Friday, August 8, 2014

Sanctuary


Photo courtesy Flickr

From time to time a media story about the dire circumstances of the bee population reminds me that urban areas are a reservoir of healthy insects. A long garden session brought an outdoor coffee respite that revealed four different kinds of bees working the fireweed: a large bumbler, a small honeybee, a large one, and the fuzzy fly that mimics a bee.

-30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Sampler


Tomorrow lives! Photo courtesy Flickr

In the day of gender-specific low-tech education, every girl learned embroidery. By age seven, a diligent child could design and execute a meticulous, thread-counted sampler of cross-stitched prose and illustration-textile pixels. Doing that kind of work strengthens concentration. Rose Wilder Lane’s Woman’s Day Book of American Needlework is an encyclopedic collection of traditional skills and design strategies. Ms. Lane’s mother wrote the influential Little House on the Prairie series.

Last week-end’s network discussion of epidemic management and recently discovered shortcomings in handling the smallpox virus remind me of pre-penicillin ways of coping with micro-organisms at home and in a medical setting. Infection control was in the hands of women whose early training was in meticulous needle skills. Very hot water and very hot irons kept bacteria at bay. Viruses had not yet been identified. The health and domestic communities knew that one false move was all it would take to open a vulnerable person to contagion. The health and domestic communities were also aware that good nutrition, exercise, and clean air maintained resistance to infection. Cultivating health is as gentle, straightforward, and demanding as cultivating edible plants. It’s also a tricky challenge in the face of the demands placed on attention by an interconnected world.

Medical preparedness is yet another factor to juggle in the face of dozens of demands on domestic resources. Setting up an easy spot for home nursing is the fundamental kind of readiness that simplifies maintenance, eliminates disquieting uncertainties, smooths the flow of daily life, and simplifies entertaining overnight visitors.

-30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Asking For Trouble


Photo courtesy Flickr

Automated housekeeping systems free so much time and attention that there’s a risk of outrunning good procedure.  New enterprises distract from basic obligations, and the temptation to scamp on simple chores grows strong.

Current warm weather and the Los Angeles water main break reminded me over the morning dishpan what a luxury hot running water is. I have tightened my game with the microbes: preparing meals for a friend who’s on chemo demands that I protect her impaired immune system with meticulous food safety procedures.

It’s important, too, to handle solid waste with conscious care. Changing the plastic bag that lines a waste bin, I remembered what rigorous management used to involve. A galvanized garbage can was washed and scalded between fillings and lined with clean newspaper. Cleanly recycling requires as much, and more awkward, washing than a pan of dishes.

I anticipate that three-D printing will disappear many housekeeping concerns, as one will be able to program the vessel of choice and simply recycle the printing medium on the spot.

-30-
More after the jump.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Aftermath


Photo courtesy Flickr

In the cloud of commentary surrounding the last Super Bowl, actor Bill Murray said, “I like the way Seattle plays.” Sunday’s hydroplane race did not disappoint. My long-held wish to see human-powered vessels compete was at least slightly fulfilled by coverage of a ramshackle milk carton derby, originally inspired by local Weyerhaeuser's innovative cardboard packaging in the late Fifties. There was the obligatory unresolved finish of the big boats’ competition while the judges worked out some questions.

I’d still love to see unlimited competition among the various classes of canoes. The F1 racing boats, that turn so fast, are new to me and fascinating. I can see wind-up bathtub toys raising money for the hydro museum. The boats’ movements are so unfamiliar they’d look like UFOs if they raced at night with lighted hulls.

Someone tweeted Chip [Hanauer] for mayor. Apparently the broadcast of the race was available all over the world. Perhaps race day could be celebrated as a global Seattle reunion, like the 20,000 strong North Dakota picnic that used to take place in Lower Woodland during the Fifties.

-30-
More after the jump.