundry, hands, and hair. Politically correct stuff from the food co-op doesn’t always do the job, but it does most.

Laundry additives give me the heebie-jeebies, always have and even more so since I began to factor in child safety. At the least, that stuff eats the shelves it spills on, so I keep just one bottle of bleach and some window spray on hand.

Now and then a subtle greasiness makes its home in the flatwork. Dumping the the tail end of a bottle of window spray into a load of laundry makes short work of the problem. 

-30-  More after the jump.