Life in a Dol house
2016 - Week 39

Soaking history in water

October has arrived, called Listopad in the Croatian language, the month of falling leaves and whilst the leaves are definitely changing colours on quite a few of the bushes, shrubs and trees around my Dol house, it is only the vine leaves which are falling so far. 

I have been getting ready for the approaching winter though his week. One job has been to finish the secondary glazing for the dining room window. 

This is a temporary, if necessary fix, because last winter it was noticeable that although the wood stove was pumping out the heat, there were some serious draughts coming into the room through the window and the door. 

It is temporary because the window is rotten in a number of places and would need replacing, were it not for the fact that once the alterations start, it will become a door. 

It will lead from the dining room into the lounge. So I have no intention of spending huge amounts of money, time and effort in making a new window with double glazing etc, when it will soon be consigned to history. 

Equally,in making the secondary glazing, it is something that will be effective for the short term, but it is made from rough cut timber and is unpainted. Again, rather than lavish time and effort on planing the wood, priming, undercoating and painting it with gloss paint and routing rebates for the glazing material, I have gone for a cheap and quick option of fitting a quadrant inside the wooden frame and then using wooden beading to hold the glazing in place. 

The one area where I have not compromised is in the joints. All six joints are the traditional mortise and tenon type, where a stub from one piece of wood is inserted into the same size and shape hole in the adjoining piece. Everything is cut by hand with a chisel and mallet.

I was going to glue all of the joints, but cutting mortise and tenon joints accurately meant that after I glued the central muntin bar in place and then did a trial fixing in the void. The frame is so tight against the walls, that it is held in place without any additional gluing or fixing.

I had to tap it into place with a mallet and once the wood has absorbed winter moisture and expanded it will be completely immovable. 

A few words in two or three paragraphs makes it all sound quick and easy, but there is a lot of measuring involved, together with cutting of joints, removing surplus timber with a mallet and chisel from the mortise holes, the fitting of the quadrant and then cutting the glazing, all before the frame is put into place and the glazing secured with the wooden beading. 

Just drilling lots of 1.5mm holes for the pins takes time, but meant that none of the beading split. An angled rebate has been added to the bottom of each rail so that rain will quickly drain away.

With all the preliminaries finished, I was able to fit and glaze the window in a morning.
It is now weatherproof and considering it is a cheap and temporary fix, really does not look too bad either.
I spent an enjoyable morning in Hvar town this week, meeting with Željko, my architect. 

I think we are 98% there now with the plans for the extension. There was a little tweaking to be done, but basically the plans are complete. I am waiting for the builders quotation to come back but it has been another huge leap forward after almost a year and a half of inactivity while legal matters have been sorted out.

Željko has done a superb job of taking my ideas and concepts and turning them into what here is termed "a project" to go before the local planning committee.

One of my regular parcels from the UK was delivered on Monday, with things you cannot get here, but therein lies a story. I have a key suite system of KABA locks, so one key will open all locks - mortise, cylinder, window, padlocks, everything except my bicycle lock. The locks here are called Euro profile, but as I bought the system when I lived in the UK, the locks are UK profile, so I had ordered some new ones which will fit the door furniture that I can buy here.

However when I got one of the turnbuckle mortise locks out to fit on Tuesday morning, my key would not open it. A new spare key I had ordered would, and would also open a couple of my existing locks, but not all of the locks I have. So much of Tuesday morning was spent in contacting KABA to try and resolve the problem.

The result is that all the new locks, the new key, one of my existing keys and a lock have all gone back to the UK, so that KABA can "investigate" what has gone wrong. 

No doubt it would have been the same if I was still in the UK, the only difference is that the lines of communication would have been shorter. So I am still carrying around a bunch of five keys to open the majority of the doors, and a second bunch with a huge old mortise key for the Konoba and the garden sheds. It is another reason why I want to get the buildings all joined up!

With another lovely warm week, it has been a pleasure to be out and about on the tracks and paths around Dol.
I have seen more of these Horned Grasshoppers, Acrida hungarica

These horned grasshoppers are really quite bizarre to look at and fly away as soon as you approach.

But once in amongst the grass they become almost invisible
This is the first year I have noticed them and I wonder how many other interesting bugs there are, lurking in the undergrowth that I have yet to discover.

In clearing the study ready to start pulling the ceilings down to add the insulation, I removed the drawers from my desk to make it easier to move and came across a packet of colour negative strips that had slipped down the back. How long they had been there I do not know, but they were all stuck together.

Many years ago I was fortunate to attend a Scenes of Crime photography course. This was long before the days of CSI and it was all black and white photography, the chemistry behind photography and how to develop film and print photographs. 

Some training sticks with you and I recalled advice about how to rewash film to remove accumulations of dirt, grease or if it ever sticks together etc. 

Another example is the acronym T-TAD - Time, Temperature, Agitation and Dilution, all to remind you about the items to remember when developing film. As I say, some things you just never forget.

My film wasn't the dreaded "Vinegar Syndrome", officially called Acetic Acid Decay where film which is not stored correctly begins to decay and gives off a characteristic smell of vinegar, I suspected that this packet of film has become slightly damp over time and because the strips were not in individual pouches had become stuck because of not having been washed properly at the commercial lab.

The worst thing you can do is to try and pull them apart. So I had ordered some Kodak PhotFlo and a new film squeegee, all of which cam in the box on Monday. As the nights draw in, I spent one afternoon and evening soaking the films is distilled water and after three hours I was able to gently tease them apart.

A little rubbing with a Q-tip and each strip was ready to be hung out to dry
with film pegs - on a specially constructed line over the sink
With the strips now separated, I could see they were from a historical police exhibition I organised and managed at the Grimsby town museum back in 1984. 

The tunic on the right is from the Police Fire Brigade, from the days of horse drawn, steam powered pumps.

I need to scan and digitise these images at high resolution to preserve them. 

These two photographs have been scanned with a low resolution domestic scanner.

I found my big commercial Canon film scanner, but not the holders for the strips, so Saturday afternoon was spent delving through some of my unopened boxes which came from Abu Dhabi and have been stored in my big Konoba. 

Not a waste, because you find things you didn't know you had lost...... but I have yet to find the right box which contains the photo frames I need.

Most readers who were around before the time of digital cameras will have film strips in packets somewhere. it is worth checking and making sure that they are stored properly. There are some excellent resources on line to help. The Australian National Film and Sound Archive has a lot of advice available online, as does the Centre for Home Movies. The Hampshire County Council in the UK also offer advice on their website about preserving the media you might have at home. And one last thing to think about is having scanned your images and saved them to digital media, DVD's BlueRay disks etc, how to make sure that they too will pass the test of time. The American federal organisation NIST, from Washington DC has a .pdf guide about the care and handling of CD's and DVD's.