What I Shed Today

a year of lightening up

comforts past

Fox has always been fairly social and affectionate toward his humans, but never much of a lap-cat. He loved to “clump” with Percy instead. Since Percy’s been gone, though, Fox has begun to claim my lap when he wants contact and comfort. I grieve with him at his loss, and don’t mind that I’m his second choice.

Fox in sleepy mode

Fox in sleepy mode

 

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mixed lot of auto accessories & household items

My aging parents haven’t completely lost their mobility, but loss of vision, osteoporosis, and arthritis are taking a toll. We’re grateful that friends from their church have offered to build a ramp in their garage. But this means space must be cleared for it, and that job fell to me. I made room for Mom’s gardening supplies in the built-in storage cabinets by removing auto accessories and miscellaneous items that are just gathering cobwebs. Mom will offer the ramp builders any of it they want to take. It’s her shed, but I’m claiming partial credit!

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Five sets of jumper cables might have been a set or so too many.

shedding style: give away

Comments welcome … what might you shed today?

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faster, pussycat, fill, fill!

Q: What do you get for your aging parents for Christmas? A: They probably don’t need the latest kitchen gadget or trendy power tool. So, if they suggest something reasonable, you get them whatever they ask for. Two Christmases ago, Mom asked for a new medicine cabinet for Dad’s bathroom. (Sounds selfless, I know, but she couldn’t get the lamps in the old cabinet to light, and since he’s lost his sight, he couldn’t help her change them out.)

Thus Nimue and I picked out a new medicine cabinet and light fixture, and made a trip to install them. I knew the new cabinet was smaller than the old and that I’d have to do some drywall work to resize the rough opening, but I misjudged how much it would take. New drywall is thicker than that commonly supplied 50 years ago, so my patch stuck out beyond the old wall. Tape and compound can make a slope where there’s a step, but it takes me several passes to achieve it—and each application needs hours to dry. What I wish could have been accomplished in an afternoon has instead required days, spread now over months. It’s high on my list of projects that are making me crazy. I wanted it to finish it on this visit, declare it done, relegate it to history!

I had to let go of that intention. Much as I hoped for faster progress when I returned to it today, the laws of physics still applied. Some things can’t be hurried. Curing plaster is one.

I accept the necessity of patience. But I’m close to the end now, really close. Maybe I’ll reach it tomorrow!

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shedding style: release

Comments welcome … how should one adapt when a project threatens to become a lifestyle?

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staling

Lately I’ve been feeling stale. Every morning for breakfast I make a frittata. (That’s because the gardens grow greens at an exponentially increasing rate, and frittatas at least arithmetically reduce the supply.) Every evening I can’t decide what to make for dinner. In between, what I do doesn’t seem to make much of a difference, or promise to.

I want to quit this staling. Often going stale is a choice I make, or comes from how I frame my choices.

Maybe it begins as easily as embracing that, in part, I am what I eat. And in that, I am blessed. I just cut up a North Carolina apple, a gift of a friend, and shared pieces with Nimue as she drives and I write and think. It was as fine as fine wine. Before we left home, lunch was eggplant parmesan panini. For breakfast we finished off some red cabbage and white bean soup with sage … atypical morning fare, but satisfying.

I really don’t know why I should be dissatisfied with my life. So why not shed that today? Mother Earth feeds me well. I’m in the Blue Ridge in October, where mists dance with light aflame in leaves.

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Tomorrow, perhaps, I’ll feel a freshening.

shedding style: re-think

Comments, as always, welcome …

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the steps I just took

This post has been stewing for nights and days … time to serve it up.

A week ago I went to a continuing education event held at a church in north Georgia. (A heady, hopeful, helpful congregation committed to its community beyond itself, should you ever find yourself in Cherry Log, Georgia of a Sunday morning.) After the lecture, I had some time to fill before I was to meet a friend afterward. So I visited the congregation’s community garden. The large sweet potato patch is lying fallow this winter, but collards are thriving in raised beds.

Ah, collards ... cabbage that just never got its head together.

Ah, collards … cabbage that just never got its head together.

Then I walked the new labyrinth sited nearby. Labyrinths, or “prayer paths,” are an ancient device of spiritual discipline, recently revived in many places. They may resemble mazes, but are not—a labyrinth’s path spirals toward its destination in a series of reversals, but inevitably leads to the center, then out again. It invites a journey upon which one cannot get lost.

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I have walked labyrinths dozens, perhaps hundreds of times, and never had quite the same experience twice. This time, the stones that bordered the path evoked all I’ve left behind—not alone in the cause of “lightening up,” but all along the way. Living extracts its toll in change.

If I could look behind at the course of my life at what I’ve deliberately dropped or accidentally abandoned, I thought, it would form a path. Am I happy with where it seems to be leading? I can’t always tell. Sometimes it changes direction very quickly. But that’s no reason to mistrust the journey, nor my companions on it. I don’t sense we’re lost.

