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Sunday, July 08, 2007

A press run

Gate for new deer fence

We have settled into our summer routine, carrying greywater to fruit trees, packing grass clippings around the trees and into the compost tumbler, watching to see how the ducks and chickens will fare with the imperious and quite territorial geese, and having at least some of our meals outside.

The gate for the deer fence is made with a frame of old cedar fence boards about seven feet square, filled in with the same fencing -- two rows of two by three inch mesh utility fence -- that went into the fence itself. The hinges are just baling wire wrapped around the framing and a fence post. The gate handle is a steel utility door handle that I originally bought to use on the house in Deadwood -- that would be 27 years ago now!

Daughter and her Young Man brought over a rental truck today, and, with Last Son's help, we loaded her few worldly possessions into it --they only filled about half the truck -- gathered for a last meal of mostly pineapple and watermelon, and we reluctantly saw them off. Daughter now lives 100 miles away.

I only cried a little.


Now that there is a little more space in the garage, it occurred to me to clean it up a bit, oil the press, and do a little volunteer work. I have thousands of small paper bags, left over from a project, and am imprinting them with "Safe Schools Are Everyone's Bag."

The press, a 10X15 Chandler&Price, was built in 1886. I got it with a high-torque low-speed electric motor that looks like it is from the 1930s -- the motor more or less died on me a decade ago, so to run the press, which I don't do very often, I have built a simple treadle, using a two-by-four hinged to the floor, which I am just strong enough to operate.

Tonight's run was 500 impressions. Watching the windsock rippling in the sunset as I worked, I remembered some lines I wrote , after working at this same press in the same spot, more than a decade ago:

She'll choose two cans of color, exploring them
for the soft caramel of good set, putting aside
flakes of air-dried dross with her inking knife.

One, a can of orange stuff, she's been given
for imprinting brew-pub six-packs; the knife
scoops up a dollop and ferries it to the disk.

The other is your standard black; the smallest
bubble of this she'll add to the orange, and stir,
in hope of a decent brown. A heave of the flywheel

begins the inking-up: the disk turns a bit
with each revolution of the wheel, and the ink,
smashed paper-thin by rollers, spreads evenly

across its face, painting it, painting the rollers,
as her foot pumps the treadle, and her face
admires, as it always does, the view from here,

of garden dressed in straw, of mountain air
training the rainbow windsock northward,
of Jasper Mountain becoming a hill of gold

in the sunset. Gathering the furniture, reglets,
quoins, quoin key, and the new magnesium cut,
she locks the chase, fastens it to the bed, turns

the press, this time with impression lever on,
and lets the cut kiss the clean tympan paper
with an image. Around this image she places quads,

tympan bales, and bits of makeready, and prepares
the stacked sheets to be fed from the feed board
into the maw of the Chandler & Price, known

to pressmen for a hundred fifty years as the
Hand Snapper. She reaches for the radio's knob.
Rachmaninoff? Damn. Oh, well, turn

wheel, pump treadle, lean forward, lean back,
click-click, click CLACK, work-and-turn,
deliver the finished sheets to the delivery board,

admire mountain, lean forward, lean back.
Rachmaninoff gives way to Mozart's glorious
forty-first symphony, and Jasper Mountain

gives way to night, and in the black window
a woman in her fifties, leaning forward,
leaning back, critically appraising the music,

the printing, and herself, click-click, click CLACK,
sour bones and a game leg but a job well done
and the Mozart's Mozart. Four hundred sheets

later, and well into Bruch, the wheel stops,
the chase is unclamped, the disk and rollers
washed up, and rags canned. The reflected

window-crone lifts a sheet of work
to the light, examines impression and matter.
Reaching to silence Bruch, she sees the stilling

silhouette of the rainbow windsock:
it waits for dawn and a fair and lofting wind.



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