New Blog Site: Visit and Read….Whatever

A new blog site has been created.  I will not be adding any more posts to “Oconahua” as it was meant to be a one year collection of how we survive in Mexico.  The new blog is, well, almost the same but diffferent.  You will see.

Click here to visit:  NEW BLOG

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Indigo Curtains…..dyeing is messy but beautiful!

About a year and half ago (maybe longer) we bought some white curtains from IKEA with the intention of dying them to hang on the large, screened in porch.  I thought it would be a good idea to help  keep down the dust from the wind and also shade us from the morning sun.  Since I used to batik material many, many years ago, I wanted to batik a spiral pattern on them and also use indigo blue dye since it’s a natural substance….and looks beautiful.  Think the color of real blue jeans.

I got busy.  Time passed.  I may have grown a bit lazy too.  Maybe.  Whatever happened, the curtains sat here halfway complete taking up space.  Everytime I looked at the bags of folded curtains I felt a little guilty.  Yesterday, I got in gear and set up the dying area.

I changed my mind at the last minute about having the spiral pattern at the bottom be the only decoration and got inspired by recent images of Japanese Shibori style dyed indigo blue cloth; drop dead gorgeous.  I asked Ana to help me accordion fold the curtain panels and then I tied them in 3 parts.  I considered a really detailed pattern but my laziness got the better of me.  No problemo!20150829_125127                 20150829_125110

Messiness was also on my mind as I did not want to dye everything blue in the house or outside.  Where to hang the things while they dry?  Where will I do the actual dyeing?  I finally decided to put down large sheets of plastic in the driveway and use a medium and large size plastic garbage can.  Long plastic gloves come in rather handy too….just sayin.

Following the simple instructions, I mixed up the batch of dye, wetted the curtain panels and inserted them one at a time into the dye bath for about 7 minutes.  As I took them out, I was already prepared for the weird green color (ick) combined with blue as the dye color is initially green and as you unfold the material, the dye turns blue as it interacts with oxygen.  Weird huh?  Kinda looked like Seahawk colors.

The hardest part was the rinsing, rinsing and rinsing some more.  So glad I did not start this project in the low rain season as we would not have had enough water!

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2 panels are complete, more today and a pic of the completed project will be posted later….whenever this one gets finished.

 

 

 

 

One Year Anniversary

We made it.  One year has now passed and we are still alive.  Most of us.  Some of the chickens did not make it but to be fair, they did not move with us from the states.  The cats are doing well after my paranoia passed about not letting them outside.  It’s dangerous…..scorpions and all that.  They are going outside now and are happy.  No scorpion problems. Click on the words in different colors below for links to previous posts.

Goals met:
1.   Move in one piece.
2.   Build chicken house, get chickensLearn more about farm animalsGrow the “crop”.
3.   Grow organic veggiesBuild planting bed.  Try growing other things. Try againSeedsLearn more.
4.   Have furniture built.
5.   Storage built for porch to contain tools.
6.   Get front yard pretty; at half way mark.
7.   Build new bathroom sink cause I did not like the other one.
8.   Be here to care for Mom if she gets sick, she did.
9.   Be here to care for Ana’s Mom if she gets sick, she is.
10. Move Mom to her cabin on our land….with all her cats.
11. Host visitors, take them on tours. (Susan and Judi were first visitors, did not post anything as Mom got ill the day after)
12. Explore Guadalajara for shopping and fun.  Need to do more!
13. Build sturdy fence between us and neighborsHalfway complete.
14. Harvest our own corn, beans and use them.
15. Get legal.  Apply for residency in Mexico.
16. Learn to use a scythe.
17. Hang hammock on porch.  Relax.
18. Work on cafe/B&B/karaoke….pizza joint.  Whatever.
19. CelebrateHave funMore funAnd moreBirthdaysAnother big one.
20. CookCook some moreDid I say cook?
21. Meet new people.  Do new things.

