Friday, March 24, 2017

This Season

This is the tail end of as cold and wet a Seattle  winter as I can remember. It's the kind of winter that makes me kick myself for not having installed a water salvage system. The few sunny days since February have left the garden enthusiastic and barely in check. Maintenance is now a top priority. 

If it's ever dry enough to prune, I'll be outside in a frantic race against the explosion of growth that the native shrubs will demonstrate. In past years, there have been more than a few warm, early days when I have been able to lounge on the front steps with a cup of coffee and literally watch the brush grow, sometimes six inches at a time. 

Prunings get mowed into mulch on the front lawn, that is morphing into a bird feeder. Earthworms devour the mulch that draws them to the surface to feed crows and robins. With so much development in the area, the wood-fenced front lawn offers refuge from passers-by and their dogs -30-

More after the jump.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Shelf Velocity

The title is a retail term for how long it takes to move stock. I like to keep the shelf velocity of food high to protect our standard of living. Over an ideal week, the cupboard is close to bare by Saturday morning.

Last week, neither of us was hungry for the animal protein that draws us to the fish market or the Pike Place butcher. We opted for produce from the corner supermarket and staples from the emergency pantry supply. It doesn't hurt to rotate that stock over the course of the seasons.

Two simple dishes are easy to prepare from foods that store for a long time. Any version of any ingredient works well in the finished product. The first dish, soup au pistou, I learned from Julia Child's television cookbook. It's a vegetarian minestrone composed of potatoes, carrots, onion or leek, white beans, green beans, green peppers, tomato, bread crumbs, broken pasta, spinach or other greens, grated Parmesan cheese, and pesto sauce. Add saffron for a special occasion. Putting this soup together over the course of fifty years in muddy campsites and slick kitchens of varying stripe, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, I have yet to turn out a product that was not at least welcome at the table.

The second favorite is old-fashioned fruit salad, easy to prepare from sturdy basics like apple, citrus, and dried things. Dress with lemon juice, sour cream, and/or grenadine syrup. Mince fresh ginger for a fillip. Add soft fruit like strawberries at the last minute.

With pistou and fruit salad on hand, eating responsibly is trivial. A bowl of each will suffice when heavier food does not appeal -30- More after the jump.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Teachable Moment

I argue that since I have to cross-train in academics and digital literacy, the in-house science guy should accord housekeeping the same respect. He's willing, sincere, and responsible, but tends to ignore the subtle nuances that ensure surviving in a decent, safe, and sanitary domicile. Put simply, the "separate spheres" division of labor that was the first wave of feminism left him blind to the easy ways of getting things done, or not done, as the case may be.

The other morning, in deep fog, himself dumped a container of  flax seed in the kitchen. I had a welcome chance to share the wisdom of dealing with a dry mess: push it to one side so it doesn't get tracked around, and then go ahead and have breakfast. Once blood sugar and caffeine are adequate, it will be easy to cope. Cope too soon, and the stress will deplete personal reserves of energy that are better saved for more important things -30-

More after the jump.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Cart

As pressure on my time increases, procurement grows less interesting. The navy supply technique of keeping two units in reserve and replacing the replacement as it is called into service has eliminated urgent runs for staples. Window shopping on line and mail order have eliminated wearisome treks to favorite destinations, although I enjoy scouting and trying standard sizes.

The go-fer discovered that a local cab company is an obliging resource for getting an oversized parcel back to the house. Once a month, a rolling duffel bag suffices for bringing heavy staples home.

The simpler I make life support systems, the more elaborate knowledge work can become -30- More after the jump.

Monday, March 20, 2017


A visitor inquired about an unfamiliar appliance she saw sitting on the floor of the laundry area. I explained it was a German bathing suit centrifuge sold for gyms and home swimming pools. The spinner extracts every last drop of water from a load processed in an automatic machine. Sometimes I spin for several cycles to get things nearly dry to the touch.

Line drying extends the wearable life of fabrics by five or ten times and saves significant amounts of electricity. Be careful to dry in a location that will not foster mold. Spinning is easy insurance  -30- More after the jump.