What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

– the brown bathroom

The 30-year-old brown paint in the upstairs bath is sealed in, covered over, soon to be forgotten! The walls now wear the darker of our two greys, Valspar’s Gravity, while the ceiling glows with Woodlawn Dewkist.

I could post a picture, but we’d all say, “Huh. Um, bathroom.” So let’s celebrate greyness with an otherwise gratuitous cats pic:

Muffin and Blueberry claim the former sink cabinet, which we’re remaking into a small side cabinet for the kitchen-dining room

Muffin and Blueberry with the former sink cabinet, which we’re remaking into a small side cabinet for the kitchen-dining room … or so we’ve thought. They might have other plans.

shedding style: repaint, remake

Comments welcome … would you repaint your house to match your companion critters?

Leave a comment »

– two of our everyday bowls, cracked

Some days I chose what to shed. Other days entropy does.

As I forked up the last bite of my salad at lunch, something seemed wrong. I looked closely at the bowl, and found two cracks, long, deep, and about to connect. Another bowl in the set was cracked as well, I found.

The cracks are hard to see, but they're there ... you could have bowled me over!

The cracks are hard to see, but they’re there.

We haven’t abused them, but we’ve used them well. I suppose they’ve been bumped together too often or gone through too many cycles of thermal expansion and contraction in the wash. I’m afraid they’ll have to go to the landfill; we don’t need knick-knack collectors. If a bowl can’t hold hot soup, it’s got to go. But we’re grateful for their service.

shedding style: throw away
destination: the landfill

Comments welcome … ever been bowled over by a crack-up?


– the kitchen cart’s box

“Having stooped to shedding a box on WIST,” I asked myself, “shall I shed another?”



About 15 years ago Nimue and I lived in a house that, to us, seemed constrictively short on kitchen counter-space. One day, pushing a super-sized cart down an aisle at Sam’s Club (a big-box delivery warehouse for way too much of anything I have since learned to avoid), my roving eyes were arrested by an unfinished furniture kit. Why, I thought, there’s the solution to our problem! And it’s on sale, a hundred bucks marked down to $60!

At home I happily carried it downstairs to my basement workshop. Notes: 1. Basements aren’t good locations for anything anyone wants to accomplish unless they are, themselves, nice places that welcome one’s presence. Cold, cob-web-festooned, dimly-lit rooms are birth-labs for several species of unfinishedness. 2. Out of sight is out of mind. 3. If one lives with a partner, it’s really best, when bringing home a project that will require many of hours of assembly and finishing, to recruit her or him as a stakeholder first.

I did start some sanding, but then it languished down there. When we moved rather abruptly, it went back into its box and remained there, mostly forgotten, till we renovated Casa de WIST’s kitchen and in its new order found a spot that called out for the cart.

I excavated the project from a pile in the garage. Long is the tale I could tell of the misguided decision to paint it with 25-year-old oil-based enamel that’s moved with us from location to new location like a curse, of how gravity defies paint and just how many different planes there are on even a fairly simple piece of furniture, and of joints splitting during assembly when the line between “just a little more force” and “whoops” was crossed. But never mind all that. Finally all the steps had been stepped, daily use embraced it, and happiness in the universe was slightly increased.

All that’s left is to take the box to the recycling drop-off next time I go.

shedding style: complete, recycle
destination: our community’s recycling drop-off

Comments welcome … have you ever rejoiced to see the back-side of a box?



– NEC computer monitor box

I’m casting about a bit tonight for something to claim as today’s shed, I admit. But I did let go of a box.


I was looking in the old monitor box hoping to find my glass cutter so I could cut a pane of glass to use as a hopper feed panel in the old birdfeeder so it would work again and I could feel okay about giving it away. Does that make sense? That’s the kind of day I’ve had. The glasscutter wasn’t in my carpentry toolbox, nor the precision tools box, nor the really-odd tools box, nor the painting tools box. (We have several other toolboxes, but it simply wouldn’t be in them, unless the rules of the universe changed or something.) The monitor box was my last hope.

Ten years ago Nimue and I were about to change addresses when I found myself on crutches for three months. Friends and family rallied about us to pack, load, and unload, bless ‘em. But that narrowed our choices somewhat. Asked where to put anything random in my shop, I answered, “In that box. That old monitor box.”

A great feature of monitor boxes, back in the days when computer equipment felt more like an infrastructural investment than a consumable, was that they were sturdy. And voluminous. The drawback is that they can swallow a lot of your stuff, and it’s a lot harder to get it out than to put it in.

