This is Blue Fluffy Bird. He is made from an upcycled car-wash mop that was pretty clean I found on a litter picking walk, but then also cleaned again several times by me. I could have just kept the now cleaned car-hand mop in my car, but the fluffy blue bits were speaking to me. It was just too interesting to pass up. I initially made a shirt for my daughter’s old Diego toy. But then magically by wrapping the blue fluffy polyester oil-based material around a wine-cork, and then using the safety scissor covers as the beak, I had the head of a new species of bird. It’s a plastic bird. I won’t go into the rest of the plastic bits that make up the bird, because I detailed it already on Instagram. But this bird inspired a lot of amazement and wonder, but also intense disgust in some people. It’s amazing because I cleaned it all – I know this bird is cleaner than most toys out there. But it still inspired a lot of intense emotion.
Mr. Plastic Picker’s mother turned 80 this weekend and we had a small family party. Our small family party included buying a pumpkin pie from Sprouts (we had all been wanting to eat one for a while and there was very little plastic), singing Happy Birthday while our tween daughter played on the piano, and shooting the requisite pictures to send to family members. We then ended by eating said pumpkin pie before dinner which is pure luxuriousness. It was a standard 9 inch pumpkin pie so just enough for everyone in our 6 person family (excluding pets who can’t eat pie) to have one piece and an extra bite.
I was a bit despondent about the state of the COVID-19 vaccine roll out in our particular institution and in the country, probably felt like the trash art piece I made from bottle caps yesterday. Looking. Looking. Where is my vaccine? But then I read an article in the New York Times about how the wealthy countries including ours have ensured that rich countries will be vaccinated first and the poor will be last. It was all kind of depressing.
But if there is anything that Dr. Plastic Picker is good at, it’s compartmentalizing things. What happens in our institution will happen. We will get ours in due time, and both Mr. Plastic Picker and I don’t want to tempt fate. We actually would rather get the Moderna vaccine simply because it sounds better, Moderna sounds more modern. And regarding the inequity of poor versus rich countries and echoes of colonialism, wow – I can’t do anything about that right now.
Exercise is important. I haven’t blogged about exercise other than plogging much because I self-identified as a runnter for over 30 years in my life. Exercise like managing my finances has always been easy for me. I’ve trained for marathons, run more than my fair share of half-marathons – and my fastest mile time is not bad at 5 minutes 15 seconds (I think). My half marathon time was also very decent, but it’s not important anymore. I didn’t blog about exercise because I needed to learn more about the earth, mindfulness, stretching my body, centering mt body through yoga, slowing my mind enough to notice the birds (there is one perched on our hammock right now a Black Phoebe) and actually I really needed to figure out how to cook. Above was yesterday’s project which was a Vegan Omelette with Besan (chickpea flour) which was a success.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to log-in last night to the virtual reunion for our pediatric residency at Mans Greatest Hospital. I thought I needed to go for a run or pick up a bag of plastic pollution, but honestly the pull of seeing some old friends so easily without spewing carbon into the air was too tempting. So I logged in a few minutes late (not to seem too eager), and I was thrust back in time. Even without the glory of the marble facade of Mans Greatest Hospital, the tone of the meeting was the same as over a decade ago. A lot of older white men reliving their glory days and syncophantic individuals in their 50s nodding obsequiously. Politicing when so little is at stake. I sat and watched with a bemused Dr. Plastic Picker smile from Southern California as they huddled buried in snow. The older generation and the generation in their 50s all looked so cold in more ways than one. Messages of former remembered clinical glories peppered the chat box for all to see. Then finally, the breakout sessions which is the only reason I logged on.
I am a trash artist. I am a trash artivist. I just posted my items and almost opened an Etsy Shop LOL, but they wanted the last four digits of my social security number so I shut down Dr. Plastic Picker’s Toy Shop after 5 minutes. That was vaguely interesting! But Dr. Plastic Picker’s Toy Shop is actually open, and it’s open in my actual office. All items are FREE but only to invited guests into my office. When Etsy wanted the last 4 digits of my social security number and I know that Etsy shops are a bit of a scam, as the makers make very little, and Etsy makes a lot. I remember reading an article in the New York Times or CNN on some expose. I’m not surprised.
I’m never sure how the mornings are going to go. I was thinking when I woke up this morning, I may not write a blog because I felt overwhelmed last night. I had met with the amazing students at Sustainable Pharmacy Project at Virginia Communwealth University (I am the “spiritual volunary non-faculty advisor) and they are working on this supercool student initiated project on pharmaceutical waste. I really want to help them with this project that will help the earth, and also help our HMO get there as well. I had no idea that there were so many medications in the water supply. It makes a lot of sense to me to reduce overprescribing and ensuring safe disposal of medication waste. Then I have our two other premedical interns that were kind of floating out there. But I sent three emails to one, as we are going to organize a film screening of the movie “Gather” and that will be his project for now. And then I emailed our other intern who is more quiet, about setting up a time to catch up on the art’s exhibition.
“I’m OK.” We use this reply so much. Your supervisor essentially called you out and reprimanded you unnecessarily and incorrectly (not my department) and you said, “I’m OKAY.” Your beloved aunt is now dying of pancreatic cancer, and you say “I’m OK.” Your family is in big financial doo doo partially due to personal decisions and mostly due to larger societal factors, and you reply “I’m OKAY.” It’s the first holiday season since someone died, and you are sleeping in a crappy call room eating crappy turkey from the cafeteria while COVID-19 is ravaging the ICU. How are you doing? “I’m OK.” But Dr. Plastic Picker now asks, are you really? Are you really OK?
