Happy Holidays

Yesterday was Christmas. Yesterday it snowed. My family had a lovely day and last weekend we saw my mom’s side of the family, which was great. Since I’ve started this journey, I’ve gotten nothing but support from my family. I’ve learned so much over the past year about the environment and about appreciating my family. All of them, make me want to do better. Be more creative, to work harder to do things even though they’re less convenient and to just generally carry on even though I don’t think it makes much difference, which is the hardest thing for me to do.

This weekend was full of upcycling and crafting while keeping the environment in mind.

We made reindeer ornaments out of corks.

026

And bottle cap ornaments…out of bottle caps, which we had to cram seven people into a bottle cap size circle to go into the bottom bottle cap. We haven’t exactly finished that.

Everyone, even the guys, were totally on board with these crafts, which is interesting because when my aunt and I try to get them to do stuff at home it doesn’t work out quite as well. But there they were like Martin Stuarts!

I got a solder from my grandma and an awesome upcycling books book from my aunt.

My great aunt made me a lamp from a glass coke bottle that she found in the lake and popcorn bucket from the theater (I don’t think it was used).

028 And she made adorable bird feeders for my mom and aunt made from terracotta and old license plates.

My mom got me cruise control added to my car, which is a gift that keeps on giving and a ‘keep it green’ shirt  and more love than one could ever hope for.

I appreciate all the effort my family goes into caring about the things that I care about.

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Lessons From Africa: Part 1

When I first started my upcycling venture, my great aunt, who I’ll just call my aunt because it’s easier, said ‘You’d really like Africa. They come up with a use for everything.’

Of the 21 least developed countries in the world, according to the United Nations Human Development Index, 11 are in West Africa. Fifty-five percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day. The region’s even poor by African standards – the average annual income is $309, compared to the Sub-Saharan average of $470.

http://www.globaldashboard.org/2009/02/18/the-dangerous-demographics-of-west-africa-2/

The Sub-Saharan region of Africa is the poorest region in the world.

To be honest, I don’t know that much about Africa. I’ve heard that one-half of the country is pretty normal as far as poverty is concerned and then the other half is the part that has the problem.

I was inspired by my aunt telling me that they are so creative when it comes to their reuse of everyday items and I tried to find some different facts to reinforce that, but I didn’t come up with all that much. I see pictures from time to time of their region. They’re rare and I couldn’t find the ones that had always stayed with me, but here are the ones I did find.

african boat

The fishermen from the West coast of Africa decorate their boats with brightly coloured geometric designs. A group finds these boats and turns them into furniture. This is just one of their designs. Click the link below for more.

furniture from old boats

http://inspirationgreen.com/artlantique-boat-furniture.html

AfriGadget Soccer Ball

Old clothes, a plastic bag, condoms, and some rope made into a football.

Blockbuster Oven in Liberia

Repurposed Blockbuster Drop Box turned into an oven.

http://stay-curious.com/archives/2009/06/18/travel-tips-for-africa-and-other-places/

harold and water 2.jpg

This is Harold. A few months before this picture was taken, an organization had come to talk to his community about the effects of poor sanitation.

I nearly got rid of this bottle,” Harold explains, tracing the origin of an empty plastic bottle, now turned into a container fixed to a hand washing facility placed outside his family toilet.

“We use the bottle to fill water which we use to wash hands each time we visit the toilet. “From the time we started washing our hand, we no longer get sick,” the young boy explains. According to Harold, he always treasures the bottle and feels proud to have contributed to the eradication of diseases that kept affecting his family and entire community.

https://www.wvcommunities.org/so/blogs/can/Mpama/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=27

This site had a whole bunch of cool pictures, but I wasn’t sure if all of them were made in Africa. This was made from car tires. http://theplaydateblog.blogspot.com/p/gogreen.html

http://www.afrigadget.com/

I’m not finished talking about Africa. We have a lot to learn about their way of life, but this all I have to say about this particular subtopic. I hope your as inspired by this as I am.

