Saturday, June 27, 2015

Anything is better with Limón y Sal

Lime and Salt do the trick with Carambola


Not that Carambola (Start Fruit) is bad without them .... it's just more than twice as good with them.  I hadn't tried it until a couple days ago. It didn't make sense that I was giving most of them away to neighbors and this year I have tons. I have a few older neighbors that favor them for health reasons so they will get some but Lauri and Hugo say don't give them all away

Carambola is rich in antioxidants, potassium, and vitamin C; and low in sugar, sodium, and acid. It is also a potent source of both primary and secondary polyphenolic antioxidants. Averrhoa carambola has both antioxidant and antimicrobial activities. Scavenging of nitric oxide (NO) by the fruit extract is dependent on concentration and stage of ripening. Extracts showed antimicrobial activity against E. coli, Klebsiella spp., Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Like the grapefruit, carambola is considered to be a potent inhibitor of seven cytochrome P450 isoforms. These enzymes are significant in the first-pass elimination of many medicines, and, thus, the consumption of carambola or its juice in combination with certain prescription medications can significantly increase their effective dosage within the body. Research into grapefruit juice (its potent enzymes) for instance, identified a significant effect (requires change in dose or other side effects) on common medications when taken concurrently by the patient, including statins, which are commonly used to treat high cholesterol and cardiovascular illness, and benzodiazepines (a sedative tranquilizer drug family that includes diazepam).

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How to clean a paint roller

The only decent way to clean a paint roller without having a spinner which I can't find here and always forget to bring down. This guy says it dries it as well and with a really good spin it's kinda dry .... but better to just switch rollers.

So there was no street pressure water yesterday so the roller sat in a bucket until this morning when we got pressure back. Tinaco gravity water pressure just won't do it.



A spinner that I always forget
Has a corkscrew action like those old timey toy tops


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Too hot to work

Today is 93 and feels like 114 degrees F - at 1pm

I started the impermeabilizante sometime last week on the drainage trough between me and my neighbor. I had already used sealer and I put the impermeabilizante down with Tela (fiberglass like material). That was easy and mostly in the shade. Only had to worry about falling into my neighbors yard.

Saturday I did a large section of the roof towards the front of the house and must have overheated because Sunday and Monday I was exhausted. Today feeling refreshed I got working at 8:30 and did the first section. No shade but not nearly as hot as early afternoons have been. The back section was in shade until 10:30 but I still left some for tomorrow. 

This heat reminds my of driving through Texas on my way back from Florida in my van with no air conditioning. Had a cooler between the seats and a wet cold towel over my head. Gonna have to have better sun protection next time. It didn't help that Sunday was the Summer Solstice 

Sloped drainage

First section

Starting the back section in shade

Even with the laundry room - the rest tomorrow

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Flying ants can't swim

They must have swarmed last night because the pool was covered with them this morning. I remember seeing what I think were Termites after a swarm up in Jocotepec but they were much smaller and didn't need to drown to die. The only good sized ants here are leaf cutter but these are larger .... so what are they? I did find the info below that says winged ants are usually larger than the worker ants so they could be leaf cutter.

After a nocturnal nuptial flight

Periodically, usually following by 3-5 days a heavy rain, the winged reproductive forms emerge from the colony in large swarms. Such swarming behavior is usually synchronized by other nearby colonies so large numbers of winged ants suddenly appear. All mating for the species takes place, often over the course of a single day. The males die and the mated females disperse to attempt establishing a new colony.

Alates (winged ants) are typically larger than the worker caste of wingless, sterile females, so are more noticeable for that reason as well.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Swallows: Love them and hate them

Sometimes I feel like the first painting about them but yesterday they were a pure pain in the ass. I don't mind when they sit on my light sconces to get out of the weather or just rest even thought they poop a lot. When they want to build a nest is where my appreciation stops. Even my neighbors who let them build in the house thinking it is good luck had enough a few weeks ago. 

