What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time


Like a rolling stone, I’m not gathering any just now. I left our family celebration of Thanksgiving in East Tennessee on Friday afternoon, ricocheted off home and work, and returned to my parents’s home in Limestone before the sheets on the bed in the Noah’s Ark room cooled. (Yeah … all the decorations combine a nautical and zoological theme.) The parental health crises are coming closer together. But what shakes us up helps us move on sometimes. That’s a thought I don’t want to shed along the way.


historical marker just outside Limestone, Tennessee, about its most famous son

shedding style: release

Comments welcome … do you think the journey is the destination?

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My Starbucks Rewards

I don’t have a particular antipathy toward Starbucks. On the other hand, I doubt Leviathan will miss my morsel if I decline to feed it. At home, I patronize our local coffeeshops, but away, I appreciate Starbucks sometimes because I know what to expect from the experience. And occasionally I’ll buy a bag of their beans at the grocery store. But I used to do so more often.

Regular readers of WIST will, I hope, favor me with a smile at my admission I can be kind of cheap. I liked that, until the offer ended, I could turn in an empty bag at any Starbucks location and get a free tall coffee. No longer; now purchase of a bag earns a “star” in the My Starbucks Rewards loyalty program. Well, I joined, entered a bunch of letters and numbers to claim my stars from coffee bags, installed the Starbucks app on my Android phone … somewhere in there unsubbed from the flood of e-mails I started getting … and have yet to earn enough stars for even one cup of coffee. It’s not much positive reinforcement. Consequently one of the postage-stamp-sized “star” coupons has lingered on my desk for weeks, waiting for me to open my password safe to retrieve the key to sign in to my account to enter a long string to take one more step to getting a coffee.

Thinking about it makes me tired. So today I’m shedding My Starbucks Rewards and gaining one fewer claim on my attention. —Wow, having less relationship with Starbucks makes me feel better about our relationship!

shedding style: refuse

Comments welcome … does any customer loyalty program really earn it?

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Fourteen years ago, on a trip to Kansas City, Missouri, Nimue and I visited the Crayola Cafe and Crayola Store. We came away with a serious box of crayons. I liked it because it reminded me of the cigar boxes in which I kept treasures when I was a kid. They spoke to Nimue because the child in her heart dreams of drawing, painting, and generally making art.


But not one of the 120 colors has been put on paper in a waxy trail. The crayons still have all their sharp, fresh-from-the-factory edges. They haven’t even lost their new crayon smell. I felt sad when Nimue said, “If I haven’t used them in 14 years, I’m not likely to now.” But I respect her right to shed. We took them to my family Thanksgiving gathering to offer them to our artsy nieces.

Wonderniece the Sequel said they have a tub of crayons big enough to bathe in. She graciously declined to take any more. Bless her, she shares our values.

So back to Casa de WIST the crayons came today. Next I’ll try to present them to a friend who’s a middle school art teacher. Most of her students get free or reduced-cost school lunches. I think maybe they’d like to have some new crayons, even if they’re 14 years old.

shedding style: give away
destination: art classroom

Comments welcome … are you ever surprised at how much grieving the process of simplifying demands?


a thanksgiving for what I shall not shed

I don’t make them just the way my great-grandmother did, and she almost certainly didn’t cook hers in vegetable broth. But, continuing decades of tradition, homemade noodles will appear at my family’s Thanksgiving meal!


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fear of pastry crusts

“I don’t know why I don’t make pie crust more often,” I said as I cut butter into flour early this morning. Americans celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, and we’re making the pies for my family’s feast. Nimue roasted three butternut squash from our garden and prepared a custard of them last night.

“It has a reputation for being difficult,” she answered, “but it’s really not, is it?”

“No,” I agreed, eyeing the wrappers from two full quarters of butter. “On the other hand, maybe I do know why. I never want to stop at a single slice of quiche.”

Whatever I decide and do about that, I’m satisfied with our squash pies so far. I think I’ll shed my fear of making pie crusts.

I could cycle to my parents's house on the calories in that bowl.

I could cycle to my parents’s house on the calories in that bowl.

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Update: our pies turned darker than I expected (perhaps the color came from the spices) but are quite tasty.


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homebrewing literature

Shelved with our cookbooks is my collection of literature about homebrewing. It’s not large (a handful of books and about three years of issues of Brew Your Own magazine), but I decided it could be smaller. I had three books meant to take one from beginning to intermediate brewing; I decided two are enough. Though I loved Charlie Papazian’s cheerful coaching, I can give his classic guide up so someone else can learn from him. Radical Brewing is for those ready for advanced techniques and edgy recipes. I need to become an active homebrewer again before I set my sights on journeyman status, so it can go! And the Dave Line volume is a curiosity from the earliest days of the hobby in the UK. I sought and bought it used when I was trying to clone Smithwick’s for a friend, but techniques and ingredients have evolved so much that Line’s recipes are nearly useless. Still, a thumb-through can prompt gratitude for how far the craft has come and the creativity of its pioneers.

