Friday, November 15, 2013

Prototype



Increasing density on the block generates record crops of cigarette butts. I surfed a big box hardware chain for a plastic receptacle like the one I see at a nearby bus stop. I learned that the things are called by a name that does not meet Deft’s standards of expression and that they cost close to three figures.

That’s too much for something that’s ugly to begin with and likely to walk away anyhow. A recent stop at Enumclaw’s pie cafe yielded this example of popular design. I hope it’s the original form and came out of a high school shop. It’s cobby, but you just can’t beat painting it to match the siding.

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More after the jump.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Classics


Finesse the color, break up the set, and you're back in 2013. Photo courtesy Flickr

Now and then I window-shop on-line. Within a given category, Seattle’s Own Great Northern European Fashion Chain offers more choices than a sane person can evaluate, although I don’t mind trying from time to time. Saturday’s session sent me down an endless list of dresses. By the time the laptop battery was gone, I was pleased to realize that the most enduring styles are cut from quality fabric in the purest, most graceful basic forms. They ain’t cheap, neither are they the most expensive. Eventually, I will put money into one of these designs when the need arises. I know the cost per use will be a third to a tenth, and sometimes a hundredth or a thousandth, of the cost per use of something expedient that says sad things about my judgement.

Parisian fashion writer Ines de la Fressange advises spending half one’s clothing budget on good design and half on things that are frivolous.

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More after the jump.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Folkways


Photo courtesy Flickr

You know you’re lunching with the right people when one of the company remarks that the restaurant’s salad fork is far too large. I had forgotten anyone cares anymore. I don’t stock mango or fish forks, but it never hurts to set a table with convenient flatware. Conforming to custom keeps the tablecloth clean and minimizes the risk of generating a dry cleaning bill.

Etiquette guru Miss Manners answers a hypothetical question about a multi-course dinner served a la russe. She says “what does it mean when you find yourself confronted by an array of forks? It means you’re not going to go home hungry, that’s what it means.” Wikipedia will fill in the details. 

Salad-wise, I’d just as soon eat lettuce with chopsticks. The latest Emily Post is a good technical reference. Choose a print guide: casual surfing brings up questionable sources of advice. Andy Warhohl illustrated the Sixties edition of Amy Vanderbilt’s Book of Etiquette. If you want to study a diagram to the point of memorizing it, his drawing are a joy to retain.

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More after the jump.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Conscious Disorder


Photo courtesy Flickr

Housekeeping terminology is imprecise. “Clean your room”, for example, is a completely useless command. So is “put things away”. Usually, putting things away simply handicaps whoever was trying to get some work done.

The basic principle is to leave something ready to use the next time it is wanted. An incomplete project demands that pieces of the work stand ready for the next stage of the job.

This house is always in a mild stage of rearrangement, because each of us always has a project or two in the pipeline. My work usually lies around in the pantry, kitchen, and dining area. I wrap things up on Thursday afternoon so the decks are clear for the week-end. The state of the counters tells me whether I’m keeping up, and there are times when I simply abort tasks that have turned out to be energy sumps.

If I know why something’s lying around, I don’t interrupt production by hiding it from myself. Every artifact in the house has a home position close to where it will be used first. If something is just floating around getting in the way and doing not much of anything, it goes into the Goodwill bag.

In one sentence, an instructor at Seattle’s venerable Burnley School of Professional Art nailed the key element of working at home: have a place where one can leave a set-up. Another instructor nailed questions of inventory: resolve it or leave it out.

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More after the jump.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Bravest Woman I Ever Knew


Photo courtesy Flickr

In reality, I can say that about two women and not worry about the contradiction one bit.

My friend E. was a senior dame with a bad hip when a friend of hers died in Ireland. The late twentieth century troubles had been boiling for years. E. flew to Old Sod to keep her friend’s estate out of the hands of the local terrorists. That accomplished, she then accompanied a busload of traumatized young children on a long journey to a safe haven.

What I really admire about E. was her decision to leave her car as a beater after it was totaled. She spent the insurance money on a visit to one of her daughters.

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More after the jump.