Dr. Plastic Picker – A Personal Plastic-Picking Blog: Fighting Ocean Plastic Pollution One Piece At a Time
 
It looks unkempt, but things are growing.

June 15, 2021

by drplasticpicker

The top of the tall parking structure is this harsh environment. It’s hot up there with all the concrete, and the wind makes in inhospitable. It’s hard to grow anything there. I think the spinklers were turned off over a decade ago during the last drought. I had heard about the empty planters there, but at some point during my wanderings around the HMO clinic building trying to figure out life and getting exercise, I wandered up there.

It’s easy to throw out the idea that trees should be planted there. Likely if there was money and labor, I could have done in quicker. But when I started, I didn’t know what I was doing and getting permission would have taken an act of congress. So I just would exercise and cleaned out some of the lingering plastic and coffee cups and litter folks had tossed into those containers over the years. Instead I brought leftover food scraps, hay and yes bunny poop. We have two bunnies and I always knew that the ubiquitous bunny poop is good for soil. That is before we started composting at home. After the Aerobin400 has been doing it’s magic, I brought the actual compost to the planters too. It’s a good hike from my desk to the parking garage and up the steps. But I’m greeted by a beautiful view of our area, and I go visit the plants. I make it a game to myself and can also mostly use repurposed things. So when there is wilted salad in the fridge or lunchtime orange peels, I bring that up. I did that about a year ago. Now I bring proper compost because I want the entire regenerative process to go faster. I’m getting a little impatient.

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New space in the home.

June 14, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I created a little seating area on the 2nd floor balcony off the game room. It’s a balcony that overlooks our backyard and I can see the amazing container garden and outside living area we’ve created on the concrete parking pad that used to house the Honda Odyssey Minivan. Selling the minivan was overall positive for our financial bottom line because it was an extra car we did not need and helped avert some carbon emissions, but it ended up having a cascading effect in our lives that we never imagined.

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Yesterday’s trashart. I naturally organize by color and shape.

June 13, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It was such a lovely Saturday. I didn’t blog yesterday. I think that’s why the trashart was flowing yesterday. I’m still using bits and pieces of the ocean beach plastic from eco-services of Mission Beach Cathy fame. I combine it with winecorks donated by my real life friends and then “clean” trash from around the house. I think I must be thinking about Christmas, and also in general I tend to make happy wine-cork people.

But yesterday was really lovely when I sit and reflect on how things were. We did go shopping for our teen daughter’s best friend’s unbirthday present (inside joke) at Barnes and Noble, but I put back the single-use expensive gift bag. We instead wrapped it in the pretty paper the World Wildlife Federation sent us, and ribbon that was essentially “new” that has been in the house for many many years. I also had two books in hand, but I put them away at the last moment. I realize there are so many books at home I haven’t finished reading and these days I prefer my own thoughts and writing/blogging rather than other people’s voices in my head. I started rereading “You Are Here” by Thich Nhat Hanh which not surprisingly resonates with me since I was essentially raised within a philisophically Buddhist household that also practices what Westerners term “ancestor worship.” I am essentially a Westerner but I find the term ancestor worship inadequate. On one general information webpage writes, “The Vietnamese accept as a fact that their ancestors continue to live in another realm and that it is the duty of the living to meet their needs. In return, the ancestors give advice and bring good fortune.” https://www.vietnam-culture.com/articles-107-3/Ancestor-worship.aspx It’s more like the ancestors are here. They are living spirits. Not acknowledging that they are here, is like having someone literally sitting at your kitchen stable and you don’t talk to them, acknowledge them, consult them or even feed them. It’s just rude. It’s not even really a religion, it’s just a reality. The ancestors are here literally right here. Why not ask their advice? Why not have them in your dreams help you fight your demons? Duh.

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Big eyes. Trusting, Sparkly. Ready to go.

June 11, 2021

by drplasticpicker

These trashart wine cork figures were super interesting. I didn’t intent to make them but my mother-in-law was salvaging some housewares from a neighbor. These were part of some old wineglasses and they fell off. And then I usually mount the winecorks on a large bottlecap for stability but I didn’t have any in my trashart area – but I noticed this old ruler that comes with those planners. The plastic ruler made a perfect material for the base and then I saw a face! Anyway, I think they are so sparkly and fun and wide eyes. This is actually my “clean” trashart from stuff we find around the house or when people drop off stuff at our house.

I’m not sure where I got the Starbucks green ubiquitous stirrer? I actually don’t like Starbucks coffee as it’s way too strong. I’m sure it was Mr. Plastic Picker.

