Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Wading Through Details

I like to hit the ground running on Monday morning. The inertia carries me through the rest of the week. An irregular schedule over last week-end, though, interrupted my preparations. The first of the week brought countless petty and not so petty demands. Fortunately, a recent (to me) and simple management precept, do the most important task before eleven, set up a pole star for the day.

Coping with the rest is like walking on a warm mud flat through an incoming bark tide. I just slide along pushing flotsam aside. Once I start to burn out, I can pluck minor concerns off various piles and be done with them.  Dwight Eisenhower's decision-making matrix gives me leverage on real-time demands -30-
More after the jump.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Housecleaning This Fall

Housecleaning guru Don Aslett recommends thorough cleaning late in the year rather than in the spring. He says it's good to get things right after the doors and windows are closed and the thundering small herd is back in school. I made the change several decades ago. The cumulative minor improvements in efficiency have added up in meaningful ways. September's raking sunlight makes it easy to see what I am doing.

This summer's smoky air left the interior covered with a light layer of soot. The family archaeologist would describe it as a marker horizon, and I have no doubt that despite my efforts quiet corners of the structure will retain a record of this period. Realizing that smoke residue is corrosive galvanized my unenthusiastic approach to fall cleaning. 

A shopping experiment in a county hardware store accidentally yielded a dynamite portable cleaning kit. I need very few supplies for the ordinary routine, but they are just enough that I can't lash them to the vacuum cleaner tank or stow them in a pocket. The Old Line Black and Yellow Tool company designed an inexpensive rolling case that is loud to look at and slick as can be in the way it functions. I toted it home on public transportation, where it generated curious and envious glances. I felt like I was impersonating a carpenter, but heck. The rolling case is sized just right for me, and I can sit on it at a bus stop.

A small canister vacuum with Big HEPA filtration sits tidily on the top of the case, and the bottom compartment somehow manages to swallow the extension wand I salvaged from another unit in the distant past. A fluffy synthetic dusting thing fits in as well. With a handful of the veteran terry washcloths I use in the kitchen, that's nearly all I need to get the floors clean enough to eat off.

The case is easy to move from room to room, gives me a spot to perch and catch my breath, and stows neatly in any of the closets. I carry a HEPA air filter from room to room as cleaning progresses so that the air is vacuumed as the floor is maintained. That double whammy means I'll be able to wipe the floors with a dampened terry wiper and extend the vacuuming interval by a couple of weeks under ordinary circumstances.

Removing street shoes at the entry is the key to the mint -30-

More after the jump.

Friday, September 21, 2018


Somewhere in a forgotten notebook I recorded the wisdom of Mario Andretti: "If everything's under control, you're not going fast enough." -30-
More after the jump.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

An Obliging Fellow

I couldn't resist twitting a bow hunter about the gentrified touch on the table in his campsite, a potted chrysanthemum. He quietly offered to gut and skin a deer on the spot. It took me several hours to appreciate his accommodating attitude -30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


It's embarrassing not to have figured this one out for myself: establish separate wet and dry coolers when housekeeping in the field -30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Planting Season

This is the beginning of the growing year in Seattle. At this point, with the vegetable patch long established, corn salad has seeded itself (if those sleek pigeons have left anything) and the alliums are up and running again. I have a small order of walking onions coming in to replace the ones I foolishly let go in a moment of bad judgement. They're a great plant for a person who prefers to give the garden as little attention as possible. Walking onions plant themselves from little bulblets that develop at the top of a stalk.

The rains of October signal the smart time to put new landscape plants in the ground. They'll be naturally watered and have a long comfortable winter to develop roots. Just keep an eye on them during the invisible drought of February and March, when a freeze can desiccate rain-deprived shrubs. If you have reason to doubt that a woody plant has survived, scrape the bark carefully with a thumbnail. A green under layer means there's hope -30-
More after the jump.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Back To School

It's time to close the doors and windows and change the bag in the vacuum cleaner. Super-janitor Don Aslett taught me that now is the time for major cleaning.

I like to keep the place clean-able on general principles. It's helpful to remember that horizontal surfaces are for work, not storage. Set a tray or container of some kind under an accumulated and useful pile to facilitate dust control. Keeping mites at bay is good for cognition and concentration. Controlling dust improves lighting and morale. It's amazing what an effect vacuuming an apparently clean floor has on the atmosphere in a room.

We continue to pare inventory as projects are completed or abandoned. The only way to appreciate the relief that losing dormant inventory affords is to experience it -30-

More after the jump.