To Flush or Not to Flush…WHAT a question!

 

I drink a lot.

I drink 3-4 cups of coffee in the morning – more if I’m on a pre-dawn writing rampage then I switch to green or herbal tea in the afternoon and camomile in the evening, and all that mixed with 2-3 liters of lime water chugged down throughout the day.

Consequently, I go to the bathroom a lot and at least once in the night. And then I take a big drink of water in the dark from a glass carefully placed on my nightstand.

No one ever talked about whether or not to flush TP where I came from.

Now, this is likely a woman thing, because as you know ladies, we use far more TP than the “others”.

 

Toilet paper… a conversation that we all should be having more.  The stuff when flushed turns to sludge, even the stuff deemed “flush-able” or “biodegradable”.

Toilet paper…yes, seriously.  About once per year, there is an ongoing, semi-hilarious discussion, spanning multi-paged threads on local ex-pat web-forums about whether or not to flush toilet paper.  The latest thread ran to a few dozen comments.  The discussion covers every reaction from;  “never have I ever placed my icky TP in a disgusting, stinky basket” to “If you flush your TP here, you will be asked to help mop up” or “I have felt so guilty, I have fished the paper out of the bowl by hand.” Or, shockingly, “if you don’t keep your washroom up to my standards of cleanliness, I will flush my paper knowing your teeny lines can’t handle it.”  And F you, they say.  Sheesh, flushing TP is a BIG deal ’round these parts.

The subject may be whispered behind a hand when the occasional savvy visitor arrives. “What about flushing tp?” they ask.   I put up a sign.

And having said that our #2 paper is flushed…no question. It’s not that our system cannot handle some paper, just not the blizzard I throw at it every day.

Infrastructure here in Mexico varies wildly from leaky, broken, decrepit lines leading to who-knows-where, to modern PVC lines running to, hopefully, a modern waste treatment facility.  Most of it is the former. There’s always hope.

I would rather err on the side of caution and sustainability, no matter what the infrastructure can bear.

Historically, in all of these old villages, key term being old; toilets were outdoors.  Private washroom facilities were only for rich, lavish haciendas, if at all.  After the Revolution, Viva Mexico!, the oppressive haciendas were brutally disbanded.  Poor villages grew in and around hacienda infrastructure on vast tracts of real estate liberated from the wealthy, ruling class.  Much had been rushed, established without any planning, building codes or adequate resources.  It was a difficult time; desperately poor people made hasty plans when they had something and their families gained a modicum of sustenance.

What hurriedly went underground remained …well, unmentionable.

I come from a place where whatever goes on the washroom is unmentionable, unless of course, one needs a plunger.  The thought of doing anything other than dropping the paper into the bowl, out of hand, unseen, was never a topic for discussion.  And in that place –  western Canada, we took the availability of abundant, clean, pure, glacier-fed water for granted in a spectacularly entitled way.

Here in Mexico clean water is valued… a lot.

In my most recent past life, I worked for the public works department for a small, Canadian city.  I had cause to venture out to the waste water treatment plant at one point and it is sludgely.  Make sure you wear galoshes and don’t look down!

It is staggering what people flush when they take what’s underground for granted.

Ok – funny story.  In my capacity working in the public works yard, my co-worker, the fellow responsible for maintaining the city’s water quality was also the one called on when something drastic had to be done at the waste treatment ponds, had super powers.  People in that city, and every city, had/have no idea what their union guys do for them when residents flushed everything from pipe-blocking toys to massive items like blankets – feminine products and condoms take decades to break down.  I know, I saw them…”don’t look down!”.

Yes, I looked.

Anyway, one late afternoon just before shift change, my awesome superman co-worker came to me and asked if I would like to go with him on a “sunset cruise”.  I burst out laughing knowing exactly where the “cruise” would be taking me…out to the “lovely” shores of the Wast Water Ponds.  A very unassuming man, he yukked it up under his breath.  His name is Terry and I heard he deservedly retired, not long after me, from working there his entire adult life.

Super Terry!

