Friday, February 9, 2018

Take A Seat

I favor vintage hardwood folding director's chairs over other leisure seating, because they are comfortable for persons of widely varying size, portable, folding, and elegant. Arne Jacobsen's history of furniture is the history of this chair, the first one of which was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen. It's a portable throne, known in medieval Europe as a faldstuhl, or folding stool.

Thirty years ago, I ran short of replacement canvas. Finding new seats was a six-hour jaunt herding a heavy station wagon around unfamiliar suburban roads. A couple of seats failed last week, and replacing them used up the stock of new ones I had been hoarding. Five minutes on-line yesterday brought me a pair of custom-cut replacement seats from a provider aware enough to sell seats separate from the much longer-lasting back canvases -30-
More after the jump.

Thursday, February 8, 2018


Once I learned that mail room and filing tasks are the key to keeping clerical systems flowing, getting the "important" things done became trivial (touch wood). Last fall's data breach caused me to rearrange security priorities, because it's hard to concentrate with my heart in my mouth.

The Great Big Search Engine offered security training for children this week. A quick click on the offering made it clear that, like dog training for owners, on-line training for elders is in order. The term "parental tech support" is familiar, and the impolite term for feckless comes to mind more than once when I'm researching best practices -30-

More after the jump.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Signs Of Spring

Tender shoots of new growth are showing on one of the roses. It's a good time to green the old thumb. Breaking off shoots in passing to control the  developing form of the plant is the easiest way to maintain it and the least risky or taxing to the plant itself. I don't worry about fertilizing this rose: I just bury compost at the base. The odd onion and cigarette butt take care of pests, and a banana skin provides favorite nutrients. All I have to do is remember to water. 

Cutting onion tops to garnish food generates ever more and greener onion tops. Shallot tops are an elegant alternative, as are garlic tops. All the alliums were salvaged from the compost stream. When something in the kitchen insists on sprouting, I give it its way.

The lawn needs mowing. It's worth ten minutes so early in the season, because doing so generates thick growth and cheerful messages of support from passing neighbors. I was pleasantly surprised to find no pet waste on the parking strip.

Now and then my casual approach to gardening generates a welcome surprise. A couple of weeks ago, someone set the stub of a Napa cabbage  on a piece of street furniture, a newsstand or something. The remnant started to grow over a couple of weeks of unrelenting rain, so I took it home and pressed it into the compost border with the toe of my shoe. It's a-growin', for zero effort. Whoever used the plant had broken off the leaves rather than cutting them, and the irregular stubs left may have collected enough water to get the new growth going.

Last summer I stepped a couple of elderly organic carrots into the same border, just scraping a shallow trench with the side of my shoe. The seed they set is growing vigorously in someone else's vegetable garden. I'll keep an eye out for shoots of my own, since pencil-sized carrots are delectable. Carrots resemble a toxic native plant, so they are a good double-duty substitute in a faux-native landscape -30-

More after the jump.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Pits Of Winter

Now is the month that separates the carpetbaggers from the lifers. Back in the low-tech day, locals used traditional behaviors to survive long chilly weeks with nary a shadow.

Keep the windows sparkling clean to make the most of what little daylight there is. Dust the lightbulbs as well. A long rainy walk on a windy beach or trail is just as stimulating as a day in the sun and very good for the skin and hair. Eat carefully. Keep your quarters clean and aired.

Fortunately, Carnival season begins after Twelfth Night marks the last day of Christmas -30-

More after the jump.

Monday, February 5, 2018

A Studio Arrangement

A minor hiccup in the plumbing system led me to improvise a temporary sleeping platform in the family parlor of this 1812-style piece of architecture. A bed, day or otherwise, was a standard feature in a front or back parlor until the living room was defined in the Twenties. Not everyone appreciates sleeping in the principal room, but a casual working knowledge of the history of Western architecture suggests that the practice has a long and dignified history. The early European settlers of New England slept in a four-poster bed in the main room. In the Middle Ages, such a bed and its hangings was the most valuable household furnishing. The last I heard, an eighty square-foot view apartment in the neighborhood rents for $1100 a month, so every cubic inch of space is worth careful study.

Not too long ago, a customer and a seasoned clerk at The Great Big Hiking Co-op discussed the wisdom of sleeping on the floor using a self-inflating air mattress. They agreed it was a slick strategy indeed. Sleeping on a Western floor is squalid, but can be improved by removing street shoes at the door and by laying down an interior ground cloth of some sort before setting out the sleeping pad. Doing so in a room that does not have much traffic is even better.

A lightly padded hollow-core door set on legally acquired industrial dairy crates that store home improvement projects keeps my back happy. The room holds a small eating table and another against one wall. A foot locker provides working storage, seating, and support for lounging -30-

More after the jump.