What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

what fox shed today

 

approximately one KU (kitten unit) of Fox's fur

approximately one KU (kitten unit) of Fox’s fur

shedding style: compost
destination: compost pile

Comments welcome … what for you is hair today, gone tomorrow?

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more old seed packets

Oh dear, I found more packets of old seeds I missed in my first pass through the Evergreen Community Garden seed stores.

These are reminding me I do want to grow winter squash this year.

These are reminding me I do want to grow winter squash this year.

“To Seeds, ‘Packed for 1997,’ Anno Domini 2014″

I doubt
you’ll sprout,
so out
you go.
But know
it’s so
you’ll fall
where all
at call
as soil
shall toil,
and foil
the end.
Again,
begin!

shedding styles: compost, recycle (for the paper envelopes)
destination: compost pile, community recycling stream

Comments welcome … might you give something dead back to earth for life?

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way too much psyllium hydrophilic mucilloid

Ah, trichobezoars. That’s Greek for “stomach hairball.” Three of our four cats are domestic long-hairs, so we know them well. (A particularly existential incidence is finding one with a bare foot on the bedroom floor in the night.)

Two or three years ago, Fox’s hairball output—always impressive—was particularly high. His vet suggested we try sprinkling his food with psyllium hydrophilic mucilloid, a common laxative. Today I would probably purchase a modest amount for the trial. But that was before our epiphany about the clutter crisis in our lives that birthed What I shed today. I brought home the large, economy-sized container: enough for a year or more of cat-dosing.

But the powder didn’t adhere to kitty kibble. It ended up in the bottom of the bowl, and we could hardly reason Fox into licking it up. I tried moistening the food to make it stick better, but he didn’t like that. Cat food is supposed to crunch, you know. So after a few weeks we gave it up in favor of re-committing to daily grooming.

Steve Martin used to joke: “I gave my cat a bath last night. He loved it … but hisss fur stuck to mah tonguhhh.…”

No cats were harmed in the making of this blog post.

No cats were harmed in the making of this blog post.

A few days ago, Nimue found the “Fiber Therapy” container pushed to the back of a pantry shelf. Since the product is organic (it’s made from the seeds of Plantago psyllium), I’ll sift it over one of our compost piles.

shedding style: compost, recycling
destination: compost pile & recycling stream

Comments welcome … got old meds?

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contents of the crisper

I don’t remember which comic asked, but I laughed till it hurt: “Why do they call that drawer at the bottom of the fridge a ‘crisper’? C’mon, everyone knows it’s the ‘slimer’!”

Whatever it’s called, down in ours the vegetables from the last weeks of our fall CSA rest in somewhat uneasy peace. (”CSA” abbreviates Community Supported Agriculture, a term generally used in the US to describe arrangements in which consumers subscribe to purchase produce from farmers on a regular, typically weekly, schedule. In the UK they’re often called “vegetable box schemes.” Nimue and I have enjoyed both. We’ve been members of our current CSA for four years.) My shed today is sorting the veggies into two classes: “make into soup” and “liquid already.”

You’ve been spared a photo. It’s for the best.

shedding styles: use up, compost
destinations: soup pot, compost pile

Comments welcome … what might you shed today?

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veggie broth bag

Years ago I learned from Anna Thomas, author of The Vegetarian Epicure, to make my own base for soups. She offers a recipe for “potato peel broth,” but we mostly eat potatoes with the skins still on, so I call the bulging gallon-sized lumps I compile in the freezer “broth bags.” They collect all our onion skins, garlic peels, the ends of turnips and carrots, collard ribs, cabbage cores, and everything else of vegetative origin that’s too coarse for the table but holds flavor that a few hours of simmering can extract.

Tomorrow I might at last make that roasted winter vegetable soup....

Tomorrow I might at last make that roasted winter vegetable soup….

I’m slowly recovering from strand-to-strand combat with a rhinovirus, but I am so tired tonight … I need another easy shed. So in the casuistry I sometimes practice to keep the What I shed today project moving forward, I’m claiming the boiling of the contents of a broth bag as today’s small step toward simplicity. (Hey, I had two in the freezer, and I only need one.) Once I strain off the fragrant liquid, the trimmings will crown our food-waste compost pile.

shedding styles: use up, compost
destinations: soup, compost pile

Comments welcome … what might you shed today?

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fish food

container of old fish food

may the worms enjoy this more than the fish ever did!

We have a small outdoor pond (very, very small, like 30 gallons or so) which we keep primarily for growing a water lily or two. It also houses a couple goldfish to prevent mosquitoes from using it as a breeding ground. At this point, we’ve given up on having fancy or larger fish (read: koi) and just buy a couple feeder goldfish when necessary. We’ve also given up feeling like we have to provide more food than nature does, especially when our can of fish food contains pellets too big for our fish to eat! So it’s off to the compost pile with the fish food and to the recycling bin for the container.

shedding style: compost, recycle

Comments welcome … what might you shed today?

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hair

I feel the same about getting a haircut as I feel about shaving: glad to have it done. But I don’t like the process, so I don’t go to the salon more than three, maybe four times a year. My public excuse is that Nimue likes my hair longer, and I let it grow out for her. Which is true, but when it starts to flip up or get in my eyes, I feel unkempt. Still I delay the inevitable appointment with the shears for weeks or even months. Why?

