Friday, August 28, 2015

A Capella

Not long ago of a Saturday night, several women at a local party began to sing. The first piece sounded like mean girl sing song, but it morphed into pop, and the last piece was sweet gospel. This is a first in my thirty-odd years in the hood.

More after the jump.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Finding a good cleaning cloth is no small matter. My supply is running low just as fall housecleaning looms. At the moment, I prefer the light-gauge washcloths with hanging loop that are sold at the Great Big Northern European Home Furnishings Chain. However, I couldn’t rationalize renting a car or spending a day on the road to reach a destination that might not have the stock I was looking for, no matter how compelling the joy of shopping. Local sources of utility grade washcloths are inconsistent and unreliable as well.

One of the popular cleaning systems marketed to us amateurs who run private homes recommends the utilitarian cotton napkins sold by restaurant supply houses. Since I had been cocking a beady eye at a stack of ill-designed linen napkins sitting in the pantry, I surfed cotton dinner napkins and found just what I was looking for. 

It’s calming and efficient to replace a motley collection of napkins and washcloths with n dozen identical twenty-inch napkins that will serve equally well in kitchen, bath, and shop. I won’t have to think about wipers for years, even after I’ve used up the shabby stock on hand.

More after the jump.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bored Kids

I cruised the deli at the corner of First and Pike not long ago and ran across a package of spaghetti that was nearly a yard long. Briefly, I wished for four year olds to amuse. It would be fun to cook a few strands of the stuff and serve one well-oiled piece each to each child.

When a certain mood strikes, it’s fun to make popcorn without a lid, fill each square of a waffle with a chocolate chip and then top it with the highest possible tower of aerosol whipped cream, or put a kitten and a marble in a dry bathtub.


More after the jump.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Dog Days

We closed the doors and windows to minimize air circulation and hunkered down in one room with the HEPA air filter. Doing so protected our lungs against the small particulate matter that is most dangerous to health. Eastern Washington fires have given Puget Sound lurid skies and a version of the Augusts of the late Sixties, when gas was leaded and breathing urban air guaranteed a nitrous oxide high. It could have been worse: air quality was a good excuse to eat chocolate for its vitamin E. That period marked my first overnight visits to the Hill that became my home in the early Seventies. 

This year’s stresses remind me of my first housekeeping epiphany. The fire department knocked on the door of my SF flat to tell us that we had one minute to get out because the building was smoking. One minute was enough for me to slip on my shoes and grab the puppy and Aunt Bea’s silver. The fire turned out to be the tenants next door finding a blocked flue as they tried to warm themselves at the original hearth in their 1900 unit. The experience transformed the way I regard and manage inventory. I own it, not serve it.

Sunday morning’s coverage of evacuations, losses, and grief to come brought to mind the enormous multi-ton plastic tote bags that civil engineers use to lift and haul fill from place to place via helicopter. It seems as if it would be trivial to toss belongings into garbage bags and a monster tote to get things out of harm’s way very fast. The palette systems used by do-it-yourself movers on this side of the mountains make sense, too. A mobile home is an obvious answer.

Northwest School painter Bill Cumming observed one day that “all things perish, even temperas” as he led a class through the steps of making the inedible mayonnaise that produces a durable matte image. Inuit tradition produced tiny pieces of sculpture whose imagery was free even of gravity, since the people survive in winter white-outs that obliterate the distinction between earth, sky, and presumably, sea ice. The work is meant to be handled as much as to be viewed. Small and light, it is suited to nomadic living.

The core of my home inventory is the hiker’s ten essentials of the field. See the Mountaineer’s web site for current recommendations. Surf Deft Home Resilience for further comments. In the last couple of years I have acquired two standard Forest Service tools. A McCleod hoe/rake and a Pulaski adze/axe condense and refine standard garden inventory while improving the chances of snuffing a creeping fire in the landscape. Keep them sharp.

More after the jump.