More things need to be completed of course and we have learned SO much over this past year.
Thanks everyone for your visits and support this past year to our blog.  It really means a lot that folks are out there in virtual land cheering us on and supporting us when things go awry.  Below is a photo of my favorite place in the house, out on the porch.  Ahhhh…….

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Visit to the States!

Mom and I planned a trip back to the states during August to hedge our bets on good weather; it worked!  August weather in the Pacific Northwest is usually pretty good, although not always good enough to guarantee an outside wedding.  Just plan to have a tent or some other cover, just in case.

The weather was spectacular although most folks in the NW were complaining about how hot it was.  Really?  Hot?  Felt just perfect to me!  Thanks to everyone who hosted us and fed us and put up with our constant shopping and eating.  It was great fun.

One thing that I will do differently next time is NOT plan the trip out of Mexico at the same time as my residency renewal. I waited exactly one month before my “green card” was due to expire and headed off to GDL to apply.  What I did not realize is that they take the old card away while the new application is being processed.  What that meant is if I left the country without a card, I might have to start the whole procedure all over again and see my year of residency go down the drain.  Ana and I put on our most charming attitudes and the wonderful folks at the Immigration service pulled through; a fast application, approval AND new card in hand one week before departure.  Whew!

The most amazing thing I noticed in our travels was how easy it is for my friends and relatives to simply travel to a store and buy just about anything they need.  You cannot imagine how challenging it is to live in rural Mexico and be so far away from stores.  A “simple” trip to Costco in Guadalajara requires an all day plan.  And the restaurants!  WOW.  We rarely go out to eat in our area as the quality is pretty low and we cook far better food in the house, thank you very much.

Pics of the highlights:

Judi and me at Hiawatha Park
Judi and me at Hiawatha Park
Having fun after pizza in Ballard
Having fun after pizza in Ballard
Amber and her sweet smile
Amber and her sweet smile
Nicole and one of the horses she helps care for, that is a fly mask
Nicole and one of the horses she helps care for, that is a fly mask
Teacher Britni and the new puppy, Bella
Teacher Britni and the new puppy, Bella
My hand as sea creature
My hand as sea creature
My son, Nicole and me at the waterfront
My son, Nicole and me at the waterfront
BBQ at Janice's place
BBQ at Janice’s place
"OMG, is he hot" says the Buddhist Lesbian
“OMG, is he hot” says the Buddhist Lesbian
Sarah's cute little doggie, Russell
Sarah’s cute little doggie, Russell
Me and Rocky
Me and Rocky
David!
David!
Early rise and head to the airport to leave with Susan
Early rise and head to the airport to leave with Susan

 

God Mothers for the Next Generation

About a month ago, we had a surprise visit of some mothers and students from one of the town schools.  Ana met them at the gate and after some conversation, called me to come over.  It turns out we had been invited to be the Comadres, or God Mothers, for the graduating class.  Me thinking: “ok…..what does that mean?”.  Ana was unsure also.  We accepted of course. Hilarious.

We asked her sister and the role was a little clearer….something about getting a little remembrance item for each student with the name of the school or their name printed on it.  OK.  Pens were tossed out as an idea.  OK.

Few days later we traveled to a local towns to hunt for a shop that knows more…..found one and ordered some little items.  I liked the little shot glasses for the boys because I assumed it was for High School students.  Turns out it was for middle school.  Oops.  In the meantime, we are still kind of clueless on our role.

Well, here in Mexico it’s traditional to ask people to be Compadres, or Godparents, for just about any occasion involving young people. Sometimes, they have a life long connection to that person that is sponsored and it’s an honor to be asked and to accept.

I am not Catholic but the first event was held in the church .  Imagine my surprise when Ana and I were seated up front in our own pew, right in front of the priest.  Didn’t understand a thing but lots of standing, sitting, singing and eating wafers dipped in wine.  Not me though.  Probably would burst into flames.

