Every Man To His Trade

And every woman too, for that matter. When someone is good at something – trained, certificated, experienced, quiet, calm, efficient, and covered in healed scars…it is the height of folly to interfere with them as they do a job.

Even if you, too, have all the qualifications…you will always promote a better result if you stop away and let the worker you have employed to do the work get on with it.

Oh, occasionally you get a poor result – some workers are not as careful as others and some are not as diligent…but problems can be rectified  if you have not been the one to cause them.

Case in point: the new kitchen that went into our house this week. It involved 6 skilled tradespeople and a deal of to-ing and fro-ing to the IKEA warehouse. Some minor parts were missing, a custom part had to be made, accessories had to be gathered. And one major error occurred that needed an overnight fix.

No-one was flustered about it. No-one went snarly or desperate. The old kitchen was broken up and tossed in the skip bin – the new one was installed and completed in three days. We still need to look at fresh vinyl floor covering but I’ll bet that will be done just as neatly. And already we have disposed the pots, pans, dishes, and cutlery in the new drawers and the kitchen is workable again.

I must record my admiration for the planner, installer, and tradesmen, and praise the IKEA problem solving office for the speedy way that they turned panic into relief.

We tested out the family cookware on the new hob – The frying pans are fine but all the saucepans and soup pots are useless with induction heating. So I guess IKEA will score a few more dollars from us in the Market Hall, and I do not begrudge them a penny.

Heading picture is the dreadful blue kitchen. That’s protective film over the cabinet fronts until the floor man has come and gone. Then the reveal. The ovens are burning off their coatings right now and I will try them out during the week with the first roast.



The Little World – Hungry, Thirsty, and Dirty

They’re the three next dwarves in the New Disney Animated Cartoon  -” Snow White, But She Drifted “…

I’m joking. I wouldn’t want to upset Walt. Not in the jar, anyway. Nothing to do with the cartoons – it is our condition around here now that the kitchen renovators have ripped out the stove, oven, and plumbing. We are in a state of suspended animation ( sorry, Walt…) until the end of the week. And my model workshop is totally full of IKEA boxes – no building there either.

So I must find my Little World pleasure elsewhere this week. It’s the sort of thing that plagues the garden modeller when the snow falls or the spray painter when the rains start. You have to have another resource to turn to. Fortunately I have a blank book and a pencil and time to think of new projects.

This can be a curse too – if you are always modelling prospectively and never actually start things, let alone finish them, you miss out on all the mechanical skills and a great deal of the sense of achievement. Buying things and putting the purchases on a shelf is all very well but you run out of money and shelves eventually. Worse – you run the risk of becoming merely a collector rather than a modeller and collector. You vanish behind the shelves and boxes.

Still, it is good to get your ducks in a row as far as a what you are going to do – provided you begin to do as soon as the workshop becomes clear. My hiatus is really only one day as I will be assisting  Thursday so I guess I can spend a little computer time researching box art.



Our new kitchen is getting built. The team doing it is at the stage of screwing cabinets together. But to get to this point, they have had to hammer, saw, and chisel the old kitchen out.

It is not the sort of thing that you want to see happening. I’ve done my share of demolition, but it was always on someone else’s property or anatomy, and there was a certain degree of dispassion about it. Not when it is your house…

So far only a few surprises, and most of them pleasant. Only a couple of delays, and they can be side-stepped. I am closeted in the computer room trying not to hear what is going on, and failing. I am pleased that I cannot offer any actual physical assistance that would be helpful, as it prevents me from giving the other sort.

We dine out, not in, for the next few days.


No, that was not the site of a battle in the Third Dutch War. It is the site of what promises to be a battle in the spare room as we prepare for the demolition of our kitchen. All the things that we have been using to mangle our food have been brought out and are being judged.

The new kitchen will feature a hot plate that works by some sort of magnetic magic, but will not agree to perform this magic if the cookware is not iron or steel. The aluminium pots and pans that have been the mainstay for years are going to have to go. I regret losing the soup pot, but a new steel one has been purchased – all the rest are scored, dented, and manky, and can go . I will put them in the Beaverbrook scrap drive and they can be melted down to produce a Spitfire.

Oddly enough, the equally vile baking trays and pans will stay, as they are destined for the oven, and it is conventionally heated. It is probably pathological to be attached to a baking tin, but I have one in which meatloaf has never failed, and I am loathe to trust another for this delicate and scientific task. The fact that this baking dish looks like the unwashed crankcase cover of a 1934 Dodge is neither here nor there. The meatloaf redeems any untoward appearance. For all I know, it may actually be a crankcase cover from a Dodge. I inherited it from my folks and they were thrifty.

I shall be ruthless with the plastic . We have the usual household’s collection of marvellous food storage container systems that are guaranteed to hold in the caterpillars and worms. There are also microwave-safe plastic dishes that are probably made of a mixture of compressed dioxin and Lewisite. I shall take this opportunity to throw them in the same skip that will receive the cabinets and sink. Presumably some adventurer at the skip-bin company will recover them and sell them at a profit. I am fine with this, as long as it is far away from me. If I had a closed kettle that could be heated by gas and made to vent out over the down-wind neighbours, I would toss all of them in and try to melt them down  for hockey pucks or dildos.  ” He Shoots! He Scores! “…and that wasn’t on Hockey Night In Canada, either…

I have also decided to emulate all the people who have given me decorative and commemorative cups, saucers, plates, bowls, and earwax pots over the years and do the same – give them away to the skip bin people. It is not a lack of sentiment – it is a lack of room to store it all and the recent realisation that we are slaves to boxes of this dreck.

