Friday, December 14, 2018

Winter Basics

The outdoor community recommends carrying the ten essentials of survival whenever going into the woods. This is earthquake country, so I carry the minimum every time I go beyond walking distance of the house. Because there are bodies of water between home and my usual destinations, I carry the ten most of the time. The list is shorter during warm weather, but not by much.


      razor blade
       half a book of matches
       water purification tablets and a vessel
       energy bar
       poncho, dust mask for warmth, and two produce bags for  dry feet
       mylar blanket
       soap, tissues, Band-Aid
       birthday candle
       loud whistle, short length of lumber crayon, phone

       footgear and tote  -30-


More after the jump.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Feeling At Home

It takes constant, gentle attention to inventory to mange the contents of the house so that it serves me rather than my serving it. I feel best and am most productive when my surroundings replicate my last undergraduate dorm room. I had only what I needed to fulfill my mission. My mission has expanded and contracted over the years. Being realistic about necessities has been as convenient as having an assistant on call. I can observe and do rather than wait and maintain -30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Historic Restoration

A long life in a comfortable piece of 1812 architecture (built in 1890) has been a rewarding exercise in historic restoration. This is a neighborhood in constant transition, so we have not been tempted to turn the place into a money pit. 


Now and then I realize that a design choice made for convenience has recreated one of the traditional ways of managing life support. Moving a top of the line locking tradesman's tool cabinet into a corner of the original unfitted production kitchen transformed the space into a secure home office. At the turn of the nineteenth century, all doors and storage pieces had locks and keys-30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Low-tech Happiness

Handmade basics are offered at breathtaking prices in British Conde' Nast's "World of Interiors", the glossy shelter of choice around here. Four figures for a pair of scissors is not on my current shopping list, although if it included the services of a skilled cutler, my blink rate might decline a little. Fostering that level of iron work is not a trivial service to the culture. I'm still using a pair of scissors my great-grandmother brought from Sweden. They're of a size to have been useful when my hands were four years old, and they're still my go to for nearly every cutting need. The cost per use of even four figures would be trivial in such a case.

I recently passed great-grandmother's nickel steel frying pan to a young cousin. Dating to around 1895, it has been in daily use. Again, the cost per use is trivial. The thing could not have been inexpensive when it was new. It first saw service in a homestead log cabin on the Olympic Peninsula. That neck of the local woods appreciates solid quality. Back in the day, the lines of supply went around the tip of South America or Africa or straight across the continent. Being able to field a hot meal over an open fire was a matter of life and death. Having one's hands on a relatively lightweight and unquestionably well-balanced skillet was no small advantage. Recovering from a broken wrist brought the value of the design home in no uncertain terms.  My experience of first-rate cookware is that the high end low-tech stuff is even better in the field than on an induction surface.


I like to furnish the house with a solid base of low-tech essentials, because there's no knowing when low-tech might be the only option. Traditional designs respect the hand and make the most of its energy-30-
More after the jump.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Griz Housekeeping

Several years ago I was surprised and not happy to find myself setting up camp for the night in grizzly territory. A night on the cold, cold ground zipped into featherweight tenting like a snack bar with a pulse did nothing for my sense of sport. It did prove to be a useful reminder of the basics of  housekeeping, though. I did my damnedest to make sure that the only scent of food in the tent was, unavoidably, me. My hands and person were clean, there were no food spills on my shirt, and there were no crumbs around the camp site.

I chanced to compare notes with another member of the party recently and was happy to learn that she, too, had gone into housekeeping overdrive. Laura got up in the middle of the night to patrol the cooking shelter to make sure no one had forgotten a fruit rind or morsel of something that might attract a predator. You know you're in real bear country when the garbage cans seem to have been manufactured in a shipyard.


Previous outings with the same party honed my crumb-control skills, because field mice carry hanta virus, a source of problems with blood pressure. It's easy to get careless in town, where the built environment seems more forgiving. My house predates structural innovations in vermin-proofing, so housekeeping has always been the front line. Basic table manners protect the individual and the group from the low-profile but surely mortal threats of pest and micro-organism and from the lessee risk presented by an angry housekeeper -30-

More after the jump.