Friday, October 1, 2010

The Holiday Garden


Photo courtesy Flickr

A small effort now will leave you with an inspiring landscape to enjoy from the Thanksgiving table. Even a planter box on a balcony can be organized for good effect over the winter holidays. Act now, and you’ll communicate care and forethought that no nursery or professional landscaper can provide. The most ordinary plants anchor a graceful landscape when they’re managed with this elegant minimum.

In Western Washington, the end of summer is the beginning of the growing season. This is a good time to clear away dead stalks and ready the landscape for mulching with leaves. Do minor pruning so that evergreens and other woody plants will look their best when the weather turns chilly.

It’s trivial to groom when the weather is comfortable and debris can be mulched in place with a mower. Dead stalks break down in days and keep the soil happy and kicking.

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More after the jump.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Winded

Photo courtesy Flickr

Deft Home is winded from fall housecleaning. Tomorrow-prep the garden for Thanksgiving.

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More after the jump.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Weightless Heirloom

Photo courtesy Flickr

When we moved into this 1890 house, all our friends and relations gave whoops of joy and handed us their Victorian furniture. We accepted with equal enthusiasm and enjoyed thirty years in a period interior. Lately we’ve been downsizing in place, and my partner wandered in the other day to say, “I can’t believe how much furniture we used to have in here.”

One table originally belonged to my great-grandmother. I decided it had to have a new home and E-mailed a digital image to the family. No one had house room for it, but the woman who runs great-grandmother’s house as an award-winning B and B was happy to accept it for her history-conscious interior.

Mary Lou is happy with her Renaissance Revival parlor table, and the family is happy to be able to store their copy on their laptops. The photo album and family Bible that lived on the table are easy enough to store on the laptop as well, so it’s win-win all around, as long as the power stays on.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pilots Are More Important Than Planes

Photo courtesy Flickr

I owe yesterday’s topic, cleaning in the fall, to housekeeping guru Don Aslett, who also enlightened me with a story about a military mission where there was some trouble in the air. The plane’s crew dumped a multi-million dollar piece of gear rather than put their lives at risk.

It’s stimulating to organize the house during back to school time. Might as well go to school on the house as the three Rs. A fence to fence, ridgepole to sump survey of inventory turns up dead wood nearly every time. When I was doing this Saturday, I felt like a predator-saurus in the cafeteria in Jurassic Park. It was fun rousting slacker furnishings and piling them up for disposal.

We’re downsizing in place, and this year is special: I’m no merchant and have no patience for playing chambermaid. Unless an unwanted item is a signed original or made of noble metal, the most economical way to cope with it is to get it out of here and leave it to its fate. “Antiques Road Show” has made collectors out of us all, and it’s time to get on with some other way of relating to the house. I’d rather play and share the goodies with younger friends and relatives.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall Housecleaning

Photo courtesy Flickr


"SPRING HOUSECLEANING. I PREFER PESTILENCE."
EMILY DICKINSON

When April rolls around, comfort yourself with procrastination. The warm light of spring no longer reveals an interior besmirched by the soot of gas light. It makes more sense to clean in the fall when the windows and doors are closed, and the kids aren’t running in and out.

Clearing a room to clean it breeds impatience, the engine of maintenance, and this is a good time to de-junk. Think of the house as a vehicle. Organize for speed and good mileage.

About twice a year, when the seasons change from warm to cool and back, I cruise the property fence to fence, ridgepole to sump, assessing what’s working, what isn’t, and what needs attention. There’s a minor or major thrash moving this and that here and there, and then some not-so-heavy cleaning and fast food to support the changes. This is not a big deal. It’s not much more than organizing my side bag every evening.

That’s all it takes. The main thing is to keep an eye on what’s happening in the physical household and make sure that inventory is not deteriorating while unattended. Make sure no one’s eating the books, the linens are dry, the roof’s in good shape, and the sump pump ready for the rains of October.

A household is not an end in itself, it’s a means to an end, and each of us has a slightly different mission.

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More after the jump.