Well, that was interesting.

I’m behind on blogging. But here we go. New president elect. New blog post. So much has happened these past nine months.

Hello, blog! Summer ahead.

WordPress sent me a notification that my stats were booming. While “booming” is relative, and I typically don’t get tons of visitors, it’s darn cool to know I’ve reached a few somebodies out there searching for an answer in the sea of information that is the www. Hopefully these visitors found a useful bit of info or maybe chuckled. Thank you!

I haven’t posted in a while. My daughter has been in her junior year of high school plus she participates in activities like dancing and tutoring which means it has been a super busy year for her. As I am mom-taxi, and I worry a little right with her, it was a busy year for both of us. I’m proud of her for pushing through some challenges. There are 8 days and 2 hours left in her junior year. Senior ahead!

My balcony garden is growing. I cut back the number of herbs, peppers, and tomatoes and added a couple mighty little trees and a jasmine from friends. Much like my stats were booming, several plants are blooming. Orchids inside. Comfrey, tomatoes, and a hydrangea outside. They are pure garden magic, sparkles & all.

Last week I purchased and put together a portable gas grill. I tried to video the process. I’ll edit that. Maybe post it. But mission accomplished. I have a grill! And it should work much better than the inefficient community charcoal grill.

Then I cooked food on that very cool (hot) and compact grill. If there’s a food that encapsulates the joys of summer, it’s food cooked on a grill in open air and the mosquitos bites that go with it. In my case it was chicken marinated for 35 hours and cooked to deliciousness with a few hickory chips and skewered zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and sweet onions. So good!

Set sails for summer!


Ghost in the Machine, Life on the Balcony

Balcony is just two letters too many to spell, “bacon.” And bacon is yummy!

Now that I got your attention with bacon, I’ll share my ghost story.

A couple of weeks ago, I disconnected my phone from the charger in the kitchen to learn that a series of things had happened. A) a map app was open and on magnify, B) my music app had been entirely deleted, and C) my main browser had been moved from my home page to the back page of apps. Not only that but in the map app letters had been typed in.

It goes without saying, I had not opened the map app myself, I hadn’t moved my browser or deleted my music app (like serious d’uh), and I hadn’t typed anything. Everyone at home denied touching it. Even the cat. I’m no stranger to butt-dialing or -clicking, but this was pretty over the top even for that.

Really, my phone should have been locked in its normal, run-of-the-mill home page, plugged in & charging, and not much else. But that’s not at all how I found it. Because not only did all of what I already mentioned happen, but the letters that had been typed in to to the map app were the initials of someone I know who has passed on.

I’m normally pretty logical about this stuff. But that was a lot of stuff. All at once. I’m sure there’s a non-ghost explanation, right? Hackers? Super accidental-clicking? And the framed photo that spontaneously flew off my daughter’s shelf when nobody was near it probably had nothing to do with any of this. Right?

Well, ghost or not, such things have a way of making me think about life.

With my music app deleted. I had plenty of space to update the iOS on my phone. That was helpful. So I should update life more often.

And life goes on. School has been out for about three weeks now for my daughter. I managed to carefully avoid over scheduling her summer with summer camps. She finished her last dance recital for the year. She was beautiful! Now she’s relaxing. Doing yoga, science and math in Khan Academy, and generally enjoying the summer. Plus she’s learning to prepare more of her own food including cooking salmon and making beautiful yogurt parfaits which she’s happy to make for others too.

Still life with yogurt parfait and coffee goop

My balcony garden is slowly going strong.

I decided to plant only one or two tomato plants this year. They’re a lot of work. Growing a decent yield of full-size tomatoes is tricky in containers and especially so when you have to carry all the water. There’s no hose hookup on the balcony.

Balcony Garden 2018

The 2017-2018 winter was harsh which meant that a lot of plants that had come back year after year previous years gave up the ghost. So I had to replant several plants. But some hearty plants laughed in the face of winter’s sting and returned to warm in the beautiful summer sun. Some plants always need replanting anyway.

