All Hallows Eve

As we crest into Halloween and my friends in San Miguel gear up for Day of the Dead, I’m pet sitting today with Peggy and my dogs, Foosie and Asher, and Sophie, a black lab or lives with our friend Joanie.

Sophie, Asher & Foosie

Sophie, Asher & Foosie

My kinda rainy day!

While on the subject of dogs, let’s honor Mia, my Mexican sweetheart, who is soon traveling to Calgary to her forever home where, I believe, she will LOVE new mom Lynn and the cold climate!

Mia at Mary's house. Picture by Mary. I miss this goofy girl!

Mia at Mary’s house. Picture by Mary. I miss this goofy girl!

Then there’s Bobby/Lincoln, who now lives in Austin with Bella, the love of his life.  An unforgettable pooch!

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And who can forget Cuyo, now all grown up, twice as big, and in the arms of his forever Mom & Dad, Julie and Cliff?

Coyo

Yes, you do see the devil in those eyes

Between us all – Julie, Mary, Jill, Kelly, Gabrielle, Bella, and Lynn – we’ve done well by my Mexican darlings. Hugs, kisses, pats on backs ladies!

Now one more view of my one true love, Asher of Treetop Kennels. Asher is father to 106 progeny during his working life.  He came to me when he retired at 5 and is now chewing 8.5 on the chin.  And it’s not just me. Everybody loves Asher.

Smooch.

Smooch.

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If it’s late October then it’s time to get ready for winter here in da’ Ville. Since I’m on the wait list for Richmond Drive, I’m sprucing up some of the items I have here at Peggy’s.  For a black metal oh-so-boring floor & reading lamp, that means gold spray paint.

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Much better, don’t you agree?

This table is next.

Soon, just as golden!

Soon, just as golden!

I told you how desirable our neighborhood is, and that means people tend to decorate outside too.  Since we have slum lords and live in the most embarrassing building on the street our only solace is that it’s Halloween. Perfectly unkempt and shabby, we look like the block’s haunted house – for free.

Currently living on the second floor

Currently living on the second floor

Lest you think I’m not being as bourgeois in my current incarnation as possible, here’s a house two-doors down that gives tribute to the Highlands’ neighborhood.

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Don’t you love gardens in the front of homes? I think of them as public art, or a gift the homeowners have given both themselves and passers by. Usually I transform wherever I live with a garden. But. I won’t be here long enough to put out that kind of effort.

Which brings me to vertical gardens:

vertical vegetable garden

I’ve come to think that vertical vegetable gardens are part of the solution to healthy living in cities, so I’m looking for a green group in Louisville with whom I can volunteer. I’m gifted as a public presenter and would love to travel around the city with a how-to slide show and/or raise some money. Talk about food security … wheeehaaa!

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If it doesn’t rain like hell tomorrow night Peggy, Joanie and I will make ourselves up as a Katrina and venture out in the city.

We'll look something like this - only MUCH older.

We’ll look something like this – only MUCH older.

Boo!

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BTW, the state of Kentucky is now picking up my Medicare Part B premium ($104.00 monthly) and providing “Extra Help” with medications. Yippie Kay Yay.

So, while Fukushima sizzles, the US economy goes further south, and Winter bears down on us, I wait for my new (to me) place and take it at the usual one-day-at-a-time.

Boo redux!

Visiting CEDESA, an oasis in the high desert

Since the rainy season arrived a few short weeks ago, the bleak and blasted landscape I saw on my trip May 30th from the Leon airport to San Miguel de Allende has been transformed.  (This photo from Southern California, but it’s the same landscape!)

Now in the campo a verdant green springs up coating mountainsides and farms, gardens and meadows. I’m told the rains were not so copious last year or the year before.  This year everyone dances.  The corn and bean crops should do well in Guanajauto state, at least.

I got out into the countryside yesterday because I lept at the chance to visit CEDESA: “Centro de Desarrollo Agropecuario A.C.” [Center for Agricultural Development] on the outskirts of Hildago Delores, a smaller town roughly 25 miles from San Miguel de Allende through said transformed landscape.

Why CEDESA you ask?  This pretty much sums it up.

