Egg with Tail, Paper Piles and Real Towels

She just didn’t finish. That’s what it looks like to me. The hen that laid the egg with the tail (yes, you read that right) either got bored and distracted and forgot when to pinch off, or it started to hurt and she just eeked through the pain, or she is protesting her egg-laying job but had to get it out anyway. Let it be said that none of us knows exactly what it feels like to plop out an egg, but it doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to get the general idea.

This egg was like the other weakly shelled egg from earlier this summer, squishy just the same, a bit like jello with the thinnest of a crust, just enough crust to keep the yolk and white from making a gooey mess all over the place. Only this one had a tail. What’s up with the chicken that lays such an egg? I wonder which chicken? Miss Old Gray? Don’t-Mess-With-Me White Brahma? Sister Cinnamon Queen?

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I wonder if the same chicken laid both. I wonder why.

I’m thinking it’s one of the Queens. I see an attitude, don’t you?

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Why give an egg a tail? Is it because what else, given her limited physiology, can she do for fun? You know, to let her artistic side run wild? See what they think of this design! Did the chicken misfire or did the misfired shell surprise the chicken? At the Chicken Council will she defend herself with Hey, sisters, really, that shell material had a mind of its own – I didn’t try to make it do that! As if (overall weak shell aside) the hen tried to get the tail to break off and it just wouldn’t? A little like, well, you know. Perhaps the shell proper, taking an autonomous stand, was unwilling or too embarrassed to break off? Or maybe the blame goes back to insufficient shell material in the production line – Hey, Jack, you shorted me! How am I supposed to make a good shell if you short me on the hard stuff?

No getting around it (no pun intended), this egg is unfinished, improper, abnormal.

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There was nothing wrong with the egg inside. I had it for lunch, scrambled with a bit of leftover rice. The shell reduced to a teeny, wet, plastic-bag-like mess once the innards were removed, and that was gross and instantly trash, but the white and yolk were perfectly normal. This egg-with-a-tail anomaly caused me to wonder about other kinds of unfinished business, other things that I never quite wrap up in a neat little package and call DONE, like mail and laundry, and that led to fond memories of systems-that-work-but-are-somehow-unimplemented and environmental consciousness. Bear with me.

Mail: It’s true they don’t send as many catalogs as they used to, increased postage having changed that game. My paper piles don’t get as high and toppling as they used to. A lot of bills come electronically now, and they send you ads online instead. Last week I was looking at websites for outdoor furniture because sooner or later I will have a finished porch (speaking of unfinished business!) and later, while reading a New York Times article, up popped an ad for the very chair I had been looking at. That’s just plain creepy. I assume it’s legal for some program to be tracking my views, and I know it happens all the time and waaaaaay more than I know, but I don’t like it a bit. I think I’d rather deal with the pile!

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Still, I can’t blame my pile(s) on the creepy internet. In the mix you’d find checks I don’t know what to do with after I have mobile-deposited them (can I really throw them away?), receipts for the next time I do taxes, that great garlic-planting guide Tracy gave me (I’m going to need that in October), the really nice visitor’s guide from when I was at the Ringling Museum in April, bank statements (I still get some in paper form), to-do lists (I still write them to keep myself on track and I sometimes like looking back on them to see Oh, look how much was accomplished! – though be assured I do throw the shopping lists away after the shopping trip), random business cards, occasional invitations that are too pretty to throw away (and isn’t it somehow disrespectful to throw them away?)…

What kills me is that I have had, have used and have benefited from a perfectly good system for dealing with such random papers – a filing system! You get plain pocket folders (a variety of colors is more fun) and label them Bank, Garden, Travel, Projects, etc., and then you put the lists, receipts, etc., in the corresponding folder, which then goes in a file box somewhere handy. How hard is that?? No paper piles need exist at all!

I could say it’s hard right now because of living in a construction/ undone/ upside-down zone. Three rooms of my house need sheetrock work. Here’s one.

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The foyer houses a lot of tools and construction materials because you can’t run downstairs every time you need a different level or drill bit. And if you can call the new porch a room, that makes four undone zones – two of the three new sets of windows are in but not trimmed…

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…roof is on but not siding, some new ceiling lights now (as of yesterday!) turn on and some ceiling plywood is up but not all, and not all lights are in, and I still have not picked out the fans, and some of the old cedar siding is planed (to become ceiling material over the plywood) but not all, etc.