We are going ahead with the Oregon property purchase still. We had a very odd interaction with our realtor. Let’s just say it was really weird, but in the end of the day we think he was having a bad day and is an honest person and likely it was a misunderstanding. Who knows about people. As a pediatrician, I know there are so many layers to people and families that what you see is 100% absolutely not what you get. This is a business transaction and in the end his professional responsibility is to represent our interest as well. He is getting paid dual commission. I always remember that when I see patients. They are the ones either through the parents employers, the goverment or someway – they are the ones paying my salary. I treat them professionally but with that consideration. It’s good that we are experienced in this because I think it would have spooked other people. In the end it is about this property and we see the value and we 100% got a good purchase price and we aren’t going to haggle over a few hundred dollars. It’s really important to be able to walk away from things and I was 100% willing to walk away. I told my family member, “If you want to kill the deal than I’m fine with it. We look somewhere else.” But we’ve looked all over the western US and Hawaii and this is a good deal for us and for the earth. So we will proceed today,

It’s a good reminder that real estate is not for the faint of heart. It looks easy but it can be stressful. I was a bit stressed yesterday as I called the realtor, called the home inspector, talked to my family member. We had questions and we needed them answered and we needed them explained to us. The ability to listen and explain is really important. I think that was our realtor’s problem yesterday. He was not listening and he did not explain. But I’m good at asking and needed to clarify certain things about this property, and I was reassured talking to experts like the well person and the home inspector. In the end, the realtor is just the realtor. He may have sold this property several times, but he doesn’t own the land. He’s not lived there.

So as I review the fundamentals of his property, my heart is at ease. I’m friendly with the well person. It’s actually the woman who own’s the company that inspects wells. She seems really nice. She gave me advice about the well.

And with that , have a wonderful Friday everyone! I hope you enjoyed the wine-cork people today. All of yesterday I was reminded that as a kid my family member (who I’ll just let you know is my older brother) and I would go camping all the time. That is what our family did when we were kids. I think this is why the property speaks to us both so much. I remember going to Yosemite when we were kids and we would hike and clambor over rocks all over the place. There was this one time he was a teenager and we were climbing over this one rock, and it seemed kind of dangerous. He said, “just pretend to be spiderman and get down flat on the rock.” And we did. We prentended to be spiderman and we got over that natural formation. It was scary, but fun. And in the end I trusted him. At some point you have to trust. No matter how great the realtor seemed, it may have been smoke and mirrors. But I trust my brother and I trust my family. I am everything I am today because of my family. We are all very close. And with that trust, and together we will go forward with the property purchase. We trust in ourselves. We trust in our abilities. We trust in our love of the earth.

Now that I think about it. I’m SOOOOOO EXCITED!!! We are going to be FARMERS!

Tree that was so tall and straight, and many birds within it’s branches. The sun filtering through it’s leaves.

June 9, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I was going to write a normal hopeful Wednesday post. But I realize that I only need one reason to be hopeful today. Today, Dr. Rachel Abbot is going to give a Climate and Health Talk at our HMO Family Practice. And that is my biggest reason to hope today. I posted something on our medical group facebook group which I’ll post again.

“I used to be a voracious reader. Speed-reading throug the all the romantics Austen, Brontes, George Elliot. I read Middlemarch in 8th grade in one weekend and I think didn’t eat, and almost fainted from being dehydrated. I was so immersed in the fictional story being spin. But what I realized in my middle age is that the stories are right here all around us. And those stories if I take time to stop, and to notice – are as real and heart-warming and heart-wrenching as any I can find in the pages of a novel.

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We are going to put my parents there! Random cottage that wasn’t even listed on MLS. Needs some work. LOL.

June 8, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I think we are waiting for the home inspection this week on our Oregon farm? Until paperwork is signed and funds are transferred, things can change. But for now, things are proceeding as planned. I’m wondering if I can go up the week that I’m planning and am free in a few days? We have the week off but my family member already has plans to go with friends. On this 197 acre property, I’m not sure there is room for us even though we co-own the place? We may be able just to pick up a tent on the way up and sleep in the tent. I think there is room as the house is 3000 SF. It will be fun. Let me check how much the flights are right now. Now sure if we will drive versus fly for the first time? The flights right now are about $400 a piece and it’s at least a 5 hour flight. Considering the time it takes to drive from the airport about 2 hours, and then wait at the airport about 2 hours – honestly 9 hours? We might as well just drive up. It’s better for the environment and cheaper and we can bring out stuff up. Maybe we can drive the KIA up. Eventhough it’s gas, it’s less carbon than flying the entire family up there.

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Thank you Troop 3936.
Thank you Chloe from Troop 3936.

June 7, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Finley is really neat. Finley is from the imagination of about eight third-graders from Girl Scout Troop 3936 based up in Carmel Valley. Finley tells the world and all who walk by “Lend A Hand, Clean The Sand.” Finley only exists because we all decided to take a risk, and become connected as a community.

Finley’s body is a found boogie-board on Pacific Beach that has been sitting in our house for a long time. Finley’s hair and most of the plastic that makes his happy face are recovered ocean plastic pollution from Mission Beach recovered by our local celebrity environmentalist Cathy. Finley’s arms and eyes are from one of my street litter picking walks in Pacific Beach and was a Michael Bloomberg election sign. That sign was so interesting that I didn’t just throw it away. I honestly find some plastic pollution fascinating. How wasteful our lives are. But the sign after sitting in my house for over 6 months, I realized is made out of plastic 5 and can be recycled. So I cut some parts to use, the two Os from Bloomberg’s name to make the eyes for the trash art piece and two longer pieces I thought for some signage. Troop 3936 decided to use them as arms instead. Those arms are inspired.

