Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Pneumatic Dustpan

Photo courtesy Flickr

A carpenter taught me to hold the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner next to any dust-generating task I was doing, like sanding a board. With a HEPA filter in the machine, there’s little clean up when the job is over.

I am not patient with vacuum cleaners, and getting the hall stairs clean is always a clumsy bother. Wrangling the machine is more work than collecting the dirt. A few years ago, I discovered the ideal tool for grooming the flat-weave runner on the stairs, a small currying brush from a tack store. The size does not tax my fine motor skills, and the natural bristles are kind to matting and old wood alike.

The last time I vacuumed the stairs, I used the machine sans hose, simply brushing directly into the opening to the bag. It worked beautifully and cut cleaning time to a third of what it had been.

-30-  More after the jump.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Winner

Photo courtesy Flickr

There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that man’s lawful prey. RUSKIN

Sometimes the race to the bottom produces an unexpected trophy. I added a shower assembly to the clawfoot tub in my 1890 bathroom and promptly realized that curtaining the new plumbing would be a custom project. A local outfit bent hospital track for a sizable piece of ceiling-mounted nylon yardage that was far from inexpensive.

That curtain served about ten years through numerous wash and bleach cycles. Finally mildew prevailed, and I replaced it for half the money with two polyester queen-sized flat sheets grommeted with a kit from the hardware store. They, too, served about ten years.

The third round found a boom-time market empty of synthetic bedding, so I mounted a pair of cotton sheets that lasted four years. In the mean time, the economy crashed, and a couple of months ago it was time for a new set of shower curtains.

The old school department store offered pretentious “luxury” cotton sheets at extortionate prices, but a sale table held a couple of sets of flimsy queen-sized polyester bedding, and I picked them up planning simply to donate the unnecessary pieces to the nearest thrift shop. I had fingered a sample of the fabric in the store, but when I unwrapped the packages, what I found was appallingly sleazy. Even the in-house guy checked them out and said, “Those are sheets!?”

Now and then the spirit of kamikaze makes itself known, and I went ahead with the project, folding the wide hems over themselves to accept brass grommets. The sheets went up, and to my surprise, they proved to be the best fabric yet for that application. They’re as loosely woven as old-fashioned window sheers but the thread count is high enough to block shower spray. They dry faster than any of the previous curtains. It’s too soon to tell about washing and bleaching, but so far the bet has paid off.

-30-  More after the jump.