I have been unpacking that box, a little at a time, ever since. Tonight, I finished. I didn’t find the glass cutter, but lamp wiring materials have come out where they can be used, hardware has been sorted into the “nails” and “picture hanging” containers, and old flashlights moved to the going-to-the-thrift-store box. The monitor box will be left at our community’s drop-off recycling facility the next time we drive past it.

shedding style: recycle
destination: our community’s recycling dropoff

Comments welcome … do you find that some containers are much too big for what you’ve asked them to hold?


– the repair project and ethical responsibility of the birdfeeder

I have finally decided, after much vacillation: our bird feeder shall be shed. I haven’t used it in well over a decade maybe two since one of the panels that holds and distributes the feed broke. But all this time I’ve kept it, thinking, “I could get and cut a piece of clear plastic to fix it. Hang it in the dogwood off the deck. Get some seed and cracked corn and start watching birds. I loved that when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure that feeder was a present from my parents while we lived in Illinois, probably because they remembered that. And Mom hates to look on WIST and see me shedding something she’s given me.”

the feeder in the Camellia out front

the feeder in the Camellia out front

I could do all that. Another problem, though, is that to start feeding birds in a neighborhood is to covenant with them not to stop. They quickly learn to depend upon it. I don’t know why I don’t trust myself to hold up my end; eleven cat-panions, past and present, would purr that I do. But felines have ways to reinforce good behavior that avians lack.

Oh, darn it—I am the son of an engineer—tomorrow I will cut a piece of something to replace the broken panel before I leave it at the ReStore. Glass or plywood would work. I may even have some acrylic out in the garage, I don’t know. Then someone who wants the joy of sustaining feathered friends can take it home and start using it without adopting a repair project, perhaps without the resources I’ve got.

shedding style: repair then give away
destination: Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Comments welcome … do you ever furrow your brow sorting out can, should, would if, and want to?

(Ummm … sorry, Mom!)


– mostly-used, dried up cans of stains and paint

Today was not a good day for my mitigation of climate change.

As we renovate Casa de WIST, our policy is to purchase and use low-VOC (volatile organic compound) finishes as much as possible. But we have quite a few oil-based products around nevertheless. A handful have been allowed because I believe they actually will have less impact (better, for instance, to repaint and continue to use the tubs than replace them). Some I bought long ago before it was widely understood that even the “consumer” segment of the solvents market has a measurable impact on air quality and greenhouse gases. Many were acquired by my father over his decades of do-it-himselfing. Not a few we inherited from previous owners of our house, who kindly left them behind just in case we might need them.

I’ve been able to dispose of some of this unwanted wealth at municipal household hazardous waste collections. But that mostly just kicks the disposal problem down the road. The best recourse generally is to use them up, while committing to water-based products in the future.

So … Nimue and I have been rebuilding a bath sink cabinet we pulled from the upstairs bathroom into a sort of miniature sideboard we’ll use in the kitchen-dining room. For eventual ease of wiping down, we decided to apply sealant to the inside. We didn’t care much what it looked like—most of the time it will be dark in there—so we thought we might mix odd bits of stain-sealer and have enough to do the job.

But when she opened the first can, Nimue found that a thick skin had formed on top of what remained of “Antique Walnut” and the material under it was thick as sludge. “Colonial Pine” was a goner, too. The couple of pints left in the gallon of sanding sealer had turned the consistency of yogurt. And the sealing primer I used on the floor in the bathroom today looked and felt like large-curd cottage cheese. I suppose that too much time and exposure to air (just that inside the closed cans) made them useless.

I had to leave the cans open to the atmosphere so the remaining contents will dry to a hard, inert state. Then I can take them to the construction-and-demolition landfill. But I hate to do it.

Past choices frame present options. That’s much on my mind these days as I hear and ponder the news from Washington and the world and watch the grey squirrels chase one another in the strange summer the southeastern US is having in January. My hope lies in trusting that we can learn to make better choices today, so what used to be called the “common weal” shall thrive in the future.

shedding style: throw away
destination: C&D landfill

Comments welcome … with appreciation for the sly wit and social commentary of Mick and Keith … shall we agree to not “Paint It Black” after all?

Leave a comment »

– old kitchen faucet

One of the frustrations of our original kitchen was its faucet, which poured water out of the valve body onto the counter whenever we turned it on. But we tried to save it when we renovated. Its manufacturer, we learned, has committed to keeping repair parts available even for units that are decades old. I had to visit three stores to find them, but eventually I did and we were able to get it to work as it should … mostly.

All the rest of its parts had nearly 30 years of wear, though, and we haven’t been able to keep the lever-handle on tight. When the faucet started dripping last week, we decided it was B.E.R., Beyond the cost of Economic Repair.


