shower thoughts

As someone interested in bathing culture, I often find myself pondering specific acts and accessories associated with cleansing. Years ago, after a heavy phase of reading up on Japanese bathing culture I wanted to try and incorporate some of this beauty and pleasure into my own crusty, rental apartment bathroom ritual. Since I didn’t have stacks of cash to sink into bespoke hinoki bathing quarters I purchased one of the few things in my price range: a plastic bucket. In Japan these would traditionally be made from a specific type of cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) known for its lemony scent, strength and anti-bacterial properties. I believe my fossil fuel version was from Daiso and to date now I own two. In biosphere-guilt retrospect I probably should have just bought a nicer wood one, but these are handy and I hope to use them into oblivion now that I have them.

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Prior to bucket purchase I had never truly meditated on how it feels to pour water over ones head from a bucket vs. a shower head. Surely this was some childhood indulgence I had long forgotten. It REALLY DOES FEEL AMAZING and different! Trust me, try it. The bucket can be anything really: a reused large yogurt container, medium sized bowl or pitcher…essentially a durable vessel you can get wet. I like something with a handle. I find that my bucket also is very handy for cleaning the tub/shower and storing stuff. I like to imagine myself flip flopping down to the sento with my personal scrubby cloth and soap tucked into my bucket.

Another Japanese dollar store purchase has also found its way into my shower: the sand timer. This one I also got at Daiso and since it is made out of lucite I just leave it in the shower so I can keep an eye on how long I have been in there. Mine runs for 3 minutes, so if I’m being “good” I give it two flips and do a 6 minute shower. This is good for those of us living in drought country who want to be more conscious of water use (which really should include all of us resource hogging Americans). As an alternative I’m sure you could also use a digital timer stuck somewhere it won’t get totally soaked. I do like the elegance of the lucite sand timer, though.

Now on to the topic of scrubbing. I recently retired a nasty nail brush made of plastic and decided I would prefer to replace it with something made of natural materials. I ended up going with a wooden brush with tampico fiber bristles. This version is biodegradable, yay! This is the brush from Wild Minimalist I went with:

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I have also discovered the joys of showering with only natural light or dimmed light. My shower is plagued by permanent mildew stains all along most of the caulking thanks to a rushed/crappy job at behest of the landlord. To minimize the impact of this blight, I now only shower with the hall light on or with whatever natural light comes through the frosted window. Viola! Stains and crust become less visible in the dim. I’ve also used candles and a modified camping light to attempt a soothing “mood light” for shower time.

If you are interested in learning more about bathing culture I recommend these books:

Japan, A View From the Bath by Scott Clark

Pleasures of the Japanese Bath by Peter Grilli and Dana Levy

Cathedrals of the Flesh by Alexia Brue

The Japanese Bath by Bruce Smith

How To Take a Japanese Bath by Leonard Koren

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bring back the hanky

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The only person I have ever seen consistently use a hanky is my dad. When I was kid I distinctly remember his stained, unadorned white hanky which he kept tucked in his back pocket. It was gross but practical and seemed to me a cool accessory at the time.

As an adult I have been drawn to the more ornate “lady” hankies to be found in thrifts and vintage stores. I would usually buy them for some decorative, non-nose related purpose and then lose them somehow. So recently I have decided to bring back the hanky as a practical, eco-friendly way to keep my boogers in check.

Above are some of my late grandma Betty’s ornate hankies. I recently snagged one, washed it, and have been using it ever since. Cloth has the benefit of being reusable and gentle on the nose. It also looks classy! One other bonus, if you’re desperate for a napkin and your hanky isn’t too disgusting, it will double as one in a pinch.

IMG_8849PS hanky pro tip: look for very lightweight, thin and soft fabrics. You don’t want to try any complex maneuvers up there with something too thick. Also, thinner fabrics dry WAY faster and you want that in a hanky.

For some hanky history check out these links:

http://handkerchiefheroes.com/home/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handkerchief

i love JONS

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Live in Los Angeles? Want to have pushy elderly people invade your personal space? Hear one of your favorite En Vogue songs as you peruse the produce? Stock up on delicious Armenian goodies? Then look no further…

For a couple years I lived down the street from the Hobart/Santa Monica Blvd location of the Southern California grocery store chain, Jons. In my opinion this is by far the best Jons location and will be the focus of this post. But if we’re getting technical I’d say the Glenoaks Blvd location in Glendale is my second favorite.

