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?

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– 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?

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fireplace screen renewed

Tonight we’re claiming the shed of another project that lingered long on our to-do list: repainting the fireplace screen. (Disclosure: its dull, rusty appearance bothered Nimue more than me, so she took lead and did most of the work.) Washing and wire-brushing preceded spray-painting. She did the grate, too, but with a high-heat enamel. Polishing the knobs that thread onto the frame made it look new, at least to an uncritical eye!


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remainders of spring seed starting

My seed-starting efforts of late winter and spring either succeeded wildly (I mid-wived dozens of tomato and kale seedlings) or struggled toward failure (peppers and eggplants = 0). There wasn’t much in between. Then some of my better results were discovered and snacked upon by whitetail deer. The naked stems of the heirloom okra were a particularly sad sight. But in the end, the target of “enough” was reached, with plenty of abundance as well. (If our skin appears to have a slightly green tint, it’s because we’ve been eating so much kale.)

When hot weather arrived in May, the green fuses were lit and everything, especially the non-food-plant competition, rocketed up toward the sun. I forgot about any more seed-starting, except for some late experiments with eggplants and peppers in cardboard egg cartons. (A friend had enthused about how well it worked for her to line each cell with half a broken egg shell. I tried it, but either couldn’t keep the seedlings from drying out or killed them with damping off—I couldn’t find the safe middle ground.)

All the trays and flats, starting medium, egg cartons with shells, toilet paper tubes, and paper cups I was using got shoved under Werner von Braun to be dealt with later. I had weeds to pull!

“Later” finally came today. I washed the trays, composted the cartons, and filled two coffee cans with mix so I’d have a home for a begonia and a coleus sprout. It feels good to finish that project … just as I’ve sown a flat with cabbage seeds for the winter garden!

My motley collection of trays and flats pose with butternut squash.

My motley collection of trays and flats pose with butternut squash.

shedding style: compost, re-use
destination: another round on the wheel of rebirth

Comments welcome … do you have anything to wrap up before the next round?


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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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foam packing peanuts 2

During some decluttering in the garage, I found another cache of foam packing peanuts. I have no idea when I bagged them. But I know the day I made the best of my bad choices and took them to the shipping franchise which says it will re-use them: today!

I’ve decided, though, that in future, if I shed anything through eBay, I’ll pack it in shredded paper, and enclose a friendly note requesting that the materials be re-used, recycled, or composted.

Salt doesn't improve them a bit.

Salt doesn’t improve them a bit.

shedding style: give away, re-use
destination: UPS store

Comments welcome … isn’t it odd that we lend the names of natural things (like popcorn and peanuts) to un-natural offenses against nature (like styrofoam packing materials)?


old eyeglasses

When you were nine years old, your teacher noticed you were squinting to see what she wrote on the chalkboard. Bespectacled herself, she suggested to your parents that perhaps your sight should be checked. You didn’t mind; it didn’t hurt; it only involved more squinting. But the eye doctor said you had profound astigmatism and needed glasses. They were expensive, your parents warned. You’d have to take very good care of them. Solemnly you swore you would.

The glasses (with plastic lens blanks and the black, slightly flexible frames the optometrist recommended for an active kid) brought the world into a completely unexpected and wonderful focus. For a week or so they were your fascinating new friend. Then the lenses and frames simply became one with your body-self. You hardly thought of them again till a block thrown in a backyard ball game caught you in the face and your glasses split in two at the bridge. Ow, Dad was so unhappy. But he didn’t have to wear them taped together for days till a replacement could be shipped.

When you were eleven, your head had grown enough that you needed a new pair. What should you do with the old ones (now very scratched, despite good intentions to treat them as a fragile, precious fabrication)? Why, keep them in a drawer for a spare, of course, against the dreadful chance you might break the new ones. (Which would happen, more than once. Sigh.)

And for decades after that, every time you changed glasses, you kept the old ones, because life without glasses, even for a few days, was unthinkable. A battered old pair with a prescription so wrong it gave you a headache was better than no correction at all, no familiar frame about the world sitting on your nose.

Sometimes, looking for some other object, you run across those old pairs that have become very odd ends. Smiling, you think, I have to do something with those someday … doesn’t some service organization collect and process the parts for re-use by people who can’t afford glasses otherwise?

Blueberry says, "They're my color, but not my style."

Blueberry says, “They’re my color, but not my style.”

Indeed, the Lions Club International does. The eye care practice I use provides a collection box. So, with gratitude, old eyeglasses are what both Nimue and I shed today.

shedding style: give away, re-use
destination: Lions Club eyewear collection

Comments welcome … should you prescribe a correction for any of your saving habits?

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soap remnants

I’ve been telling myself for at least the past year that I should make a new bar of soap from the various small pieces that have survived in our various soap dishes. Tonight, I’ve finally chopped them into pieces and started melting them down for reuse.



and after

and after

shedding style: re-use

Comments welcome … what might you shed today?

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plastic cutlery

Nimue suggested and took the lead on this shed. “Our plastic cutlery drawer is overflowing,” she said as she emptied its contents to sort and count.

There are way too many of these in our world.

There are way too many of these in our world.

We avoid purchasing disposable products on moral, religious, spiritual, ecological, economic and pragmatic grounds. But they get into the house nevertheless. We might go to an event where food is served with plastic eating utensils. Or attend a meeting where a boxed lunch is provided which thoughtfully includes a packet with a paper napkin, salt and pepper, and, yes, plasticware. Our habit is to use them gratefully, wipe them off when we’re done, and bring them home to wash and re-use. (Note: food safety experts say: don’t do as we do. Disposable plastic cutlery isn’t designed to be easily sanitized.) Our “real” flatware set has only four place settings, so some extra spoons come in handy for stirring hot drinks. I whip eggs for the morning frittata with the forks. Sometimes we ride the tandem to a park with a picnic on the rear rack, and we’ll use the plastic then.

They’re useful. They pass the test of the Morris Rule. But they breed in the darkness. We decided to cull the collection down to four forks, knives and spoons each.

Nimue researched whether we might recycle them. We can’t. Our community is blessed with a lot of good recycling resources, but plastics present challenges, particularly when they aren’t marked with a resin code. Not one of our pieces was.

We’re fully engaged with a DIY-remodel of our house, so we need a few consumable utensils for spooning materials from containers and mixing products like resin filler and (my favorite!) Durham’s Water Putty. So the extra cutlery has temporarily joined the tools. I used a fork awhile ago to make a batch of Bondo. Of course I had to throw it away when I was done. To quote Laurie Anderson in “It Tango”: “That’s the way it goes. It goes that way. ”

shedding styles: re-use, throw away
destination: landfill

Comments welcome … what might you shed today?

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foam packing peanuts

Today I dropped off a box of foam packing peanuts at a local shipping retailer. They accept certain packing materials for re-use. (For that, I’m happy to give them a free thumbs-up!)


I’m fifteen days into this year of lightening up. I’m not miraculously more light-hearted yet, but knowing that I’d do something today to reduce clutter and increase utility gave me a bit of a lift.

shedding styles: give away, re-use
destination: UPS Store

Comments welcome … what might you shed today?

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