Brave words, eh? I’ll bet some of the language I am going to hear from the wife and daughter is gonna be pretty robust, too.

Less May Very Well Be More

Mies van der Rohe was thinking of architecture when he used a variation of the phrase that heads this column. It has since been adopted by minimalists all over the world to cut away the dross in many aspects of life.

I’ve been looking at the lives of some of the people I know to see if they use the philosophy. In a lot of cases I can be forgiven for thinking that they don’t – they have vast collections of weapons, armour, sewing materials, toy cars, and books…their lives have more more than most. How can they be minimalists?

Well, if look really carefully I can see the tiny little sections of their milieu that are clean, bare, and soothing. One person does not keep credit cards. Another eschews all interest in Facebook and social media. A third edits out all unused hobby items and gives or sells them away. No-one does it all at once, and no-one lives in a clean white space…or even a beige one. But they have all made a start.

Some are started on the road by chance…they have changed their life circumstances and do not have possessions they once owned. They may pine for them or not – in some cases I think they came to regard the possessions as owning them, and the separation has more freedom than deprivation in it.

Some have looked ahead and seen the entanglements…and have been strong enough to avoid them. There’s a degree of discipline and sensibility in this if a person knows their own limitations and is determined to stay within them.

Some have been attracted by a growing movement in the world for simplicity. This isn’t even religious in some instances – just people wanting to free some part of their psyche from the entanglements of possessions and relationship and acquaintance.

Of course there are detractors. Anything that you do or feel or think will be a target for someone’s disapproval. You have only to set outside a café on a busy street with a bag of Maltesers and pick off passers-by with a slingshot to find that out. You’d think people would be grateful to get free chocolate candy, but No…However, every individual can design their life and surroundings to some small extent, and the incipient minimalist can make those tiny little islands of simplicity in the hope that they will one day coalesce into a haven of calm.

Me? I am going to go through my shed and discard all that I derive no good from. It’s started already and the floor is getting less crowded already. That this will make room for more model building is inevitable, but then model building does me good.

And then I shall start on the clothes closet. The time has come to admit to myself that I shall never wear the historical costumes again. I must find someone who will.

The Return Of The Paper Product

Do you work in a paperless office? A paperless workshop? A paperless house?

I do. Every blessed time I sit down in the toilet and turn to the roll-holder…it is paperless. I have asked for the culprit to come forward so that they may be chastised with the empty tube, but so far no-one has spoken up.

I should welcome a paperless post box out the front of the property… where advertisers did not place their garish pamphlets in the slot at the expense of genuine mail. Of course this is just a fantasy on my part, as paper advertising is a fixed feature of suburbia.

My bank, however, thinks that sending me an electronic signal telling me that another electronic signal is ready to read is the way to go. Then I can print it out on my own paper and show up at their counter to give them money. They are inconsistent – I offered to pay the Mastercard bill for the month with money that I printed myself on the inkjet and they went all cold and stern. I think bank people are all of a type. I am currently taking my revenge by not using the Mastercard and saving my money in my back pocket  – it is a strange feeling of power. Lumpy, but exhilarating.

I am also cozened by the utility companies to stop receiving paper bills and go onto a system that allows them to dip my bank account whenever they feel like it. This is normally the sort of offer that you get from strange Indian people on the telephone – I’m not entirely convinced that giving either of them my credit card numbers is a good idea. They may not agree to help me boycott the bank and it might all turn very petty and vindictive. I have offered to send home-made money to India but they are not as resilient a people as you might think. $ 14 bills make them nervous.

I do welcome the idea of paperless packaging, though. With our new council plans for collecting the rubbish on the years that Halley’s Comet returns, I can see the bin getting fuller than before. Of course some paper will compost down to become sludge and filth, and one cannot have too much good sludge in your life. In the long intervals between GOT seasons it proves mental stimulation.

Note: I am not against direct deposit per se…as long as they leave some paper on the roll.




A Happy Bin Of Kitchen Scraps To You

This is the BIG WEEK round our house.

The council has distributed the four rubbish containers that they want us to use and a colour-coded schedule for which bin goes out on the verge which week. We have been having nightly debates as to the exact things to put in each bin…not an easy decision when packers mix up the materials in their designs.

Case in point – the recyclable bin takes cardboard containers and some plastics. But the local recycle works man said at the dump tour that plastic spouts on the cardboard containers prevent them from being recycled. So we are trying to think of a way of safely cutting off the spout.

That doesn’t sound like much, but if you have ever seen some people wield a knife, you know that it is only a matter of time before they are going to be sitting in the ER with their hand wrapped in a red tea towel. My solution is to quietly confiscate said containers and hacksaw off the spouts in my workshop.

The other item of contention is used paper – the garbage man says there is a fine point at which it goes from compost to landfill and we are to judge that to a hair. The old document shredder may need to be searched out to give the compost digesters a fighting chance. I’m not sure if the tip will appreciate the first organic bin this week as we have had heavy colds for three weeks and the used tissues are starting to form revolutionary battalions in the bin.

The nicest point is the new kitchen caddy – it carries the pure food scraps to the organic bin by means of compostable organic plastic bags – which the council has promised to supply for a year. The caddy is actually a good thing as it gets smelly stuff out of the kitchen each day before it has time to build up pressure and as it is a bucket with a handle, there is less likelihood of the whole thing taking a dump on the hall carpet as you head for the bin.

Can you tell that we are retired here? But it is still more fun than Facebook at present. At least old orange peels and onion skins don’t try to scold you or change your politics.