Growing strong are an orange variety of sumptuous cherry tomatoes. Hot peppers. Strawberries. And I have a lot of herbs. Basil is one of those herbs that really loses something in dried form. Fresh is amazing though! Three varieties in five different containers are growing strong. Plus there’s parsley, chives, sage, and oregano. Sweet mint (which came back from last year) and a tasty surprise called Strawberry Mint which has tiny leaves that smell fruity like minted strawberries.

The bee balm from last year popped back up and this year even sprouted a flower.

Strawberry mint blossoms with bee


Bee Balm flower without bee

I had to replant the curry plant (helichrysum italicum). Mine had been growing for years! But then winter. It’s not the kind of curry used for cooking, but I enjoy the smell when I run my fingers along the silvery leaves. Something about it is so soothing and healing. The comfrey shocked me by sprouting leaves out of what looked like a totally dead pot of soil and then sending up long stems dotted with buds that bloomed into clusters of jellyfish shaped, lilac colored flowers.

Lemon Balm grew back from last year too and it has tiny yellow and white flowers this year. As do the Japanese giant mustard greens which replanted themselves from seed.

Sweet basil and Thai basil

I love being able to grab a handful of fresh herbs and adding them to whatever dish I’m cooking or tea I’m steeping.

Ghosts are wild, but a flavorful life is living!


Stay On Target

Yesterday I drove my daughter to dance class and rehearsal. Took our cat to the vet. Then met up again with my daughter to enjoy some of Taste of Vienna where we basically ate lunch in open air as we sampled the fare of local restaurants. Then home. Then back out to more dance rehearsal. While she was at dance, I did some grocery shopping at Target. Then I picked up the kiddo, took her home, and made dinner.

Somehow all this seemed notably less busy than January, February, and March. Thank god!

During those months, Robotics season was in full build-and-competition season. First Robotics, while a fantastic learning experience for teens, is a major time suck for kids, volunteers, and parents alike. The robotics team did a great job this year. There were so many improvements over last year! But I spent mega time in my car driving my daughter to somewhere or picking her up from somewhere. 

Plus with her so busy after school, she was often up late at night to get homework done. That led to a frequent missing-of-the-school-bus. Which meant I had to drive her to school in the morning before I went to work. I was tired before the day started.

Along with Robotics, my teenager had several dance classes and Science Olympiad. Two things that are also no small commitments. I was running on fumes from driving her places and trying to keep track of everything. 

The schedule is more manageable now. 

I was relaxed as I shopped at Target. My well honed life skills include efficiency while grocery shopping, so I quickly filled my cart. At our Target, a gallon of milk is only about $2.40, so I find Target to be easy on my wallet too. I was not in a bad mood at all. 

While loading a few beverages into my cart, I was blocking the aisle for another shopper. She said, “excuse me, pretty lady,” to get me to move. I’d have moved anyway. It’s busy there on a Saturday. We all have to make accommodations. (Most of us anyway.) But somehow adding “pretty lady” to her request caught me off guard before making me smile as I scuttled out of her way. 

Realizing this stranger had singlehandedly coaxed a grin out of me while on my speed-shopping mission, I looked up. She had chocolate skin, a bright green and blue patterned blouse, and white earbuds. I’m not sure if she heard me when I uttered a heartfelt, “and thank you!” I should have called her beautiful. She may say those words to everyone, but her soul made a bright spot in my day. 

I may have brightened the day of a dog owner earlier in the morning. While waiting for our cat’s blood-pressure check at the vet, I leaned over to check my kitty-buddy. Fletcher is a laid-back cat, but he was meowing more than usual. As I straightened back up, I realized that my shirt had spilled open during my lean, revealing a healthy dose of cleavage and bra to the man across from me. At I sat up, I noticed him grinning. I stifled a laugh but smiled back, and made sure I held me shirt closed the next time I checked the cat.

Kitty’s blood pressure is better but not great. At 18 years, he’s an old cat now. But he’s still lively, and I still adore his company. One of the techs at the vet said he was more like a dog the way he’d get in and out of his carrier. I’ve said this about him many times myself. It’s strange to think he’s almost as old as some of the employees at the vet.

