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Happy Holidays

May they be filled with love and laughter.

Clean Green Pipes

The Holidays can be draining – or not. With all the festivities, holiday meals, and primping, have you noticed the water in your kitchen or bathroom sink may not be moving quite as quickly as it should?

Wash your troubles down the drain, naturally.

I’m sure you’ve used drain cleaner products found on grocery shelves or at the hardware store, but here’s something I’ve recently tried that I find works really well – if not better. Baking soda and vinegar.

• Pour in 1/2 cup baking soda into the drain.

• Then follow with 1/2 cup white vinegar.

• Let it sit for 2 hours and then run the warm water for a few minutes

It fizzes up kind of like a science experiment, who knew keeping your pipes running clean could be this much fun?

So, rather than using expensive drain cleaners try this and save your money for some extra holiday merrymaking. And oh, there’s a little something in it for Mother Nature, too 😉

See more of what “Just Bea” and gang have got going on at www.facebook.com/JustBeaCartoon

Oktoberfest in September

Buster’s featured caption entry by: Emily Dimmell via Pure Michigan

Did you know that Oktoberfest kicks off in September?

For the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig in October 1820, the citizens of Munich were invited to attend the 16 day royal event. For years to come the celebrations were repeated and, later, the festival was prolonged and moved forward into mid September to take advantage of better weather.

Another theory is that back in the day without refrigeration, the purpose of the festival was to drink up the old stocks of beer to make room for the new brew that would be made with the fall harvest. Either way, Prince Ludwig had the right idea.

Here’s another fun fact. In 1996 Frankenmuth, Michigan became the only city other than Munich to be an officially sanctioned Oktoberfest celebration.

Moooosic to your ears.

The celebration goes on not only at the Pavillion but throughout the entire town this September 20-23. Even cattle get to celebrate! Brett Bassett, restaurant manager of Sullivan’s Black Forest Brew Haus says that after brewing each batch of beer, the spent grain is given to a local cattle farmer. Maybe that’s Sullivan’s wink to “green” beer.

So whether you enjoy the wiener dog races, riding on the electric riverboat, enormous pretzels, bier drinking or dancing to oompah bands –  everyone can get into the spirit of things, even the local cattle.

See more of what “Just Bea” and gang have going on at www.facebook.com/JustBeaCartoon

Birgit’s “See and Sign” at Barnes & Noble

Wow. “Just Bea” made it into a pretty cool book that really makes a difference.

100 artists pay tribute to creator of “Cul de Sac” Richard Thompson, who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, by creating original comic and illustrative art to help raise awareness of the disease. I am honored that my cartoon, “Just Bea” is included in this book and it is placed on the pages next to the likes of Cul de Sac, Calvin and Hobbes, Beetle Bailey, Garfield, Fox Trot, Momma, Rhymes With Orange, Cathy, Hi and Lois.

I’m extending a personal invitation to join me at a book-signing at Barnes & Noble in Royal Oak Thursday July 12 from 6:30 -8:30. I’ll be signing “Cartoonist’s Draw the Line at Parkinson’s – Team Cul de Sac” and will say a little sumpin’ sumpin’ to kick it off.

“Richard Thompson is lucky to have a friend like Chris Sparks. With this amazing collection, Chris is raising significant dollars and awareness for Parkinson’s —while proving comedy can help speed a cure. We’re grateful to have both Chris and Richard on our team.”
– Michael J. Fox

“Team Cul De Sac is a coffee-table book first and foremost, filled with terrific art, but it’s also a tribute to Thompson from his many admirers, who have noticed how in just a few short years, Cul De Sac has already become a classic, with a universe rich enough that 100 different artists can approach it and find something uniquely wonderful to highlight.”
– Graphic novels & art-comics—June 2012

Publisher Andrews McMeel will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each book to the Michael J. Fox Foundation which is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

If you’d like to donate and help The Michael J. Fox Foundation find a cure, a donation box will also be on hand. Checks can be made out to The Michael J Fox Foundation.

www.michaeljfox.org

If you are within shoutin’ distance come on by, I can’t wait to see you!

Remember those who made a difference.

Enjoy Memorial Day Weekend!

Have a colorful Easter!

