Friday, September 23, 2016

Dooryard Plants

Tradition designates certain plants to place at the entry of a house. Rosemary, for remembrance, is offered to a departing visitor. Stock is another standard, as is feverfew, that in my world grows itself. -30-
More after the jump.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Long Series Of Compromises

One of the delights of living in an 1890 house in original condition (we know-a descendant of the woman who commissioned the place dropped off the architect's plans) is not having to undo home "improvements" that degrade the original design. One of the sad aspects of the development raging around the lot is having to accommodate public health considerations of increased density.

Several years ago the house next door was demolished to make room for apartments. While the lot was empty, I had a chance to view and understand the south elevation of this place. Clearly, it had been designed to take in a sweeping aspect of the gentle southward grade. The house came with a small, deep pond. The stout concrete wall of the installation also acts as a retaining wall against the slope of the lot. When we moved in, there was an ancient wood frame holding yellow water  lilies in place. I removed the planting when growing shade trees retarded the lilies.

Originally the pond had a fountain that was operated by turning a handle on the basement water line. The supply pipe was lace and history by the time we assumed responsibility for the property. In retrospect, it would have improved our standard of living to have invested in restoring that pipe. The white noise of falling water takes the audio curse off living with traffic.

I now realize that the pond and its fountain were a lovely grace note in what must have been the sunny sweep of the front garden. Unfortunately, concerns about mosquito-born disease and child safety led us to drain and fill in the pond. I'll plant it with native iris so that it looks like a mature wetland  -30-

More after the jump.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Heavy Metal

Old furniture can be wonderful, but old paint is cause for concern. Lead was not banned until the mid-Seventies, and many pigments were toxic beyond amateur comprehension. In 1981 I contacted a city utility tox-haz specialist to ask about powdered artists' pigments and learned that cadmium and the like are second only to plutonium in their danger and persistence. Plutonium is bothersome for tens of thousands of years.

If you choose to furnish with a funky vintage piece, at the least isolate old paint with a coat or two of wax to contain the subtle, poisonous powder that drifts off the surface as the oil binding it dries over time  -30-

More after the jump.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Feed the gut, not the stomach. The stomach is the squeaky wheel; the gut is the engine. East India's ayurvedic medical traditon recommends paying attention to the quality of what they call the paste that passes through the innards. So did my great-aunt Barbara. Garbage in, garbage out.

Metabolisms vary, but attention need not. The key to my personal well-being is flax seed, followed by salad greens and legumes -30- More after the jump.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Scent Of Necessary Housekeeping

Seattle's end of summer rains appeared over the week-end and with them the faintly stale atmosphere generated by closed doors and windows. It's time to wash a wall or five and detail the interior windows.

As much as any other sense, housekeeping is a discipline of the nose. Get it right, and now that exterior air is clean, living in town is nearly as benign as being in the woods -30- More after the jump.