It happened. I made my own tortillas yesterday and our tween daughter approved. That is saying a lot. It was made with partial whole what flour and olive oil, instead of butter or lard or the worse is all those hidden ingredients that actually come from palm oil and hurt the orangatangs. Some things I’ve made on this less-plastic life journey are not sustainable. I’ve decided today to forgo the apple cider vinegar. The beer vinegar is fine for me to make to clean with, but the third batch went moldy again. That is fine. I made one batch that worked, it just took too much time to monitor the vinegar. But the tortillas. The whole-wheat tortillas! This is definitely a keeper!
Yesterday was a “food waste” dinner, and it was very delicious. Friday night our daughter had made her first Pad Thai, and it was heavy on the noodles. She added a fried egg which I’ve never added. In general, it was well appreciated by the entire family. She had reminded everyone to eat fruit.
Yesterday was Saturday I spent a good portion of the day doing a solo beach clean up and I found a plastic cow stuck in the hedges near our house. I just looked online and it cost exactly $34.99 at Target. Not one of my most expensive finds (I once found a pristine portable speaker that costs about $150), but definitely up there.
I’m trying to remember what happened yestserday? I spent most of the morning trying to clean Plastic Cow. She required a lot of vinegar, magic eraser, 409 spray and boiling water to clean. But she looks really good now.
I was teasing our puppy yesterday with the Plastic Cow, and last night I realized that I ought not have done that. That was not a kind thing to do. But as I was reminded someone I love very much to remember to be kind to me, I realized that I am usually kind but my gentle teasing of our puppy was not kind. Now I look back at this picture and it isn’t funny anymore. Now I will use the cow for my social media work to remind the world and my patients to eat less beef.
What else happened yesterday? I went through our finances and realized we had reached our goal of saving for both kids’ college accounts to fund college. We had started 15 years ago and always made it a priority to fund their 529. There are a lot of personal finance bloggers that have written about having their own children pay for college, or taking out loans. I do believe the children should have “skin in the game” but given that my parents paid for most of my college and my husband’s parents almost sold their house to pay for his education, it seems like a dual income physician couple household like us should provide for our children at least what our parents who were working class immigrants did. We won’t fund all of graduate school though, because I do want our children to appreciate their education. I have told them that whatever scholarships they earn, it will mean more money for graduate school later. For those that question whether it’s prudent to save for college, all I can say is that in review of our financial history – Mr. Plastic Picker and I am glad we did. This is advice more fore high earninig physician couples, but the tax benefits of a 529 plan is quite good. We fully funded our retirement and kept on investing, but we put at least $10,000 a year in each kids’ college sometimes the max of $14,000 after becoming attending physicians. I won’t disclose the total amounts, but lets just say if X was the principal we put in – over the last 10-12 years the earnings have been X so essentially doubled in value. It’s a great load off our mind knowing that no matter what happends to us, there is money set aside for college for them. Most of the tax benefits are more those in the upper income brackets because the earnings are not taxed. We are taxed at a high bracket (which let me tell you I have no guilt about because we pay a lot of taxes and more than Donald Trump ever has, that cheat).
The other thing that happened yesterday, is our tween daughter had a busy Girl Scout day as their troop had a letter writing campaign to try to cheer up senior citizens. She was working on her history day project and my job was to remind her every 2 hours to work on her history day project. I talked to my sister a little bit yesterday and caught up on her life, and what my niece and nephew have been up to. I watched Star Trek Discovery, and it was SOOOOOOO good. Phillipa Georgeiou is the Asian-American woman character that is strong and complex that we’ve all been waiting for! Our son was alternatively studying, playing video games, and virtual tutoring as part of his public service work. And Mr. Plastic Picker was working an extra shift from home. And we ended the night with watching a movie about Ghandi which is related to our daughter’s school project. It was very good.
And we also had roasted veggies. I’ve made roasted veggies plenty of times, but yesterday I was inspired by a real and Instagram friend who had suggested added apples. So I threw togehter all our left over veggies in particular 1.5 bell peppers, 1 parsnip (it’s our new “in” root vegetable), squash that was getting bad, mushy apple, and threw in a third of an onion and a red fancy pear. Instead of my usual salt, peper and olive oil – I used olive oil, salt, thyme and cinnamon. The cinnamon in combination with the parsnip and red pear with the usual veggies was sublime. It was really really really good. The smell of the cinnamon and the unexpected burst of sweetness of the roasted apples and pears was surpirsing. I had an avocado that was toward the end, and I kind of made up my own guacamole having watched our daughter do it so often. I used salt, my apple-cider vinegar, and Trader Joe’s everything bagel seasoning. We had store-bought hummus, and some crackers and cheese. Everyone was fed with food that was simple, plant based and lots of colors. So much fiber was consumed last night.
And that is it. That was our day. We had little dramas that as a family we all go through, and we are better for it. I got up early this morning with renewed hope, and was planning on making tortillas but I think I made a kind of flat-bread instead. I used whole wheat flour and all purpose flour, olive oil and rosemary. Whatever I made, it’s home made and healtheir and I just had one – and it’s very good. I was going to show you a picture of my flat-bread/tortilla project, but that’s okay. It’s taking too long to upload. Let’s just say it’s not perfectly round. It’s a bit uneven. But I know that inside there is such healthy olive oil and some wheat flour with more fiber. And since it’s home-made – it’s better. I don’t expect my tortillas/flat bread to be perfect and I certainly don’t expect my family to be perfect. Forgiveness is so important. Gratitude is so important. And those lessons I’ve learned so very late in life, and much of these lessons through writing and thinking my own thoughts on the beach, has so fundamentally changed me that I am litterally a different personality of the Myers-Briggs personality test.
And that is it! That was what happened yesterday at our home on Saturday. Roasted veggies with some fruit and some new spices, made a whole new dish. I’m off just around the neighborhood to get a bag of plastic pollution.