I hope to donate them all to the little library at the local homebrewing supply store.

The prune wine is a bookend, not a shed.

The prune wine is a bookend, not a shed.

shedding style: give away
destination: homebrewing supply store

Comments welcome … thirsty?

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Nimue and I purged about half our cookbooks today. I found it slightly unsettling. We’d culled the real chaff sometime before, so what remained held warm associations of relationships or fond hopes. (“These were my guides when I first experimented with vegetarian cooking.” “I got this one on a memorable vacation.” “I’d like to cook like the author of this book!”)

But we haven’t opened their covers in years, except perhaps to review a recipe for a specialty of our house. Those have now been scanned and converted to Google docs. We’ve left ourselves some basic reference texts (like The Joy of Cooking and Cookwise) and a few to challenge ourselves to grow with. Better a handful we use than a shelf-full we don’t!

We’ve yet to decide how to shed the cookbooks … try to sell to a used bookstore? donate to the city-county library’s booksale? save them till we can mount our own sale? But they’re queued up to go. That’s the first and hardest shedding step.

Muffin sniffs, "All these cookbooks and not a single recipe for kibble?"

Muffin sniffs, “All these cookbooks and not a single recipe for kibble?”

Comments welcome … I’ve noticed many simplifying/minimalizing/decluttering bloggers purge their cookbooks at some point. Have you done yours? What was it like?


bicycle transport bag

Things there are in heaven and earth that most people never need nor want, like very specialized luggage. If you’re one of the few who need a bicycle transport bag, you likely know so. I acquired mine to bring the Lady Eliza home to Georgia from the UK.

The Lady Eliza, an early 1950s Hercules roadster

The Lady Eliza, an early 1950s Hercules roadster

Though I can see myself possibly world-traveling with bicycles again, one trial with a soft-side case was enough to put me off that style. (Though, reinforced with panels I cut from a carton, it went through coach and airport baggage handling without damage to the contents.) I’m grateful ads on craigslist are free, because I expect to feel somewhat underwhelmed with interest!

Blueberry are Muffin aren't sure what it is, but are convinced it concerns cats.

Blueberry are Muffin aren’t sure what it is, but are convinced it concerns cats.

shedding style: resell
destination: another adventurous cyclist’s life

Comments welcome … do you have any clutter that’s just too weird to easily pass along?

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I think if I put a little thought into it that I could categorize our clutter several ways. One would be “mine, hers, and ours.” We have enough of each that we tend to leave one another’s clutter alone.

So, this pair of slacks has been hanging on the back of our laundry room door for about two years. It wasn’t in the way, but it wasn’t in its place, either. Nimue thought they were mine, so she left them there. I knew they were hers (I checked the tag) but observed that they needed some repair. Recently we clarified ownership, but there’s another issue preventing her from wearing them: she’s dropped a size or two and they’re too big for her now. (I credit lots of cycling and kale.) I believe the slacks are bound for the thrift store.


shedding style: give away
destination: thrift store

Comments welcome … do you have any good kale recipes?


hooded litter box

You get a cat. Great! It’s like having a stuffed animal that’s warm, loves you back, plays with you and purrs! Bringing the cat home isn’t enough, however; you have to provide your new friend with some essential accessories—most urgently, with a litter box filled with litter. But lucky you, “housebreaking” is a word that need never pass your lips. Kitteh was born knowing what to do in it. It’s all good!

Except after awhile, it’s not. Litter doesn’t stay in the box. You recoil from the feel of it under your bare feet when you go to the toilet in the middle of the night. You think, “There must be something better … what about one of those litter boxes with a lid?” So back to the Pet Tactical Support Center you go, and out you come with a designer-styled, veterinarian-recommended, state-of-the-art kitty elimination station.

Did you ask Kitteh what Kitteh thought? No, you did not. If you had, Kitteh would have told you that Kitteh likes to do that business with a view, thank you. Would you crawl into a smelly little box to do yours? Neither will Kitteh. Kitteh will just do it on the floor, right outside the fancy new box. Thank you very much.

So you remove the hood. At least the tray can still be used. But after awhile, you think, “There must be something better … what about one of those high-sided litter boxes?”

Ask Kitteh.


Muffin advises: scoop it daily and change it weekly, and no one will get hurt.


Well, our cats strongly prefer open boxes, but cats are notoriously idiosyncratic—someone else’s spillage may vary. Or perhaps every cat household has to try a hooded box once. In the interest of enabling another’s experience, I’m offering ours up on craigslist.

shedding style: resell
destination: another hopeful dreamer’s bathroom

Comments by cats welcome … what waste disposal infrastructure do you prefer?