Friday, July 3, 2015

Good Gutkeeping

This is theory. Practice will vary with the individual.

Traditional East Indian medicine attends to “the quality of the paste” that passes through the gut. It’s a valuable feedback mechanism that a mid-Western great-aunt used in the 1930s when she looked after her nieces and nephew. They matured to snicker at her old-fangled ways.

I find a morning spoonful of flax seed eases the day. Raw greens establish a peaceful outlook. Fresh fruit simplifies considerations of sweet treats. 

I understand that the gut is lined with enough brain cells to operate a cat. I’ll take all I can get. Maintaining a peaceful relationship with my innards makes me a better social being. I still like to eat badly, but do so with more skill.

More after the jump.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Tacking The House Together

The neighborhood is forever in transition, being close to downtown, frisky digital development in South Lake Union, and a soon-to-open light rail station. We knew this was a development area when we bought the property and have lived here as if we were tenants with a comfortable budget for amenities.

It’s always a pleasant surprise to discover how very little it takes to do right by an interior space. For my purposes, carbon filament incandescent light bulbs, split bamboo and shoji blinds, floor paint, clamp style shop lights, sea grass matting woven in squares, and Japanese hanging paper lamp shades suffice to control light, define the floor, and integrate a series of rooms.

I’ve had wonderful luck using high thread-count putty-colored cotton drop cloths as loose sofa covers and as hangings on an improvised four-poster bed. There’s a bonded poly/non-woven synnthetic fiber dropcloth on the market that comes in an almost wonderful robin’s egg blue. I’ve seen a pink variant as well. Setting hardware store grommets along a folded edge of one makes a satisfactory custom shower curtain for a ceiling mounted track over a claw foot tub. Previous versions of a curtain cost around $200, plus or minus $50, and performed worse. The $12 cloth is a little flimsy, but it will be trivial to replace and recycle it.

The house has several panels of windows made up of diamond-shaped panes. I use paper cut to shape and fastened with glue stick to gain privacy while protecting light transmission. In the spirit of repairing shoji, I cut several kinds of stock to add pleasant and subtle variations to the transmitted light. Japanese mulberry paper, rag thesis paper, and printmaker’s art papers all contribute to the minor patchworks of light on the walls of the main rooms.

Good fire safety is important in any space. Test experimental materials to see how fast they ignite.

Other households have other agendas. I enjoy saying whatever it is I have to say about my domicile with vases, works of art, linens, and a carefully designed casual landscape. 

More after the jump.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hamster Disposal

I lived with these little rodents long enough to appreciate their passion for housekeeping. A freshly cleaned cage generated an orgy of tissue-chewing and brisk fluff-shoving until the space was to the tenant’s liking.

A current second floor painting project has affected two rooms and a hall. The disruption generated an interesting exercise in space and inventory management. Since the spaces are outside major traffic patterns, I can afford to work at my leisure. 

Car-comedians Click and Clack claimed that if you take a Volkswagen apart and put it back together often enough, you will eventually generate enough parts to build a second vehicle. I accidentally proved the point by finding myself with six extra bolts after my first attempt to replace the water pump in me Chevy. It took several rounds of extraction and re-installation to realize that the bolts were left over from the dead pump.

Rooms work the same. Every time I reconfigure a space it grows simpler and the hall fills with redundant furnishings that either go to work someplace else or go to live with someone else.

The most interesting and rewarding part of the exercise is the Eureka! moment of looking at a pile of discards and striking gold.

More after the jump.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mission Intolerable

I routinely bundle errands and have never been quite able to figure out why some days’ lists are just impossible to fulfill. Shopping and banking use different parts of the brain, I realized. Now I prefer to concentrate rather than multi-task. It’s pleasant to play hunter-gatherer one day and Person Friday the next.

More after the jump.

Monday, June 29, 2015


Nothing reminds me of microorganisms like the compost container in hot weather, particularly on crab night. Fortunately, I’m brewing a steady stream of tea under the circumstances, and it’s a simple matter to sanitize surfaces with a careful splash of boiling water.

Back in the day, hand dishwashing routine began with putting a large, and I mean large, kettle of water on the stove. Even with running hot water, the kettle  boiled. Scalding water degreases, sanitizes, and dries with no toxins or residue. Plastic pipes make scalding a matter of careful judgement, but it’s worth trying. Home safety means that running water is always close to lukewarm, good for some purposes but sadly lacking for others.

There’s a certain domestic poetry to working with boiling water. Nothing matches the absence of scent produced by a hot wash nor the light texture of truly clean natural fiber table linen. In the field, sluicing a raw wood table with a boiling water after every meal produces a lovely open grain similar to driftwood but low sodium. Wear shoes.

More after the jump.