What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

– worn-out clothes

Last November, Nimue and I met KonMari (not in person, but through her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering). We found much in it to complement what we’ve learned over years of pursuing what we used to call “organization” and now think of as living in spaces that are beautiful and useful.

Favorably impressed as we are with KonMari’s method, we haven’t bought entirely into it, though we see she has good reasons for her recommendations. For our own reasons, and contrary to her advice, we’re working through the categories a little at a time rather in single-session marathons. But we’re still getting some good results, like this pile:

The lilies of the field would be ashamed to be arrayed in such as these!

The lilies of the field would be ashamed to be arrayed in such as these!

On top are work clothes that were wearing thin or getting stiff with paint. They were easy to shed. Below them, however, are black silk shirts that were such favorites they have been our second skins for years. Even with good care, however, warp and woof begin to part after a decade of constant use. We hadn’t yet admitted it was time to let them go. KonMari’s ritual of embracing an item while thanking it for the service it’s given, funny as it may sound, helped us act on the decisions we realized we’d already reached.

I’ll probably have more to say about KonMari’s principles and techniques in future posts. For tonight, however, I’ll conclude with a grateful bow in her direction.

shedding style: throw away (we have enough rags already)
destination: landfill

Comments welcome … have you ever hugged your clothes?


– expectations of myself regarding the cooking of kale, leeks, and chickpeas “salad”

A couple-to-three years ago, a CSA (“community supported agriculture”) farm that Nimue and I participated in shared a recipe for “kale, leeks, and chickpeas salad.” She rather liked and I fell into an infatuation with it that matured into a steadfast love. So, I cook and we enjoy it often when kale is “coming on.”

I have come to regard the recipe as the merest of a sketch. To start, I make vastly more of it (leftovers = tomorrow’s lunch, x2). I had no leeks tonight, but it was trivial to substitute an yellow onion (Georgia grown, to its credit). But experience has proved that roasted red peppers are essential.

Some fine day, we shall grow and preserve our own. But not today. Today, I needed into my “boughten” peppers. But I couldn’t unscrew the lid.

That would’ve irritated me when I was young and thought I should be strong enough to force it with just my brute strength. And after I got over that, it would have bothered me a bit that I couldn’t attempt it with a tool more refined than Grandpa’s old pipe wrench.

But, heh-heh, Grandpa’s old wrench cranked that sucker right off. Give Grandpa and me a place to stand and a lever long enough, and we’ll move the world.


And here’s the recipe, for which I regret I can’t credit a source:



1/4 cup olive oil
1 large leek, white and light green part only, quartered, chopped and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1 bunch kale, stemmed, chopped and washed in a colander
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed, or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 heaping tablespoons chopped roasted red pepper (fresh or from a jar)


In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, add oil. When oil shimmers, add the leek, garlic, salt and paprika and stir until leek wilts, about 1 minute. Add kale, chickpeas and red pepper and stir to combine. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes, checking to make sure pan doesn’t scorch. If needed, add a tablespoon of water to keep a very small amount of liquid in the pan. Once kale is tender, taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Serve hot, at room temperature or cold after a night in the fridge.

shedding style: release

Comments welcome … have you celebrated the subtraction of any perfectionism lately?

Posted from WordPress for Android

Leave a comment »

– the goal of posting every day in 2015

When I inaugurated What I shed today a year ago, I set two goals for every day of 2014: to shed something in my life that was weighing me down and to blog about it. I missed that target, but nevertheless I shed regrets and celebrate the good that’s come from the project. Nimue and I have made a lot of progress toward a “lighter” life, though we see we have a long way to go still.

As we focus on remodeling Casa de WIST and increasing the scope of our minimizing, I need to get “post to WIST” off my daily to-do list so the blog doesn’t feel like an obstacle. So we’ll keep shedding, and I’ll report and reflect here … just somewhat less often.

Here’s to a happier and lighter 2015 for everyone!

shedding style: release

Comments welcome … what are you letting go of so you might move in the direction of your dreams this year?


– 2014 (for every shed there is a gain)

Facebook (which, despite a thousand frustrations, I’m not yet shedding because it serves as a conduit of connection to my Mom) offered me its view of my year in review. I didn’t look, because I knew the algorithm wouldn’t have a clue. Looking back at WIST myself, I see a year of painful losses, significant shedding, and gains I’m grateful for.

It’s upon the latter I’m drawn to reflect in this ultimate entry for the year. Nimue and I gained clarity about what we need and want and what, on the other hand, just clutters the lives we want to live. We gained some momentum toward getting closer to that elusive goal.

I’m most grateful for the company I’ve gained on the journey to a less consumptive and cluttered and more simple, sustainable, satisfying, and aware life. Thank you, commentors and fellow bloggers! On your journeys (which I hope will continue to cross ours), goodspeed!

shedding style: release

Comments welcome … as we’ve asked all along… what might you shed today?

Leave a comment »

+ a Christmas WIST

A merry and happy Christmas to all from Nimue and revdarkwater!  In silent nights and days of light to come, may we all shed some fear so there’s more room for love!


1 Comment »

run to the sea

The curtains have been mostly drawn here at WIST the last couple of weeks. I haven’t given up on the project, but I likely won’t be posting much for several days more.

