Posts Tagged ‘wood’

Sometimes a Pepper Mill

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

pepper grindersThere is no reason in the world for me to have this many pepper mills. Of all the mills that have come my way, the one that works the best is the one in black plastic from Ikea.

I’m no fan of the company, but this peppermill has good ergonomics and produces a nice even grind every time. Unlike the other mills, it doesn’t constantly come out of adjustment, since the top does not screw on, it slides on.

Lots of people collect salt and pepper shakers. That’s a whole different ball game. Although some of mine have matching salt shakers, I have no excuse for accumulating all these pepper mills. At least I haven’t spent much; except for the black Ikea model, I got them at yard sales or Goodwill. (Horrible blog confession: I don’t always remove the peppercorns.)

The largest pepper mill I own is just under eighteen inches. You can get a three-footer at And no, it’s not a phallic thing, it’s my quest for a perfect pepper grinder thing. Although anybody that grinds his pepper with a 36″ pepper mill…

Unfortunately, it is getting harder to find peppercorns in bulk packaging. Some supermarkets only carry the little plastic bottles of peppercorns with the grinder built in. This is lame, worse than disposable razors. And compare the per pound price of the peppercorns in these flimsy grinders with the bulk peppercorn price. Yes, a total rip-off.

Stephanie thinks I (we) have too many pepper mills. But she is a salt freak. She once took a continuing ed class about salt.  When my brother went to Paris this spring, she made him promise to bring back a container of Le Saunier de Camargue, Fleur de Sel.  Fancy salt like this is often served in a salt cellar.

Pin Dry

Monday, August 31st, 2009

praying hands clothespinA few years ago my housemate at the time returned from a trip to India with a present for me—a bag of colored plastic clothespins in the shape of hands praying. Not your typical gift, I must have mentioned to him once or twice how much I like to hang my laundry out to dry.

The clothespins from India were not so sturdy, suited more to a sari, or tourists, than a pair of dungarees. The yellow one here on top of my classic wooden clothespins might just be the last of the batch.

When my partner Stephanie moved in, she was initially reluctant to do the clothesline thing. She claimed the drier made towels fluffier. It also took a few tries to remember that you can only hang stuff on the bottom line.

For a long time one end of the clothesline was attached to the house and the other to a portable basketball hoop bequeathed to me by the previous homeowner. Despite the base being filled with cement, it had to be weighted with stones and tied to a fence to keep from being yanked over by the wet clothes. My plan was to eventually replace it with an old iron building column I had dragged into the backyard for that purpose.

In the meantime, Steph planted a garden, and did not want a portable basketball hoop in it. I had a standing offer from my next-door neighbor Sue to attach my line to the telephone pole in her yard. The pole held not only her clothesline but those of two other neighbors, whose lines came in over the back fence, a real neighborly setup that was once common. I was reluctant because my line would be over her backyard air space for almost 50 percent of the run.

Finally, realizing the iron column plan would take extensive engineering, I did take advantage of her generous offer, if only temporarily. As soon as the baby comes I plan to build a professional quality rig to handle the extra volume.


Clothespins and Guinness don’t mix.

Depressing fact: In California, about seven million people can’t hang their clothes in public because of the policies of about 40,000 community associations.

Here are some paintings of clotheslines.

Dandelion Killer

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

dandelion puller toolIf a 49-year-old man had hair like the lawn in my friend Liz’s backyard, it might provoke a fleeting moment of  envy in other 49-year-old men who perhaps did not have such a freakishly thick, immoderately healthy growth on their own heads.

But we’re talking about lawns. And Liz, who is not only a talented interior designer but is the type of gardener who knows the Latin names for every plant under her domain, has a nice lawn. And one early evening in midsummer my partner Steph and I were relaxing on this fulsome sward with Liz, her husband Tom and daughter Edie.

Stephanie adores a nice English lawn. I’m more open to biodiversity, and to her dismay our tiny front and back patches are not at the moment populated strictly with grasses. She ran a hand through the uniform mat of dark green, densely growing blades, remarking on the lack of a single dandelion.

Liz immediately and enthusiastically attributed this utter absence of the offending taraxacum officinale to the brutal effectiveness of her dandelion digger, a tool she claimed was almost impossible to find these days, new or vintage.

The very next day, without a word about it between us, Stephanie went out and found one with a green rubberized handle at the garden center, and I got this one with the wooden handle at a garage sale. Later when we discovered our parallel quests to  straightaway hunt down this allegedly elusive object, we had a good laugh. I guess you could say we’re on the same page, just using different adjectives.

Despite the presence of two deadly dandelion diggers in the shed, the weeds continue to sprout and spread with impunity. My theory is we intuitively realized, in tandem, the futility of unsheathing a high-powered rifle when carpet bombing is the order of the day.

The Malmstens Move On

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

carlmalmstenchairGot a thing for chairs, especially simple, well-designed chairs, like the pair I took to auction yesterday that were made by Swedish designer Carl Malmsten.

Simple does not mean easily done. As my tai chi teacher would say, “Simple. But very difficult!”

Look at it, pick it up, sit in it, the grace and function are so intrinsic it’s amazing. Gentle shaping gives it a delicate air that belies its solid chairness. I kept these for a long time, but never found a place for them in my home. They eventually took up residence in the guest room. That space is being converted to a nursery, so it’s bye-bye gorgeous Carl Malmsten chairs.

Chalk One Up

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

chalk boardI have several personal-size writing slates, but through benign neglect this is now the only one without a cracked slate.  F.B.CHILD 1857 C.H.S. is  engraved in the top piece of wood.

You can write on both sides.  The slate is slightly cold to the touch; the wood frame feels warm in comparison.

Not having been to school in almost 30 years, I was unaware that the big chalkboards in the front of every schoolroom had been phased out. No more cleaning the erasers, either as punishment or teacher’s pet.

The individual slate boards were before my time. I wonder if, when hand-held slates were newfangled, adults worried children were spending too much time doodling on them. At least kids back then didn’t use the device while driving—or walking.