Friday, August 23, 2013

Leftovers



I rooted unneeded bulbs out of the tin shoebox that holds lighting back-up. Sitting on the counter, they began to resemble the Issey Miyake light fixture that decorated World of Interiors'  special millennial edition. Many thanks from the in-house radio shack.

Don’t miss SAM’s showing of “Future Beauty”.

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More after the jump.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shrink

Photo courtesy Flickr

Now and then I consider the contents of my bag and recall how much weight, precious metal, and space have been saved by miniaturized circuitry and plastic. One generous tote holds the contents of an 8’x10’ office and a conventional dressing table.

A small battery-powered fan with a heavy base and finger-safe plastic blades does the work of a free-standing brass behemoth with a blade cage and heavy power cord. 

Organizing the essentials of domestic life around hiker’s field gear transforms a domicile of fixed-purpose rooms and dormant furniture into a low-maintenance backdrop for any personal initiative. It’s good to contemplate a rolling backpack and know in my bones that it contains a working household.

The Great Big Hiking Co-op carries a line of featherweight tools from Oregon’s  Baby Food Knife Company. Their folding shovel, handsaw, and other similar compact, multi-tools from the Co-op’s inventory have displaced a yard of domestic maintenance kit. Given the price of a cubic foot of Seattle housing, that’s not an insignificant gain. The field tools won’t replace big boy stuff for production, but they’re valuable for minor maintenance and emergency preparedness. Life changes when you pass along the peavy and the chain saw. It also changes when a digital printer replaces 1500 pounds of cast-iron hand press.

Field and travel wardrobe displace all but the most ritualized high-maintenance clothing. Travel grooming essentials turn gallons into grams.

Cultivating the modest flowers of native plants in favor of brash commercial versions has simplified garden gear to one dairy crate and a lawn mower.

Gradually, interior lighting and digital batteries are going off the grid and onto portable window-sill charging units.

It takes decades to shift a household to green tech, but the payoff is sure.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Joy Of Displacement


Photo courtesy Flickr

Commercial art 101, vocational edition, included the recommendation not to throw anything away for three years. It took a good six years to realize that much of the work that looked purely awful was just me working far ahead of my ability to render or to appreciate what I was trying to do. The new stuff looked like waste.

Waste has its place, and from time to time I learn a fundamental lesson anew. The dairy crate into which I sweep unloved and unwanted items from the inventory often also holds a solution for a new need. I have learned to shop the discards: simply rearranging things turns up new applications. The discovery phase encourages bold editing.

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More after the jump.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Days Of The Week


Photo courtesy Flickr

At one time, women, it was women, divided the work week by tasks. Monday was wash day, Tuesday ironing day. Time has cast a merciful pall over the others, although Saturday lives on as bake day. Susan Strasser’s Never Done lays out the particulars of this sequence. 

This year’s late summer maintenance thrash has made it clear that a different sorting system for chores makes it easy to organize the tasks that are more than routine and less than major make-over. I focus on textiles for one round of setting things to rights, then shift to food, to things related to travel and emergency preparedness, to dirt (aka gardening), and to general cleaning and detailing. Digital is a world unto itself.

The sweet reward for puttering is to play fourier, originally a “forager”. The fourier was the advance man for a mobile medieval European household of privilege. He went ahead and arranged for food for the horses, then set up the castle of the moment with a comforting collection of hangings, bedding, and portable furnishings.

Scraping a room back to its bare bones and then restoring only the functional necessities increases productivity tenfold. First-rate bedding, well-resolved window coverings, and apt lighting are all it takes to relax a rigorous layout into a welcoming and supportive scene that’s a cinch to maintain.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Pigeon


Photo courtesy Flickr

Seattle’s Mark Bittner developed a relationship with the feral parrots of San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill. The story became an illuminating film documentary that ends with Bittner’s move to the East Bay to study pigeons. He says pigeons are underrated and just as interesting as parrots.

I had not thought of pigeons, much, until I heard Bittner’s remark. I still don’t think about pigeons, much, except to be careful not to flush them into flight when I walk past them.

Last week I painted a floor that rightly would have been recovered with sheet goods. The neighborhood’s in transition, though, and I couldn’t justify installing a twenty-year surface. Besides, I love floor paint. Over the last year, I’ve been experimenting with using a straight coat of floor paint as a substitute for the tiresome synthetic wax I’ve been using to polish surfaces. It takes the same amount of time to lash on a coat of paint, and the result is better, although it takes a couple of days to dry.

So far, the experiment is paying off. My efforts on the kitchen floor brought me a pigeon’s eye view of the surface as I found myself on hands and knees intermittently pecking at crumbs with the corner of a wet brush. BBs and grains of wheat are escape artists.

It has been my privilege to enjoy some rarified arts and crafts tutoring. My notions of quality control and self-respect were soundly challenged while I contemplated, for n seconds, whether a fossilized m and m was edible and, for another n seconds, whether I could get away with painting over a crushed craisin. No doubt the fumes fueled indecision.

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More after the jump.