Here at Casa Luna de Miel we have double staggered brick septic tanks.  The “heavy” solids are settled out in the first tank, the fluid passes over a dam into the second tank where any remaining residue settles.  Then the water leaches out into the ground.  We occasionally flush a packet of enzymes that helps the natural stuff work it’s bubbling magic and break down all the solids and “black” water and turns the “grey” water into fertilizer that feeds our lawn. Sometimes tree roots, seeking a water source, have to be cut out of the spaces between bricks and pvc pipes.

I have been known to go through a roll a day.  We buy our paper at Costco, by the case. My #1 paper goes into a plastic lined basket and then it can break down to it’s hearts’ content in the landfill.  Sometimes I don’t even flush.  My Canadian friend has a stunning view of a deep, pristine glacial lake.  She is on septic.  She told me once that when she has company coming she goes into the bathrooms and flushes, because she doesn’t flush all the time either.  She’s on septic, she knows the drill.  I learned from her.

I have a small post-it note in my guest bathroom that reads; “Please place #1 paper in the basket.  Thank you.  Signed; the Septic System that thinks he owns the Place.”

Flushing…never thought I would have to put so much thought into a subject that is so …flush-able.

 

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A Year already!

The other day I told you about my fabulous 60th birthday Fiesta.  A year has passed already!

Gee, how time flies.  My Dad used to say, “Life is like a toilet paper roll.  The closer you get to the end, they faster it goes.”

Time flies, we live life, meet new friends and create new and lasting memories.

We still get compliments of the Party of the decade.

Mr. Wonderful will be 65 in 2019.  I suggested we plan another epic Fiesta.  He wants dancing girls.  Perhaps, we can hire the all female Mariachi from Tlaquepeque.

What?  They dance a bit too!  I think they would be fabulous!

 

 

 

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For the Meatatarians

We had an interesting Saturday morning.

Our new friend/neighbour has been buying her beef at a butcher in San Luis Soyatlan.  The family has a small herd they raise on a farm just south of the village.  They butcher a cow or two per week and open their small shop on the carraterra just east of the plaza on the weekends only, Saturday and Sunday mornings.  They close when all the beef is sold. Saturdays are the when the best cuts are available.  And the earlier the better. It’s no wonder we hadn’t noticed the shop before – we are rarely out and about that early.

We were up before dawn, had coffees and hoped into our Bella Burrow at 7:30, before teeth brushing.  Francisco and Leticia, brother and sister, had the shop open, usually at 7AM, and displayed cuts of meat hanging from hooks over the counter.  They smile at their customers through the hunks of beef.

We stood in line behind about a half dozen customers and watched the process.  Smiles and “buenos dias” for everyone and each other.  Each person made their request. From a large upright fridge he pulls out whatever cuts he needs and arranges it on the table saw for dissecting.

Our friend introduced us and coached Mr. Wonderful on what to ask for; “lomo todo”  whole loin.  Francisco holds up a slab of perfect tenderloin for inspection and confirmation.  “Si,” we say in unison, grinning and nodding.  He whips his giant knife on a honing steel with lightning speed and delicately slices our lomo todo.  The tenderloin kilo was a generous kilo weighed on a old-fashioned scale at the end of the counter.  Our friend tells us Francisco always weighs heavy.

Along with a kilo of “moilida de carne”, ground beef.  Leticia whacked off a couple of hunks from one of the hanging slabs over the counter and squished the pieces into a hole in the top of a stainless steel box with a plastic plunger.  When it came out the bottom she asked if that was fine enough.  We asked for a bit finer and she ran it through again.  Leticia weighs heavy too.

Real beef – freshly ground without any additives or water to bulk up the weight.  No hormones nor unnecessary antibiotics, pasture fed and blessed with a little prayer before the cow gets whacked.  Buying local, supporting local businesses and families is a big deal for us.

The very concept of being able to buy beef that is not factory farmed or questionably slaughtered is worth the bleary eyed morning in itself.

The total was $250pesos…about $17.50CAD.

We are real busy for the next few days, so steaks won’t likely be served up until Thursday.  We’re having bacon cheeseburgers and pan fries tomorrow and have invited our meatatarian friend over.

Life is good in our little Mexican village.

fresh ground beef and a kilo of whole tenderloin

Six very nice steaks

Doors

I am inspired to talk about doors…I dunno…humour me for a minute.

