What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

– bread machine pan & paddle

Our old bread machine is dead, but not all that long ago we purchased a lightly-used replacement pan for it on eBay. Perhaps someone else has a Regal KitchenPro model 6773 that’s still cranking, but who needs a pan and paddle. We can help with that! Back to the great auction house in the cloud it goes.

Sorry for the murky photo … trying to get this up before Earth Hour! https://www.earthhour.org/

Sorry for the murky photo … trying to get this up before Earth Hour! https://www.earthhour.org/

shedding style: resell
destination: eBay

Comments welcome … if there were “freeBay”… a site for free-cycling, with the only costs a modest service fee and covering the shipping … would you use it?

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– three-ring binders

You know this plot. You have papers. Maybe you’ll look at them again someday. Anyway, it took so much work (or cost so much, or seemed so important to someone) to create or acquire them that, obviously, they must be kept! So you punch three little holes through every sheet and snap them into a binder. Ah, what a feeling! You’re organized! Satisfied, you slide the book you just made onto a shelf (or close it up in a file drawer, or balance it on top of a pile because your shelves and file drawers are full).

[Three, four, or more years go by.]

You notice the binder, open it to check what’s in it, snort, “Well, that’s useless now,” and dump the contents in a recycling bin.

But what to do with the binder?

Shrugging, you stick it in a storage cabinet with the collection of other three-ring binders that have been emptied and kept against the possibility you’ll need a binder someday.

[Three or four more years pass.]


You open the cabinet and a dozen or twenty binders fall out, smearing you with dust on their way to the floor. “Huh,” you think, “are they breeding in there?”

[In fact, they are. Having recognized that the waning of modernity could make them, if not endangered, at least into little more than museum objects, three-ring binders have committed themselves to a population growth program that should, by 2035, make them one of the dominant species on the planet.]

You gather up the pile and take them to a thrift store. After all, someone always needs a three-ring binder, right?

shedding style: give away
destination: Goodwill

Comments welcome … are we bound by our binders? Shall we set the captives free?


– the bread machine is dead, + long live the bread machine

More than once during the decade of my twenties, as I attempted various economies, I tried to learn to make my own bread. Then as now when seeking a new skill, I “looked it up” … first in Irma Rombauer’s joyous great chronicle of cookery. I had a good teacher and an auspicious setting, an enamel-topped kitchen table in a 200-year-old Indiana farmhouse. But my loaves, alas, all turned out dry and hard as brown bricks. (I know now that I took it too seriously. I think my anxieties stunted the yeast.)

A couple years later, after relocating to a graduate school dorm in Chicago, I picked up a copy of Elizabeth David’s English Bread and Yeast Cookery from a bookstore’s remainder table. “This might make good light reading before I fall asleep nights,” I thought, “when I can’t handle any more Hegel.”

I devoured Ms. David’s amazing book—half history, half cookbook, and all celebration—as if it were bread. And learned from her the critical secret, the deft touch: don’t worry. Yeast are resilient. All they need is time, plenty of time. Cut the amount in the recipe in half, and let the dough rise all night.

Suddenly, the magic worked for me. I could make bread! And bread I made: hearty chewy rolls that sustained me and amazed and fed my grateful friends. Which (rolls and friends) were honored guests at the rehearsal dinner before the wedding Nimue graciously consented to appear at with me.

A year later, we moved to a tiny town downstate, where I was called as minister of a congregation that gathered for dinners with religious frequency and vigor. I knew I couldn’t fry chicken that was safe to eat, and my scalloped potatoes turned out tough as shoe leather, but hey, I could bake happy little loaves that even farmwives hailed. “Our preacher makes homemade bread,” they bragged to the Methodists.

And come our first Christmas there, the church-folk honored my craft by giving us a bread machine.

It was generous—bread machines were new-fangled and expensive then. I said all the right words of thanks. In truth, I was grateful for my congregants and their gift. But I thought to myself, a machine? Weren’t the kneading with one’s hands, the patient proofing, and finally the watchful baking the point? I predicted to Nimue, “We’ll never use this beyond a time or two.”

I was so, so wrong.

I can make better bread than the bread machine. But in our busy lives that seek to balance many goods as we pursue the Good, the machine makes acceptably good bread much more often than we would by hand. Over twenty years, it cranked out hundreds, possibly thousands of batches. Twice we replaced the pan (the shaft at the bottom is a weak link). The bread machine kneaded on … till now.

Snow it goes (to be honest, a month ago)

Snow it goes (to be honest, a month ago)

The mandrel about the main drive shaft has worn enough that it binds. Repair parts are unavailable. I took it apart, but without recourse to a machine shop, I couldn’t see a practical way to fix it. Our faithful bread machine is, in a term that says much about “consumer goods,” B.E.R. … Beyond the cost of Economical Repair. To the electronics recycling dropoff at the landfill it shall go.

Perhaps I should turn in my minimalist merit badge. My fingers and arms remember how to mix and knead bread. But they cheerfully helped me pick out a used bread machine at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. (Cost: $6 and an hour of scrubbing.)

The new (used) bread machine is smaller and fussier than the old. We’re still growing accustomed to it. But it’s making bread, and we’re eating it. It may not be best, but it’s better than buying bread in a plastic shroud.

shedding style: recycle, replace
destination: local electronics recycling dropoff

Comments welcome … what compromises do you find yourself accepting in order to enjoy a “less is more” life?


– promo sports bottles

It’s spring! And the season for charity-sponsored sporting events, which in Casa de WIST’s case are bicycle rides. We’ve seriously cut back the number we’re doing this year, but last Saturday we allowed ourselves a favorite, the Firefly Trail “Ticket to Ride.” It benefits efforts to turn a local abandoned rail line into a multi-use path. (R.E.M. fans take note: though the “Murmur” trestle has been judged too deteriorated to safely use as part of the trail, the bridge proposed to replace it may be modeled on the iconic span.)

Corporate sponsors, bless ’em, feel a sort of moral imperative to give participants what we call “bling” or “swag” when we like it and “stuff” or something else when we don’t. These bottles were okay … but we (and most cyclists) already have bottles enough that pass the pragmatic test of the Morris rule. We don’t need any more! (Hint for sponsors: edible swag is very acceptable. So are socks.)


“Better than bottles,” Nimue says, “is SPF-15 lip balm.”


We dropped them off at a nearby thrift store on our evening walk, along with a pair of Nimue’s pants that no longer fit (more cycling = less girl).

shedding style: give away
destination: Goodwill

Comments welcome … how do you give away pesky give-aways?

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