We could’ve bought a new faucet for what we spent on the repair parts in this one … more tuition paid to Renovating U!

As I draft this post, Nimue is installing a new faucet with simple, old-fashioned double handle valves. I look forward to washing up at a sink where the water runs where it’s supposed to!

shedding style: the repair-then-replace dance
destination: construction-and-demolition landfill

Comments welcome …

Leave a comment »

– old rechargeable screwdriver

My Dad passed two years ago, but he left me his workshop, in spirit if not the letter, years before when he lost his eyesight. For a long time I was reluctant to change anything, but I’ve worked through that and am slowly cleaning it out. On my last visit I spotted a rechargeable screwdriver plugged in an outlet. It’s capacity to juice up and be used was long gone, though.

The blue big box home improvement warehouse accepts rechargeable tools for recycling. I dropped it in the bin with gratitude.


Posted from WordPress for Android

Leave a comment »

– almond tub surround

Both bathrooms at Casa de WIST had unremarkable, if serviceable, fiberglass tub surrounds in a 1980s almond color. They presented us with a moral dilemma. As we renovate, we try to keep our footprint from growing. We replace what we must, repair what we can, and repaint and cheerfully re-use everything else. But Nimue and revdarkwater, your hosts, are not warm-palette people. Besides, the tub-shower units were starting to show their nearly 30 years of use by resisting our best efforts to clean them.

It took a lot of work, but last year we had excellent results saving our tired laminate kitchen counters with Rustoleum’s Countertop Transformations product, which bonds a new color coat with a durable epoxy topcoat. So we decided to give Rustoleum’s Tub & Tile Refreshing Kit a try on the surround in the upstairs bathroom. We special-ordered our kits from the orange big box home improvement warehouse. A tub-plus-surround takes two, which cost us about $50 total.

If there’s ever a time to indulge in perfectionism, it’s during preparation to paint something. We followed the instructions to the letter, cleaning, de-liming, uninstalling hardware, wet-sanding, and allowing to thoroughly dry. Nimue taped off the unit.

Then revdarkwater pulled out paint spraying equipment, donned a respirator, and applied paint to project. (The manufacturer says the paint may also be brushed or rolled on; we wanted the smoothness of spraying.)


It’s not perfect. To our horror, while we were waiting to apply the second coat, we realized that some water had seeped out of the supply line, even though we’d made certain the valve was fully off. We don’t know yet what the final effect on the finish will be. Some more “fussin'” may lie ahead. Otherwise, though, it’s pretty good. And it’s white!


If anyone decides to use Rustoleum’s Tub & Tile Refreshing Kit because it worked for us, please, do use a respirator (most epoxies are frankly toxic), ventilate well, and be prepared to clean a fine dust of overspray off of everything within several hundred square feet.

shedding style: re-use

Comments welcome … here’s a poll: paint or put-up-with?

Leave a comment »

– my old wallet

The conversation with KonMari I promised for today’s post must be rescheduled; sorry! But here’s today’s shed. It’s another item I’ve kept out of the wastebasket awhile so I could write about it on WIST.

Though we all hardly look a day older (ha!), some time ago my good friends Larry and Debbie wed. I had a part in their ceremony, and they gave me a nice leather wallet as a thank-you gift. I didn’t start using it right away, but when my cheap nylon wallet began to part at its folds, I moved cards and cash into the new one, whereupon it and my hip pocket formed a relationship that lasted about 25 years.

The wallet traveled many miles, soaked up a lot of sweat, and survived a two-hour sluicing of salt water we received when a high surf got up and a fishing boat I was on had to dash for harbor. I hardly look a day older (ha!), but the wallet … it became my portrait of Dorian Gray. First its complexion darkened and grew course. Then creases turned into cracks. Finally, it seemed to lose any sense of structure. I loathed giving up on it, but my stuff was spilling out whenever I opened it.


I like my new, cotton duck wallet manufactured by Jandd, a company I trust. (We use their bicycle panniers for our touring.) But it’s not the good old familiar lump in my pocket. Nevertheless, for everything there is a season. As KonMari would recommend, I will hold my old wallet to my heart, thank it for its faithful service on thousands of ordinary days and not a few adventures … then let it go.

shedding style: throw away
destination: landfill

Comments welcome … actually, I wish I could compost the wallet; it’s mostly leather and therefore organic in origin. I tried that with a pair of shoes, however, and after two years, they still turned up in the pile looking like shoes. Suggestions for accelerating the process? Or extending my patience?

Leave a comment »