Friday, September 9, 2011

The Midden


Photo courtesy Flickr

That’s archaeology-speak for pile of junk. Technical jargon defuses housekeeping issues. It does not, however, get anything accomplished.

Certain kinds of less than critical paperwork have been accumulating for a while, and I ran into a perfect housekeeping, well, not exactly storm, more of a light squall, last week when I was feeling crummy from a cold.

The dairy crate I needed to hold this year’s bountiful crop of apples was already full of thirty-one years of receipts for basis projects on the house. Fortunately, I was neither on my feet nor bedridden, so I settled in with marginally watchable broadcast TV, a calculator, and a pot of coffee to see what the damage has been in hardware stores and builders’ supply outlets.

Not too bad, it turns out, and not far from my off the cuff estimates. It’s much easier to stay close to reality now that I’m not hiding from a thicket of unresolved arithmetic and allergenic mite waste. One of those TV shows featured an interview with the man who works with hoarders on a show of his own, and it didn’t hurt a bit to be reminded how bad things can get.

Turn around time is the key concept in housekeeping, the interval between using something and having it ready to use again. The shorter the turn around time, the more efficient the operation.

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More after the jump.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Scrap Screen


Photo courtesy Flickr

Readers who remember the Sixties no doubt remember the relentless collages that covered many a square foot of butcher paper and wall. San Francisco artist Jess may have been the inspiration for those assemblies, but there was an earlier source, too.

In the Victorian period, it was popular to cut up colored commercial lithographic images and apply them to freestanding screens. Some years ago, I was editing my collection of posters harvested from the wild and realized that I could mount them on the four-panel screen I had snagged at a local thrift shop. The screen is covered with Japanese gold foil tea papers, and when I carried it home under my arm on a dim February afternoon, one of the local crows flew over to check it out. I had the distinct impression of hearing the crow version of “Hey! What’s that!?” The screen was certainly a bright apparition in a typical Seattle winter day, when the sun goes down at four.

Tea papers are discreetly shiny and a welcome note in the shadowy corner of a nineteenth century entry hall. A few minutes in the poster archive yielded enough interesting graphics in compromised condition to cover all four faces of one side of the screen. When the screen is folded into a standing column, it resembles one of the utility poles from which I gather outdated posters. Those poles are the most vital and interesting visual element of this medium-density pedestrian neighborhood. I realized that the scrap screen brings my urban outdoors inside as surely as someone else’s greenhouse does for another location. 

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More after the jump.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Camo

Photo courtesy Flickr

Recently I blogged about matching the color of the floor on long cloths that cover tables. Using the color of the floor on bulky furnishings allows them to fade into the background in a space. One can then play happily with adventuresome vases, art, and pillows and be no poorer for changing one’s mind.

The other week I accidentally matched the floor color in the background of a new tablecloth and discovered that the room looks comfortably settled and elegant with no other changes. There are still only the minimum working furnishings and lighting and barely a decoration or two, so the space is easy to maintain and supports fast turnaround times on ordinary chores.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Steak Night

Photo courtesy Flickr

The nest filled up again temporarily, and I automatically put large pieces of identifiable meat on the menu. Recent downsizing displaced the “everyday” table service, and I found myself contemplating the prospect of diners sawing across out-of-stock plates and silver forks with industrial-quality blades.

I served the main course on heavy paper dinner plates, the ones I keep in the emergency kit, and substituted plastic dinner forks from the same source. My son pointed out that paper plates protect the edge on a good steak knife.

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