Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Winter Salads

Photo courtesy Flickr

These will carry you over the slack period between Christmas and the New Year. They store well, use ingredients that store equally well, and are kind to the innards.

Old school cole slaw makes it easy to add yet another serving of vegetables to a healthy day’s diet. The in-house blade lover keeps his Dexter cleaver razor sharp and chops cabbage into tiny flakes. He adds finely grated carrot, a little sugar, red pepper flakes, white vinegar, and a neutral oil.

Equally old school fruit salad is an improviser’s dream year round. Winter apples, citrus, nuts, and dried fruit combine obligingly. Prunes and slivered almonds have a delicious symbiosis. I dress a fruit salad with a little oil to protect cut surfaces from browning, add lemon juice, and now and then a little liqueur that might compliment the ingredients.

More after the jump.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Threads 2014

Photo courtesy Flickr

A mentor advised me to choose clothing with travel in mind. Doing so has slashed the volume of my wardrobe, allowed me to store much of it folded in a cedar chest that also works as coffee table and seating, and has enabled public transportation for daily life.

I like to spend a few minutes surfing clothing on Sunday mornings, checking favorite sites for developments. Fashion per se is not my friend, but I dearly love high-tech. There’s a fascinating fusion of street and field on the horizon. Canada’s Flying Dinosaur Parka Company seems to have the lead in this area. They won my respect some years ago when a French designer used their coated waterproof nylon zipper one season after it appeared on the racks at the Great Big Hiking Co-op’s nearby flagship store.

Several winters ago, I treated myself to a featherweight rainproof jacket from Deep South America. The piece is cut in a subtle variation of a pea coat. When the blazer reappeared last year, I realized that the jacket will do very well for my purposes. Flying Dinosaur markets two variants of classic men’s jackets, one a three-button sack suit top, the other with lapels cut in a wickedly clever take on a dinner jacket. That piece would make a sensational variant of a boyfriend jacket. Both are made up in the latest iteration of breathable waterproof nylon.

FD has also been selling a warm wool coat with integral scuba hood that appears to have been influenced by a prominent punk designer from LA who now works out of Paris. A close-fitting hood is a very good thing, indeed, combining portable warmth, protection from pests on public transportation, and a veil of privacy when catching the odd nap here and there.

Sites that specialize in travel clothing also seem to specialize in communicating dowdy prosperity. At times, that suits my purposes very well. I find it helpful to surf these sites, Dilly and Travelmaker, to discover which things I already own are recommended as useful items when on the road.

Broadcast news stories make it clear that a global wardrobe is evolving. Since textiles burden the environment, I enjoy lightening the load by finding essential combinations of garments with the widest range of applications. Realizing that designer clothing ages one and that one ought not to look like a Christmas tree has been very helpful, as has deciding that a scarf does a better job of camouflaging my neck than jewelry.

More after the jump.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Doing Right

The gritty poetry of urban life.

More after the jump.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Best, Easiest, Prettiest Christmas Tree Ever

Photo courtesy Flickr

In the late Seventies, Seattle’s Own Northern European Fashion Chain decorated its display windows with trees I have yet to see bettered. Living Colorado spruces were lit with strings of pinpoint white incandescent lights. Individual dried straw flowers were stuffed gently into the dense branches of the spruce, where the physics of the materials held them secure.

That’s all there was, and that’s all that was needed. I tried this myself one year, and it’s simple, easy, less expensive than other formats, fire safe, and naturally elegant beyond description.

More after the jump.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Green Wrap

Photo courtesy Flickr

Every year there’s a conflict between the Christmas glitter palace and the earnest dowdiness of green responsibility. I’m tapering off shiny, but it’s going to take a lifetime.

Some years ago, I saw a period movie with a scene showing Katharine Hepburn as a dowager queen in some medieval European time, wrapping or unwrapping a gift of state using a piece of fabric. The visual was disappointing to an eye trained in glossy red paper and shiny disposable ribbon. I’ve fooled around since with re-usable textile packaging. Some has been a hit, some not so much. I pick up cotton bandannas when I run across the right ones and use them as furoshiki, a traditional Japanese tote. Flickr’s a good source for examples. The local academic book store stocks little burlap bags that have been useful, as have its flashy mylar bubble-wrap mailers that seal with hook and loop.

