Friday, July 22, 2016

Point Of Fact

Now and then a news story emerges that reinforces my sense of reality. Recent BBC coverage of the exit of Britain's prime minister was just such an item.

A news crew waiting at Number Ten filmed the mouser in chief, who was ambling confidently in the section of vacated street in front of the house. The reporter pointed out that, as the pet of a member of the PM's staff, Larry enjoys civil service status and will stay on after the change of leadership. -30- More after the jump.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Notes On Fashion

The most useful piece of advice I have run across is to be anti-fashion. That said, I enjoy a digital browse. A recent adventure in the on-line inventory of Seattle's Own Northern European Fashion Chain brought revelation. The emerging and advanced design section displayed many of the classics I've been accumulating in wool, nylon, and cotton-blend knits at a fraction of the prices of designers whose names I am unsure of pronouncing correctly.

No doubt the big names produce nuances of cut and quality that ordinary merchants do not, but my streets do not appreciate consumer excess. Neither does my storage space.

Surfing the top of the line gives me the courage of my preferences. Like the inoperable clock that is perfectly accurate twice a day, now and then I am with it, for better or worse. I overheard a bus driver delivering the best tip ever: "You need a protective layer."  -30- More after the jump.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A New Take On Security

The World of Interiors' recent issue features an article on an outbuilding on an English estate. A generous second-story space is used to store family treasures while the big house is rented to a research outfit. The room is also used to entertain. One long wall is covered with bookcases, and many of the bindings betray age and, presumably, some value.

The space is drab, as befits its history, and the book wall is lighted with a string of utilitarian shop lights simply clamped onto the top of each case. Hanging across the wall of shelves is a holiday display net of pinpoint white lights. The lights illuminate evening events, and they have a hidden virtues: the netting is too small to allow casual pilferage. Jostling it sends an unmistakable signal -30- More after the jump.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Lull

The garden is somnolent. So is the lawn, and so are we. Now's a good time to get ready for Seattle's version of spring, the powerful lunge of growth that follows late September/early October's cooling rains and shorter days. That's the time to plant onions, greens, roses, grass, and any woody shrub you'd just as soon not hover over until it gets established.

Spring overgrowth is crisp and easy to mulch with the mower. I simply edit the plantings onto the lawn, where they become sheet compost. Tidying the landscape now produces a comforting vista for the Thanksgiving table. -30-

More after the jump.

Monday, July 18, 2016


Ben Franklin commented that he knew of no remedy for luxury. I lack the scholarship to comment further on that half-remembered phrase, but it came to mind after I skimmed an article in a magazine of low-brow culture that noted a New York area gang's affinity for the finest clothing. Apparently, they spared no effort to cover their backs. The author noted the contrast between the groups' wardrobes and their housing-they lived in the projects.

I can't condone theft, but the group's priority fits right in with the traditional food, clothing, and shelter hierarchy. One might not always have a roof, but a good meal and a well-designed jacket can mean surviving a foul night. That thinking is the core of Western Washington timber country home economics. Ken Kesey's novel "Sometimes A Great Notion" is a window into loggers' domesticity.

No matter how low the rent, carefully chosen furnishings small and large make a significant difference in one's quality of life. Check the Great Big Hiking Co-op's list of ten essentials of the field to learn the basics. Norma Skurka's "New York Times Book of Interior Design and Decoration" has an introductory survey of the history of furniture that is worth memorizing. A sharp knife and one heavy enameled cast iron cooking pot with a close fitting lid do a kitchen make. Traditional items of home furnishing are off-grid appliances.

Learn how to recognize bargains from print. "The World of Interiors" is a reliable source of tips. Prize gear is good value even at full retail because it does the job best and costs the least in the long run.  -30-

More after the jump.