From the age of two until six or seven, most of us find two subjects both fascinating and hilarious. Those two subjects are poop and pee. Toilet humor is humor period for the post-toddler set. Most of us also move on from this phase, and don’t talk much about defecation and urination, and are certainly not intrigued by it. Until you move into a tiny house, at which point everyone you know feels duty bound (I’m tempted to say doodie-bound, but that sounds like constipation, which is not the topic) to inquire as to how and when and where you “go to the bathroom” (in quotes, beause there is no bathroom in my tiny house. Answers will follow, but first let me share with you two genuinely interesting facts about human waste.
Until recently, a doctor wanting to positively diagnose diabetes would instruct the patient to leave the room, fill a small glass jar with urine and return. While she sat, the patient watched her physician tip the glass to his mouth and pour in a quarter-mouthful of the ammonia-smelling liquid and perform a tasting. It is unknown whether he aerated it properly, let each part of his palate experience the golden liquid or recorded adequate tasting notes. Once the urine had tasted positive for sugar, the doctor either spat it out or swallowed, depending on his thirst and next patient’s unknown diagnosis, one supposes. Regardless, the diagnosis was certain: sweet pee meant diabetes.
Now that’s an interesting bit of information about urine.
Without going into details (because I don’t know many), the human gut, when given antibiotics for too long a time, can have its “good” bacteria destroyed and allowing “bad” bacteria to wage a mutiny. (The quotes are included because they only apply from a human perspective. I have a hard enough time determining good and bad for me, much less what is moral for a bacterium.) One way to battle this is to bring in reinforcements—by inserting feces teeming with good guys back into the intestines. This healthy feces comes from a donor and can be inserted by colonoscopy or enema. If those seem too intrusive, one can swallow frozen poop pellets or use a nasogastric tube—introducing feces through a tube from the nose to the gut. Snorting poop, after a fashion.
And there’s a set of fun fecal facts to know and tell.
Now ends the educational portion of this column, and onto the details people clamor for—how do I relieve my body of waste products?
is a picture of my primary means of urinating, a decorated laundry-detergent jug I fill with waste and empty in various different places in the woods surrounding the Tiny White House. My daughter, Libby, is responsible for most of the decoration, although I’m not sure I told her back in July what her creation was going to be used for. Form follows human function, I suppose. In addition to the jug, I’m also lucky enough to be a man and to live in the middle of nowhere, making daytime urination significantly easier than it would be for a woman in Cleveland.
As for feces, my options are fewer. I do have access to an outhouse, but already—even in this August-like October—sitting on a cold plastic seat does little to encourage the necessary relaxation. I much prefer the heated bathrooms of gas stations and campgrounds, but these are not always available, so I also have a human cat box, a bucket with a toilet seat attached. The bucket is lined with a biodegradable bag, at the bottom of which I’ve placed a few inches of saw dust. Once I’ve done my business, I cover the results with another few inches of saw dust. Once the container is two-thirds full, I go to a pre-dug hole in the woods, place the contents inside the hole and tear the bag with a stick to make biodegradation simpler, cover it with leaves and move on.
Now that I’ve explained this, when you meet me you can ask much more compelling questions like “How do you live without tv or the internet?”