The Outsidah: Love and Compost in the New Year

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Artist's impression of The Outsidah trying to train his cat to scoop its own litter.

by The Outsidah, Doug Brendel

“Darling, it’s a new year, and I’ve made a New Year’s resolution. You’ve scooped the litter box every day for all these years, but from now on, as an expression of my esteem and affection for you, I’m going to take over this chore.”

“Why, thank you, dear.”

“You’ve been so faithful — fetching the feces, excavating the excrement. You’ve shoveled it steadily and quietly, which is so ‘you,’ and I really appreciate that. You’ve never pooped out. But, from now on, darling, I’ll do the doo-doo.”

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“Well, this is very loving of you, dear.”

“No more worry about the waste, darling. I’ll scoop it right into the garbage, and you’ll never have to give it another thought.”

“Compost, dear.”

“Pardon me, darling?”

“Compost. Not garbage. Scoop the litter into the compost, dear.”

“Oh. Okay, darling.”

“We have curbside compost, you know, dear.”

“Sure, darling.”

“It’s a town of Ipswich program, dear.”

“Okay. Got it, darling. Scoop the litter into the curbside compost bin.”

“Not straight into the bin, dear.”

 “Huh?”

“They don’t want your compostable stuff dumped straight into the bin, dear. Way too messy. It needs to be bagged.”

“Bagged, darling?”

“Scoop the litter into a paper sack, dear, and put the sack in the curbside compost bin.”

“Okay, darling.”

“I keep a supply of paper bags right next to the litter box, dear.”

“Okay, darling. No problem. I’ll scoop the litter into the paper bag and put it right into the curbside compost bin.”

“Maybe not right into the bin, dear.”

“Huh?”

“Maybe bring it to the kitchen, dear.”

“The kitchen, darling? Bring the bag of scooped kitty crud to the kitchen?”

“Well, yes. To our kitchen compost bin, dear, next to the sink.”

“You want that gross scooped kitty crud to go into the kitchen compost bin, darling?”

“No, dear. I want the stuff we’ve already put in the kitchen compost bin to go into the bag with the kitty crud.”

“Oh.”

“Since you’re heading out to the curbside compost bin, anyway, dear, you may as well take all the compostable stuff together — the kitty crud and the kitchen compost — and save a trip.”

“Okay, darling. Just to be clear: I’ll scoop the litter into the sack, take it to the kitchen, dump the kitchen compost into the sack, then take the sack straight out to the curbside compost bin.”

“Not straight out, dear.”

“Huh?”

“Well, the kitchen compost bin will get awfully smelly awfully fast if you don’t rinse it out every time you empty it, dear.”

“Okay, darling. I’ll scoop the litter into the sack, carry it to the kitchen, dump the kitchen compost into the bag, rinse out the kitchen compost bin—”

“And the strainer, dear.”

“The strainer, darling?”

“The strainer that covers the drain, dear, in the kitchen sink. After you rinse out the kitchen compost bin, there will be gunk in the strainer, over the drain, in the sink. It really has to be emptied out — into the bag, with the kitty litter, and the kitchen compost — and then rinsed.”

“Of course, darling. So I’ll scoop the litter into the sack, carry it to the kitchen, dump the kitchen compost into the bag, rinse out the kitchen compost bin, empty the strainer, rinse the strainer, and carry the bag out to the curbside compost bin.”

“In the garage, dear.”

“The garage, darling?”

“Well, the curbside compost bin isn’t curbside, dear. It’s in the garage.”

“How does it get to the curb, darling?”

“You roll it out there, dear. The compost truck comes every Wednesday.”

“Okay, darling. I’ve got it straight now. Every day, I scoop the litter into the sack, carry it to the kitchen, dump the kitchen compost into the bag, rinse out the kitchen compost bin, empty the strainer into the bag, rinse the strainer, and carry the bag with the litter and the kitchen compost and the gunk from the strainer out to the curbside compost bin. Then, on Wednesday, I take the curbside compost bin to the curb.”

“By 5 a.m., dear.”

“What, darling?”

“Out here on outer Linebrook Road, the truck usually comes by 5:30, dear.”

“Oh.”

“Anything wrong, dear? You look troubled.”

“Just wondering, darling.”

“Wondering what, dear?”

“Is a dead cat compostable, darling?”


Doug Brendel scoops the litter box at his house on outer Linebrook Road in Ipswich, Massachusetts. You can follow him all the way to the curb at DougBrendel.com.