Friday, September 16, 2016

An Enviable Rig

When summer quarter started, many a bulky piece of wheeled luggage was towed up the Ave. One fellow approached with what looked like a levitating combination of duffle and back pack. After he passed, I turned for a better look and found the gear was perfectly balanced and lashed to a long board.

The kit was as well-considered as any I have seen, and it appeared to be adequate for nearly any sane life-support scheme -30-
More after the jump.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Transitional seasons prove the advantage in having warm/dry and chilly/rainy versions of basic wardrobe elements. It's trivial to swap out a crushable polyester straw hat for a boonie model from the Great Big Hiking Co-op if they're both the same color. The same holds true for a coat or trousers.

Once I identified my working core of classic clothing designs, nearly identical sets of black and beige elements in the four-season fabrics that work for layering in Seattle's year-round infinite weather variables allow me to cover my back with the contents of a traditional blanket chest. That's all the storage I need.

This approach won't work for everyone, but it works for me. I fool around with scarves, preferring them to jewelry, and with flimsy shopping totes. The contents of my town wardrobe are no different from the contents of my emergency evacuation kit.  -30- More after the jump.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Light The Hat

This cheechako has earned no stripes in Alaska, where on a bad day eyeballs can freeze. The damp dusk that passes for mid-day in the depths of Seattle's rainy season (October through June) comes, I maintain, a close second as a challenge to human wit and endurance.

State code requires a white light in front and a red reflector on the rear of a bicycle. I'm about to compromise pedestrian dignity with common sense and install (literally) running lights on my winter headgear and/or side bag. -30- More after the jump.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

While I'm At It

The first week of school is an ideal time to plan and begin to execute the major annual cleaning event that used to happen in spring. Electric lighting eliminated the soot of gas light that used to coat an interior over the course of a winter. Janitorial guru Don Aslett lays out the basics of major cleaning in Is There Life After Housework? Amy Vanderbilt defines the drill of privilege in her Sixties book of etiquette, incidentally illustrated by Andy Warhol. The English National Trust Manual of Housekeeping is a guide to museum-quality procedure.

Eliminate housework by managing an interior for allergies, whether one has them or not. Keep floors bare, use blinds rather than curtains, minimize house plants, and confine books and small ornaments to glass-fronted display units. Factor in housekeeping, not to mention vet bills, when contemplating aquiring a pet. Use HEPA filters in heating systems, vacuums, and as free-standing units in rooms. Run a HEPA filter while vacuuming to double the intervals between cleanings. Remove street shoes at the door and place dirt-grabbing nylon entry mats large enough to take several steps at each entry.

Setting things to rights as the season changes is the first step in preparing the holiday table for Thanksgiving. Be sure to tidy the garden as well. There's no better time, either, to sketch in the annual stock-taking that the calendar dead zone of January affords. Japanese tradition discards worn furnishings at the new year. I find that Christmas acquisitions displace the same elements. Aping hospitality practice, I relamp the house in the dead of winter, changing all the light bulbs that might reasonably be expected to burn out in the course of a year. It feels extravagent, but the savings in labor and attention are worth it.

These housekeeping processes smooth out the speed bumps under the roof.  -30- More after the jump.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Taming The Scarf

I prefer scarves to jewelry and was recently given a lovely silk. The quality of the fabric and printing were such that visually, the piece was more gem than textile. The colors and texture weren't loud; they simply were superb beyond my requirements.

Some years ago, an unfortunate attempt at home laundry in lieu of dry cleaning taught me that dunking in tap water is a good way to age silk quickly. This time I set up a clean dishpan of hot water, let it sit all day to disappate chlorine, and with a prayer briefly swished the new silk until I felt the fibers relax slightly.

I rolled it immediately in a bath towel, pressed the water out by stepping lightly on it and ironed it dry from the back. The result was just what I'd hoped for: slightly milder color and a gently relaxed texture.  -30- More after the jump.