Saturday, October 6, 2018

Mass Extinction Event

English graffiti vandal Banksy just killed every single one of his competitors -30- More after the jump.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Drive-by Food Critic

One of the joys of living in this dense neighborhood is overhearing the neighbors' comments about our cooking. It's convenient to fry on the back porch, and not seldom I have received impromptu reviews of my process. The snicker that accompanied a burning roux is particularly memorable.


Last steak night, the cook did himself proud. As I waited for the dinner bell, an old-school customized muscle car roared down the block while someone shouted "Steak!" -30- 
More after the jump.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Low-hanging Tasks

Mopping up after a recent episode of home improvement reminds me of how valuable it is to do the easy chores first. Long habitation at this site is a history of figuring out what will produce the best effect for the least effort. Simple tidying often is enough to make a room look its best. Clearing horizontal surfaces so that they can be cleaned is an amazingly productive change: light reflects engagingly from a clean worktop, and the bare space invites further production. Vacuuming an apparently clean floor renders it more reflective-even the light off a carpet looks fresher.


Getting solid waste out of the way is a no-brainer. In my book, any redundant artifact is solid waste. Sometimes I store it, and sometimes I store it in a bag marked thrift -30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Corvid Design

In the mid-Seventies. a local outdoorsman assured me that the crows that frequented the drinking fountains near the neighborhood ball field spent their nights in Duvall. At some point in the late Eighties, crows stopped commuting. A hen built a nest in the crown of a 1926 hemlock in my back yard. She did a hostile fly-over one day when I was walking down the back path. I told her irritatedly "I'm not going to hurt your babies!", and I got friendly clucks ever after.

The in-house field science guy has been observing the local flock from his dawn bus stop for about twenty years. The gray squirrels that scamper up and down the towering shade trees on the block are an invasive species that's on the fish and wildlife hit list. I've never had the heart to contemplate taking any action, though I used to remind them that they'd make a good first course at Thanksgiving. Several years ago, the squirrels thinned out. I don't recall seeing a one last year. This spring's sightings have been of grays crouching and looking over their shoulders. Field Guy says he's observed the crows faking squirrels into the path of oncoming vehicles. 

A pair of juvenile squirrels is making its way around the block, and their body form seems different from the bold and glorious imports that were transplanted from London to Central Park in the nineteenth century. The pair is oddly sleek, with shorter fur that lies close to their bodies, almost like seal fur. The tails are shorter and less bushy. The limbs are shorter in comparison to the  torso. On the whole, the body form seems to be shifting to resemble the Douglas squirrel. Presumably, responding to a native predator demands modifications in the direction of a native survivor.


The crows also seem to have driven away the starlings that were common in the early Eighties-30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Coating the Interior with Ink

I emptied the bathroom cabinet to support a restoration job in the space. When the time came to replace daily necessities, I whipped out a bottle of window spray to clean first. I was startled to discover that the wiper looked as if I had been clumsy filling a pen.


Last summer's bout of smoky air left residue in surprising places in the house. Given that first-quality ink is pine soot bound with animal glue, it's not surprising that the wiper turned up sumi -30-
More after the jump.

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Return of the Housecoat

I call it a shop coat now, but early and mid-twentieth century women covered their base layers with a lightweight washable long smock while managing the domicile. It was easy to change into street clothing when the time came to sally forth.


I often wear three or four hats in the course of a day. A lab coat from the North End Academic Bookstore is cut to afford ample movement in the shoulders and is thick enough to protect under layers from wet paint. An indigo linen duster from the Northern European All-time Boutique close to the Market is easy, generous, and stylish for dry but grubby tasks. A black version of the same design is ideal for working with ink and as a protective summer layer on public transportation -30-
More after the jump.