Friday, January 16, 2015

Winter Tales


Photo courtesy Flickr user bilbord99
This is the time of year the local tribes reserve for telling coyote stories. My understanding is that Coyote is the only deity to be held in contempt by the people who recognize it/him. The body of recorded literature is rich. As I recall, Ella Clark’s “Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest”, my all-time babysitting bedtime hit, has a few coyote episodes in it. Jaime de Angulo is a good read, too.

Italo Calvino’s Italian version of Grimm’s fairy tales sheds charming light on European tradition. Perhaps in Calvino’s forward, I read that the brothers Grimm collected most of their stories from just one elderly woman. Calvino’s version of a familiar tale can be counted on to be lighter and more insightful than the German model. 

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More after the jump.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Stool


The real deal, worth restoring. Photo courtesy Flickr user sizima.
Inventory here includes two pair of stools with flat, wooden seats. One is Navy surplus and the other late Sixties high-tech, of Northern European influence with rotating seats, cast iron bases and adjustable heights. The stools are little workhorses that have survived many a purge of redundant furnishings.

The Navy stools have cross-braces about eight inches off the floor that act as footrests for someone loafing in a chair. The newer stools can be raised to serve as side tables.

All four expand space with their flexibility, small radii, and ability to slide under a table. A stool accelerates any seated task.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Granddaddy's Bench


Photo courtesy Flickr user Boston Public Library
I never met the physician who designed the work bench that sat under a long window in the shop section of a rustic beach house, but I feel as if I know a few significant things about him. There was no electricity on the property. Routine maintenance had to be managed with hand tools. The bench sported slots between the work top and window sill that were filled with graduated sets of screwdrivers, chisels, drill bits, and files. The display was orderly, elegant, and workmanlike. Ranks of drawers supported the bench, and a grinding wheel was set to one side. The man’s daughter remarked that at one time, every gentleman of a certain age carried a razor-sharp pocket knife.

I visited the property over a span of twenty years and was saddened to watch the bench, whose designer had died six years before I first observed it, deteriorate with untutored, irresponsible use. The last time I saw it, the worktop was dirty and littered with junk. Tool sets were incomplete, and edges were dull. That bench, costing almost nothing to construct, had sufficed to enable a crew to build a small masterpiece from the hand of a major local architect. Good thinking, quality sharpening equipment, good wood, and the physical and cognitive wherewithal of the work crew were the keys to the mint.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dandy's Den


Photo courtesy Flickr user Life As Art
A friend was talking about her faithful old Lab the other day, and we shared a few comments about dogs’ appreciation of their crates. I have little expertise in canine studies, but Maggie mentioned that Dandy also likes to hang out under her small dining table. Maggie could conserve heat, add a pleasant note of formality to her dining area, and exercise a little doggy interior design by setting a long cloth on the table, possibly one that touches the floor. A bedspread, cotton blanket, high thread count cotton drop cloth, or large tablecloth might do. Sketch in the arrangement with a paper drop cloth.

Dining-wise, the cloth acts as a lap robe. Use any cloth large enough to accommodate the width of the table and twice the drop, or length off the surface. An oversized square or rectangular cloth can be knotted at the corners or simply tucked under. Set a waterproof layer between the long cloth and a smaller top cloth that is easy to wash.

Dog-wise, secure the long cloth to the table top with double-sticky tape and/or non-skid matting. Raise an area of the hem to allow easy entry and exit to the Kustom Kave. A plastic shop clamp might work well to secure the fabric. I’d consider placing a small washable rug under the table to collect debris and keep the area fresh.

Speaking of dens, another friend who wrangles customer service out of a San Francisco start-up said there are several “sleeping boxes” set here and there in the warehouse that holds the operation. The boxes are expedient constructs of plywood that permit weary geeks to grab a nap in the midst of a bustling work day. Were I to design such a thing, I’d make it modular with a hiker’s super-luxury self-inflating sleeping pad, the kind that has a top layer of memory foam. The owner of this enterprise sleeps in a crude four-poster bed set in one corner of the space.

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More after the jump.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Good Sports


Photo courtesy Flickr user yasa
Here’s to the pre-twelfth fans who supported the Seahawks during their long ascent.

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More after the jump.