Thursday, January 18, 2018

The House Carl

A medieval hall house had a staff of what we might call stage hands, roadies, or roustabouts. They were known as house carls. Carl as in kerl (fellow, or guy), I suppose. The main room of the house, which could shelter twenty people in two hundred square feet, had a fire pit in the center (heorth, or heart) and a board and trestle for mealtimes.

Board and trestle as in a collection of planks laid across sawhorses. The lady of the house asked the carls to knock down the table after a meal when another use was required of the space. After my nest emptied, my enthusiasm for rearranging furniture diminished. Last fall, the nest was completely empty for a couple of months, and I discovered a harmonic convergence of high tech and medieval housekeeping.

Many of the home furnishings that are current here are so light compared to their recent antecedents that I can easily manipulate them myself with only a pair of sticky-palmed work gloves to help. A minor maintenance hassle with the plumbing caused me to set up camp in the family parlor off the kitchen. The board and trestle that serves my graphic needs also makes a dandy raised platform for sitting and sleeping a la Japan. Industrial grade dairy crates replace the featherweight folding plastic sawhorses that had supported two hollow-core doors hinged together -30-

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