It’s a mess. A work-in-progress, I-begin-to-see-the-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel mess. A beautiful-vision-in-my-mind mess. Can a person be expected to maintain neat file folders under such circumstances?

Excuses, excuses! I hear you! Try living in my house, you say.

So-and-so (no names) adds to the mess / takes all my time / distracts me unspeakably!

My job is so demanding right now!

If only the people who said they would do the work would actually do the work!

Truth be told, I myself can never remember to buy the pocket folders! All right, all right, I’ll put them on the list. Now where was that list?

Laundry: When do we come to the end of laundry?! I operate a little b&b, so there are always sheets and towels, to say nothing of my other life and the sawdusty clothes from porch-building and oh-yeah-my-other-life the inside-out workout pants that I love.

But I don’t really mind. I even hang my laundry on a wonderful outdoor clothesline most of the time. There is nothing under the sun like sleeping on sheets that have dried in a sunshiny breeze. (I do not hang bath towels – they do need to fluff up in the dryer.)

There is in fact one portion of my laundry that I am even proud of in a way only some of you will understand.

I am not one for paper towels any more than necessary, nor throwaway wipes and that sort of thing. There is something about using a real piece of cloth that is fully intended to get dirty and be the thing between my hand and a mess I have to clean up, something about the softness of the cloth coupled with its toughness/ reuseableness/ tried-and-trueness. There is a difference between a real towel vs. something that tries to be a real towel.

Imagine my delight when I read in A Boat, A Whale and A Walrus (lovely birthday present cookbook from my daughter) by Seattle restaurant owner and entrepreneur Renee Erickson:

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REAL TOWELS

I’m a fan of towels – not the paper kind, but real cloth towels, the kind you hang from your oven door. At home I keep a huge wicker bin of them next to my oven, and I use them in lieu of paper towels, to mop up messes, blot food and soak up excess liquid wherever it appears. I accumulate them when I travel, mostly, but especially in Parisian antique markets. They’re pretty, and they’re washable. And because living in the restaurant world inevitably means making a lot of waste, it makes me feel good to use a little less paper at home.

I did not acquire my own cloths at Parisian antique markets, nor are they all the same. Some are terry, some soft knit, some woven cotton, some gauzy. They are my go-to for cleaning, for spills, for drying things, for polishing things. If they are rendered trash – such as when you use them to mink-oil your shoes – so be it. There are always more. Most of the time they go in the wash (thereby adding to the laundry, yes, but I am going to do laundry anyway, and so are you) and go back in my rag drawer. I can only imagine having space in my kitchen for a huge wicker bin of them.

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I wish I had a way to know how many paper towels I have not used over the years. I wish I knew the amount of money I have saved by not buying massive packs of them or could see the still-empty corner of a landfill that’s not filled with just my lifetime’s worth of them. I know someone else’s use of paper towels will fill that corner. I know that what I don’t use in a lifetime is probably what a football stadium, say, accumulates during one event. I certainly use paper towels sometimes.

Still, every time a paper towel is just the thing (such as on the plate I am about to transfer crispy bacon to from the hot pan), I pause and see mountains of trash in my mind, with bulldozers pushing it around to try to make room for more and more coming day after day, and I say to myself it’s okay this time. The “leave as little a footprint as possible” directive was intended for campers at first if I remember right: Take away anything you bring to the campsite, allowing the next camper to enjoy the natural environment as much as possible (instead of having to deal with your leftover stuff). To me this applies to everyday life too and to the big picture of my footprint on the environment. I am responsible for mine, after all, not someone else’s. I do what I can to be a good steward of my resources, earth’s resources. And a part of me is very satisfied about that.

As the chicken was probably satisfied. Hey, doing the best I can here!

2 thoughts on “Egg with Tail, Paper Piles and Real Towels

  1. Now my mother taught me many things including to open the egg carton to make sure there weren’t any broken eggs. However, she never told me to look for egg tails. How bizarre.

    Like

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