Friday, July 26, 2013
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Our improvised four-poster bed is cobbled together from galvanized green-house couplings and large-diameter galvanized steel electrical conduit. I sent away for the hardware on a whim, laid an existing foam mattress on cedar lattice, curtained the structure with high thread-count cotton drop cloths from the hardware store, and Got Comfortable. The top is a piece of plywood secured to the conduit rails with heavy zip ties. A solid top is characteristic of an Elizabethan four-poster.
The bed was a deliberate experiment in recreating an archaic sleeping system. The first American principal rooms had a four-poster set in a corner for the dominant couple to sleep in. Two winters in, the bed has saved measurable amounts of heating oil. I stored our self-inflating air mattresses on top to insulate during the chilly months, and doing so made an instantly noticeable difference in the cozy factor.
We’re enjoying perfect Seattle summer mornings. They’re nearly chilly with fog, and the humid air carries the scents of bay and woods into the heart of town. With a window wide open, we can in effect sleep outdoors with all the comforts of a fully-equipped house. The stress of spending a summer in town vanishes under these circumstances.
The bed hangings allow infinite adjustment for privacy and warmth both summer and winter. The bed is a productive room within a room that has already paid for itself in sheer convenience. Lighting the interior with elegant Japanese tent lanterns from the Great Big Hiking Co-op makes it simple and safe to read in bed. I charge the batteries for the lanterns with a small solar unit that sits on the windowsill. A laptop turns the bed into an office/communications/media center, and I can charge that, too, with another windowsill solar unit from the Co-op.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
For one reason and another, all the storms windows stayed in place until late last week. There’s been so much construction in the neighborhood that we have been huddling behind the winter layers of glass to protect ourselves from noise and dust.
The view window in our second-story sitting area is now fully open, and I am rediscovering how very pleasant it is to lounge in restrained urban comfort and have a sense of being outdoors at the same time. Local crows use the telephone wires to stop by and say hello. We can enjoy morning coffee and follow the crows as they go about their morning business.
The soundscape in this neighborhood is civil, subdued, and literate. I hear as many birds as people, and the people themselves are sounding healthy and happy. Night and day, the streets are, for the most part, remarkably quiet.
It seems as if the area is evolving into an urban version of a digital corporate campus.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
The new townhouses on the block are designed with rooftop patios. It’s gratifying that the architect took advantage of the upper safety valve of a city site. The units look like nothing so much as the illustrations of life in biblical Jerusalem that decorated my youthful reading.
The mid-East plays a far larger role in daily Seattle life than I could ever have imagined, even as late as the Eighties. A flat roof is unnatural in this rainy climate, and a flat roof over an insulated ceiling seems like a recipe for trouble under a snow load. That said, those beguiling roofs are ripe for a traditional Damascus use: to dry laundry flat and quickly in the sun.
Monday, July 22, 2013
The neighborhood is developing rapidly. Across the street ten townhouses stands where two single-family structures used to be. The townhouses are a couple of years old, now. The landscape is settling in and the architecture itself is recovering from the shock of assembly.
From a favorite second-floor perch I can see the facade. Through some accident of glazing and layout, an upper window of one of the units reflects in triplicate a warm yellow security light from a building across the street.
That reflection has become a favorite and comforting thing to look at first thing in the morning, evoking the deeply meaningful porch lights of the late Forties, when the Northwest had just emerged from the very real local threats of the Second World War. No one in the Puget Sound region knew when or if the Japanese fleet would sail into the Straits of Juan de Fuca, and the coast had been shelled and subjected to a balloon barrage.
A trip to grandmother’s house often meant a rainy night drive through eighty miles of forest on narrow roads or dirt tracks destined to be highways. Key places in the roads were lighted with kerosene smudge pots, and the rare house, usually a Twenties structure resembling a bungalow, had a yellow incandescent light glowing on the porch. From the right vantage point, such a light could be seen for miles, a comforting beacon on a journey with a forty-mile section of no phones and no gas stations.