Maybe a real door like the ones in Casa Luna de Miel that were termite infested and crumbling for years.

Before – termite infested door jambs.

Or the hollow, wooden kitchen door that took a mean episode by Kaya when she was afraid of thunder.  She almost dug right through.

 

 

We replaced all the nasty door jams, added a nice, metal clad kitchen door with a big window to welcome the light and a custom made outer screen door to match the door at the front.

Pancho, the iron worker we hired, (pictured with two Lefties) had done all the iron work at our house, including the original gates and doors.  He did the new gates in the front of the house when we re-did the front patio a few years ago.  (BTW, this beautiful, custom made door cost $2000pesos, installed.)

Doors can be symbolic portals that open or close on a past or future part of our lives.  In 1979, I reluctantly opened the door to being a Mom and gratefully never looked back.

Me with Son#1 and #2 circa 1986ish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2007, I opened the door for the love of my life to walk through, literally and figuratively.  He suggested we retire and move to Mexico.

Here is the open door to our cargo trailer we used to move here in January 2013. For all my stories on our move here check out the Category titled “Our Excellent Adventure”.  It chronicles our day to day travels from the west coast of Canada to our home here on Lake Chapala.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a beautiful door at a small, now closed, restaurant in the small village we live close to.  I just love this picture.

A peak at the front garden from our table at Los Crotos

This isn’t exactly a door but the vista inside the entrance to La Nuevo Posada.

The boutique hotel has a lovely garden where I opened the door to start seriously writing and all the writers along the way…some quirky (I fit right in!) and some “normal” and all wonderful.

I wrote some short stories in a collection I am lucky enough to be a part of with these lovely ladies.  And I continue working on my book.  Yes, I know, it HAS been forever.

 

Doors…sometimes one needs to close a couple as people in our lives, for a few reasons need to leave and others welcomed in.

One of the unexpected delights here is the circle of friends we have rounded up over these short years.  Just the other day we met another Canadian couple who winters down here.  We are looking forward to getting to know them better.  Funny story; we met them in a restaurant and started visiting over food and drink.  They offered to show us their home and we agreed to follow them home.  “Perhaps, we should be cautious.”  I said.  “They could be axe murderers!”  LOL.  I firmly believe one gets a vibe from people, one way or another.  All we got from them was genuine, loving vibes that opened a door to their life and we are grateful they did.

Not only the foreigners here but also a delightful group of Mexican friends we have grown to enjoy, respect and love.  Life just keeps getting better.

Open those doors.  An open heart will always find love and friendship.

My Birthday Party

 

Did I tell you we love parties?  Yes, I did

And we love birthdays!  Mine is in October.

And yes, not so prompt with telling you about it…sigh.

I used to lie about my age when I was younger; lie that I was older, mostly because I wanted to appear more sophisticated, more worldly because I was neither.  And to be old enough to get into bars.  Later, perhaps in my 30ies, the need to lie about my age seemed appropriate.  Like Old Hollywood, it was fashionable, and somewhat expected, for women of a certain age to tell the little white lie.  It just snowballed from there.  And I was single…the all encompassing pull of youth inevitably took me down.

Years ago when a nephew was young and naive enough to believe, he asked his mom, “How many years has Auntie been 39?”

I’m past that nonsense.  Life is good…no need to fudge the numbers.

WOO HOO!!!

 

In October we had the Mother of all parties right here in our garden. I turned 60.  I’m a Libra…well balanced.

 

 

Some assembly requited

 

Tents and tables all set

We rented tables, chairs and a couple of tents.  We needed enough for about 65 people.  I have never had that many people at my birthday party in my life!

We hired the best taco stand on the south shore.  They set up on the lawn and did an excellent job.  The food garnered plenty of compliments.  He runs his stand out of a small restaurant in San Luis Soyatlan when he is not out catering.  It is an interesting place.  Food is served with that fabulous smile.

 

Best taco stand on the south shore

Mariachi arriving

We have been lucky enough to score invitations to a variety of fiestas thrown by our Mexican friends.  A few of them have included a local Mariachi Band; Hermanos Vargas, The Vargas Brothers and we love them.  They are from a very tiny village down the lake from us and are world class.  They compete in the world famous Mariachi competition in Guadalajara every September.  The competition attracts Mariachi from all over the world, even a mariachi from Japan.

