Friday, August 4, 2017

Rule Number One

I tested an accumulated set of vintage restaurant china to see if the glazes were free of lead. Five of the six sample pieces were poisonous. To test each one, which would be necessary, costs just a little less than the price it fetches.

When I was just old enough to wash dishes, my mother pointed out the marks and made sure that I understood how important it is to use ware from a reputable maker. I believe she passed on her lesson before lead testing kits were easily available. I had relaxed my vigilance about the vintage set because I trusted the source and because many of the makers have been pillars of ceramics. 

A professor of biochemistry pointed out the dire hazard of lead. A tox-haz expert told me he would shatter each dish if it were up to him to dispose of them. I leave it to the community of collectors to decide what is the right thing to do -30- More after the jump.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

No Fixed Function

Eighteenth-century domestic architecture perceived an interior as a series of boxes with no dedicated use. That's a straightforward and effective way to get the most out of one's cubic feet. I find that concentrating storage of small articles in the least appealing room on each floor of the house allows me to reconfigure a space in minutes. Not the least advantage of the approach is the reduction in stress it affords -30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Garden Notes


When we were new to the house, I asked a fellow to skim the sod off the front bank so I wouldn't have to worry about mowing my toes. The bare soil grew spectacular crops of weeds so stubborn that it took an Indian digging stick, aka patcha, to root them out. Thirty-five years of annual mulching with leaves of the towering deciduous shade trees on the block have produced soil that, even when bare and relatively dry, gives up noxious weeds with a gentle tug. This is progress.

My first house came with a cast brass watering rosette that I foolishly let go at some point. If you run across one, grab it. It's ten times the tool of the current stamped steel and plastic models. The same is true for the adjustable nozzle that resembles the one that is mounted on fire hoses.

I sheet compost all garden waste and decided to use the west lawn as the staging area for mowing garden rubbish. It looked a little ratty after processing major detritus from the front bank, but I reasoned that watering the debris and raking it before repeated mowings would accelerate decomposition and produce one happy sward. So far, so good, and the birdies love the place.


At the moment, robins show up before dawn, crows and squirrels arrive with true daylight, and then members of various flocks go about their business.  Once I learned that setting up a bird feeder includes establishing a lifelong responsibility to the users, I decided I'd rather plant nourishing flora and let the birds take care of themselves-30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Marker Magic

Black clothing and laundry bleach are not always a bonny combination. An ordinary permanent marker makes short work of the odd trace of rusty dye left from a close encounter with a tub of washwater.


Check with your friendly local antique appraiser before resorting to the quickest of quick fixes for a sad wood finish. Marker and a dab of bright wax bring a surface up to snuff in the blink of an eye -30-
More after the jump.