Friday, August 14, 2015

Shredder Yoga


Maintaining the shredder is my least favorite task and clearly one of the most important. Emptying it the other day I found a CD that had come through the jaws intact.  Now and then a fragment of paper is large enough to hold usable data.

I will empty the bin often enough to let the poor machine do its job. I’ll oil the mechanism. I’ll mix the shreddings to keep an eye on quality control. I’ll have the ding-dang vacuum out to clean up after cleaning up.

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More after the jump.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Afterthoughts Accumulate


I waited for a bus in the downtown tunnel on a day when my eyes happened to be working better than usual. I noticed that the original closely designed system of signage has been compromised by a series of necessary, unanticipated graphic messages that amount to a civic version of a refrigerator door. It’s not chaotic yet, quite, and I am confident the city will pull it together in due time.

The process parallels Peg Bracken’s hilarious description of dressing a child for the day, preparing little Pee Wee to meet the world in a charming shirt and short pants that are grubbied one by one until he ends up wearing what Miss Manners says all children wear: rags. The same thing happens in a house.

The other morning I had motive and opportunity to sit and gaze at the gear on display in the kitchen. Subtracting redundant utensils cleared my field of vision and  freed me to concentrate on turning out a meal and thrashing paperwork.

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More after the jump.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Pool Dump


I steal my best ideas from tradesmen. A carpenter sipped coffee from a styrofoam cup with a piece torn out of the lid years before industry developed the adult Sippee Cup we all enjoy. A handy neighbor lashes scrap lumber into convenient saw-sized bundles using duct tape.

My morning bus trundles past a massive construction project. I could be speaking of nearly any bus in nearly any neighborhood, at this point. I noticed a couple of sun-bleached, battered children’s wading pools lying in July’s dust and realized they were full of tools and whatever else the guys needed to get the day’s work done. Is brilliant.

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More after the jump.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Adventures In Medieval Living


Some time ago, I improvised a four-poster bed from the greenhouse couplings used to connect electrical conduit into hanging and display structures. Topped with plywood lashed to the conduit with zip ties and curtained with high thread-count cotton drop cloths, the four-poster has been an outstandingly successful experimental addition to the furnishings. It saves heat, adds flexible privacy, and muffles urban background sound.


A medieval room would have been lined with storage chests. At night while the dominant couple slept in the four-poster, the rest of the household slept on the chests. Not long ago I realized that the six foot lockers that have found their way into inventory over time might well line a room in a very old school strategy. I fiddled with the set-up a few months ago, disarranged it promptly, and set it up again last week.

Each foot locker is fitted with Magical Sliding castors to prevent back injury when moving the thing. Each foot locker is a slightly different size but all are similar enough to work together. Lined up along one wall in an upstairs “chamber”, as the architect called it, the foot lockers form a solid base for one of the Great Big Hiking Co-op’s super deluxe self-inflating air mattresses, the model with a layer of memory foam on top. Hacking the pad by cutting off the attached lashing system for rolling it up made it much easier to handle.

The lockers are twice as long in one horizontal dimension as in the other, making them easy to configure for maximum convenient access. They are working but not daily active storage units. A thick wool blanket pads the collection into an even surface and another colorful patterned Oregon Roundup blanket simulates upholstery. 

The pad is six inches narrower than the maximum width of the lockers, leaving a sort of gutter against the wall. A row of three standard bed pillows covered in hot-glued bird’s eye pique’ dishtowels turns the arrangement into a banquette. Non-skid rug matting will prevent slippage should that turn out to be a problem.

Word is going around my gym that sitting is the new smoking. I lived for a couple of years with no Western furniture during my art school days and found that shifting to conventional seating left me as willowy as an Egyptian statue. The foot locker banquette makes it easy to sit properly upright and cross-legged. At its foot is a thick wool rug underlain by a heated mat. The pair are a luxurious place to lounge and unkink at the end of a day’s office thrash. With stools substituted for most of the table seating on the main floor, we are approaching lift-off.

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More after the jump.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Cleaning The Frig'


The other night we dined on the contents of numerous small glass storage dishes. The foundation of the process is the USDA’s website that lists the number of days a food can safely be stored before eating. Produced by an old-line American manufacturer of kitchen glassware, the shallow, rectangular dishes cool food quickly and keep it airtight with snap-on plastic lids. They can go straight from refrigerator to warming oven.

Recently I shortened the cycle of procuring, preparing, and storing food. The leftovers I found were tastier and more nourishing than the usual wan remainders. Discovering a hunk of first quality unsliced bacon from the Market’s German deli didn’t hurt one bit.

We enjoyed a minor smorgasbord of hardtack, cheeses, hardboiled eggs, salad greens, and miscellaneous cooked things that rounded out a day’s good urban take-out of spectacular burritos (the cook may have been showing off for a nearby film crew) and pastries from a destination bakery that is dangerously close to the house. Saying grace over a meal is sometimes just an exercise. The little meal in question pretty much said its own grace.

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More after the jump.