Friday, July 28, 2017

Old School Fun

Afternoons with a recent visitor reminded me of an archaic medium of entertainment: reading aloud.  Now limited to daycare and children's library events, reading aloud used to be a principal way for a family to spend time after the evening meal. Charles Dickens' compositions were marketed as serial matter, like television episodes.

A nineteenth century parlor had a central table with a kerosene lamp. The family would gather around with reading material. The table sported the family bible and a photo album of portraits. Presumably, when someone started a story, it would be convenient to bring up the image of the person involved.

A good friend used to entertain us at the new year by reading a particularly apt story-the old term "story book" comes to mind as I remember. Verbalizing the printed or written word was actively discouraged during the Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics phase of business efficiency. President Kennedy was renowned for his ability to process documents, and Wood had been his instructor.

Reading to others is a good way to accustom one's voice to effective language. Speaking is a physical activity, and the conscious use of words is a work-out as surely as any visit to the gym. When television began to dominate living rooms, there was serious concern that the hypnotic medium would impair social communication.

Surf "elocution" for the details. Technology now makes it trivial to read into a recording device and then critique one's delivery. Recording engineer Jack Endino points out that he has never played music without recording it so he can believe in the quality of the work he produced.

Sharing a table supports spontaneously sharing the choice portions of one's reading, an elegant way to parcel out the best in cognition -30-
More after the jump.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Poop Kit

The city does not appreciate animal waste in its litter bins. I do not appreciate walking past a mess on the parking strip, nor do I savor the idea of carrying it with me on my way to wherever it is that I am going.

The city accepts animal waste in garbage, so I put together kits for whomever is leaving the house. One brown lunch bag plus one small plastic bag plus one disposable protective glove equals health insurance -30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Curb To Curb

Friends are planning to leave their found couch behind when they move to a distant city. Soft seating is ripe for environmental re-design, since it's bulky and does not recycle. The first sofa, Knole's, was a variant of a throne, and the format looks like it would be easy to improvise.

Nineteenth-century parlors often had a daybed in one corner. It supplemented the central table with kerosene reading lamp that served as an entertainment center. Diana Phipp's Affordable Splendor lays out the details of improvising a casual daybed using a box spring, short screw-on legs, and a killer covering.Seattle would not hesitate to use an Oregon Roundup blanket. A futon adds just the right amount of cushioning for day use. A traditional day bed frame is characterized by a head and foot that are the same height. Improvise by rearranging the heads and feet of a pair of twin beds. A narrow four-poster adds a micro-room to the corner of a principal chamber.

The classic Turkish sofa beloved of nineteenth century parlors had rolled arms at head and foot and a rolled back. Rolling is a convenient way to store bedding during the day. Secure it with hook and loop, or stow bedding in a hiker's duffel. The local feather company sells a pillow that is boxed by a two-inch band. That model pillow looks trim during the day and is heavy enough to stay in place.

The mattress on the floor beloved of Fifties and Sixties hipsters is found in East Indian palaces, as are the sandals and hip-huggers that were equally beloved of the Sixties. Traditional reception room floors are covered in white fabric, on which mattresses and cushions are placed. That works if your household removes shoes at the door. I'd use a putty-colored cotton painters drop cloth, an easy fix for an unappealing floor -30-

More after the jump.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Chances are the newcomers in the neighborhood don't recognize the spectacular blooms on the front bank as native plants. The fireweed, Queen Anne's lace, dock, and California poppies are holding their own against the dun-colored siding of new construction.

A not-yet-completed landscaping project left me with a couple of beds close to the house sprouting weeds. Some of them looked so good on their own-pearly everlasting, wild geranium, and rusty oxalis- that I just edited each area for consistent visual impact and called it finished. I'll let the pearly go to seed and scatter it on the front bank to await eventualities. It has a sweet spicy scent that makes a welcome wreath for the winter holidays. 

When the Shasta daisy, a close approximation of the real roadside thing, drops its seeds, I'll add the ones I've fostered and keep the area damp. Come autumn, I'll cover the bank lightly with the leaves of the local street trees -30-
More after the jump.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Chef Wear

A friend of a commercial kitchen manager tells me that the favored heavy apron is protection from hot fat. The tall bonnet is a cooling chimney, and frozen bandannas have replaced it -30-
More after the jump.