Friday, December 16, 2016

Warm The Honey

Every morning starts with oatmeal. I sweeten it with honey. This time of year the squeeze dispenser needs a power assist. I began to warm the container in a bowl of boiling water. In the process, I discovered that warmed honey has subtle overtones of flavor that surpass any flavoring agent or liqueur -30-
More after the jump.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Trembling In Town

At a leisurely week-end breakfast table, the lighting was just right to reflect the surface of the dregs of a cup of dark-roasted coffee. I noticed that the surface was rippling. A few moments contemplation revealed that the cup was a low-tech seismograph.

I lifted my hands from the table and the coffee stopped moving quite so much. Setting my hands back on the table brought up the pulse that was being transmitted. Footsteps in the house and ambient traffic kept the surface gently moving no matter what.

I draw two conclusions from these observations. First, this 1890 structure built from fir cut from virgin rain forest is indeed a resonating unit.  Second, the Sixties' consideration of "vibes" is a literal exercise -30- More after the jump.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Over the week-end I enjoyed a particularly delicious lunch of many leftovers. Unsalted potato chips pulled the menu together. It's taken a long time, but I have grown to appreciate a diet that omits salt and sugar. The foods that seem most healthful all seem to leave a neutral or pleasant taste in my mouth -30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Sheet Of Paper

I like to ground my life in low-tech systems.  Organizing yesterday, I happened to glance at a sheaf of eight and a half sulfite bond destined for the file folder that supports the printer.

A fresh sheet of utility-grade paper is no small feat. Behind it lies a forest, a factory, shipping systems, and a collection of carbon-expensive facilities that keep it smooth, dry, clean, and ready to use  -30-

More after the jump.

Monday, December 12, 2016

This Old Sink Revisited

The 1890 hand washing sink off the kitchen dates from the period when American plumbing was the envy of the world. Raw materials and train transportation were cheap and abundant. The sink is a thick casting of iron coated with an equally thick fired layer of white enamel. Its long history has been a fortunate one of careful and diligent maintenance. From time to time I have contemplated having the sink recoated, but the evolution of the neighborhood still makes making do the more rational choice. Consequently, I can contemplate the sink and realize that it represents a living encyclopedia of cleaning techniques.

Before the Seventies, it was standard practice to abrade the surface of a plumbing fixture with coarse pumice. Go figure. Someone realized that leaving sand out of the cleaning product would protect the surface one was trying to refresh and keep the drains from silting up in the process.

It took a while to find ways to manage the porous surface of the powder room sink, but over time I have discovered ways to make it presentable. When I was using bar soap, it left a waxy residue that was the devil to remove. I would fill the sink with boiling water and detergent, let it soak, and then drain and scrub with the white nylon pad that is sold for cleaning floors. A rinse and boiling soak with bleach followed, and then I drained the sink, toweled it dry (always a good way to finish), and polished the brightwork with biker's chrome polish. I've only had to do that several times over the last few decades. It's a good way to restore any vintage fixture. 

Once the pores of the porcelain are clean and sanitized, relatively minor attention will keep it fresh. I find that sloshing the surface with the undiluted neutral pH janitorial cleaning liquid I use on floors, letting it sit for a minute or two (Don Aslett calls this dwell time), and then rinsing keeps the surface clean.

Different cleaning agents remove different fractions of soil. Regular attention with one product will leave subliminal residue that eventually becomes apparent. I switched to sloshing window cleaning solution from the YinYang grocery chain over the sink when I could see the residue with my glasses off. A brief dwell and scrub got me a clean fixture.

When the spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide I use to sanitize salad greens was nearly empty, I sloshed the dregs over the sink, forgot about them for the day, and returned to wash my hands over a pristine surface. Now and then I spray the sink with white vinegar, the other half of the salad-sanitizing duo. 

Aslett, a house-cleaning guru, says that, like teeth, surfaces accumulate plaque. When the sink is clean and garden tools out of the room, the space smells fresh and immaculate -30-

More after the jump.