What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

cancellations of daily supervised play

guest post by Muffin

I don’t mind being told, “Not now.” (Though I could gladly skip the foot awkwardly dangled in my face … as if that would stop me if I were a particularly willful cat!) I can bear up with the absurdly brief intervals I’m allowed contact with nature (though I never have time to visit and taste all my favorite grass clumps). It’s okay that the thumbed one follows me about, occasionally calling my name as if he’s afraid I’ll go feral if I’m not reminded of it. But the unjustified withholding of my supervised play must stop! My right to enjoy the yard at least once a day has been negotiated, it’s in the contract, it’s a fundamental feline right! I demand that the cancellations be shed immediately!

You don't understand. "No" is my word.

You don’t understand. “No” is my word.

shedding style: refuse

Comments solicited! Tell revdarkwater you support Muffin’s right to daily supervised play outside!

Update: Muffin wants everyone to see how exquisitely she behaves. After her daily tour of the wooded yard, she usually returns to the front porch and lies down.

"I could be trusted to be left like this for hours!"

“I could be trusted to be left like this for hours!”


incandescent bulbs

Nimue and I were early adopters of compact fluorescents. (Our first was a pre-curly-q-version that required its own transformer to operate … I used it in my bedside reading light.) We loved their energy efficiency and longer life. So we made a big infrastructural investment in buying them. We’ve used them for over a decade, and they’re only now burning out.

I think the only incandescent bulbs left in the house are in appliances or have odd bases—except for those in our dining area chandelier. It has a dimmer switch, which won’t work with CFLs.

But now that LED lamps are mainstream, much better tech has arrived, without the mercury pollution concerns of CFLs. I started our migration today with the purchase (on a closeout sale at the Big Box Home Improvement Warehouse) of three chandelier-type bulbs. We burn that light a lot, so it’s efficient to change it over first. Even on closeout, the LEDs weren’t cheap (about $13 each), but they reduce our energy use for that fixture by about 90%, immediately and permanently. And they’ll last so long, we may be able to will them to our nieces and nephews.

out with the old, in with the new

out with the old, in with the new

shedding style: replace

Comments welcome … to spread out our cost of conversion, I plan to upgrade one fixture per month. Do you have any bright ideas about how you might switch to (mostly) LED lighting?

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Nimue and revdarkwater married on a summer’s day. They moved to a romantic third-floor walk-up with shining hardwood floors and box seats for the Illinois Central railway … and, first thing, to show their affection for their apartment, they got it a dustpan. (And a broom, too.) Then they moved to a house in a prairie town. It had an upstairs and a basement, so it needed two additional dustpans! After a few years, back they went to Chicago. But which box did the dustpans get packed in? Oh, well … to the dustpan store they went, because they needed a dustpan today! And in a following house, or perhaps two, previous occupants left dustpans behind. That’s the tale of how Nimue and revdarkwater acquired seven scoops for sweepings.

This is how they shed four. Nimue nodded emphatically when revdarkwater asked, “One upstairs, one on the ground level, and one in the garage are enough, right?” To the thrift store with the next load they go.

Four little dustpans, all in a row: each wanting use, to new homes they'll go.

Four little dustpans, all in a row: each wanting use, to new homes they’ll go.

shedding style: give away
destination: thrift store

Comments welcome … are cleaning tools and supplies a category of clutter unto themselves?

Postscript: “Fiddle,” revdarkwater says. “I forgot one! Do we have to count the itty bitty dustpan for the tent?”


solitary gate in the woods

For all seven years our woods has been our woods, a gate’s been in it, slowly rotting away. That’s it, just a gate: no gateposts to swing on, no fence needing a gate, though there’s evidence one may have crossed there years ago when the neighborhood was farmland. On my first walk though our half acre after we became its stewards, I found a vast knot of barbed wire heavily involved with a tangle of common greenbrier (Smilax rotundifolia). I worked that puzzle and recycled the steel some time ago. But, lacking anything better to do at the moment with the gate, I left it leaning against a tree. There it’s remained for years. Inertia is scary to contemplate sometimes.

