Friday, December 15, 2017


For winter in Seattle's mercurial weather, I carry extra layers. A fine wool balaclava, gloves, a medical face mask, and a pair of produce bags to line shoes take up little room in my bag. Paired with a mylar blanket, the extra gear is enough to assure me at least of a warm trip home on public transportation -30-
More after the jump.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Unbreakable, Anti-bacterial, Energy Efficient, And Out Of Fashion

As the nest emptied, I shunted quite a bit of kitchen and table-top gear to the new, younger household that was being established. I left myself with the most formal things in my collection, paper plates,  and a handful of beloved utilitarian pots and accessories.

The first round of holiday entertaining is about to happen. As I fetched the "best" coffee pot out of storage, I realized that heirloom silver plate is a pretty good deal. A couple of candles are all it takes to turn a buffet table into a light show. The flatware can be a toxic pain in the neck as it wears, but serving vessels store in little space and are all the better for being used often. Doing so eliminates polishing. Once the base metal begins to show through the plate, demote the piece. 

Interestingly, writer Mark Twain documented the huge Virginia City silver strike that enabled the nineteenth century tabletop explosion of middle-class silver. Scope out the southeastern replacement specialty vendor to get an idea of just how specific and varied was the design that was presented as necessary to set a proper table. I can live without mango forks, but a gumbo spoon looks pretty tempting -30-

More after the jump.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dressing Down

I slowed enough to spend part of a morning folding clothing with the meticulous care that so many are now learning to exercise. After going through my inventory, I realized that being spread out and folded exactly on grain is right good for the clothes I'm lucky enough to own.

The laundry process is one of recreating the original manufacture of a garment. Ideally, a freshly maintained piece is "as good as new". I line dry everything to extend the life of the collection. Drying carefully on grain and folding with equal care for storage produce a garment that is a joy to wear.

"Squared away" says it all. "Dressing down", that I first heard as a disciplinary term, is an exercise applied to hanging fabric, as well. To dress down is to pull the vertical grain straight and then to arrange folds in an orderly way. The petty demands on manual skill described above yield huge returns in the household -30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Fast And Delicious

The other day, I was moving too quickly to second-guess myself in the kitchen. I accidentally produced a tasty version of the commercial rice bowl using mediterranean ingredients. Work with raw ingredients that are at room temperature. I used a hot pot, small cast iron skillet, and a small enameled cast iron pot to cook this dish.

Layer one: freshly cooked pasta done in the hot pot.
Layer two: gently scrambled eggs, relaxed rather than fluffy. Cook in the skillet.
Layer three: a quick sauce made with chopped canned tomato and thin strings of red onion sauteed in an excess of olive oil. The Geek's Favorite Grocery Chain sells bags of small onions that are just the right size for a small household. Cook the onion first in the enameled pot, then add to the  tomato and simmer until it approaches dryness. Add a dash of balsamic vinegar to the tomato mixture.

Layer four: zucchini browned hot and fast in the remaining olive oil. Cut the zucchini across into two-inch lengths, then slice them into 3/16" by 3/4" julienne. Grind black pepper over the zucchini toward the end to bring out the flavor of the spice.

Sequence: get pasta going, saute the onion (with a little garlic) and set aside. Saute the zucchini and set aside. Reduce the tomato. Scramble the eggs. Assemble. Total elapsed time about twenty minutes plus a few seconds now and then ahead of time to get things ready to go. There was enough leftover tomato and zucchini to garnish a small steak the next night -30-
More after the jump.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Wear And Care

Every garment reflects its history as it ages. With luck, an old piece of clothing conveys the same discriminating choice as that which was reflected in its acquisition. Patterns of wear tell the habits of the user: one knows a chemist, for example, by a series of small holes across the front of a shirt. Scribes and mechanics wear black for good reason.

Very little in my wardrobe must be ironed, but doing so ensures that wear over time will reflect the respect I have for the threads. A couple of denim work shirts can always pass without being ironed, but doing so will eventually produce poetically worn collars, cuffs, and plackets to match their fading elbows -30- More after the jump.

Friday, December 8, 2017


It was not until 1987 that I was willing to accept that electricity is here to stay. That was the year I gave up grinding grain by hand. It still makes sense, though, to maintain basic housekeeping systems that can kick in when the power goes out.

Friends who are new to the region live in an area where the power often fails. Their digs have an enormous refrigerator that stands nearly empty most of the time. They could store emergency water in the freezer. Filling it with containers of ice will cut their power bill, protect the contents in case of a blackout, and give them a ready supply of ice water. Do the same in the main body of the appliance to reduce the cost of keeping food cold -30- More after the jump.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Notes On Housekeeping

Some time in the Eighties I read a book about housekeeping written by the wife of a career naval officer. I failed to note the author and title, but a few key concepts stay with me. The woman had set up house in postings around the world, getting the most out of the military salary she had at her disposal. There is rigor and elegance in her advice that enriches any domicile.

First, keep the yard picked up. Put toys and domestic amenities away at the end of the day. [Send a message that you value your inventory.]

Second, no matter how modest the quarters, set out geraniums by the entrance.

That's all it takes to get things in hand and keep them there. Every Deft post has been influenced by this book -30- More after the jump.