I think trash art is really fascinating. As I was telling the girls during the meeting I ran, that trash art is great because it’s trash and you can’t mess up. Also it tells you a lot about the minds and hearts of those that make it. I would say looking at this trash art piece, the minds and hearts of these third-grade Brownie Troop are open and loving. Finley has his arms open and he is trying to embrace the world. His environmental message is positive and upbeat and hopeful. He does not say STOP nor DON’T. He says LEND. He does not tell you to think about the abstract existential crisis. He is very present and reminds us to be in the present, jand he simply says look at the SAND and you will see what needs to be done.

So Finley is my friend now, but is part of Troop 3936. After stopping by virtually at one meeting and now meeting to do a litter pick, a round robin “trash reflections” together and making this trash art advocacy piece together – I told the girls “I’ll keep Finley at my house and he’ll come with me when I do group beach cleans. But if you need him back, just let me know. I’ll bring him in whatever shape he is in and I’ll fix him if something falls off.” And with that I made a committment to these young eco warriors that I would care for their art piece just like they cared for the earth yesterday by picking up plastic pollution. I told them that pediatricians from the American Academy of Pediatrics really care about them and the earth.

Yesterday was a really fun morning. I’m a pediatrician and I really do like kids. I’d rather spend time with children than adults sometimes. They just get it. They really do.

Living my litter-picking dreams. No room for bullies.

June 6, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I was having a conversation with a wonderful person the other day. We talked about wellness and physican burnout, and just catching up with eachother in life. But even wonderful people (including Dr. Plastic Picker) sometimes we have comments and snippets of conversations that are not helpful about others. I used to be a culprit. I’m not sure if I was worse than others, but certainly party to it too. Everytime I talk to this particular person or think about about 4 pediatricians in our group that came from the same department before they reached our HMO, I am reminded what a culture of bullying does to a group of young physicians. I am not sure what was exactly going on at the local children’s hospital in town in the emergency room, but it was toxic. Toxic enough that we had a mass migration and mass attempted migration of pediatricians into our HMO. We needed per diems at that time, but not that many phyisicans. As is with the nature of things, some we hired. Some work part-time. And some went on to other cities and hopefully went on to have solid careers.

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It’s always been about the number of bags!!!

June 5, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It’s 5AM and I had a slight headache waking up this morning. It’s because of this cheesy broccoli processed mix that was part of a disaster survival kit. Someone gave it to my mother-in-law and she put it in the pantry. We are all about averting food waste and random kind people drop off things at our house. It’s kind of all parts hilarious and most of it we do eat. Usually it’s home-grown food and good things like bagged lentils or split peas. But the disaster dehydrated food packets? I should have known. The ingredient list was unreadable and it had MSG. But I made it and added some eggland, mushrooms, and chicken. It was horrible. Absolutely horrible. The kids thought it was okay, but I could taste the preservatives and it was too salty. The first time in a long time I wanted to throw it all away to become methane in the landfill. That is what I’m blaming my morning headache on, that bad dinner. I’m taking all those disaster kits and going to donate it to the food bank. I think they will throw it away also, but it makes me feel less guilty. I usually donate things that I think will be useful, but this was passed on to us by someone else. If there is a disaster, I’ll be up in Oregon on our farm eating rainbow trout from the the nearby reservoir and eating organic eggs from our chickens – not that cr@p.

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Chair I’m working on! I rotated the picture several times and this is the least disorienting.
Six chairs “rescued” from the alley. No police yet at our house. I promise officer, it was in the alley for 3 days! I saved it from the landfill. It was going to become methane!
The going rate for new chairs. Mine are going to be nicer!!!! Equivalent to $1600!!!! Ca ching! Ca ching!

June 4, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I really just wanted to show you the pictures of the new-to-me rescued chair project I’m working on. I saw them in our alleyway as the neighbor two doors down is moving away. I think it’s actually their renter that is leaving as there is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in the back. I think that is what it is called? They have been leaving things in the alley for people to pick up. This set of chairs has been there for 3 days and I’ve always wanted to try to refurbish furniture and I decided, why not???!!! In the dark of night (actually it was about 8pm) I walked over to their part of the alleyway (which is safe folks) and transported three of the six chairs over to our house. I left 3 thinking I only wanted to try three. Next afternoon when I got home, my father-in-law had grabbed the other three! LOL LOL LOL. I honestly know that it would have been discarded. The paint was pretty worn. But the wood underneath – these are solid furniture pieces. Nothing loose. Made of solid wood. I’m really excited! I started sanding them yesterday just to try, and it’s working out great. But without the proper equipment respiratory and proper safety googles, I stopped.

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