Friday, May 30, 2014

Little Nippers


Photo courtesy Flickr

I pulled a pair of forceps out of the house geek’s tool chest and tried them on a maintenance turn in the garden. They’re the Very Thing for lifting trodden cigarette butts off pavement and surprisingly effective for pulling nascent weeds out of crevices. They also save the back an extra ten inches of stoop.

Good deal!


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More after the jump.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Shoe Box Revisited


Photo courtesy Flickr

Expert commentary on the storage of photographs often begins with a reference to a shoe box full of snapshots. That format is not the worst case scenario for the future of a family collection. The worst case is the pre-fab retail album with plastic covered self-sticking pages that eat the emulsion film image.

I converted to archival storage in the early Seventies, long enough ago for me to realize that bulky album images locked into a fixed sequence are close to useless for the way I manipulate and store visual information today. At the moment, I’m conserving things with an eye to making life easy for my adult child, whose time, energies, and storage space are maxed out.

A cousin promised me a previously unseen family photo archive of six cartons of slides and snapshots. No doubt there are treasures hidden between the smelly corrugations of those vintage boxes. I want to be ready for the sorting binge that promises to arrive any day now.

I pulled out my photo archive, that lives in a technically correct painted metal deed box from the late nineteenth century. I sorted the prints and stored each pile in the neutral pH cotton fiber 81/2 x 11 Stork envelope marketed as a resume mailer. The envelopes now live in a fire proof file box waiting for the next stage of the sort. Each image is identified on the back in pencil.

I will mount the prints on Stork thirty-two pound 8 1/2 x 11 rag stock, making diagonal slits with an exact tungsten blade to accept the photo corners. Pages of prints will flatten the bulk of the archive and make it modular for standard office storage formats. I will continue to house them in the fireproof case. A photo expert assures me that the plastic housing is “no worse than anything else”. The idea is to maintain the most conservative archive on numbered pages and copy the images with a digital lens for versatile distribution.

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More after the jump.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Outrunning Supply


Ultimate mail order photo courtesy Flickr

My partner and I renegotiated domestic responsibilities recently. I’m the one keeping lettuce on the table now. It’s been catch as catch can for a couple of week-cycles. I realized that the rush of a daily life engaged with the greater life of the city, not to mention the rest of the world, can easily carry one past routine supply lines. That’s what’s happening when one runs out of whatever..milk, dish soap, printer ink.

The classic way to ensure a personal supply of necessities is to stock two back-up units of a standard item. Replace the replacement when one is used up. Changing patterns of procurement demand close attention until new shopping habits develop. It doesn’t take long, but it does take focus.

Ensuring constancy in household stores brings peace to the whole domestic operation. Doing so frees energies for great leaps forward.

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More after the jump.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Total Elapsed Time


Photo courtesy Flickr

Several months ago I invested in a German laundry spinner. Sold as a swimming pool accessory, it’s a home-scale version of the centrifuges that used to live in laundromats. A thorough spin leaves wet wash dry enough to wear. My device is about the size of a cylindrical step-open waste can.

After discovering no-rinse detergent at my friendly local weaving supply store, I began to experiment with hand washing everything at home. The ancestral copper boiler washed many a sheet in its day. It’s still as good a design as any for keeping one’s apron dry while sloshing a large piece of goods to and fro. I set up the boiler in the bathtub on a pair of sixteen-quart dairy crates. It’s easy to fill it with the telephone shower hose.

Hand washing with no rinse detergent serves very well for the urban laundry that is soiled more by stress than heavy labor. Now and then, more now than then now, my partner totes a big load to a nearby laundromat for more than expedient cleaning.

The no-rinse/laundromat combination is a conscious experiment in replacing the portable twin-tub machine I had been using. It’s refreshing to have the washing machine out of the kitchen-there’s been a substantial gain in how I am able to use the space. I can wash a two-gallon bucket of clothing using the warm-up water from the shower. By the time my person is clean, the laundry is adequately soaked, and I can spin it while I tend to one personal grooming task. Setting damp clothes on a seventy-five watt electric towel rack leaves them ready to fold and store in about an hour. Not bad for less than two minutes’ hands on attention, a couple of gallons of water, and a dime’s worth of soap. 

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More after the jump.