We hired them to play my birthday party and they were absolutely delightful.  They even learned the Happy Birthday song in English, however, I like the celebration song in Spanish far better.  They played all the wonderful, famous songs like; “Guadalajara” and “Mexico, Mexico!” and “Orange Blossom Special”, not sure what it is called in Spanish.  They played for a couple of hours past the time we paid them to play.  Darkness had set in when they left.

The violins, horns, harp, big and small guitars along with their powerful voices delightfully resonated in our ears for days.

They serenaded me with “Besamé mucho”  “Kiss me lots” and a couple of others.  No translation required with a handsome mariachi singing to me on one knee.

My amiga, Nora, singing with the mariachi

and we DANCED!

We enjoyed a wonderful experience.  Our friends raved for weeks about what an epic party we threw.

I am still, to this day, gobsmacked at my incredible circle of Mexican and foreigner friends and what a great time we had.  My feet were gleefully sore for three days!

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Whats Cooking…Coconut Curry Shrimp

Yes…when we buy frozen camarones (shrimp) we buy a couple of kilos.  Now we have a spanking new freezer as well as the bottom freezer drawer on our equally fancy new fridge, we can bring home lots of food.

Another Pinterest find.  This coconut curry shrimp turned out very well.

Added curry, spinach.

I guess I can’t be too hoity-toity about ketchup in my coctel de camarones (shrimp cocktail) when I serve this wonderful dish in plastic bowls!  I can hear all those fancy foody bloggers tisk-tisking.  Next time I will get out the fancy stuff we dragged all the way from Canada.

Funny that; when serving a lovely dish like this, and knowing I would be taking photos for my blog, the notion of using nice dishes didn’t occur to me.  What the heck am I saving them all for?  My mom did that all the time.  “Can’t use the nice stuff/sit on the nice couch because we’re saving it for something/someone special.”  In my heart I believe every damned day is special.

Maybe I’ll throw those plastic bowls out…

Coconut Curry Shrimp was yummy.  Mr. Wonderful was impressed; “Not bad,” he said.  High praise indeed.

Yes, plastic bowls.

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What’s Cooking…Coctel de Camarones

Ya know…lots is cooking, because we eat a lot.  I haven’t told you about what’s cooking at Casa Luna de Miel for about a year.

We rarely buy camarones (prawns) because to get the best fresh ones, we need to be at the pescadaria (seafood store) early.  That is hardly possible for us as we would have to leave them in the hot car most of the day.  We do have a couple of insulated cooler bags to keep stuff cool, but not fresh seafood.  We don’t want to take any chances.  So we buy frozen.  And have never been disappointed.  There is a great seafood store in west Ajijic that brings seafood in from Guadalajara very early in the morning.

I had a hankering to make Coctel de Camarones – Shrimp Cocktail.  I have scouted around at various restaurants and found the best Coctel to be in our little village of San Luis Soyatlan at a roadside, rustic restaurant called Paisanos.  They are at the first tope when headed east.  My aim is to make something as good or better.

They also make awesome bar-b-qued chicken.

We order a large Coctel and an entera (complete) chicken that comes with rice and salad, tortillas and a couple of sauces.  Mr. Wonderful asks for half now and half para llavar (for take away) for later.  My coctel is always chock-a-bloc with camarones.

I wanted to give it a go myself.

I found a recipe on Pinterest.  BTW – I’m loving Pinterest for lots of ideas not just food, but fitness, writing, gardening, kitchen renos and lots more.  You can find all my Pinterest Boards here.

The Coctel turned out perfect-ish (the recipe called for spicy ketchup…I added regular ketchup with some chipotle tabasco).  Next time I will look for a recipe that doesn’t use ketchup. Mr. Wonderful thinks it’s a vegetable serving.  Ketchup is only for hot dogs.

Is my coctel de camarones as good or better than our little village restaurant?  Certainly as good…and I’m pretty happy with that.  If only they would come and do the dishes!

ingredients…shelled shrimp, devined (ick) and cleaned

I should have draped a shrimp over the edge of the glass for you!

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