Three weeks ago my father was enrolled in hospice care. He didn’t have a progressive terminal disease so much as his body just wore out after 91 years. Nimue and I have been going back and forth between our home in Georgia and Mom and Dad’s in East Tennessee, taking turns with my siblings and their spouses as we’ve helped Mom with Dad’s care.

Yesterday morning, in the thin hours before dawn, he left this life.

What I shed today is about letting go … can there be any greater? WIST is also about gaining something. There’s gain, I’m learning, in every release.

Sometime on Saturday or Sunday, Nimue thought she heard Dad murmur, “It’s time to go back to the beginning and start again.”

20141216-dlj-DSC_8071-eBack when they were still young men, U2 wrote a song for a funeral of a friend. In it Bono sings, “You run like a river to the sea.” I thought of that yesterday as I returned to my parent’s home that sits by an old mill dam on Jockey Creek. It flows on to Big Limestone Creek, which joins the Nolichucky River, which drains into the French Broad. The French Broad conflows with the Holston to form the Tennessee. That long waterway touches four states before it finally empties into the Ohio. The generous Ohio gives its waters to the mighty Mississippi. And the misi-ziibi, the “Great River,” goes to the Gulf of Mexico … the sea.

Does a drop of water know where it’s going when it falls over the dam? Does it dream of, at long last, reaching la Mer?

Bye, Dad. I hope to see you when I come to my time of letting go of the limits of temporality. Till then, though we commend your spirit to God, we keep your life in the salty waters of our memories and love.

Oh, great ocean
Oh, great sea
Run to the ocean
Run to the sea

―U2, “One Tree Hill”



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?

Leave a comment »

comforts past

Fox has always been fairly social and affectionate toward his humans, but never much of a lap-cat. He loved to “clump” with Percy instead. Since Percy’s been gone, though, Fox has begun to claim my lap when he wants contact and comfort. I grieve with him at his loss, and don’t mind that I’m his second choice.

Fox in sleepy mode

Fox in sleepy mode


Posted from WordPress for Android


faster, pussycat, fill, fill!

Q: What do you get for your aging parents for Christmas? A: They probably don’t need the latest kitchen gadget or trendy power tool. So, if they suggest something reasonable, you get them whatever they ask for. Two Christmases ago, Mom asked for a new medicine cabinet for Dad’s bathroom. (Sounds selfless, I know, but she couldn’t get the lamps in the old cabinet to light, and since he’s lost his sight, he couldn’t help her change them out.)

Thus Nimue and I picked out a new medicine cabinet and light fixture, and made a trip to install them. I knew the new cabinet was smaller than the old and that I’d have to do some drywall work to resize the rough opening, but I misjudged how much it would take. New drywall is thicker than that commonly supplied 50 years ago, so my patch stuck out beyond the old wall. Tape and compound can make a slope where there’s a step, but it takes me several passes to achieve it—and each application needs hours to dry. What I wish could have been accomplished in an afternoon has instead required days, spread now over months. It’s high on my list of projects that are making me crazy. I wanted it to finish it on this visit, declare it done, relegate it to history!

I had to let go of that intention. Much as I hoped for faster progress when I returned to it today, the laws of physics still applied. Some things can’t be hurried. Curing plaster is one.

I accept the necessity of patience. But I’m close to the end now, really close. Maybe I’ll reach it tomorrow!

20141016-dlj- 20.23.56-e

shedding style: release

Comments welcome … how should one adapt when a project threatens to become a lifestyle?


the steps I just took

This post has been stewing for nights and days … time to serve it up.

A week ago I went to a continuing education event held at a church in north Georgia. (A heady, hopeful, helpful congregation committed to its community beyond itself, should you ever find yourself in Cherry Log, Georgia of a Sunday morning.) After the lecture, I had some time to fill before I was to meet a friend afterward. So I visited the congregation’s community garden. The large sweet potato patch is lying fallow this winter, but collards are thriving in raised beds.

Ah, collards ... cabbage that just never got its head together.

Ah, collards … cabbage that just never got its head together.

Then I walked the new labyrinth sited nearby. Labyrinths, or “prayer paths,” are an ancient device of spiritual discipline, recently revived in many places. They may resemble mazes, but are not—a labyrinth’s path spirals toward its destination in a series of reversals, but inevitably leads to the center, then out again. It invites a journey upon which one cannot get lost.


I have walked labyrinths dozens, perhaps hundreds of times, and never had quite the same experience twice. This time, the stones that bordered the path evoked all I’ve left behind—not alone in the cause of “lightening up,” but all along the way. Living extracts its toll in change.

If I could look behind at the course of my life at what I’ve deliberately dropped or accidentally abandoned, I thought, it would form a path. Am I happy with where it seems to be leading? I can’t always tell. Sometimes it changes direction very quickly. But that’s no reason to mistrust the journey, nor my companions on it. I don’t sense we’re lost.

So, leaving what I must and may, I’ll step out and step on.

shedding style: release
destination: the journey that is the destination

Comments welcome … do you have insights to share from your own labyrinth ways along life’s path?

Leave a comment »