The Original San Francisco Import Chain is offering Japanese mulberry paper gift wrap in jewel colors. The paper is soft, flexible, and easily reusable. Frugal matrons used to iron gift wrap, and the current product is well worth the trouble. It could also simply be dampened and smoothed out. Yesterday I put a parcel together using a full sheet, folding under the outer edge of the first wrap and then folding under the excess at either end. I secured the wrapping by taping a torn strip of choice bookbinder’s paper around the ends, but any reusable ribbon would work just as well. Some of my buys came packaged in heavy clear acetate boxes. I cut the them down to make transparent gift tags-the marker script on them floats entertainingly over the soft colored wrapping. The boxes themselves are reusable and would be elegant lined with a sheet of colored tissue or the colorful crinkle-cut substitute for packing popcorn.

I find more and more staples are wrapped with reusable ribbon, that I save over the year. I don’t cut this stuff, but configure the bow to use the whole length.

My mother and aunt lobbed the same piece of silk-screened locally made gift wrap back and forth every Christmas for nearly forty years. Each year the gift got a little bit smaller, and some years it was cunningly concealed in an extravagant additional layer.

More after the jump.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Virtues Of Maritime Design

World War Two generated some elegant procurement by the US Navy. To the all-time middy blouse and pea jacket were added a female uniform from Mainbocher (Chuck Yeager’s friend Jacqueline Cochran put that submission on the most beautiful model in a field of dumpy candidates) and simple stainless steel flatware from Tiffany. I would collect it, but it’s rare now.

The Original San Francisco Import Chain, home of preppie classics, is selling close copies at a very good price. Last week’s potluck convinced me to replace the stainless flatware I’d handed off to the heir when he set up housekeeping. As fate has it now and then, the next day I ran across the import copies. $84 set me up with service for twelve, including serving gear and doubles of the forks and spoons that get the most use. Having two means I don’t have to do scullery duty between courses. The low price means I don’t have to hover over the inventory.

More after the jump.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Revving Up For The Holidays

Photo courtesy Flickr

Casual entertaining early in the month is like the false labor that precedes the real thing-a good opportunity to get systems in tune and ready to go. Recent events produced impromptu gatherings at the house and led to what Army bureaucrats call after-action reports. No big deal, but I rediscovered the value of subtraction in getting the house ready for the coming stream of visitors. When the dining and food service areas are stripped, the tabletop becomes its own ornament, and it's easy to concentrate on presenting a meal.

This place was designed and built long before the Fifties notion of casual living intruded on traditional meal service. I keep rediscovering that it’s easier to put food on the table and afford guests a relaxing time if I just prep and serve courses myself. It’s that simple, and no one argues when I encourage them to stay seated.

I also rediscovered that disposable table ware is more trouble than it’s worth. I’ll save the paper and plastic for the emergency and field kits.

More after the jump.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Clearing The Decks

Whipple house photo courtesy Flickr

The phrase is familiar; the details not so much. The in-house archaeologist, who knows his way around a life support system or twelve, developed an appetite for salty terminology while reading Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels about the British navy during the Napoleonic era.

On a wooden ship of war, the upper tier or tiers of lower decks served as dormitories where sailors kept their sea bags and hammocks. When battle loomed, all personal and mess gear and the odd piece of furniture were removed and stowed in lockers to allow maximum freedom of movement and action for the gun crews. After a battle, the area was set up for surgery and as a hospital. Presumably, all involved were grateful still to be breathing.

Arranging living quarters to facilitate clearing the decks is the foundation of efficient housekeeping. Christmas is a good time to test one’s management skills, as is a birthday sleep-over for kids. The ever-present personal computer side bag is a civilian high-tech variant of a sea bag. A bedroom can retain the spare elegance of eighteenth-century Massachusetts, especially if a separate dressing area is defined. 

Over the last year, I’ve been tweaking my interior to see if the “absolute, simple elegance” that a friend observed on a visit to a new interior of high privilege will be relevant to daily life as I wish to live it. A recent slack week allowed me time to finish countless small tasks that I’d set out against the odd moment free for side work. All counters were clear, and there was nothing on the floors except working furniture feet.

A death in the family generated frequent, unplanned social demands, and I discovered that there is no price on preparedness. I’m my own servant, and the pre-emptive maintenance of the previous weeks carried me and the extended family over some rocky hours. Jobs’ instructor in the art and history of the book used to remind his classes of the importance of margins to the legibility of a page. Margins constitute half of the area of a classic sheet. Besides isolating the text from the chaos of surrounding visuals, they guarantee its future by establishing a generous sacrificial boundary area for wear and tear.