I have an outdoor bathroom (not in the house) next to the bodega and when I saw them flying in and out of the bodega I closed the door. A couple hours later in the bath a towel and swim trucks on the rack and the toilet paper were covered in mud. Nest building material I assume unless they were just pissed I closed the other door. Now I just have to remember do open the bodega because my dog likes to sleep there ..... especially like last night when Tropical Storm Carlos dumped 5-6 inches of rain on our area.

The ideal swallow

My real Golondrinas

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Why did I wait so long?

After the tomatoes expired  should have cleaned up the bed, added a little more good soil and planted some more of anything. The few herbs that were beyond useful took up the space instead. This year I planted tomatoes on either end, with peas, onions and chard in the middle. The webbing I put up to discourage my cat from using it as a bathroom will help start the climbers but they will need more support later on. Last year with shallow wide containers I had almost no luck with radishes, greens of any type or onions. Hoping with deeper and better soil I'll get something to eat.

The next issue will be trying to keep the bugs from eating everything. When white flies attacked the tomatoes last year I tried a commercial spray and a dish soap spray with little effect. That's when I read about Zote, an  insecticidal soap but the tomatoes were too far gone to bother with. I've since made a spray although a little stronger than the Mother Earth News article below. I sprayed some on my Avocado which is getting brown leaves from something.


Planted more tomatoes and Albahaca grande (Basil)

Hoja Santa, next pinapple and a tired basil 

Zote and Fels-Naptha are insecticidal

To make the insecticidal soap spray, shave one quarter of a bar of Fels-Naptha laundry soap (about 1 inch) into 1 quart of heated water and stir until dissolved. This will be your insecticidal soap concentrate. Put the soap solution into a labeled jar.

To use the soap spray, put 1 teaspoon of concentrate per quart into a sprayer. This insecticidal soap is a contact poison, so spray it directly onto the insects you want to eliminate from your home, garden or orchard. For additional killing power, add one-quarter cup of rubbing alcohol per quart.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Covering the palapa

Just want one more year out of it before I probably replace it with lamina. It was great while it lasted but this is only year 3. So I put up the blue tarp (lona) a couple weeks ago and a gust of wind blew it apart. Someone suggested that the silver/grey tarps are stronger so I picked one up at El Pollo hardware. I was getting ready to put the new one up when it suddenly started to rain with thunder and lightning. That is a tricky enough project without the extra complications .... so until later or another day.

Most of this type of palapa installation are attached with twine but these guys nailed them down. Not looking forward to stripping it down to the frame next fall. Also have to look into the angle of the ridge covering piece of lamina because the inside angle is less than 90 degrees. Thin metal should be flexible. 

What's left will stay there

Corners and sides are stronger but the body of it ??


Later in the afternoon
Wouldn't say it went up easy but .....

Tie these to the front corners, toss on each side and pull from below
Better than trying to ride the palapa like a horse or a monster ladder


Monday, June 08, 2015

In the Stix Broadband

Living in the Stix has some drawbacks ... probably more in Mexico than the US or Canada. Living as close to Melaque as we do you would think a landline telephone would be considered a necessity and a safety issue. But no .... Telmex only goes where it can make money. It wasn't long ago in some areas where they did have service you had to wait for a phone line or people would sell their service (how I don't know). Even with the phone lines you need the extra hardware for Internet so no time soon here.

In the void someone in Jaluco started a service of line of sight broadband and that was gong to be an option for me for awhile. A store owner on the Plaza knew who ran the service but thought I should not join because shared bandwidth would affect her service. One neighbor who had the service just moved to Melaque and the mechanic took down his pole because it made a perfect lightning rod and it fried his computer. So I guess the store owner will have all the bandwidth because I'm sticking with my CEL modem.

In the Stix Broadband

Fixed wireless repeaters
Similar to receivers used here

Friday, June 05, 2015

Hoja Santa - New plant for me

I've seen it around before but didn't think much of it until Lorena pointed one out as a medicinal herb and also one for cooking. My neighbor across the street has some and it tasted a little like mint to me and neighbors think it tastes like Vicks Vapor Rub (Va-pa-roo) which is eucalyptus.

