Friday, May 5, 2017

Under And Over

Rosin paper is sold at hardware outlets to protect floors when a building is under construction. I use it between a bare floor and the sea grass matting that is my favorite covering for the house. Sea grass is period back to 1812. These days it is sold to the beach community.

Refreshing the dining room matting used only half the roll. Partner claimed it for his shop and discovered that for office utility tables, rosin paper is the functional equivalent of an old-school art student's butcher paper, that covered the drafting table. Pard saved the black plastic bumpers that protected the corners of the table during shipping and tucked them back into place after the paper was taped into position. The effect is doggoned classy, like a letterpress book binding or old-fashioned desk blotter. Himself says the toothy rosin paper is a good surface for using a mouse  -30- More after the jump.

Thursday, May 4, 2017


The expensive detergent recommended for heirloom quilts pays for itself in cleaning  bills. Use your own judgment and read "Carefully Disregarding Use and Care Instructions" in Cheryl Mendelsohn's Home Comforts.

When there was a hope of it drying before mildew set in, last July I washed an Oregon Rodeo blanket. I filled the bath tub with barely warm water, added detergent as the tub filled, and wrestled the cover under the surface. A minute or two's soak was all it took to refresh it after a good few years of service.

I set a legally-acquired industrial grade dairy crate in the tub as it was draining, eased the blanket in, and propped the crate up on one corner. When the dripping ceased several hours later, I humped the crate upstairs and laid the blanket out to dry on the obliging nap of a wool rug. A few washes will lend it the gentle surface of age. Properly defended from moth, it should look exquisite in about a hundred years -30- More after the jump.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Fourier

In the Middle Ages, a fourier was a member of a privileged household who preceded the main group as they moved from one estate to another. The fourier secured feed for the horses and prepared the interior of a vacant domicile by setting out textiles. Having moved seventeen times in four and a half years during my early housekeeping career, I can claim as fast a hand with a bedspread as any hippie chick who survived the Sixties.

In lieu of hot glue upholstery, I chose to disguise the clean but weary covering of an especially comfortable couch with a couple of putty-colored quilted spreads from the Great Big Northern European Home Furnishings chain. Tucked to fit, the spreads underlie a luxurious self-inflating air mattress from the Great Big Hiking Co-op. The mattress, in turn, is disguised with one of the Oregon Rodeo blankets beloved of local tribes and the glass community.

Fiddling with a spring tune-up of the interior, I discovered that an easier, more generous lapping of blanket across the front of the couch produced a more relaxed atmosphere in the room and simplified maintenance. Setting up is a game of centimeters that pays big returns -30- More after the jump.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Cheaper Than A Shrink

A fellow who does do windows washed panes and storms inside and out last week. The fresh light revealed that the interior does not need repainting after all. One ceiling is in trouble, but otherwise, careful dusting and a little polish will refresh nearly every surface in the place -30-
More after the jump.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Let It Rain

Poet Gary Snyder quoted a woodsman as saying, " 'Gonna live in this country, don't have nothin' you can't leave out in the rain." Yesterday I gave close attention to the books for the first time in several years. The inventory is small, and I keep a nose on a volume that I pull off the shelf, so I wasn't too worried about how things were doing. 

They're holding, but a new book, Caring for Your Family Treasures from Heritage Preservation, has guidelines that have me reevaluating just about everything. It's a good time to be doing so as I downsize in place and consider offerings to a new young household and to an old archive. Treasures supplements advice I found in The National Trust Manual of Housekeeping, England's operating guide for the stately homes that are its living legacy. The short version is protect your possessions from contact with destructive wood chemistry and keep them in the same circumstances that you find comfortable yourself.

I've been road-testing Snyder's quote for a generation. In the Eighties, enthusiastic family and friends showered us with old things after we bought an1890 house. A long series of what I hope have been responsible and well-informed, not to mention discreet, decisions leave me with a domestic inventory that is as close to the outdoor community's Ten Essentials as reason can justify.

Nowhere in the Ten is listed culture, and that's the kicker. However, with kitchen, tabletop, and wardrobe honed to the efficient minima, I have attention to spare for a few valuables. Things based on plant and animal fiber, like books, photographs, and textiles, are the most demanding possessions. I now discuss storage and maintenance with the next generation. Having skimmed Treasures, I'll designate a few things for the best any archive can provide and enjoy the rest with care.

I was reminded of how recently European-Americans settled Western Washington on a recent visit to the Fort Nisqually restoration in Tacoma's Point Defiance Park, one fine day trip. Family tales of early times as well as the ubiquitous "prices slightly higher west of the Rockies" notation that persisted in advertising until the mid-Seventies prepared me to appreciate the historic advantage of owning well-designed and produced artifacts of the European tradition.

Earlier visits to the fort preceded the detailed furnishings that now support the reenactments that are staged there. I found it telling to compare the relatively familiar interiors of the Hudson's Bay factor's residence with the Blue Willow pottery of the tiny living quarters of the tribeswoman who slept and kept house with her family in a corner of the blockhouse. Those few dishes must have looked like a light show in the rainy woods when they and the fort were new.

That accommodation was comfortable and generous compared to the pallet at the foot of the blockhouse stair where one of the men on the staff spent his nights. Like a castle, I suppose, being inside the paling was the principal advantage -30-

More after the jump.