So now I am getting curious…..what is this thing again?  And what is the significance? Now I find out we are supposed to give a speech at their graduation.  Eek.  I wrote mine in English.

The graduation was a nice event, our speeches were a hit (Ana translated for me) and we hung out after to eat lunch with the teachers.  Great Fun!IMG_0323

Heartbreaking News

I know that the learning curve is high for me for living in a rural location.  I get it.  However…..some days are just too much and the other day I wondered if I can do this.  That day was the hardest one of all.

A little kitten has been visiting us lately and first wandered in when our front yard was getting the concrete paths.  My mom named him Buster.  We did not let him in the houses but when he showed up we fed him and he enjoyed playing in the yard with the other cats.

A few of the neighbors dogs have been getting into our property and chased our cats up a tree so I had been on the lookout for them and their owner.  Unfortunately for little Buster, I did not catch them in time to save his little life.

I regret not having the fence complete.  Perhaps that could have saved him.  Poor little baby.  He probably thought they wanted to play and instead spent his last moments in agony as we rushed to find a vet to put him down.  We never did.

One of the biggest differences here in Mexico is animal treatment. People don’t really care for domestic animals unless they can ride them or eat them.  Vets, as it turns out in our area, are very hesitant to euthanize animals and will only do so in dire situations.  Apparently the injections are highly regulated or something and the vets that day had none.  We had to take him to a friends that owns a gun.  It was a horrid day and one that will take forever, maybe never, to clear from my conscience.

Rest in Peace, poor little Buster.  Know you were loved for your short adorable life.

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3 Sisters and Fungus Among Us!

The 3 sisters are a well known combination of plants that are mutually beneficial; corn, beans and squash.  The corn acts as a support mechanism for the beans, the beans add essential nutrients for the corn and the squash helps keep things shady and weed free.  Win, win and win!  Today we were out weeding a bit in the sister’s area and came acros some mushrooms which I take as a good sign that our soil is alive and teeming with micro goodness.  Woot!

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Fermented Fertilizer in Mexico

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Our land where our house is built was an old family plot used to grow corn.  Stories from Ana and her aunt confirm that this land, and much of the surrounding land was owned by her Grandfather, then sold off or divided among family members.  This plot, roughly 4500 square meters (a little over an acre), was given to Ana’s aunt, and then to Ana.  It is a great honor to live on this land that has been in her family for generations.

The soil is not in the greatest shape though and we are slowly composting, using worm castings, bringing in other soil if needed and letting some of it go fallow in the hopes that wildness and decay will add to the quality of the soil.  Time will tell.

In the meantime; we want to grow vegetables, fruit and flowers.  Having chickens roam about certainly helps as they not only fertilize the soil, they irrigate by digging, eat harmful insects and look cute while strutting about.

I have been researching fermented fertilizer recipes as I read when added to the soil, they can help break up compacted clay soil.  Exactly what we need!

The challenge has been many recipes call for ingredients that are just impossible for us to find as either local stores in our area don’t carry them or we are still unfamiliar with the surrounding towns for availability.  Seriously.  A hunt for something as “simple” as molasses just got silly as people met me with a blank stare.  Finally found out that molasses is considered a waste product from local sugar cane producers and used by pig farmers as feed.  Frustrating.  (We finally found it at a health store in Guadalajara). Plus, since local farmers are not yet into organic practices, we are always told to just go get some chemicals.  Blech.

A few weeks ago, I finally found a recipe that has all the ingredients.  Today I was able to use some of the finished product for some new plants.  Success!  It’s a very simple formula….just rinse water from rice, water, milk and a bit of molasses.  Bokashi rocks. Plus, the chickens LOVED the leftover curds….ate them up quickly.  I think we need to get some barrels to make large batches of this stuff.

The recipe: http://www.hawaiihealingtree.org/how-to-make-your-own-em-1-inoculant-and-bokashi/