The maintenance boundaries I had inadvertently banked allowed me the peace of mind to concentrate on the family’s rites of passage and contribute my best to the occasion rather than the desperately scattered energies of the usual harried timetable.

More after the jump.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Life In The Soft Lane

Housewares Central photo courtesy Flickr

As a frisky young hiker, I shared my trail-mates’ disdain for the bulky luxuries of the campground. A noisy sheet of bubble-wrap was the Co-op’s state of the art alternative to a rubberized air mattress. 

As a relatively frisky housekeeper, I discovered not long ago that the Co-op’s six-foot rectangular slab of self-inflating foam topped with a thin memory layer is a perfectly good substitute for A.dorky cushions on a sofa that are hard to sleep on and B.an equally dorky conventional mattress. Topped with an additional memory foam module, the self-inflating six by two foot super luxury pad is a versatile featherweight substitute for the received wisdom of a conventional furniture store. I use a pair of pads on an old bed frame fitted with two lengths of commercial grid wall in lieu of a box spring. The self-inflating pads are modular with standard mattress sizes and can be redistributed if the house becomes a crash pad. The sofa unit is camouflaged with an Oregon Roundup blanket.

What looks excessive from trailside is elegant viewed from the parking lot. It’s even more elegant when the time comes to rearrange the bedroom.

More after the jump.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Fundamentals

Photo courtesy Flickr

Christmas was originally a festival to support the poor. The real luxury of my life is having time and attention to spare for this blog.

There’s a fine line between gift and glut. Thank-you notes are a vital sign.

An archetypal Christmas tree is brought living into the house and decorated with fruits and candles that are lit on Christmas Eve. The tree is returned alive to the garden. Electric lighting allows the family to return alive to whatever they were doing before the holiday but generates escalating glitz that challenges the essential peace of the occasion.

The Christmas season is another matter. The month before Christmas Eve is a miniature version of Lent, a period of fasting and counting the days. Christmas itself opens a carnival that lasts until Ash Wednesday as good a cure for seasonal affective disorder as I can imagine.

More after the jump.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Wake

"Graceland" photo courtesy Flickr

Charlie Rose presented a beautifully edited collection of Nelson Mandela stories on yesterday's re-broadcast of Friday's show. It makes me wish I were a fly on the right walls in South Africa. If the topic interests you, I recommend the show for its utter humanity.

-30- More after the jump.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Getting It Right

!Kung archer gear. Photo courtesy Flickr

Most Deft posts are composed early on Sunday morning with one eye on the previous week and another on the week to come. Yesterday’s Meet The Press coverage of the death of Nelson Mandela is as concise and elegant a version of the meaningful history of my housekeeping years as I can possibly imagine.

Other, more knowledgable, students of history will no doubt have better informed comments on the period, but NBC’s segment contains phrase after phrase of the living language of decent citizenship. Jesse Jackson’s pithy comment about Mandela turning vicious at one point and Maya Angelou’s narrative response to the news of his death stand and will stand as beacons of human values.

South African novelist Laurens van der Post wrote A Story Like The Wind about the brutality of an African liberation struggle. There’s a scene in the book that captures the very essence of housekeeping. Two young couples, one white and one !Kung seek refuge in a cave. The !Kung girl demonstrates good cave-keeping, meticulously grooming the floor of the space to make sure no one injures a foot on a sharp object. I can’t do justice to van der Post’s language and insight, but his description touches the essence of the hearth, or heart, or haeort.

More after the jump.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Why Guys Take Out The Garbage

Photo courtesy Flickr

Sometimes there’s a legitimate reason for gender-specific activities. Out of nowhere after dinner one night I asked the in-house anthro person why we assumed that he would carry waste out to the can by the alley.

He said it’s because bears lurk around middens. Now I understand why my great-grandmother kept a shotgun by the kitchen door of her log homestead cabin.

More after the jump.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Death Of Small Detail

Photo courtesy Flickr

Surfing Issey Miyake the other day, I discovered that the man who brought the world Steve Jobs’ turtleneck also designed costumes for a German ballet of the same title as this post.

I know nothing else about the dance work, but the phrase grabs me as a particularly apt expression of the notion of minimalism, or as another designer put it, essentialism. Essentialism turns its back on privation.

An acquaintance described the impression left after her tour of Mr. Jobs yacht as “absolute simple elegance”. There seems to be common ground between the yacht design and, certainly, the man’s wardrobe.