But this evening I knocked the gate apart and pried out the nails that had stubbornly held it together. The rotting wood went to the hugelkultur mound. The better pieces I’ve saved for trellising in the garden.

"The enemy is within the gates; it is with our own luxury, our own folly, our own criminality that we have to contend." (attributed to Cicero)

“The enemy is within the gates; it is with our own luxury, our own folly, our own criminality that we have to contend.” (attributed to Cicero)

shedding style: compost, re-use
destination: hugelkultur mound, scrap wood pile

Comments welcome … how do we know when that opening that seems to lead nowhere really leads … nowhere? Or, it may be, somewhere?

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Thirty-two of them in Casa de WIST … six we reserved to use, set twenty-six aside to shed. Then two more came in, and we kinda liked them, so now we’re keeping eight. Consequently we’re up to thirty-four. Yikes! How did this happen?

Well, we have two craft breweries in our town. They host a lot of events, some for do-good organizations we relate to. If you go to one of the “tours,” you buy a glass to put your tastings into. A donation and the ale are included in the cost. Of course you bring it home, wash it, and put in on a shelf in your cabinet. It only seems like they’re breeding in there.

And if you’re an officer of one of those do-good organizations that holds an event at one of the breweries, a whole case of leftover commemorative tumblers might come home with you. Then your relatives and friends better put locks on their cabinet doors.

Terrapin's "Tree Hugger" is the official ale of What I shed today ... I just decided that.

Terrapin’s “Tree Hugger” is the official ale of What I shed today … I just decided that.

shedding style: give away
destination: unwary victims

Comments welcome … anybody want a nice pint-sized tumbler?


hesitation (or: goodbye hole, hello plain)

Some days, shedding is light-hearted and care-free. Other days, it’s hard work for head and heart. This one was tough. I began this entry over a week ago, and I’m wryly amused that it’s taken me days to finish drafting a post named “hesitation.”

Without hesitating any longer, allow me to introduce to you the Plain:

No "purple mountain majesties" here ... though there is a spot of cat urph (sigh)....

No “purple mountain majesties” here … though there is a spot of cat urph (sigh)….

The Plain is the welcome successor to the Hole. The Hole was the consequence of the Hill, which was a lump, some three feet in diameter, that a year ago ominously rose in the middle of our sitting room floor. When we pulled up the 25-year-old carpet, we found a section of particleboard underlayment that wasn’t properly fastened to the joists beneath the subfloor. Humidity during a damp summer made it swell. Demolition was the final answer: I cut out the Hill, which left us with the Hole to fill with a plywood patch. But as often occurs in repair work, the new plywood wasn’t quite as thick as the old surrounding particleboard, by about 3/32”.

First I tried to disguise the stepped edge with automotive plastic body filler. It’s strong, and would have worked, but I quickly realized my materials cost would have been enormous. So then I turned to a premixed latex flexible floor patching compound. It wasn’t a technically bad choice, either, but after I’d gone through most of a gallon and could still detect the transition underfoot, I realized creating a slope wasn’t going to work, no matter how gradual. I was going to have to fill in the entire Hole.

Rats. That meant using self-leveling cement. It’s a quite remarkable product that fills in low places on floors, usually before installing a finish floor covering. It isn’t all that “self-leveling,” however … it has to be mixed to a thick batter, troweled on, and screed to level. If I’ve lost you with technical lingo, well, that’s cement work: its own little world. And I hate doing it. I don’t feel I have the eye nor the touch. And once water hits that powder, the timer’s counting down the twenty minutes before it turns to unforgiving stone.

It is good to hesitate before doing something stupid. “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” folk wisdom advises. Occasionally in that moment I have decided to do differently. But prudence is a distant cousin, several times removed, from perfectionism. More often when I hesitate, it’s before trying something new or starting something with uncomfortably uncertain outcomes, which include outright failure.

So finally I quit hesitating, got my tools in order, measured out the water, and poured the powder into the bucket. Everything else followed.

Clearly I’m not going to be able to give up hesitating before starting a new effort just because I’ve said I’ll shed it. Yet I believe declaring an intention helps me act upon it. So I’m glad I shed this instance of hesitation. I have a flatter floor to show for it.

shedding style: release

Comments welcome … before what hoped-for but uncertain end might you be hesitating?

