Thursday, August 25, 2016

Screen Door

The Japaese boutique in the University District is a reliable source of elegant, inexpensive solutions to ordinary household needs. A traditional curtain made of long beads of pencil-diameter bamboo strung on lengths of wire keeps flying insects out of the kitchen while offering good ventilation and easy passage. The beads taper subtly toward the bottom of the screen.  -30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Shop Lights

For many applications, nothing offers better value than a straightforward clamp-on shop light with a metal shade. Choose one with a Bakelite socket for maximum safety.

The trick is to choose a bulb that sheds the light you're looking for. Some of the bulbs I use cost more than the lamp, and that's just fine. I find that getting the quality of the light right in a given situation bolsters quality of life as well. -30- More after the jump.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Gentle Maintenance

Recently we removed a low boxwood hedge that was blocking a good half of the entry walkway of the house. Doing so revealed an unsightly pattern of urban fallout on the cement.  I dithered for a few days about how to bring the surface up to visual snuff. A painter had scarred the back walk with a thoughtless pass of a power washer that took several years to fade.

Historically, Seattle's water supply has been more than ample. When we moved in, it was standard practice to wash the walks with a focussed stream from an ordinary hose. Increasing demand led the city to recommend conservation, and I simply used a corn broom on the walks after that. The bristles of a natural broom contain silicon that leaves an elegant "sickle polish" on the natural pebbles in old cement.

Nothing can match the look of an old cement walk that's been swept and then gently washed, though. Over the week-end, I sprayed a short section of the walk with the hose, let it soak a bit, and then made a pass with the nozzle set to stream. Once the cement dried, it looked pretty good. One more session should bring it back. 

Washing with an ordinary hose clears the porous surface of old cement without leaving it looking bleached. I doubt that the procedure uses any more water than assaulting an ancient hardscape hardscape with a power washer. -30- More after the jump.

Monday, August 22, 2016


Some time around the late Eighties, a young designer turned the world of fashion upside down with her (thesis?) collection of affordable knit garments. They were designed for an easy fit and to be mutually interchangeable. I found them useful and very good value.

A closely coordinated set of classic choices blurred the distinction between business and casual clothing, and I have been dressing that way ever since. Over the years, noteworthy designers have offered similar collections, and I have been able to upgrade to basics that cost even less per use.

I find it interesting that separates with the purest lines are the most expensive and the best value. -30-

More after the jump.