Table Of Bees

Middle School. The awkward years. I flashed back as I was carrying my box of my “Just Bea” Cartoon display stuff down the long locker lined hallway. What to expect. What will the kids think of my cartoon. Will I get the ‘ol stink eye?

Kids in the hall.

As I made it to my destination, I glimpsed that the Anchor Bay Middle School students had made a huge drawing of the “Table of  Bees” cartoon from the Caption Contest entry form for my display table at the Family Science Night. Then I looked up – hey wait. That’s a drawing of a different “Just Bea” cartoon. Then I spied another one. Then another.  That’s when it sank in. The hall walls were filled with student’s renderings of various “Just Bea” cartoons. Not only that, turns out Ms Wiles’ students were using the cartoons as a study aid for their science class! Some students even chose to do extra credit projects using “their” cartoon. Emily chose “Earth Movers” as her cartoon and created an edible earthworm landscape that included gummi worms and even chocolate chip “worm poop.” I hope she got lots of extra credit points for that one.

The kids had fun filling out the talk bubble for what they thought Buster might be saying as he’s studying the honeybees and why they could be disappearing. Olivia Z. was the winner of the “Cartoon Caption Contest” you see in this posting! To see the honorable mentions, photos of the wonderful drawings, projects and Emily’s fun worm farm, too – be sure to go to www.facebook.com/JustBeaCartoon www.facebook.com/JustBeaCartoon

It ended up that I had nothing to fear. The kids were great and my “teenage” angst soon disappeared when I got looks of surprise, seeing the kids proudly present their work and even hugs at the end of the night. I hope they had as much fun with it as I did.

Table of Bees Caption Contest Winner

The students at Anchor Bay Middle School’s Family Science night entered a caption contest in what they thought Buster might be saying while trying his best trying to help figure out why the honeybees are disappearing. Congratulations to Olivia Z! Check out “Just Bea” Cartoon on Facebook for honorable mentions.

The Bees Are All A’buzz – thanks Lynne Bartley!

Thanks for your donation towards the “Help Save the Honeybees” book and animated cartoons!

http://www.greenunite.com/projects/1-help-save-the-honeybees

The Honeybees thank you Michael Wettlaufer!

Thanks for being the first seeder to Just Bea’s “Save the Honeybees” project!

http://www.greenunite.com/projects/1-help-save-the-honeybees

Birthday Green

Green has always been my favorite color. Various shades, forest, gray green, lime. But come to think of it, I’ve never had a green or “green” birthday party. Not that I can remember.

I have, although, wrapped gifts in the Sunday comics because it was fun and reused gift bags and bows because it made sense, but until now never considered that to be green.

Birthday Green. Now we’re talking.

When I found out it was greeningdetroit.com‘s 2nd birthday it got me to thinking. What would make for a more sustainable birthday party?

Some posts I read encourage no gifts for the birthday honoree – but I don’t see that going over so well with a 6 year old. So here are some other ideas.

Possibly skip the paper invitations and send personal emails, set up a Facebook event, or use an online invitation site like Evite.com instead.

For kids, colored pencils are a fun party favor that can be used over and over and are much less likely than a plastic toy to end up in the bottom of the toy box and worse – the landfill.

Another way is to green up the party is to eliminate paper and disposables. Rather than using paper plates, plastic cups and plasticware, what works quite nicely are re-usable plates, flatware, and napkins. Did you know that during an average year, an American uses approximately around six paper napkins each day. If everyone in the U.S. used one less napkin a day, more than a billion pounds of napkins could be saved from landfills each year. Same goes for special occasions. Just sayin’.

Let’s give it a try, how about we start by clicking on greeningdetroit.com and give a them big paperless birthday wish. And while you’re there under the “big green umbrella” maybe you’ll find more ways to make your next birthday party a little bit greener.

Nose Art

I’ve always wanted to ___________.

What is it that you’ve been wanting to do? In the back of your mind you know it’s there. Paint. Write a book. Make a video. Help children. Pay someone’s bills. Start your own business. Align with a charity. But never had the means or motivation?

You fill in the blank.

Funding creativity, fueling good. That’s what HelpersUnite does. It helps artists, entrepreneurs and charities secure funding, gather donations, and promote special events.

