Thursday, September 17, 2015

Point of View

After living in the house for decades, I discovered an elegant night scape visible from an attic dormer. Not long after, development on the block wiped out the view. That loss was the most unwelcome change in the shift towards higher density.

I moved a bed from the basement (summer survival) to the attic (winter storage) and stumbled across an even more panoramic version of Seattle’s night sky. The evening’s reward was to be sung to sleep at an open window by one of the acts at Bumbershoot. 

More after the jump.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Civil Life

Before the drought broke, I was not quite standing nervously at the front bank with a garden hose at the ready. News shots of eastern Washington house fires showed foundations burned clean even of charred timber, suggesting that heat, dry fuel, and wind were enough to create the same conditions as a forge.

We cleared the riskiest part of the bank using the forest fire fighter’s tools McLeod and Pulaski, leaving bare soil. Other duties claimed my attention over the next few days, and I ignored a coffee cup that a passerby had stashed in one of the shrubs near the sidewalk.

Saturday I went on litter patrol and found that an angel unknown had policed the walk, collecting cigarette butts into the cup and stashing it behind the same shrub. 

More after the jump.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

More About Wipers

As fall housecleaning season approaches, I consider the state of the cleaning cupboard. Housekeeping guru Don Aslett opened my eyes to the critical role a cloth plays in maintaining livable quarters. He pointed out that a rag will not do.

An adequate cleaning cloth has finished edges to facilitate washing. My current favorites are worn terry face cloths, but terry bar wipes are first rate, as are the similar terry wipes sold by the near bale at the Great Big Discount Warehouse. A couple of bundles of highly recommended cotton restaurant napkins await the passing of my last face cloth. It’s worth the money to invest in wipers. Think of the price as a labor cost.

Over the years I’ve experimented with cutting worn clothing and linens into single-use wipers. That, too, is worth the investment. A sewer’s self-healing cutting mat and rolling blade speed production. An empty tissue box makes a good dispenser. Cashmere knits make superb final buffers for precious metal. Silk polishes nickel details on vintage machines. Worn linen leaves not a speck of lint on glass or pen point.

Used cleaning cloths can be left to dry until a full washer load accumulates.  Start with a cold soak cycle. Each cloth will acquire a history. When the history gets too interesting, spray the stain with oven cleaner, aka lye, if the chemistry of the moment permits. Ultimately, a veteran cloth can be retired to support a house painting project. 

I have given wipers to tradesmen at the rare times I have a surplus, and each gift has been warmly appreciated. Interestingly, the domestic eco system runs in balance: clothing wears out at just about the same rate as wipers are consumed.


More after the jump.

Monday, September 14, 2015


A summer in Puerto Rico taught me the value of carrying a cooler in the back of the car to support shopping for fresh food. Contemplating how to route a pedestrian day’s errands and a visit to the fish market the other day, I stowed a quilted vest in my rolling briefcase and tucked Friday’s shrimp inside to keep them cool on the bus ride home.

More after the jump.