Thursday, January 21, 2016

Plastics: the Never Ending Story

I am inspired on this next posting by my friend Jan, who lives in London and just recently got back from an All-Girls Scientific Expedition on board the SV Sea Dragon which sailed across the South Atlantic Ocean from Senegal to Brazil via Ascension Island to study plastics in the ocean. I got to thinking about my own contributions to the plastic problem, and am trying to find ways to reduce my usage.

Take a look around you: what do you see? How can you change things around you so that there is less waste?

Here’s what I see:
I get up in the morning and go to brush my teeth – using a plastic toothbrush with paste out of a plastic tube.
I take a shower to wash my hair using shampoo and conditioner out of plastic bottles.
I brush my hair (or comb it) using a plastic brush & comb set.
Heck, even the shower curtain is plastic – as is the toilet seat, the outlet covers, and god knows what else.

Right there, I can eliminate plenty.

I am now using shampoo bars and toothy tabs from Lush, and am looking for a good wooden brush/comb set as well as toothbrushes made of bamboo. I hope to find a shower curtain that is durable yet NOT plastic. Sadly I can’t do a thing about the building materials in my bathroom, so will just have to make sure that my own house is built as “naturally” as possible.

And that was only one room/one event in my life! How much more can I change for the better? How about in the kitchen?

I bought pouches made of nylon in three different sizes to be used instead of zip-loc baggies. They’re washable in either the washing machine or in the dish washer (or in my case, by hand) and they will last a lot longer than their plastic counterparts. As an added bonus, they come in cute fanciful patterns to liven up your day!

There are – of course – the reusable bags that fold up into tiny packages that are used at the grocery store instead of the plastic bags they hand out by the gazillion.  That one is basically a no-brainer, and there’s no reason AT ALL why everyone on the planet would choose not to use them.

What are your recommendations?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Ringing In The New Year

So, how did you all celebrate the New Year?

I had a fabulous weekend, myself. Bryan and I drove up north almost to Delta Junction and stayed at The Lodge at Black Rapids.  Oh my goodness – what a beautiful place that was! I highly recommend it.

The weather was somewhat less than desirable, however. In fact, the wind blew pretty much the entire time we were there. We had hoped to get out and do some hiking, but only managed a small foray down to the old lodge to see if we could see the in-resident ghost.

We did not see the ghost, but we did get to see the progress they are making on restoring it. One day soon, they hope to hold musical events there, perhaps open a small coffee shop and/or a touristy-type store. They work on it piece by piece as they get the funding, so it will be a slow progress – but they are at least making the attempt.

The lodge itself is a stunning piece of artwork. The logs were all hand cut by a group of high-schoolers who were attending a class on how to build a log cabin. They used wooden pegs instead of nails, even! And for the shingles, they managed to use pieces of slate rock, each one nailed on by two copper nails so they wouldn’t stain the rocks over time.

Our room was on the third floor, so we had a pretty good view of the mountains behind the lodge. Rather a tease, actually, since the wind was blowing so hard we couldn’t get out there. But it was a fine view, none the less. We had access to the common area so I was able to get out my crafting kit that I brought along: we sat and made cards for hours each day! And yes, Bryan made cards right along with me.

The meals were all quite good. Their “cook” is actually a family of three: husband, wife and son. They accommodated my dietary preferences with no problem at all, and were quite happy to do so. Meals were served family style, with all the guests eating together (each on our own table, though) so we all got to know each other fairly well.

For New Year’s Eve, they had planned on serving a five course meal and then heading out to a bonfire out back to shoot off some fireworks – but the weather put a stop to that. Instead we all sat and listened to the live music they had: Hurricane Dave sang songs and played his guitar for several hours. The following evening actually lightened up enough for us to shoot off the fireworks so at least we got to see them even if it was a day later.

All in all, it was a great weekend: one of the best New Year’s ever, I’d say.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Happy New Year 2016!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll no doubt be saying it again sometime in the near future – but I really am going to try to keep my blog going better than I have been. In fact, I’m making it one of my resolutions this year!

Last year’s resolutions were:
     1. Loose as much weight as possible
     2. Cook at least one new recipe each month
     3. Renew contact with lost friendships
     4. Write at least 4 letters a month

The whole weight loss thing wasn’t entirely successful – I don’t think I lost a pound. Mind you, I also did not gain a pound – so it wasn’t a complete failure. I will change things up a bit this time, however, and simply focus on increasing activity levels thereby sneaking in some weight loss without calling attention to it.

The cooking one was great – I loved it so much it’s now a part of my normal routine. I could cheat and make it another resolution again, but honestly it’s what I do anyway. It’s one of the (many) things that Bryan and I enjoy doing together.

Sadly, I completely dropped the ball on renewing lost friendships. I did get to have lunch/tea with Anne a few times, and emailed Corissa once or twice – but that was about it. Oh, and I actually drove out to Meadow Lakes to visit with Rikki, even. But what I really intended was get me back in touch with Lorna – and I chickened out. Part of me is afraid to find out what caused her to disappear out of my life, because I’m suspicious that she may have had an encounter with a certain old boyfriend of mine who had/has a habit of being more than a little bit promiscuous. So, instead of tracking her down and simply asking her, I took the low road and decided that if she really wanted to talk to me she would.

The final resolution from last year was a resounding success. I typically wrote well over four letters a month – sometimes more than 10 letters even! And again, it will continue on into this year simply by default of habit.

So, now that 2016 is eminent I have come up with the following resolutions to focus on:
     1. Increase my step count daily
     2. Create an actual budget - and stick to it
     3. Write at least four blog entries per month (one a week)
     4. Drink at least two glasses of water a day

The budget thing has a story behind it (don’t they all?) and I promise I will delve into that in a future posting. For now, suffice to say that I am planning on buying property and having my own house built within the next few years.

Anybody else making resolutions this year?