The Best Worst Day Ever

Yesterday. Was the best worst day ever. Ever. You see, I have this cat, Cheerio is his name and about a week or so ago, he stayed out later than ever. We’ve had problems off and on with him not coming home at curfew and…let’s just say it makes us a little nervous. Then on Monday he goes ‘officially’ missing. My mom called and called, I fretted and worried until Wednesday. Then I started to cry. I never really thought he was dead, but I thought that someone may or may not have catnapped him, or we was stuck somewhere and my mom she thought he might be dead. None of our cats seemed to be worried. In the past, they seem to be able to sense these things and this was one of the reasons I hadn’t been reduced to an all-out meltdown, yet.

Anyways, yesterday morning he was still gone and I thought I would end up in a white roomed monstrosity if I didn’t do something, so what did I do? I went traipsing through these ‘woods’. They’re not really woods, I don’t think, but they’re pretty vast and woodsy so I’m calling them woods. These woods were on people’s property. At times I was literally walking through people’s backyard. I’m sure trouble would have been a consequence, but I didn’t really care. I walked through patches of thorns, swarms of mosquitoes, I’m very itchy now. Then I went to his other favorite place which is more like the grassland. It was quite an adventure to say the least. I even met some nice horses that sniffed me. It was kind of funny actually because I didn’t know he was there, I was looking around on the ground and then I looked up and he was in mid-chew just staring at me like I was completely nuts. I continued on my way and he followed me sniffing at my shirt. It was nice company.

After I got back, I got my graduation present in the mail. A new laptop, something I’ve wanted for forever. I was happy, but I felt guilty and couldn’t really enjoy it. It’s a pretty quick machine. I should be able to have these articles out twice as fast. Just kidding. I’m already going as fast as I can.

Then I had to run some errands which involved several people who had answered some questions incorrectly which involved me running on a wild goose chase to finally accomplish my goal. This was a huge convience, but it wouldn’t have been a huge deal, but I was stressed out about my cat and I was mad that I had to drive all around town because people don’t know how to do their job. And that wouldn’t have been a big deal either, but it just happens way too much. This seems to happen to me a lot and usually I can let it go, but this time it was just too much. I kept my cool, didn’t yell, didn’t even say that people need to learn to do their freakin job. I was very short with them though and I think I even heard them say something about it when I was leaving. I did say thank you and I tried to be as nice as I could. I used to work at K-mart, so I always try to be nice to people who work in those kind of crappy jobs, but this time it was too much.

After that, I put up some missing kitty signs, then came home, did some switching around on my computer tried not to freak out. Then I heard through the grapevine that this kid down the street saw a cat that looked like Cheerio the night before. Of course, kids aren’t always the most reliable source, but I felt good about it anyways.

Six o’clock comes, we’re working outside. Seven o’clock comes, nothing. Eight, nothing. Nine, nothing. Nine-thirty, I go to the closet in the hall to get some kind itch cream. Creak. I look out my bedroom window. I have a window air unit and the cats are always on there and it creaks. I don’t see anything, so I go back to what I was doing. Louder creak. I turn, nothing. Just as I turn to walk away, I see these reflective eyes, white…orange……………..and guess who it is? I run and get him, and he runs toward the door. He hesitates coming inside, the light seemed to be hurting his eyes. There was a big, giant bug trying to come in, I almost grabbed him, but he came in just in time.

One time, he came inside and had this huge gash on his chest. It was pretty deep, any deeper and guts may have been falling out. He didn’t really disappear that time, he came right home, but that’s what I kept feeling had happened. I thought maybe he was trapped. Other than some ticks (I loathe ticks) and some splotches of colored gunk, he seems to be physically alright. He’s extremely skinny (he was skinny before, but I can see his hip bones are very prominent now) and he’s seems a bit weird, skittish when it comes to somethings.  Maybe he is tired or just traumatized. He was starving and I put him in the garage to eat. We have five cats, some a little pigglier than others, so we have four bowls and he just went around and scarfed down food from each bowl.