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first semi-annual refrigerator purge and clean

A couple years ago we calculated that the energy savings of a new, efficient refrigerator would pay for its acquisition within three years—achieving a lower carbon footprint and economy together! (Which isn’t unusual at all, in our experience.) The local Big Box Home Improvement Warehouse had a basic model we liked on sale. It won’t sing to us as it dispenses mixed drinks from its door, but it keeps food chilled, which is the point.

Aware that we weren’t masters of refrigerator hygiene, we vowed to do better with our clean slate, and entered “purge and clean refrigerator & freezer” as an every-six-months repeating event on our shared Google calender. Well, 18 months have gone by … two weeks ago we began with the freezer, and today completed our first semi-annual cleaning. But it’s success and a good start.

Here’s what we shed: a container, originally yogurt, that some other life form was squatting in; a half-finished sports drink, which I can only bear to drink when I need the salts on a long, hot bicycle ride; the juice from a can of jalapenos escabeche; and half a bottle of Worcestershire sauce, which I poured into the other half-full bottle. Oh, and a little serving of Thousand Island salad dressing.


We’ve done better at keeping up with the contents than I would have guessed. But we note a population explosion of pickles, so we’ll have to become better apex pickle predators.

shedding style: use up, compost (the substance formerly known as yogurt), recycle (containers)
destination: compost bucket, community recycling stream

Comments welcome … any ideas for ways to consume several pints of various pickles?

1 Comment »

mixed lot of kitchen utentils

We’ve purged our way through the kitchen more than once, but another pass yielded a few more candidates for shedding. Two are special-purpose items we almost never use, and we reason we could make do quite acceptably with everyday items. We don’t need a wooden fork and spoon specifically for salad; our bamboo cooking spoons are the same size. One of my interim apartment boxes contributed a few of the “extras,” including yet another bottle opener … evidently I could do a blog just about shedding those. And there’s a basket. It’s nice; it looks kind of like a watermelon. It’s supposed to, I think. I like baskets, but I rarely know what to do with them. Off to the thrift store it all goes.


shedding style: give away
destination: thrift store

Comments welcome … where you’ve shed some stuff already, might you cut deeper?


in- and out-baskets

Nimue and I have experimented with several theories and disciplines of organization over our years. These baskets, clips, and spindles are relics of our attempt to each keep a home office. (For mercy’s sake, isn’t one per reasonably productive adult enough?) We’ve come to think that clearly-marked routing trays can promote order if one has clerical help, but for those of us who do the emptying as well as the filling, baskets and spindles are a temptation to delay action. What works best for us is to decide about each piece of paper as it comes into our hands and act on it now. Second-best is to leave it right in the middle of our workspaces, where it will bug the fire out of us till we deal with it just to banish it from our sight.

I can’t say we always conform to our best practices, but we’ve learned enough to know we don’t need these baskets and their accessories. Off to the thrift store they go, where I hope they’ll please someone whose workflow can embrace them.

As Devo advised, "Clip it! Clip it good!"

As Devo advised, “Clip it! Clip it good!”

shedding style: give away
destination: thrift store

Comments welcome … might you dispose of the detritus of attempted-and-abandoned organizational systems?

1 Comment »

cat-hair-magnet sheets and pillowcases

Nimue and I live with cats; therefore, we live with fur. On everything. We accept that. We brush it off when it’s too obvious. But some fabrics seem to especially attract it and resist giving it up. Synthetics and blends, in our experience, grab it more than cotton or wool. “Harder” finishes seem more resistant. But sometimes a given cloth surprises us.

We bought these bedclothes from a “quality” catalog supplier of such goods and had high hopes for them. They are 100% cotton and feel fairly smooth, but they turned out to be cat-hair magnets. Their affinity for it surpasses even our generous tolerance. So to the thrift store they go … and, I hope, a home that prefers its pets have scales.

We both worked hard brushing them clean before they went in those bags, honest!

We both worked hard brushing them clean before they went in those bags, honest!

shedding style: give away
destination: thrift store

Comments welcome … what might you, er, “shed” today?