Thursday, May 24, 2012


When I walked past this furniture in a student neighborhood recently, I thought it was abandoned but worth a second look. The owner, it turns out, was moving in. Frugal and adventuresome tenants present a never-ending design tutorial, especially now that we realize the greenest products are the ones that already exist.
Until a relative parked a similar one in my basement, a table like the one in the picture would have gagged me. I started staging shop projects on mine and learned what a versatile workhorse the design is. My table was just the right height for standing labor, the canted legs made it especially stable, and the drop leaves allowed me to conform the top to any convenient shape. The design is grotesque, but the wood isn’t bad. A full-length cloth would disguise utilitarian form and create storage space underneath.
The green chair speaks for itself, with an accent that’s not particularly elegant. I couldn’t see the value of these things when they first appeared on the market, but not long after I found that my favorite beach rental had added a set to the cabin. That space is small, as was my child, and three stacked chairs made a good high chair. I do like furniture that can be maintained with a hose.
I’d choose high-tech epoxy-coated adjustable wire shelving over that baker’s rack, but if it had been grandmother’s, I’d probably be using it, too. It’s easy enough to recycle, and the in-house archaeologist just remarked that the piece is a whole kitchen, right there, sanitary and self-cleaning.
More after the jump.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tabletop Physics

Photo courtesy Flickr

I earnestly hope that this speck of information I picked up surfing for surplus Navy forks is true. A site commented that it was traditional while underway for the stewards of a warship to dampen the tablecloth slightly with sea water. An old custom, the practice reduced the risk of dishes slipping (as did the weight of the dishes themselves). Presumably the tabletop could withstand salt and water.
Anyone who’s raised a child or who remembers spilling milk can see the value of this practice. Speaking as the laundress, a damp cloth need not be ironed. The tipster mentioned that salty water reduces the risk of staining and, of course, a thick cloth absorbs spills that might occur. Using salt water also conserves the drinking water supply aboard ship.
Thick dishes with vertical rims are traditional nautical ware. The big name Danish porcelain company used to offer several patterns in this format, and a sleeper, Seattle’s dear departed Fabrik, is now collectible. There have been times when I have considered installing a fail-safe miniature railing around the table top.
A tablecloth turns any battered horizontal surface into a decent eating area.
-30- More after the jump.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Photo courtesy Flickr

I seldom travel, and when I do, it’s to the core of a city that has a branch of a familiar department store. I have learned to pack very lightly, because any clothing I didn’t anticipate needing can be picked up in minutes at the local version of my go to emporium. There’s no waste with this system: the new things go into my very small general inventory and get used up with the rest of the collection.
In my side bag, I carry a fine wool balaclava, the hood to the raincoat, cashmere-lined kid gloves, a fine wool muffler, knit fur beret, and two-bit emergency poncho. The accessories are enough to add a good twenty degrees to the comfort range of the coat.
-30-  More after the jump.