April Loves May

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I thought I’d check in and write a wrap-up post for April.

What?

It’s not April anymore?

Huh.

I guess I’m in calendar denial; I wanted to stick with April a little longer. We’re still into our recycling and reusing projects, and we’re watching the world turn green, so April and May are combined in my mind this year. Mapril. Aprilay? Whatever the name, both of the months are flying by.

We haven’t planted anything, but we like seeing the perennials come back. The rhubarb has survived a a few unexpected snowfalls, and the mint is poised to take control of the entire garden.

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The kids have been obsessed with cracking rocks in the back yard. They’ll disappear for an hour, to search for crystals and sandstone, taking turns with the hammer, both wearing sunglasses to protect their eyes. Sam reminded me that he wants to go to the mining school some day (Colorado School of Mines), so these backyard excavations could be a great foundation.

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If geology doesn’t work out, I think he could be an inventor. Divergent thinking is always a favorite pastime. He’ll look at random objects and come up with a dozen possible uses. My favorite is the   Bubble Gum Nose Protector.

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It’s not a safety device. The Bubble Gum Nose Protector was designed to be worn when taking out the trash or the recycle bin, because protecting yourself from bad smells is very important.

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If Isabel looks skeptical, it’s that she really wants a Bubble Gum Nose Protector for herself.

So that’s Mapril. Coming back to life, spending more time outside, and stretching our wings a bit. We may need to extend into June. Who’s with us for Maprilune?

Paper Love

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Despite the tablets, the laptops, the smart phones, I still have a thing for paper, and I imagine I always will. Though I’d save a few trees by consistently jotting my notes on one of my ‘devices’, I still seek out a sketchbook, a notebook, a sticky note, a scrap of paper, the back of an envelope, even a napkin, when I want to get an idea down. Even though I’ll lose the papers eventually, in my disastrous purse or in one of the teetering piles on my desk, I still love those papers.

Maybe the tiniest particles in a sheet of paper resonate with my own fragile, human molecular structure. We’ll both return to dust more quickly than metal and plastic. And not to be overly dramatic, but if we were to lose the energy sources that power all of these laptops, we could still figure out a way to pound tree bark into paper, so that we could keep making marks, to connect and remember.

So when it comes to paper, we tilt toward the reuse and recycle sides of the triumvirate. I just don’t want to reduce. Except for junk mail. Fortunately our city has a comprehensive, single-stream recycling system, and they accept almost anything that would qualify as junk mail:

– Opened mail, greeting cards, postcards, index cards and file folders, loose leaf and legal pad paper, stationary, letterhead, copy and typing paper, paper envelopes (plastic windows OK), brochures and glossy ads

If recycling junk mail isn’t as easy where you are (or if you’re really committed to the reduction side of things), Denver Recycles has put together this ‘junk mail reduction kit’ that includes ten form letters to download, print and mail to the US companies that send out the most unsolicited mail. I’m not sure which other countries have similar campaigns (or whether junk mail is more of an American disease).

Since reusing paper is the most fun of all, I’ll devote a whole post to some of our favorite projects and resources soon. Until then, what’s your preferred method of dealing with the superfluous paper in your life? Do you embrace it, or do you stop it at the front door?

Old is New

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We may as well categorize every month as Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, because we’re big fans of all three. Well…sort of. One family member is really into reducing, while two of us prefer reusing. We’re all cool with recycling, although we could probably stand to recycle even more than we do now.

One of our goals for April is to investigate what happens to our recycled materials and trash. I participated in the Denver Urban Gardens master composter training about eight years ago, and we had the chance to tour a recycling plant and a landfill. I’m hoping that Sam will be able to visit both places this month – I still have to check on the minimum age requirement for visitors, and whether we’d have to be part of a larger group to visit both locations.

I’m excited to be starting on this project path. Do you have any ideas about these topics, that you’d like to talk about this month?

The Book Post and a very small contest

 

I got a book in the mail! It’s The Power of Play by Frank and Theresa Caplan, circa 1973, and it’s certainly re-used  – mercifully saved from the discard pile at Peninsula College Library.  Here’s the first paragraph, from the introduction:

We aim to present a hypothesis of such far-reaching implications that no parent, pediatrician, educator, sociologist, or politician can afford to ignore it. It is our intention to present data that will substantiate our premise that the power of play is all-pervasive. We invite our readers to examine the power of play with us so that we might garner for child play the prestige and wholehearted public support it deserves and must have.

I’m looking forward to reading more. The Caplan’s were the founders of the original Creative Playthings company. They collaborated with many mid-century modern artists and had connections with the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The current iteration of Creative Playthings that might pop to the top of your google reader is not the same, so dig a little deeper – it’s worth it!

We’ve been playing with and reading a handful of other great books, that relate to re-using, reducing and recycling. Here are our top three recommendations:

 

 

And that brings me to our very small contest, to round out this unpredictable month of April. The first reader who can identify the location (the intersection or other nearby points of interest) of the bird in the photo below, will win his or her very own copy of The Creative Family, by Amanda Blake Soule.  Obviously, Denver friends have a huge advantage in this contest, but I know some resourceful people that might be able to figure this out, regardless of locale. Just post your guess in the comments, and maybe I’ll send you a book.

Are you ready?

 

La Cotidiana

I’d like you to meet my favorite word in Spanish – la cotidiana. The common translation to English is “the daily”, but a closer cognate is “quotidian”. It’s too bad that quotidian doesn’t have the best reputation in English. It brings to mind a daily, mind-numbing grind; something that’s overused and worn out.

For whatever reason, flipping it to Spanish brightens it up, for me. La cotidiana…These small moments are going to happen every day, but there will be new beauty, when you look a little closer. It’s the same cup, the same counter, the same soft lavender sweatshirt, but today I see it all for the first time.

I haven’t been on-point with our grand plans for documenting the 3 Rs this month, but in a way just returning to appreciate la cotidiana is a form of re-using and recycling. And by looking more closely at our daily patterns and habits, we might also be moving toward reduction. Editing down to what’s really essential for our daily lives. There’s nothing we need to buy or add, to magically become happier. It’s all here, each day, waiting to be discovered again.

In that vein, I hope you’ll check out Lisa’s Steps and Staircases blog – she’s re-started with daily photos of her family’s important things. Lovely and inspiring, as always!