Friday, February 5, 2016

Bird Etiquette

Be careful not to startle a winter bird into flight. A sudden take-off taxes metabolism in ways that are dangerous in cold weather. They know it-most of us don't.

More after the jump.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Dressing Off The Floor

Now and then I congratulate myself for not browbeating the resident skater over the state of his room. Only imminent dangers to health and safety brought comment.

A visit to his student apartment revealed what has proved to be an efficient  and rational way to lay out the day's clothing. The decency of the technique depends on removing street shoes at the entry and using the vacuum cleaner from time to time.

Recently I was in a tearing hurry to get out the door and simply tossed the various garments I planned to wear onto the floor. I started with a coat and added under layers based on the weather and what I was planning to do. It took a tenth of the usual time, improved my ability to visualize the outfit, and gave me a pleasant workout as I leaned over to pick things up.

More after the jump.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hidden Blessings

I am indebted to housekeeping guru Don Aslett for the term frozen project. Coffee chat brought word of a suburban home with long-standing open walls on the second floor and in one room of the main floor. A significant percentage of the square feet in the house are considered unusable, and the matron, I was told, does not entertain at home.

The situation could be a death spiral, but there are worse fates than having Sunday off after a full work week of sixteen hour days. Here's the upside, assuming that mold abatement and fiberglass contamination are not part of the mix.

The ping-pong table becomes an asset.

The assessor, at least my assessor, only counts habitable space. I use the unfinished attic and basement space that was standard when my house was new to air dry clothing, execute various cost-effective minor projects, and store inventory in flap-lid plastic bins on high-tech wire shelving on industrial castors. The cost of the storage gear is a labor gift that keeps on giving.

Air-dried clothes last much longer than ones flogged in a dryer. Passive drying minimizes the time and money costs of acquisition and slashes the cost per use of individual garments. Factor in the energy cost of running a dryer, the cost of its acquisition, and the cost of acquiring and maintaining the number of cubic inches the appliance occupies. It takes little time to hang clothing. Carefully considered technique leaves things ready to harvest off the rack and stow away. A bathing suit spinner minimizes drying time.

It is reasonable and effective to use one room as a community closet. Individual clothes racks fitted with hanging shoe and sweater bags can dry gear and store it at the same time. There's room for an ironing board and sewing machine in a set-up like this, and it wouldn't be hard to improvise a dressing cubicle.

Marginalizing and maximizing dead storage leaves habitable space flexible and easy to maintain. 


More after the jump.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Green Leather

Western Washington brush pickers have long used the expression "hand" to describe a unit of measurement. A hand of salal, for example, is the amount one can hold that is as long as one's arm.

The Great Big Grocery Chain sells hands of collards. Washing and trimming one of these things, no matter how welcome, used to mean having to detail that corner of the kitchen afterwards. Now I simply rinse the greens, whack off the ends of the stems, and wrestle the whole bunch into the digital pressure cooker. I give it a splash of water and ten minutes on high. By the time the pressure has subsided on its own, I can lift out a diminished mass of floppy leaves, chop them conveniently, toss them in a bowl, and press them into shallow glass refrigerator storage dishes.

Cold cooked greens laced with Louisiana hot sauce are a convenient snack or side dish.

More after the jump.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Return Of A Classic

It saddened me when the adjustable angle-arm desk light with translucent white plastic shade went off the market. A respected design source had commented that the ideal reading lamp had just those qualities. I knew my pair of lights would not last forever, and one wore one not long afterwards.

When I viewed an animated desk lamp logo, I knew something important was gone. To my surprise and delight, the local academic bookstore now stocks a slightly modified version of the very thing that comes complete with its own energy-efficient light bulb. It costs about thirty 2016 dollars compared to the sixty that was the asking price in 1978.

Changing the color of artificial lighting also changes the color of everything in the room. The new technology mixes well with the existing archaic incandescent light sources.

More after the jump.