So yes, that was my little tale. I slept like crap the night before last, so I’m still pretty exhausted, but I’m so relieved to have him back. I think we’re going to need a tracking devise of some kind cause I think that took fifteen years off my life and I’d really appreciate it if it didn’t happen again. I’m getting too old for this kind of stress, but I can’t imagine what he went through. Well, that’s my good news for the day. I hope you have an awesome day.

Cat Tales

Well, I’m on spring break this week, so I’m out of town. I didn’t know I would have access to the internet the whole time and I wasn’t sure if I would have enough time to do research for anything. Although I’m inspired by the vacation and kind of want to right about the different effects that traveling, hotels, so ons have on the environment I don’t have enough time to actually sit down and research it all, so I’ve decided to write about…my cats.

Yep, I’m imagining everyone rolling their eyes. Cats are not the more popular pets, but I can’t help it. I love them, I miss them, and so I’m going to write about them.

Harmony- Melody and Harmony are sisters. They look almost exactly alike and they’re inseparable.  Right now they’re being boarded at their doctor’s office. I know, what a horrible place to have to sleep. It would be like having to sleep at your doctor’s office. Harmony has to take medicine everyday, which she hates, because she has kidney problems and since I don’t trust anybody, but myself or parents to get it to her then we figure that the vet would be the next best option. Melody is there with her so they won’t have to be away each other for so long. I still feel guilty. She’s the only one who has to take the medicine, but she’s the only one who won’t eat it. Anytime I get it on the floor the other cats just come and lick it up, but not Harmony. Harmony is very ungraceful and she’s rotten to the core. When I let her in my room, she has a tendency to walk along my desk and knock everything off.  When she was younger, not so much anymore, she had habit or trying to cover up the water or food bowl with the mats that we always put their bowls on. She would also put toys in the bowl. One time we bought some toys at PetCo around Halloween and one was a pair of eyes and it was covered in feathers. The feathers were all torn off in a couple of seconds, but Harmony took the eyes and put them in the food bowl. It was a pretty weird sight. I thought it was funny, but my mother didn’t really appreciate it.

Harmony

This is one of her favorite spots in my room. She's laying on a huge stuffed tiger that I got for Christmas one year. My cat's really like that tiger for some reason.

Melody is her sister and she’s definitely got the naughty gene. I’m sure her and Harmony are wreaking havoc at the vet’s office right now. Both sisters have a slight weight problem; Harmony more so because of her kidney problems. Melody at one point was more overweight, but she lost it all so now she has a flab on her stomach that flags back and forth when she runs. It’s pretty funny. When Melody and Harmony were kittens they used to watch tv with me, like literally watch it. Now they just sit on my books or homework or whatever I’m trying to write. One time I had my laptop open and I left the room, but when I came back a whole bunch of the keys had been ripped off. I don’t even know how they did, but it sure was annoying.

Melody

Melody in the dryer. Enough said.

Melody and Harmony

Mr. T- Mr.T and Mystique are brother and sister. Their mother had been hit by a car at my old high school and the kittens had been found by some of the teachers there. The principle had told a janitor to put them in a trash bag and kill them. One of the teachers knows my mom stays home for her home day care and called her to ask her if she would keep them. The teacher’s husband brought them to our house. At the time we had a mother cat that was nursing. It was a cat that had been having litter after litter of kittens, so we kept until she had them and as soon as we could we got her spayed. The mother helped my mom and my mom helped her. We had nine kittens then, so we had to come up with names that described how they looked so we could keep them all straight. Mr. T had a white T down his nose and across his mouth. On the left side just above his mouth he has a black spot that is about the size of a pinky. It looks like half a mustache. It’s adorable. Mr. T is extremely nervous around the kids and around people in general. He was too scared to ever go outside like the rest of our cats so he usually stays in the garage. He’s a long haired, black and white cat. He’s a sweetie pie.

Mr. T