A photographer introduced me to the idea of “visual information” in an image. He was talking about old snapshots and how often the stuff in the background ends up being more interesting than the people. Armed with the notion of visual information, I began to scrape away layer after layer of distracting focal points from the walls and horizontal surfaces of the house. I’m sorry to compare the process to vivisection, but that’s what it has been, subtracting furnishings until a system doesn’t work any more, then adding what’s needed.

Electronic, and especially digital, furnishings carry such a wealth of information under the roof that there’s little need to entertain myself with knick-knacks. I say knick-knack respectfully: usually a small furnishing has an original function. There are very few things in the house now that are too precious to use. I keep the decks scraped bare and bring little treasures out to set a table or vary a display here and there. 

The venerable twentieth-century Scottish/Kenyan big game hunter John Hunter talked about “wait-a-bit” brush in one of his riveting stories. Wait-a-bit brush has recurved thorns that catch the skin and can only be removed by a painstaking process of manipulation. Hunter describes doing so while following a wounded and enraged buffalo he feared had turned the tables and was stalking him.

Any householder who’s tried to make a fast exit while keeping public health authorities satisfied has had the same experience, albeit with lower stakes. A fundamental principle of efficiency is to leave things ready to use the next time. The fewer things one has, the easier it is to comply. I still have a zillion small details, but the laptop does the storage and organizing for me.

More after the jump.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Housekeeping-Final Exam

Photo courtesy Flickr

At a recent funeral, I overheard one near-elder say to another, “I’ll clean the attic after I retire.” Her companion agreed that working full time leaves no resources left for organizing.

That’s a pity, because working against a physical overload taxes energies when they’re already taxed to the maximum. It’s like running a footrace with a ninety pound pack. I’m hearing more, and more serious, such stories than I care to these days. At the same gathering, I overheard a group of children worrying that their disabled parents will never move because their pa is hovering protectively over his antiques. The children are out of patience. One of them despairingly talked about filling a truck and taking it to a thrift, and a couple of others agreed.

The worlds of psychology and organizing have thoroughly and skillfully pathologized hoarding, but there’s hoarding and then there’s hoarding. My true heroes of World War Two are the Russian seed bank custodians who chose to starve to death rather than eat their stock. They were found fallen and frozen over the sacks they were guarding at such cost.

Later in the day I discussed antiquities with the same children who perked up when I explained that artifacts are reservoirs of information and important expressions of the human spirit. Some expressions are more valuable than others, and the market tends to make that value obvious. The kids had been talking about the recent trove of African artifacts that had been donated to a national thrift chain.  Sometimes it’s less costly to give something away than go through the various hoops involved in de-accessing it by way of sale or trade. This is the second time in three months that I’ve discussed a significant collection that is at risk. The other collection includes a Mayflower cradle, for which I tremble.

I’m more interested in producing, such as I’m able, than in collecting, but my partner designs a small museum now and then or a repository of cultural artifacts. In a minor way he knows the issues of managing stuff with an eye to preserving it for the future. It took me forever to connect with, and to respect, painter Mark Tobey’s advisory that the frame is seventy percent of the picture. The frame is what links the work to the living environment it will inhabit. Storage gear is what connects the work and its housing.

It’s not hard to set up a collection so that it does not deteriorate on the owner’s watch (unless textiles are your passion, in which case, I can’t advise about climate and humidity control). Household antiques thrive in the same conditions that keep their owners happy and healthy. Store things that are not on display suitably padded in lidded plastic bins on knock-down wire shelving units on heavy rolling castors. The wheels will cost nearly as much as the racks themselves, will pay for themselves in ease of handling and efficient use of space, and will have resale value. Find the racks at a big box hardware chain or storage specialty chain. I have found the standard 36” x 18” x 72” units to be the best value and the most versatile. If I were starting over, I’d get all chrome. Buy the standard metropolitan label.

Looking back over the many domiciles I have lived in, I can’t think of one that didn’t have an uninspiring room or large closet that could not have been stocked with the rolling racks and used as a repository. One can screen the back and sides of a rack and use it as a rolling room divider. Set heavy bins on the bottom shelf for seismic stability. Defining dedicated storage space for small artifacts on each floor of the house greatly simplifies maintenance and transforms the rest of the building into flexible units that can be reconfigured in minutes rather than hours. One can use and display the necessary daily minimum and otherwise enjoy the visual riches of digital communications. I ignore built-in storage cupboards and closets because they don’t hold bins conveniently. Built-in storage holds food, other staples, and small or knock-down pieces of furniture not in active use. Built-in storage is not efficient for most of my purposes.