Partly it’s because I enjoy saving money more than spending, and I can always defer a haircut’s expense another day. (The beauticians deserve what I pay them, though, and more, so I’ve started tipping.) Partly it’s that, like-able as the staff are, I have to let someone I don’t know well into the bubble of my personal space. And partly it’s because getting a haircut interrupts whatever plans I’m pursuing, though I interrupt myself a hundred times a day, and generally don’t regret the moments of grace in which I stop to smell the roses.

Whatever … today I shed some hair. Always before I’ve walked away from my fringe on the floor, but today I asked if I might have it to feed my compost pile. Hair is a good slow-release source of nitrogen, some 15% by weight. That’s more than manure. Aren’t you glad you learned that?

hair today, gone tomorrow

hair today, gone tomorrow

shedding style: relocate, compost
destination: compost pile

Comments welcome … what might you shed today?

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broken bird house

Ever since Nimue helped me see that restoring usefulness by repairing what’s broken sheds something as surely as sending it away, I’ve been eyeing the wheelbarrow I’d borrowed from church on a long-term loan. When I wanted to use it a couple weeks ago, the tire was flat. Strokes of my pump yielded a tell-tale hiss of escaping air.

I decided to defer the yard work that day, but not for fear of fixing a flat. I’ve repaired an embarrassing number of them on our bicycles—enough to suggest either we regularly ride in an urban jungle or I consistently over-inflate. Anyway … I have tire spoons and I know how to use them.

Blueberry and Muffin offer experienced assistance.

Blueberry and Muffin offer experienced assistance.

Indeed, more than one set of spoons, and for this job I got out the steel. I’d never begin with them for a bicycle tire, but they’re useful to have in reserve. They handle tight rim-tire combinations that break plastic spoons.

After just a little prying the bead off the rim, I saw the problem: a slit that reached a third of the way around the tube’s circumference. No patch would allow that tube to hold air again. Huh, someone must’ve over-inflated it. (Oops.)

I also saw … slime! Yuch! I loathe slime. It gets put in tubes in the hope it will stop “micro-leaks.” What is that but a baby that will grow into a monster? Slime does dubious good, and makes a miserable mess when a tube eviscerates.

Slime belongs on a b-movie set, not in an inner tube. Or on my hands. Or my cat.

Slime belongs on a b-movie set, not in an inner tube. Or on my hands. Or my cat.

So I can’t complete the wheelbarrow repair till I can buy a new tube at Tractor Supply Company tomorrow. And thus I found myself out of daylight, wondering what else I could shed. Then I remembered the birdhouse, a Christmas gift from our nieces four years ago.

57% effective bird house

57% effective bird house

At least three broods of songbirds have fledged from the cheerful little box. But the light wood hasn’t weathered well; my last attempt at repair just split the sides. I’m grateful for its contribution to life and wonder in the world, but it’s time to turn it, ah, under. The bird house will get an honorable burial in our hugelkultur experiment.

shedding style: compost
destination: compost pile

Comments welcome … what might you shed today?

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old seed packets

It’s Groundhog Day, and Candlemas … and I overhear that something else is happening tonight that might capture the attention of my fellow Americans (I believe it has to do with the premiere of a spate of television commercials). But for many of us who garden in the northern hemisphere, winter’s grip begins to chafe. Thoughts of spring turn toward seeds.

I’ve inventoried my stores and considered what to order. I’ve failed with three trials at growing bunching onions, but I want them so much that I’ll make another attempt. Nimue’s suggested we try our hand at stevia (Stevia rebaudiana). Otherwise we’re well-supplied.

It’s also fallen to me to keep the seed stock of the Evergreen Community Garden. That’s another overflowing shoebox of cheerfully printed packets, which I regret to report have been carelessly stored in a sun-baked metal shed. Almost all came as gifts, and I’m grateful for each. But I have to exercise some intelligent stewardship of our growing space, and I doubt the viability of 17-year-old cabbage and cauliflower seed.

not-quite-vintage cauliflower seed

not-quite-vintage cauliflower seed

However, I recalled that just before Thoreau uttered now-famous words about his “faith in a seed” to the Middlesex Agricultural Society, he observed that some specimens, particularly small ones, might survive decades or even hundreds of years before germinating and growing. In this case, I have more hope than faith, but I didn’t want to toss them out without giving them a chance. So I poured several dozen cabbage seeds from the lot into a paper towel, wet it, sealed it in a plastic bag, and left it on top of the fridge.

That was more than a week ago. The seeds remain little hard spheres. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, into the compost pile I’ll commit them, in sure and certain hope of their eventual return in some form of new life.

shedding styles: compost, recycle (for the paper envelopes)
destinations: compost pile, community recycling stream

Comments welcome … what might you shed today?

1 Comment »

cracked olive wood spatula

Once I brought myself to part with our cracked bamboo spoon, shedding this olive wood spatula eventually had to follow. The blade end looks like it was carved from a burl, with such wood’s celebrated tight grain. But after too many cycles of thermal expansion and contraction, it’s finally opened up. I can’t clean down deep in a crack. There’s so much in my life about which I suspect I’m an unwitting fool that I can afford this bit of prudence. To the compost pile it goes.

olive wood spatula stained with the turmeric of a hundred curries

olive wood spatula stained with the turmeric of a hundred curries

shedding style: compost
destination: compost pile

Comments welcome … what might you shed today?

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