Mary Adams of HelpersUnite says “people want to do good, they want to pay it forward. It gives people a platform where there wasn’t one before.” HelpersUnite uses crowdfunding to help make your dream a reality. “Our projects help fund innovative and creative work while supporting vital charitable causes. It supports artists and entrepreneurs who are committed to making a difference.”

You can choose from all 1.5+ million U.S. based charities in the HelpersUnite database where 1% minimum up to 100% of the funds you receive goes to a charity of your choice – and you get a kick in the pants helping get your dream funded.

Now’s your chance. Do what you’ve been wanting to do. You fill in the blank. Help yourself and help others at the same time.

Recycled Love

I can’t even imagine, I was thinking to myself as I sat in the veterinary emergency room in the wee hours of the morning, how I would feel if I had to surrender Angus to a shelter or the alternative (gasp – I won’t even say it) because I couldn’t pay for his procedures. So sad having to make a decision like that.

With the average cost of basic food, supplies, medical care and training for a dog or cat being $700 to $875 annually, handing over furry friends to shelters is at an all time high. That gets me to thinking about the ones that end up there and how do we make their transition an easier one?

Recycle This

“For the past 18 years, the Friends For The Dearborn Animal Shelter have been ultimate recyclers— of hope, lives, and love”* Since their inception, they have “rescued, rehabilitated, and re-homed” more than 35,000 animals.  “Yes, the biggest need is to remember that animals need homes” says Andrea Kuentz of the shelter, “but also small acts and donations add up in a big way too.”

While our furry friends are waiting to be part of a new family, there are a lot of things you may already have around the house that could be of use to them at a shelter. Peanut butter for the pups, white pages of the newspaper for litter, old towels, or e-collars. And, instead of putting that old armchair out to the curb, donate it to make Fluffy more comfy at a Cat Community. Any old plastic toys your pet isn’t interested in anymore – wouldn’t those make the stay more fun? From adhesive tape to rubber gloves to hot dogs – check alternate ways to give at www.dearbornanimals.org or with your local animal shelter and see how we all can help make life a bit easier.

Recycle things you find in your home. Or upcycle and fill up the water bowl for a new addition. I don’t know about you, but I’m all about ultimate recycling for unconditional love.

*http://www.dearbornanimals.org/events/black-tie-tails-2/

Best In Show

“What do I know about judging a dog show” I thought to myself when I got the call from the Canton Public Library.  But, hey. I know that I love dogs and have, after all, seen “Best In Show.” So there I was, agreeing to be a judge. But then I began wondering, who were the other judges? What did I need to bone up on? What criteria would I need to know? Would I find it hard to vote on only one and not the others. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Here’s something to chew on.

Funny thing is, when the dogs got up in the “ring” for the most part they all got stage fright. Kinda like me, not exactly sure what to do, but eventually got it.

Buddy, a leader dog pup in training was there and he’s just like the rest of us. Learning step by step. And, Poncho the 11 year old police dog getting ready to retire had to start somewhere, too. These guys weren’t there to win anything – just to show us how to help and be of service in some sort of way.

So, I guess don’t be afraid to try something new or to reach out and help. We don’t always need to win. We don’t have to change the world. It’s the little things that make a big difference. Take one step in doing something you’ve been thinking about. Give a call to someone who would love to hear your voice. Drop some change into the Humane Society bucket. Give an old blanket or towels to a local shelter to help keep the animals warm. Just do the best you can with what you’ve got.

I didn’t know what to expect going in as a judge, but it turns out it wasn’t about what I knew, but rather what I learned.

Excess Baggage

I love to travel, and I must admit over the years I’ve learned to make due with just two (OK, maybe three) pair of shoes on a trip – depending. But, it turns out that all along without knowing it I was doing the planet a favor.

It goes to figure that the more a vehicle weighs, the more fuel it will take to power it. Alaska Airlines found that by removing just five magazines per plane they could save $10,000 in fuel costs a year!

Excess baggage doesn’t mean your significant other.

Same goes for when traveling by car. The U.S. Department of Energy wants us to know that by avoiding items unnecessary for our trips, we could reduce our MPG by up to 2% for each 100 pounds. That’s an equivalent gas savings of .04¢ -.07¢ per gallon!

At any rate, that savings on an up-coming trip could add up to a nice dinner. If nothing else, maybe we’ll get an extra bag of pretzels on our next flight.