Friday, January 18, 2019

It's About The Content

Managing a personal library is a serious housekeeping challenge. The urge to retain everything is worth respecting: one never knows when a fragment of paper will become the only record of vital information. That said, retaining everything is a recipe for going nuts. Paper records foster allergenic mite waste like nothing else.
Speaking only as a housekeeper who has repeatedly dusted several generations of trade books, there comes a time when the editing function must take precedence over mere warehousing. Making decisions can be delayed, but sooner or later someone must. Sometimes that someone is a silverfish, fungus, or rodent.

A bound book on paper is the result of nearly two millennia of low-tech audio recording engineering. A competently designed volume protects the voice of the author, the whole point of the production. Cover, fly leaves, and margins are devices that buy time from the wear and tear that of reading. Books are fragile and live longest in the same conditions enjoyed by human beings. That said, there is a library in the far north of Europe that is renowned for the longevity of its volumes, that are protected by extreme dry cold.

Books are bulky. In my experience they provide good insulation and sound-deadening qualities in a densely populated area. That's the crude way to evaluate a library. Over the years, I have weeded yards of shelves. The first round found me determined to eliminate anything I was likely to be able to find in a public library. My time line was too short: I didn't realize that professional librarians have the same problems. On-line sales of used books helped me correct early mistakes. It is heartening to observe that books that were hard to find ten years ago have been reissued.

The home libraries of early Western Washington European-American households often held collections of literature identically bound in a series.Sometimes the series was printed in a small format to enable use in the field. It's precious, but nineteenth century books suffer from the acidic machine made paper on which they are printed. Conserving one is expensive and painstaking. 

My personal collection is now limited to a few feet of well-designed trade editions of classics and a few more feet of areas of special interest. The nineteenth century pride in scripture and family photo album is a good shorthand for necessities. A homesteaders' guide to subsistence farming, livestock management, cleaning products, health, and beauty would be a good third element. When considering books as books, I'd add Paul Shaw's "Eternal Letter" -30-
More after the jump.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Holiday Shakedown

I find it useful to structure the holiday timetable long in advance to protect my schedule from last minute demands. One thing is most helpful: I make notes about what worked last month. Tradition is efficient. By repeating successful behaviors, I've cut set-up time to a couple of hours. January sales make it easy to equip the household for cold weather festivities. The best part of the aftermath are the  leftover treats -30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


Not until 1987 did I decide electricity was here to stay. I passed my hand grain grinder along and began to phase out solid fuel appliances and sources of light. However, it is foolish to keep house in Western Washington without being equipped to fulfill basic life support off the grid. The possibility of an outage is ever-present, even in the heart of town close to the hospitals that must be supported.

I don't count being able to make and bake bread as part of my emergency back-up system, though. That's why God made crackers. I stand ready to open and heat the odd can of something, make oatmeal, and keep warm in the absence of the sensors that power the furnace.

The Great Big Hiking Co-op and the Mountaineers are the foundation of local domestic reality. Pioneer log cabin days are not far in the past, and there's a practical inertia embedded in domestic inventories. I understand low tech and paleolithic life support as foundation layers that enable what one hopes are sustainable higher-tech ways of managing elementary tasks-30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Slick Little Notebook

I use a fountain pen. It's hard to find an affordable writing surface engineered to support water-based ink. The Pioneering Computer Outfit now known for its printers offers a line of papers that are heaven to write on. Unusually, both sides are equally sweet. I use a fountain pen. It's hard to find an affordable writing surface engineered to support water-based ink. The papers are acid free, so I can hold a ream or two in inventory against the day I want to record something and guarantee it some kind of a future.

I have been using the line of Italian notebooks that is styled to a subtle fare-thee-well. They offer a surface that's responsive to the pen. The tiny pocket notebook was discontinued, so I pulled out the paper cutter and chopped a few 2.5"x7" cards from my ream of cover stock. The stuff is good for 3-ring binder pages that get heavy use. I folded the cards on the short side to produce a reporter's notebook format. They have proved more convenient, and far cheaper, than the bound books I had been using -30-
More after the jump.

Monday, January 14, 2019

From My Cold Dead Hands

I'm facing Laundry-geddon when the new machine arrives next week. In the meantime, the European bathing suit spinner is holding its place as Most Valuable Appliance. Ordinarily I use it to turn wet wash into nearly dry wash that can be worn straight out of the spinner with little discomfort even in a Seattle winter. The machine will extract a cup or two or water from a finished load that I pull out of the automatic -30-
More after the jump.