So, leaving what I must and may, I’ll step out and step on.

shedding style: release
destination: the journey that is the destination

Comments welcome … do you have insights to share from your own labyrinth ways along life’s path?

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think glocally, act glocally

Said the wizard Gandalf to Denethor, Steward of Minas Tirith:

“Well, my lord Steward, it is your task to keep some kingdom still against that event, which few now look to see. In that task you shall have all the aid that you are pleased to ask for. But I will say this: the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know?”

―J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

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candy bar solution

I skipped lunch today … and wrastled a brush mower in the community garden … not a synergistic combination. (Definitions: “wrastled”: what we say in the American southeast when we wish to metaphorically evoke the ancient art of wrestling without taking it too seriously; “brush mower”: the monstrous child that resulted when a lawnmower and a bush hog got friendly-frisky together while a voyeuristic engineer watched.)

By late afternoon, as I stopped by our local Trader Joe’s, I could feel low-blood-sugar tremblies approaching. I assumed I’d stave them off with one of those pricey candy bars that pretends either to be good for you, or make you Olympian, or both. But then I saw bananas, and right there in the produce section experienced an epiphany. Only nineteen cents for 100 calories of readily-available carbs! I shed the plan to buy a stick of highly processed-and-packaged sucrose and had a banana instead.

It wouldn’t have served every day. Sometimes I really want chocolate, which doesn’t taste anything like banana. But today the fruit satisfied. And I can compost the wrapper!

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shedding style: compost
destination: compost pile

Comments welcome … have you ever thought it well and good to go bananas?

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tears for Percy

This is hard. I’m so sorry. But he’s had some presence here on WIST, though it’s just a shadow of the many years we’ve shared with him of life. So I’ll say, in those vague words we use to signal loss yet acknowledge hope of “more” beyond this bounded life, that Percy has “gone on.”

Only four days ago (how grateful we are that his decline was so brief), he began laboring for breath. He didn’t shake it off, so we took him to his vet. X-rays showed that his chest cavity was full of fluid. After it was drawn off, a second series showed a large tumor that was the cause.

Surgery, and chemotherapy, and radiation treatment, didn’t sound like medicine for our seventeen-year-old friend. They sounded like torture. (Oh God, why am I writing this? As if we owed anyone but him an explanation.)

We held him. It was gentle.

Someday, maybe, I’ll update this post to fully explain that “Percy” was short for “Persistence” and tell how he chose us as his people and our other cats as his friends. Tonight, it’s enough to say “thank you, dear Percy, for what you taught me about never giving up the pursuit of what one wants that is what one needs. In our memories, in our hearts, in Love, forever live on.”

Percy loved a few laps of beer, but only if it were locally-brewed craft ale.

Percy loved a few laps of beer, but only if it were locally-brewed craft ale.

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standard-flow showerheads

The data set is small … okay, minuscule … but for me, here’s evidence that government programs to encourage conservation really work. Nimue and I are pretty green—at least, we hope and intend to be—and we’ve meant to replace our current showerheads with low-flow units for years. We haven’t followed through, however, until now.

In an unusually (for it) environmentally aware gesture, our state of residence declared a “sales tax holiday” over the weekend for “WaterSense” and “Energy Star” products. We welcomed a seven-percent savings, and even more wanted to acknowledge the initiative, so yesterday morning we rode “Early” the tandem to the Big Box Home Improvement Warehouse and came away with a showerhead that spits out just 1.75 gallons per minute. Even more generously, our community’s Water Conservation Office is giving low-flow showerheads away all month long. I picked up one for our upstairs guest bathroom.

Whether it’s done for economy or commitment to sustainability, conservation is a good investment for both households and communities. We’re grateful for the gifts and the nudge.

Less is more!

Less is more!

shedding style: replace

Comments welcome … did you know that, in homes equipped with electric water heaters, about 25% of energy use is to heat water for showers?

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leaving

I had a wedding rehearsal at Frogtown Cellars this afternoon, which required driving about 70 miles across the north Georgia piedmont. I tried to spend the time attending to the signs of autumn. Goldenrod and yellow crownbeard were the most obvious, rioting by the roadsides in golden sprays. Dogwoods are darkening, and some cherries have lit up, but the leaves on most of the trees aren’t quite turning yet. Still, looking across the hills and valleys, under the green I can begin to guess the colors the leaves will be.

In the vineyard, however, some grape leaves gave me every aesthetic gratification I sought.

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Leaves have something to teach me, I sense, about letting go. They don’t try to hang on too long, and they may wear their greater beauty in chance and change. Soon enough I’ll be seeing them fall. Or should I say, riding the winds? Or even—shall I dare the suggestion? dancing with partners I cannot see?

shedding style: release

Comments welcome … shall we dance?

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