For some reason all the neighbors know it as Palo Santo so my Internet searches turned up empty until today. There is an amazing amount of recipe pages, fotos and videos for it's many uses. Mostly wraps for cooking but but just cut up for flavoring as well. Not sure if I can take cuttings or if it spreads in the roots. I will go to a vivero (plant nursery) if I have to. Don't know what is in that wrap below but it sure looks good.

The video is the only one I found in English (many in Spanish) ... and the info below is from Wikipedia to fill in a bit.






Hoja santa (Piper auritum) is an aromatic herb with a heart-shaped, velvety leaf which grows in tropic Mesoamerica. The name hoja santa means "sacred leaf" in Spanish. It is also known as yerba santa, hierba santa, Mexican pepperleaf, acuyo, tlanepa, anisillo, root beer plant, and sacred pepper.

The leaves can reach up to 30 centimeters (12 in) or more in size. The complex flavor of hoja santa is not so easily described; it has been compared to eucalyptus, licorice, sassafras, anise, nutmeg, mint, tarragon, and black pepper. The flavor is stronger in the young stems and veins.

It is native to the Americas, from northern South America to Mexico, and is also cultivated in southeast Florida.

It is often used in Mexican cuisine for tamales, the fish or meat wrapped in fragrant leaves for cooking, and as an essential ingredient in mole verde, the green sauce originated in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. It is also chopped to flavor soups, such as pozole, and eggs. In Central Mexico, it is used to flavor chocolate drinks. In southeastern Mexico, a green liquor called Verdín is made from hoja santa. It is also used for tea. American cheesemaker Paula Lambert created "Hoja santa cheese", goat cheese wrapped with the hoja santa leaves and imbued with its flavor. While typically used fresh, it is also used in dried form, although drying removes much of the flavor and makes the leaf too brittle to be used as a wrapper.

The essential oils within the leaf are rich in safrole, a substance also found in sassafras, which has been shown to be carcinogenic in animals. In 1960, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned sassafras bark along with sassafras oil and safrole as flavoring agents because of their carcinogenic properties and the Council of Europe imposed the same ban in 1974, although toxicological studies show that humans do not process safrole into its carcinogenic metabolite.


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

CFE really sucks

CFE (la Comisión) is just getting worse and worse ... and with this latest adventure we find they did not do the initial install to my pole correctly.  Then there were/are the "smart meters" that eliminate meter readers (people) and force the home owner to read it once a month and then pay only at a CFE Office which is 40 minutes away in our case.

I can only assume they now ignore requests to cut trees that are impinging on your or community power lines. They used to be quite good showing up within weeks and never over a month. I used to call on the average of twice a year.  This year I first requested help 4 months ago and 2 times since and still nothing. 

I finally decided to pay and a neighbor that has a chain saw said he would but knew the lot owner (tree owner) and would talk to her first.  Turns out that talking to the owner first is not a good idea in this case because my chain saw neighbor didn't want to touch "her mango tree". That left me with the option of me doing it or the crazy machete neighbor who does a lot of things while people are not looking.

All was going well until we came across a large branch with a very large termite nest. Very heavy, above my lines and hard to control. It only brushed the lines as it came down but that's when we realized they had not tied the ground wire to the pole but only connected 3 wire together. The ground cable is an uncovered heavy cable that gives strength to your connections if it's done right.   The bottom foto shows it pretty well with the secured ground and the loops are 2 legs of the 120 volts.

The machete guy only wanted 100 pesos and I gave him 200. I spent one night without power (no fan and no TV), the real electrician wanted 200 pesos and is also a plumber (I like him). And sorry lot owning lady who visits once a year, does not clean the lot or trim trees and wants her few mangoes .... my power lines come first. If it were up to me I'd cut the whole thing down.

No more CFE tree trimmers

From my roof - power line upper right

From the street - not pretty but not near my lines

Proper way to attach CFE power to my pole


The construction of the house finished in April 2011 and I'm pretty much settled in. As of March 2014 I'm in preparation for rain mode for this coming summer. That includes sealing and painting things and dealing with drainage issues from last year.

Sparks Mexico Web
Manzanillo Information
House building in Pinal Villa
Euriel School Fund

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