Thursday, July 20, 2017


A photographer's equipment dusting brush, that looks like a shaving brush on steroids, makes the shortest work of the longest tasks. In seconds I can detail the complicated upper surface of a vintage boom box or the ornate moldings on a vintage piece of furniture.

Along with the beauty salon tabouret that entered the inventory a couple of months ago, I can turn tasks around in seconds rather than weeks or months -30- More after the jump.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Managing One Rose

When I moved into this house, I brought a choice old rose from my first garden. It appears to be a nineteenth century (or earlier) cultivar that was bred to produce scented petals for potpourri. The blossoms are heavily doubled, pink verging on lavender, and new stems are nearly thornless.

The plant is now heavily shaded by new construction, and it has not had a stellar year for quite a while. For the time being, I'll leave it where it is, consider moving a start to a more benign spot in the garden, and continue the expedient grooming that allows me to deal easily with the tangled thicket of stems, morning glory, and aggressive perennials that routinely develops in what was once a sweet spot.

Counting on a volunteer to man the mower I use to generate sheet compost on the sunny west lawn, I simply bring out a sharp scythe, cut hands (a brush-picker's unit of measurement that speaks for itself) of thicket, walked them to the lawn, and whack them into units short enough for the mower to shred.

What once took a morning now requires twenty aerobic minutes. I mow the rose area to groom the remnants of the harvest, and the process encourages runners that will be easy to separate and share -30-

More after the jump.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Traditional Room

When European furniture came to Japan after the country was opened to the West, early adopters dedicated one room in their houses to tables and chairs as we know them. 

The San Francisco mansion once rented by Timothy Leary now belongs to an interior designer whose scheme has it white and icy blue. One room remains as Leary preferred, full of multi-colored psychedelica.

Neighborhood multi-family units have convinced me that the future of a self-respecting room is white illuminated by energy-efficient LEDs. The concept blows historic preservation out of the water. Considering keeping one room in "urban homesteader" period takes the sting out of change -30- More after the jump.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sincere Incompetence

In a fit of preciousness, I cut up a worn and shrunken cashmere sweater into the small squares I prefer to use for polishing metal. The squares live in empty tissue boxes alongside disposable vinyl gloves and the pricey German chrome polish I get at motorcycle shops or the lamp boutique in Wallingford.

In the same spirit of high-end maintenance, I ordered a book on conserving domestic artifacts that is recommended by the Roadshow. The vendor was Higher Education Products. Wool, it turns out, is not good for metals, so the cashmere is on its way to the fiber recycling program at the Giant Thrift Chain.

Nothing betters a polishing square cut from a worn t-shirt. House painters like them, too -30-
More after the jump.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Scent Of The Woods

Over nearly four decades, I have gradually shifted the garden toward what occurs naturally on the Olympic Peninsula. Opening the back door at the crack of dawn usually brings the same native fragrance as crawling out of a tent.

A week ago I decided, uncharacteristically, to irrigate the lot. The next morning an open back door admitted-nothing at all. The garden smelled like suburban lawn. I fear the generous application of chlorinated water may have disrupted some subtle aspect of the pinpoint ecology of the lot, although someone's informed comment suggested that the advent of hot, dry weather may very well have had something to do with the change.

I'll keep a nose on the proceedings -30- More after the jump.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tea Time

I have an ongoing design discussion with a digital work-at-home fella who is a good sport only about necessary domestic activities. Somehow the importance of multi-forks and a clutch of stemware at each table setting has escaped him.

We recently swapped opinions about mixing Japanese, English, and American china on the same table, and his take was "that's a lot of dishes to wash". I can live with the attitude: from it I realized that his preference for utilitarian restaurant china is probably closer to the living reality of the Japanese tea ceremony than my conventional cups and saucers. I understand that the most highly valued cups used in the tea ceremony were originally utilitarian ware produced in Korea.

The scion of a store-owning Japanese family looked at my handful of reproduction Imari one day and said he eats breakfast cereal out of a stainless steel bowl from the hardware store -30- More after the jump.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Low-rent Ecology

A friend who lives in a fairly ancient building in a gritty area of the East Bay shares the structure with two highly desirable species of fauna. One is a strain of Italian honeybees that attracts keepers when it swarms. The other is an endangered swallow that has decided to make itself at home in Andy's walls.

I suspect that a long-established neighborhood harbors species that grew accustomed to Euro-American presence in the late nineteenth century, plenty of time to adapt and settle in -30-

More after the jump.