It was a quick trip to the vet. And that was also my goal at Target — quick.

But I slowed myself up at check out. I started loading the contents my cart onto the check-out belt. Milk. Ice cream. Again, trying to be quick. I had other things to get done. I reached for the cans in my cart and noticed a young father standing in line behind me. He held a toy, an apple, and the hand of his young son. Nothing else. I asked him if that was all he had — gesturing to the boxed toy and apple. Then I told him he should get in line in front of me. He declined at first saying that his son could learn patience. I practically insisted as I pointed at my full cart. He accepted and his check out was speedy. 

It was a lovely day. 


Just a quick reminder — if there are elections where you live then vote! 

People fought wars, got arrested, went through many hardships to gain the right to vote. Don’t take it for granted! 

Voting tells our government and politicians that we care and we’re paying attention. It’s not a big presidential election year, so lines shouldn’t be huge in most places. 

Just do it!

On This Day

In seventh grade I moved from a suburb of Chicago, Illinois to what I thought would be a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee. A lot of things weren’t quite what I expected.

First, the area we moved too — an outer section of Mount Juliet — was not exactly suburbs. It would be better called a rural area with some subdivisions.

We had to drive about 25 minutes to get to the nearest grocery store. No traffic, just winding roads and hills. We had a few convenience marts / bait shops closer than the grocery stores. So you could grab soda pop or toilet paper if needed. But any real shopping would have to wait.

From our new home’s balcony we could see Old Hickory Lake in the distance and lots of land and trees and a few sections with houses. The view was spectacular! There are a lot more houses and subdivisions now.

Our yard was large, dotted with trees, and edged in wild-growth blackberries and weeds. And snakes. We had snakes.

The bus and new school scared me. The sound of my alarm in the morning seemed cruel and unusual.

There was culture shock and more culture shock. I got called a Yankee more than once. I mean, really, how many years ago was the Civil War?

But eventually the shock wore off.

I found friends and food  I liked. Dear friends and yummy food that I still love to this day.

Catch Up – Red Tie and Rangers

Our nation is on week two of the 45th Presidency. It has been interesting … I still feel like we’re all stuck in an alternate universe. Three years ago watching a few episodes of The Apprentice, no way would I have imagined Donald Trump to be president here in 2017. But it happened. And I gotta say, it’s a little stressful.  I’ve been craving yoga and chamomile tea.

At his inauguration our new president wore a very large red tie. I guess that’s one of his signature looks except that I hadn’t watched enough television before that to know. So I saw it and thought, “wow, that is one ginormous tie.” And I wondered if I was the only person on the planet to notice the tie. I Googled it. Then I wondered if I was the only person on the planet not privy to the fact that this was his “signature tie.” Then I wondered about some other things  because …

The president talked about how the people were taking control of their government again — a very populist sounding speech. But it would be more accurate to say that about half the people were “taking control.” No wait, maybe about 35-40% of the people. Because while he has some very loyal supporters (whom you may have missed if you live in a big city like L.A., Chicago, or New York), there are also people who voted for him who simply didn’t want to vote for Hillary or any third-party candidates. And, really, it’s not like any of them are really in control either.

A few spotty protests took place during his inauguration.

There was dispute about how many people attended Trump’s inauguration. I don’t know why this is a thing. It shouldn’t be a thing. I would absolutely expect Obama’s inauguration to draw more crowds. He was the first African-American president, it was a very historic moment.

A huge Women’s March took place the day after. Women and men around the world marched for women’s rights. The streets of D.C. were positively flooded. Many expressed their anger over some of the president’s past comments about women and worried how they may be treated as a whole by the upcoming administration and its policies.

The throngs were speckled with pink hats. I hadn’t read much about the march ahead of time. But that day I saw all kinds of reports on costumes, signs, and on what the hats were. The hats were usually a bright pink and had two protrusions — one on each side. Were the hats supposed to be lady parts? Ovaries? Uteruses? Some folks dressed up as those things. I thought, “those hats don’t really look like lady parts; they look more like kitty ears.” “Ah ha!,” I thought. They’re pussy hats!