Caring for a collection is caring for the collector. The owner gets to decide the value of the inventory. This is true even for a child’s belongings. A canny owner will consider the market, among other factors, as many children do. A canny photographer advised me to sell part of my minor collection to pay for framing and housing the rest. Family history, sentiment, a sense of continuity, and the very green Shaker notion of using what one already owns are not trivial considerations. Don Aslett’s Clutter’s Last Stand and the British National Trust Manual of Housekeeping address the inventory poles of hoarding and archival maintenance of national treasures. Sometimes both factors are present under the same roof.

For my friends who are waiting for retirement to give them the time to comb the knots out of their inventory, I say find the time. Finding the time will give you more time than you can possibly imagine. Prepare for a long holiday week-end by visualizing your space as it will be, lay in a huge sheaf of varied press-on stationer’s labels and several bold markers, cases of transparent garbage bags (to prevent tragic errors), and four or five times as many lidded bins as you think you’ll need. Add a lavish excess of archival packing material, like bubble wrap for ceramics and acid-free tissue for things that will be sensitive to humidity, like wood. 

In effect, you will be setting up a small museum. Making the decisions is the hard part, so enlist numerous trusted helpers to do the sorting, lifting, carrying,  transporting, and ordering of pizza. Another trusted helper can dust and vacuum the space that is cleared by the sort. The residue will be impressive, so use a HEPA air filter if you have one, or set fresh, inexpensive HEPA filters in the forced air furnace and vacuum cleaner. Keeping the air clean protects cognition. Designate one part of your property for piles of discards, recycling, and donations. Set out labelled rows of up for grabs heirlooms for family and friends (this can be done on the internet) and stockpile Priority Mail shipping cartons. When you decide how to dispose of an object, write the decision on a label so you don’t have to make the decision a second time. Piles of clutter are living proof that making the decision is the real work of ownership.

I find it convenient to slap a green dot (for “go”) on anything that’s destined to leave. Frequently the troublesome contents of a room evaporate as junk mail, old magazines, and chemically ill books (sniff an open one-you’ll know what I’m talking about) are routed to their destinations. Shred anything with your name on it. Aslett is a good coach for this stage of a sort. Protect your helpers’ backs by supporting an empty plastic bag in a bin or carton, and set up a packing station on a sturdy table large enough to hold padding materials.

Fascinatingly, the funeral’s deceased and the man whose children are worried about him share the same values and priorities as a revered elder of a regional tribe, who died nearly a year ago. Margaret had rescued the culture of the tribe from the brink of extinction. Over many years, she assembled a hoard of treasures. A year after her death, they are to be distributed in celebration of the tribe’s tradition of generosity, to maintain the family’s status, and to assert the traditional values of the group. Family’s family.

More after the jump.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Repair Station

Photo courtesy Flickr

The recent issue of Frame magazine features a small note about a jeans repair  business operated by the aptly named Sol Butt. The repair shop is in London and is devoted to one particular brand, but I can’t see why specialized jeans repair would not be viable anywhere. Heavy denim is a bother to sew, but the right equipment would make a tough job simple. Perhaps a pushcart topped with solar panels could wait in front of a popular grocery, music store, or fast food outlet, with while-you-wait customers standing around in barrels.

More after the jump.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Inside Out

Photo courtesy Flickr

The recent issue of Frame magazine shows a clever vase designed by Maria Jeglinska. The design is really an anti-gravity device: a simple water container surrounded by an elegant open-work enclosure. Jeglinska transforms the tricky physics of flower arranging into a straightforward exercise of placing stems into a jar.

It would be trivial to copy this idea by crumpling a length of poultry netting around any water container. 

More after the jump.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Please Turn Out The Lights

Photo courtesy Flickr

The recent Boeing machinist’s union vote brought back memories of Seattle in 1970. The local version of the Concorde had failed to materialize, and property values plummeted. In 1970, Boeing had bet the company on its supersonic transport. The machinists appear to have bet the union on their recent ballot.

In ’70, I could have bought a waterfront bungalow a few doors south of Jeanette Rockefeller for $26k. Every local had a could-have story, and quite a few did. As local news covered the recent voting process, I found myself wondering whether the membership was old enough to recall 1970. 

