Friday, November 9, 2018

Setting the Holiday Table

Browsing through my collection of tear sheets from glossy shelter magazines, I ran across a World of Interiors story on the oldest house in Leyden. It is preserved as a museum of the first life in exile of the community who became Massachusetts' Puritans. One shot in the article shows an eating table covered with a low thread-count white linen cloth, not ironed, and set with a miscellaneous collection of period dishes. There are wooden soup spoons, a treen-ware bowl old enough to be noticeably warped, a two-handled porringer that looks like pewter, and various handmade knives sharp and blunt. Lighting is natural, but a typical brass chandelier is set on one side of the table, presumably to include it in the shot.

Most of the elements of that tabletop are readily available today. I snagged a brass chandelier with period lines at the Habitat thrift store about ten years ago. I pulled out the wiring and used it with candles. The last time I visited the Great Big Northern European Home Furnishings Chain, coarse white linen was excellent value. There was a lot of treen ware in circulation until plastic and inexpensive stainless steel bowls replaced it in the Seventies. Thrift shops used to be full of it, and of porringers as well. Any stainless steel flatware set into a molded plastic handle will resemble the historic thing. The Leyden table was free of forks and featured a metal vessel with a flat strap of a handle, like the cheapest of tin cups from the mid-twentieth century. I'd use an enameled steel camping coffee pot as a substitute.

I love recreating authentic detail that is not readily recognized as such by the contemporary eye. That coffee pot has the exact lines of high-end eighteenth century English stoneware. Emily Dickinson College Pottery recreates the traditional designs that are neolithic -30-
More after the jump.

Thursday, November 8, 2018


The outdoor community relies on a list of ten essential items to stay safe in the field. I carry an attenuated version every day, because this is earthquake country. A recent story about biohazard on an airliner suggests that three small featherweight items might have made unavoidable filth slightly less aversive. The mylar emergency blanket is a physical barrier. The disposable medical mask that promises emergency warmth would offer some protection from micro-organisms. The pair of disposable vinyl gloves would allow manipulation of circumstances without the risk of additional exposure to pathogens -30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Gluten-free Sog

I stock special crackers for a visitor. Not surprisingly, the things crumble with a harsh glance. The remnants of a package sat around for a couple of weeks in damp weather. I am pleased to report their tensile strength improved while their excellent flavor remained. I will age them on purpose when I want to put them out for snack assemblies -30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Editing Luggage

Since discarding my personal automobile twenty years ago, I have counted handbags, luggage, and backpacks as a cost of transportation. I have used the savings to justify many experiments. I like my inventory to be multi-purpose. Recents changes in procurement rendered a good half of my collection of "carries" redundant.

Now that almost everything is delivered to the house, I find that a small messenger bag and a lightweight folding hand truck with a rectangular suitcase/backpack to match are more than enough to cover any foreseeable needs for supply. A popular recent security manual points out the wisdom of carrying no purse at all, or if necessary an unimpressive one. The style wars can go on without me -30-
More after the jump.

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Iceman's Side Bag

Otzi, the ancient natural mummy found in the South Tyrol, carried a side bag about a quarter the size of my usual tote. I tested a similar one recently and found it both liberating and bag enough for an overnight out of town -30-
More after the jump.