The fact that this was my neighborhood go-to market was both a blessing and a curse. I could literally traipse down and in a few minutes have affordable groceries, including lots of tasty deli, produce and imported items at my fingertips. I was so close, my phone would often default “geo-locate” my photos at Jons. Ah the good old days…

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Here are handful of Jons pros and cons:

PROS

  • A substantial selection of produce, including some hard to find items (fresh endive anyone?)
  • Best music I’ve ever heard in a grocery store
  • Affordable!
  • No shortage of Persian cucumbers
  • Lots of labneh to choose from
  • Hibiscus flowers in bulk
  • Cheap booze and interesting Eastern European beers
  • Almond Roca at the checkout
  • Amazing check-out staff
  • Next door to Paro’s Chicken
  • Ample parking
  • Fresh Armenian flatbreads
  • Once I saw a man pushing a full-sized cart up to checkout with literally one item in it: a tall can of Budweiser

CONS

  • Extreme paucity of hand-held baskets
  • Long lines at peak hours (like, really long)
  • Lack of respect for personal space at the checkout
  • Unabashed line cutters

I’ve been back a few times recently and was definitely reminded of the cons, but nonetheless they had all the random items I was looking for: Matzos, tomatillos, tahini, labneh, pasilla peppers. I was also delighted to find that they started carrying more organic produce and had installed those thunderstorm sound effects that go off when the produce gets a misting. I love sound effects in the grocery store! And of course, I heard one of my favorite Earth Wind and Fire songs on the PA. Can’t complain there.

Jons has also introduced me to new foods – for example, this delicious Armenian eggplant “caviar.” Spread some of this on fluffy flatbread from the deli and rejoice!

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Some other random thoughts: I love that they always have super glue at the checkout, booze is cheap, and there is a coinstar. Also worth noting – the restaurant next door, Paro’s Chicken, is dang good. I love the “ootee” sandwich: grilled chicken, basil, feta, grilled onions and peppers(?) and delicious pickled veges on the side. Treat yourself to one after having stood in line for a half hour and your frustrations will melt away.

Oh and there is a scene in Jons from the 1993 erotic-thriller Dream Lover, starring Madchen Amick and James Spader!

Bon appetit!

 

 

diy flannel cotton pads

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This is a little project I did about a month ago that was well worth the time. I saw this post on the Chicago based site Litterless. For years I had been buying disposable cotton pads for eye makeup removal, never thinking how easy it would be to swap them out for a reusable version. Always happy to eliminate stuff that requires a trip to the store and laying down cash!

With my reusable ones I now no longer have to run to the store to buy them when I run out. They are easy to clean – I just wash them by hand with a little soap – and they dry quickly. I used a glass to trace my circles onto cotton flannel I bought as remnants. Then I used my sewing machine to sew a narrow zigzag stitch around the perimeter of two circles placed on top of eachother. I did the zigzag stitch twice to help prevent fraying. This worked really well.

The only issue I’ve had is the cotton flannel does lose its original fuzzy softness pretty quickly once you start washing them. I think next time I make them, I’ll likely try a fabric that will remain softer after washes. But regardless, these work great and are gentle enough for removing eye makeup. And of course reusable means less waste!

 

silver lake court stair walk #27

Anyone who knows me has heard me prattle on about my love for Charles Fleming’s book Secret Stairs of Los Angeles. Well as if that weren’t enough, here I am going on again in blog form. Well, I don’t give a damn. This book is the best! For me, it’s opened up new perspectives on the LA landscape, inspired me to explore more neighborhoods on foot and expanded my fruit foraging repertoire. So if you don’t have the book, go get a copy! And if you do, I’ll see you out steppin.

This walk starts at Allesandro Elementary school near the intersection of Riverside Drive and Fletcher, taking you up and along Corralitas Red Car Trail (“Silver Lake Court” in the book) a wide dirt road where the old Pacific Electric Red Car trolley line used to run. Check out this blog for more information on the history of the Corralitas Red Car Property: https://redcarproperty.blogspot.com/2007/01/development-history.html

Best explore this area now while you can. The site is currently being developed with uber-modern upscale single family homes. Here is an Eastsider LA article from late last year about what is being branded as the “Periscope” properties. Whether or not the entirety of the former Red Car line trail will remain open to the public has yet to be determined.

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Trestle crosses what is now Fletcher. Photo: LA City Engineering, 1928.

Lovely views abound once you start to ascend into the Silver Lake hills above the “trail.” This walk also takes you past the Holyland Exhibition, a small museum which houses a collection of artifacts once belonging to religious explorer and seeker of the Ark of the Covenant, Antonia Futterer. I am definitely planning to do this walk again to coincide with a visit. Here is KCET feature on the museum and their unique collections: https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/holyland-exhibition-a-reflection-of-a-middle-eastern-dream

I highly recommend enjoying a beverage or snack at Spoke Bicycle Cafe after your stair walk. It’s along the LA River Path – a quick bike ride or drive from your starting point. OR if you’re feeling naughty you can get a coca-cola slushy at the Arco on the corner!

 

 

 

 

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