An Opportunity to Vent

During a snowball fight in his youth, Shop Boy once deeply gashed his thumb on a broken glass window. (I know. If you’ve been following along here, you are not surprised.) With blood gushing and tears streaming, I ran to my mother, a decorated emergency room nurse. “Mom, do you think I’ll need stitches?”

Mom: “Why? Do you want to look like a hero?”

She scolded me for being dumb, patched me up, kissed me on the forehead and kicked my butt out the door. I really miss her.

Anyway, memories like this go through Shop Boy’s mind when, for instance, he’s 25 feet up on an extension ladder that’s set in the bed of his pickup, with two hands holding a bit of plywood and a panel of metal louvers while someone is drilling holes through them from the other side of a factory window. Oh, and we can’t really see each other.

In retrospect, Shop Boy likely would have handled it differently. (Yeah, right.)

The fact that Shop Boy:

A. Didn’t drop the whole thing, ruining several days of work by Mary’s dad, who was crafting a venting system for the shop …
B. Didn’t get pushed backward, lose his balance and fall off the ladder to the pavement (with one bounce off the truck, perhaps) …
C. Didn’t end up with pierced paws (which would have triggered A and B in the process) … only makes me “a very lucky moron,” my late mom would have said.

Nevertheless, when Shop Boy stepped gingerly off that ladder for the last time, Typecast Press had itself a venting system — a fan that blows air out of the studio, forcing open the louvers and refreshing an entire room, we’ve been told, in about an hour. Now, we don’t use much bad chemical stuff. Like, you hear the old letterpress guys go on about using gasoline to clean their presses — while they smoked. What does the fact that they didn’t go up in flames make them?

We use a two-step cleanup process on our presses and rollers: start with canola oil, finish with California wash. The canola loosens everything up, so most of the ink is easy to remove and you need very little of the press wash, which gives off nasty vapors. These get dispersed by the new exhaust fan.

Which makes it a lot more likely that it’ll be a while before Shop Boy gets to see his mom again.

I think she’d be OK with that.

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