Inhouse or Outhouse?

When you live on a rocky island, special attention must be paid to the matter of waste disposal, human and otherwise. We have a choice: inhouse or outhouse? Rain and darkness dictate the former, but in the interest of season-long septic system sustainability, it is often best to use the outhouse.

Ours is located about 60 feet from the main cabin. It’s a little red shack surrounded by wild roses and evergreens. A tree branch handle secures the door – which does NOT feature the stereotypical half-moon carving. It’s a one-seater. There is no unpleasant odor because the waste is property treated, biologically.

The interior is downright decorative. To the right of the “opening” (a regulation toilet rim and lid) stand rows of covered coffee cans containing rolls of toilet tissue. To the left, stacks of old Reader’s Digests – some with antique status – provide for leisure reading. The walls are adorned with calendars: scenic, floral, and girlie. Two pseudo-license plates record the travels of one occupant. The green and orange model reads “Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 2008. Another, in black and yellow from Australia, features a kangaroo, koala, emu, wombat and crocodile.

The most creative decorations are produced by the spiders. Daddy Longlegs are sociable companions familiar from childhood. Don’t be alarmed if you see a big, brown, hairy spider as big as your hand. These “dock spiders” don’t bite; they’re just looking for a cool, dark place to hang out – much like the human occupants.

Historical footnote: In Viking times, such as those depicted in my novel, Faces in the Fire, the “outhouse” was the only choice available. Usually a shed-like privy, it was attached to the outer wall of a family’s longhouse. Even in winter you still had to go outside!


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