Not a CEDESA logo, but the driving idea behind its work

On a globe with dwindling power and water supplies, with food nearly dominated by mono-cultured fields and chemical agribusiness, and so devoid of nutrition that obesity rates rise as health declines, and here in Mexico where rural towns and farms are short-shrifted by municipal services like said power, water and healthcare, a group like CEDESA provides hope.

This teaching/learning center on 50 acres, established in 1965, seeds its surrounding eight counties with professional & technical knowledge on what we’ve come to know as sustainable living.

From A to Z – where the S represents a spiritual dimension of dignity and compassion in a community’s human, animal and plant relationships.

Oh, and the M stands for medicinal plants.

What’s not to like?

The reason for a our trip yesterday is that CEDESA is building a restaurant.  Like many projects in Mexico, it’s a ‘build as you go’ (as the money comes in) situation.

Here’s where you’ll have to use your imagination:

If you love Mexico’s sense of color, go ahead and paint this building. Then place tables and chairs inside, and out under the roof, with colored table cloths and wrought iron candle holders.  You could string lights along the roof, solar powered of course, and surely you’ll want some flowers.

What’s interesting is that in its beginning shape, the restaurant is already full of imagination.  It is being built in the old way, the traditional way, a way that’s been forgotten but can be relearned by any family that visits and inquires about its construction.  Here’s one of its open secrets:

Instead of the ubiqutous concrete, or kiln fired bricks, that’s cured adobe that you’re looking at.  Hmmm.  Earth.  There’s plenty of that around here. And here, in its unfinished form, is a living demonstration project for anyone who stops along the way and wants to learn about building with adobe.

Wait, there’s more!

The two ovens inside are designed to burn a very small amount of wood.  [That’s the tiny rectangle beneath the grill at the very bottom. When lifted up, the circle with the handle is the big oven].

But it’s the tale of the ashes that’s interesting.  They will become part of the composting material for dry toilets, an ecologically sound way to manage excreta in areas where there is little water.

Plus,

Within six months the composted material can then be used as fertilizer in home gardens or fields.

Take that, Potash Corporation.

There’s a plan for the restaurant’s grey water too.  If that’s a new concept, here’s your link: http://greywateraction.org/greywater-recycling

And what will the restaurant serve? Organic foods grown on CEDESA’s grounds through sustainable agricultural practices.  Cooked in traditional Mexican recipes.  Can we all say “slow food”?

Uh huh, you and I want to eat here!

Over forty-seven years of planning and building, CEDESA has transformed its communal grounds into a riot of fruit trees, gardens, paths, low-slung adobe classrooms,offices, kitchens and dormitorios, singing fountains and, I’m quite sure, a bird sanctuary.  (They’ve also deliberately left part of their land wild for animals and nature’s experiments in cross pollination.) To see what they’ve built, using strictly ecologically sound and sustainable principles, is to see a rather ruthless high desert domesticated into a small paradise. But, not only has CEDESA grown a paradise, they’ve become an oasis of sanity because of what they teach.

To walk on its shaded brick pathways, to see the shafts of sunlight illuminating avocado trees whispering over beds of indigenous lettuces, to hear water recycling through mosaic fountains, to watch insect and plant life perform its daily ritual is at once a tribute to CEDESA’s Catholic ‘liberation theology’ founders,

Catholic priest Guillermo Davalos Martinez, affectionately known as “Father Memo” and a woman who worked at his side whose name I’ve shamefully forgotten

and a deeply personal experience of what the present can be, and what the future must surely look like.

CEDESA needs $1,000.00 US to build the new restaurant’s environmentally friendly public toilets.  In turn, they will continue to take successful ecological techniques into the Guanajato countryside:

Models for dry toilets, cisterns, solar water cleansers, solar power, sustainable techniques for food sovereignty, medicinal plants, construction, water management

I know that dry toilets aren’t sexy, but anybody can donate to this teaching/learning center’s work.

Today a dry toilet for a sustainable ‘college’s restaurant –  tomorrow, the world!

Here’s your link.  Google will translate.

http://cedesa.org.mx/index.php

P.S.

Over Mexico’s long and tumultuous struggle with land reform the Mexican campesino has never been allowed to thrive. Places like CEDESA prove that rural farmers and families can survive on the land and further, provide models for a ‘first world’ that must change along with them.

It would take a week to tell you how much I learned yesterday, and a better writer than I am to tell you how much I want to see them continue their success.