Friday, September 27, 2013

Hunting Season

Photo courtesy Flickr

This heirloom column from the Port Angeles Evening News seems to be a good way to wrap up a September week. It was written January 11, 1951 by Roy S. Jensen, the “Country Banker”. 

“If an All-American team of hunters and woodsmen were chosen from those who have penetrated deep into our Olympics, far from man-made trails, no one would question naming Billy Everett, Grant Humes and Amos Cameron on that team. It has been my good fortune to have seen each one of them in action in the mountains.

All are gone now, gone beyond those ridges from whence no hunter has ever returned. Amos Cameron was the last to go. He was buried Monday afternoon at a cemetery near Sequim, buried at a site where one may stand and view the whole panorama of the Olympic Mountain range he loved and knew as few others will ever come to know it.

In these days of uncertainty and uneasiness, we could well afford to pattern our outlook along the lines of the philosophy that these men had in common. All three had infinite patience, persistence and courage. I have followed each of them, at various times, as they patiently followed the trail of game they sought. They thought nothing of bedding down for the night, minus blanket and shelter, if the cougar they followed led them far from home.

They were resourceful in the fullest sense of the word. Each had the capacity to spend time alone in the wilderness, for days or weeks at a time, relying only on their own ability to take in stride whatever difficulties were theirs to overcome.

Living in the great out-of-doors, away from the radio commentator’s alarming news, away from the despairing tone of the editorials in the metropolitan daily newspapers, away from the endless street corner talk of war, these men faced each day’s problems one at a time. Never panicky, never stampeded, never worrying about imaginary dangers, they just took things in stride and faced them calmly and with confidence in their ability to somehow come through.

Perhaps life is a bit more complex today than these men found it, but much of the complexities are of our own making. I hope we can simplify them, and solve them, as sanely and sensibly as Billy Everett, Grant Humes and Amos Cameron met and solved the daily problems with which they were confronted.”
Grant Humes convinced Teddy Roosevelt to establish Olympic National Park by guiding him through contrasting regions of untouched rain forest and Grays Harbor clearcut.

More after the jump.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Winter Is A Verb

Photo courtesy Flickr

The warmth that counts is the warmth one generates by eating and moving. Manage clothing and shelter to conserve that warmth, and the energy savings will be impressive.

Two simple garments, a big fake fur hat and a fine quality wool muffler, shave ten degrees off the thermostat setting necessary to keep the end of my nose warm when I’m doing sedentary work in an unheated room. Use a stadium blanket to warm inactive feet and legs. Add an insulated vest if necessary. A 75w horticultural seed sprouting mat will keep feet happy and morale high when the thermometer reads even lower.

More after the jump.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

One Good Man

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I ain't one to study war, much, but I do study shopping now and then. Recent events in Kenya reminded me of the autobiography of Herman Zapf. The idea of desperately trying to memorize passages from the Koran to get a free pass to the future made me choke: I have enough trouble keeping a short list of groceries in mind.

Zapf accepted a commission to design an Arabic type face before serving in the German army during World War Two. In the desert, Zapf found himself in a stand-off with a North African opponent. We owe our access to the fonts Optima and Palatino to Zapf's presence of mind in quoting, "One good man should not kill another good man."

-30- More after the jump.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sorting Things Out

Photo courtesy Flickr

Recently I spent a few hours discussing inventory problems with an acquaintance. She’s living in a generous, now empty, family nest and everybody’s everything is still in the house. She’s a road warrior on the go four out of five days of the work week and is no kid anymore. Not only is she knee-deep in bulk, but much of it is antique bulk that is fragile and culturally significant. Her kids don’t care about the Mayflower cradle, and she is barely witting about the worth of the Asian antiquities her missionary forebears accumulated.

I listened to Susan much as someone concerned about child abuse listens to tales of domestic difficulty. Raised with righteous Yankee modesty, she barely comprehends the significance of her cultural legacy or how seriously at risk are the irreplaceable artifacts she was describing.

It’s time to get real. A medical or environmental emergency can strike anyone at any age, but the odds get shorter over time. It greatly reduces stress to know that the treasures in one’s care will be safeguarded by knowing hands.

This is not an area in which I'm expert, but I suggested Susan visit the Seattle’s Asian Art Museum library to find ways of managing her collection. Collection it is, although inadvertent. Finding out what she has will give her leverage about what to keep and what to find homes for. A little research will also allow her to educate those offspring about what they are declining.

At the end of her life, my grandmother perched comfortably in one elegantly furnished room in a dignified retirement home. She was surrounded by the best of the family’s best, and the space was very satisfying. Were Susan to high grade her inventory and corral it into a defined space, she could educate the family, put things up for grabs, and then responsibly dispose of what is left. A copy of The National Manual Of Housekeeping will keep daily maintenance from degrading the value of the keepers. For starters, move porcelain in a padded wicker basket, preferably on a rolling cart. I don't know specifics, but I think there are insurance companies that specialize in collections.

Making decisions about inventory is the hard work of housekeeping. Cognition is the core of organizing, and the heavy lifting that accompanies a sort demolishes the brain. Life became sweeter and the house better organized after I bought a bold marker, stationer’s green and red stick-on dots, and a huge roll of trash bags. Choosing to behave as if the family knew how to read and write, I labelled bags and boxes with rough indications of the contents and destination, adding a green dot for things to go or a red one for things to stay.

Putting dozens of petty decisions in writing meant not having to make dozens of petty decisions more than once. I could then save what remained of my cognitive capacity for the pizza order while strong backs decided what they wanted to do with the stuff.


More after the jump.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Organize By Not Organizing

Photo courtesy Flickr

The in-house geek is reconfiguring the radio shack, a task that requires handling thousands of tiny parts and kit after kit of specialized tools. He bought my suggestion to store gear in one size of flap bin on standard coated-wire adjustable shelving units on heavy wheels. The wheels cost nearly as much as the shelves and are worth every penny. Label each bin with a list of contents, or number each one and keep an inventory on the computer. A computer will alphabetize automatically, and things can be stowed wherever there is space

Techie is considering a strategy I have found useful in the adjoining spaces I use as kitchen pantry and office/non-toxic graphics studio. Small artifacts and consumable supplies live in the pantry. The main kitchen workroom and the studio hold only essential worktables, lighting, waste bins, and a seat or three.

Stripping a work area leaves one free to produce. Each project uses slightly or radically different tools and supplies. It’s easier in the long run to pull out and accumulate the widgets and jugs needed for a given enterprise than to try to anticipate every need for projects unknown. Over time, the tool kit for a given space will define itself. I find it convenient to stage projects on designer cafeteria trays from the Great Big Northern European Home Furnishings Chain. I park the trays on the counters of the old pass pantry. 

A commercial baker’s rack would probably work well, but I have not had occasion to use one. Empty shelves are surprisingly efficient: they save horizontal space and allow one to stage work with a minimal number of steps.

The short version of this post is: put everything to one side in a defined dead storage area and pull things out as they are needed. Keep pushing unused things closer to the exit, and the enterprise will eventually define and organize itself.

More after the jump.