Friday, April 7, 2017

Marchpane And Porcelaine Now

Waay back in the day, a dining table was ornamented with small edible figures modeled from marzipan. They were consumed after the meal was over. My sense of the history of tabletop design is that those figures might have been the prototypes of practical, indestructible vitreous versions and that marzipan's sweet ingredients might have influenced the often treacly aspect of porcelain figures.

It's tempting to consider asking my friendly local ceramicist or the nearest kid to produce edibles for the next family feast -30-

More after the jump.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

We Have No Art

Somehow I gave offense to an acquaintance when I quoted an art history nugget about the traditional culture of Bali, "We have no art; we do everything as well as possible." That the pride and pleasure of working to one's best ability should be  perceived as an overbearing challenge is worrisome.

I find that reminding myself of this quotation makes it easy to slow down enough to connect with whatever physical task is at hand. Since I volunteered for the life I'm living, there's no room for grousing -30- More after the jump.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

ShiftingThe House Toward Summer

Old books about housekeeping detail the elaborate revisions of an interior that accompanied the arrival of warm weather. Presumably spring cleaning prepared wool carpets and heavy curtains for storage. Contemporary fabrics, HVAC systems, and surface finishes have eliminated many of the old concerns, but the basic idea of living differently in different seasons still makes sense.

Since my house was built in 1890 along 1812 lines, I have been able to experiment with old strategies in an original context. The materials used in this place do not differ significantly from earlier centuries. Seattle's mild and constant climate has little to do with the extremes of the Northeast coast or Deep South, but we do have extreme variations of the length of the day and of daylight itself.

Just as decades of decorating for Christmas have left a legacy of festive effects that stay in place all year, the paring of inventory for warm weather lingers over the winter. Except for a couple of rugs, carpet has been replaced by organic matting and floor paint. Fragile and complicated ornaments live in glass-fronted storage areas. Most horizontal surfaces in the house are clear and ready to serve as the work surfaces they were designed to be.

The basic principle has become to keep a house that is ready to be cleaned. Once the storm windows are down and the windows raised, it will need cleaning a little more often, but the fresh and open atmosphere is well worth the trouble. The long days and our early rising mean that putting lamps away in imitation of low-tech practice is a rational change that simplifies maintenance.

The entry is a valve that controls maintenance and life support. Changing street shoes for house shoes slashes dusting, floor care, and wear and tear. Harvesting outerwear for summer storage frees space for garden gear. 

I have not had occasion or need to drape cheesecloth over pictures and mirrors to protect them from flyspecks, but the ornamental effect is beguiling, as is the practice of draping a chandelier to keep dust off it.

High-end practice prepared a house for the absence of the owners. Keeping travel in mind ensures good sense about security and the degree of maintenance demanded by plants, pets, and garden -30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Taking It Easy

I am learning to leave certain tasks unfinished. The ordinary work flow of the interior has enough empty minutes for me to complete what restaurants call side work: folding napkins, storing groceries, doing petty clericalwork. I'm getting out the door faster and fresher -30-
More after the jump.

Monday, April 3, 2017

First-class Criticism Is Hard To Find

I can count the people whose comments established my sense of form on the digits of one hand. Entertainingly enough, one of them uttered the first principle: if someone comes at you with a critique you have not requested, you have a duty to ignore them. That said, it's worth ignoring the point in those special cases where someone is so skilled and knowledgeable that a bothersome remark is still worth considering.

Larry McMurtry's protagonist "Cadillac Jack" is an antique scout whose motto is "Anything can be anywhere." That seems to be true and getting truer. Tradesmen outnumber academicians on my short list. I like art commentary that is easy to spell -30- More after the jump.