Visualizing a worst-case real estate scenario in the suburbs, I wonder whether property values will hold here in the center of town close to the digital employment that has transformed the city. Tiny rental units within walking distance of work are popular (neighbors moved fifteen blocks west to halve their commute). Concentrating population in the urbs is a conscious strategy for reducing the number of people the environment must carry in the next century.

When mass suburbs were new, a free-standing single family home was intended to be nearly self-sufficient. World War Two had taught the value of access to cropland and of a haven out of harm’s way for starving city dwellers flinching at bombs and artillery. Dear friends and role models defied convention and raised their children in the rental heart of San Francisco during the Fifties and Sixties. They retreated to a waterfront tree farm over the summer. 

If outlying neighborhoods fall out of demand in the next few years and covenants permit, it might make sense to own an older suburban house sited on the good farmland that is so rare in Western Washington. Install a caretaker/intensive farmer to work the place, and use it as a week-end retreat from life in town. Ideally, a property would be located within easy walk of public transportation. Garden catalogues list electrically assisted carts with substantial carrying capacity. I’m not talking American dream here, just the down to earth practicality of a tiny country estate, which is what the suburbs were, originally.

I could see portable small scale canneries and abbatoirs appearing to preserve crops, on-site recycling of all bio-waste to enrich the soil, and friends and relations enjoying the benefits of a small share farm.

More after the jump.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Photo courtesy Flickr

The annual trek to Northgate’s theatrical, display, and costume supply store happened last week-end. The Christmas section is a reliable vital sign of the economy: it’s three times the size of the last couple of years.

I love to cruise this place looking for products that are so fundamental and innovative that they enrich the household far out of proportion to their price or weight. Strings of ornamental lights have become year-round staples: in this climate, they’re a medical necessity. The store features a huge unbreakable red plastic ornamental ball about fifteen inches in diameter. It ain’t cheap, but just one would furnish a Charlie Brown style tree.

I found a set of forty finger-length clear plastic spoons that are decent, elegant, and a reasonable investment for the number of times I am ever likely to want a tiny coffee spoon. A cupcake outfit sells a ready-to-assemble three tier cardboard pastry server so festive and agreeable that I bought one to give to a baker as a minor Christmas present. It inspired me to plan on using mounting tape to stack a large tray, immaculate flower pot, medium tray, and footed candy dish for a potluck that’s coming up soon. 

I contemplated strewing mylar confetti over the same potluck table, but backed off because mylar does not compost. Specks of mylar confetti have evaded the vacuum cleaner for as long as fifteen years. I’ll substitute the colorful shredded crimped paper sold as gift packing. 

The carnival store is located at one edge of a neighborhood that was designated an urban village a couple of mayors back. The area centers on Seattle’s first shopping mall, built on land clear cut from virgin rain forest, turf that’s never been logged, like Brazil. Over the last year it’s been transformed from the dreary remains of a post-war veteran’s paradise into not an urban, but a truly global village. Mermaid Coffee was simmering with real estate closing, student orientation for a veiled girl, and countless frisky family tables of internet-savvy young adults. A new twenty-four hour breakfast dive offers welcome respite for the feet.

On our way from the bus stop to carnival central, we happened across a boutique specializing in batteries and light bulbs. Prices on familiar items were very good, and this is the greenest store I’ve run across in years. It stocks whatever source of illumination one might want to keep an existing light fixture in operation. One display shows the effects of differing light technologies on the same charts of color while another quizzes the shopper about which light source is affecting which surface. It’s comforting and challenging to browse a space that assumes I am educable.

The bus ride home was interrupted by a cell call, and I changed my travel plans, discovering Metro Route 68 in the process. This route links several favorite shopping destinations that became well-nigh unreachable after I discarded the car nearly twenty years ago. The 68 links University Village, upper Roosevelt, and Northgate in a neat loop with the UW campus.

More after the jump.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Photo courtesy Flickr

Healthy chow. Yesterday's Sunday CBS Morning show broadcast useful insights about what we’re up against in the grocery store, as well as inspiring industrial food concepts like “the bliss factor”. The segment is titled "marketing healthy snacks like junk food"

The bliss factor, or the absence thereof, explains why the neighbors sniped at my cooking the other day when I was not doing justice to a batch of raw ingredients.  Even the visiting locksmith sniped. I like living on a block where foodies diss careless preparation. 


More after the jump.