Some folks who marched or spoke were loud, in your face, and used a lot of language probably not suitable for children. Some people were offended, some thought it was a great expression of the hurt. Basically, the marches remained peaceful and non-violent. So that’s good.

The president announced a hiring freeze on government employees, and later I saw reports that the National Park Service, NASA, and other federal organizations weren’t allowed to Tweet or send out press releases without first having the information reviewed by the administration. Basically, the reports said these science agencies had been given a gag order.

Then I saw Press Secretary Sean Spicer at a press conference saying that the order did not come from the White House. That there were already rules about what could be sent out, so that reports of a gag order from the White House were wrong.

So whom do we believe? As usual, I’m sure there are lies and misunderstandings on both sizes of the political spectrum. It is always that way. Though neither side usually admits it.

Regardless of whether there was really a gag order or not, these are the days of the Internet and Twitter and instant everything. So the National Park Service went “rogue.” They set up an Alt National Park Service Twitter account and started Tweeting about the environment and how a wall between the U.S. and Mexico will affect the wildlife that lives in that area (and I don’t mean the people). NASA and several other departments of government also set up rogue accounts on Twitter and Facebook.

Officially, these accounts are not set up by the Park Service or government agencies. But unofficially the accounts are probably set up by park service and other similar employees on their own time.


I generally like parks and go camping in them, so this was an interesting turn of events. I would love to see this as a movie. There’s something reassuring about park rangers.

Then I saw the president on the news saying he was going to ban “catch and release.”

Now here’s where my brain does what my brain does and uses past experience to make meaning of the present, and I think, “he’s going to ban catch and release? Does that mean we’re going to have to eat all the fish we catch?”

But no, immigration is what he was talking about. He wants to change current policy.

He signed papers to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. And lots of people thought, “But there’s a hiring freeze. Who’s gonna build the wall?” Days later he signed executive orders banning folks from 7 mostly muslim countries from entering the U.S. for a period of 30 to 90 days depending on stuff. People who had already been vetted to enter the country were stopped mid-travel at airports. I mean, I would have been pissed. Tickets paid for, flights flown …

This made quite a few people furious because it stranded a lot of good people including women and children and people with paperwork saying that they could be here and live here.

There was a lot of confusion. (Which may be the understatement-of-the-day.)

But other people were like, “hell yeah!” Because they don’t want terrorists to enter our country and they see this as a move to prevent that.

One side sees Trump as evil incarnate —a budding fuhrer. Forbidding specific ethnic groups along with a gag order on scientists only fueled that fire. But did the president even issue a gag order? Maybe yes, maybe no. Some reports said that everything that happened with the park service was nothing more than standard internal procedure during a change of administration — happens every four years, give or take four years. They were just doing their thing.

But once these ideas spread, it’s hard not to have them stuck in people’s heads. And I mean, ROGUE PARK RANGERS! That’s like rogue Bambi or superhero cottontail bunny rabbits. How cool is that?

But rogue scientists or not, there are a lot of people who are thrilled that they have a president who actually follows through on his campaign promises.

I’ll give them that. Good or bad, there aren’t many politicians who’ve attempted to do so much of what they said they would do in so short a period of time.

But plenty of people didn’t like what this man said he would do in the first place, and he could really use some lessons in diplomacy (oh look, another understatement). He issues his own brand of rogue, ego-fueled Tweets.

We tend to hear more from people who are mad — happy people don’t usually complain so much. But there are a lot of mad people right now.

With some people loving what he’s doing and some hating it, straddling between is a challenge. There’s hardly a middle-of-the-road anymore, it’s more of a suspension bridge.

Cabinet members have been nominated and mostly confirmed. Some love them, some hate them.

There are enough protests going on that I’m pretty sure there must be clandestine operations taking place that we may or may not hear about later. (All these protests are the perfect cover and distraction.)

At least a few things probably aren’t even the way people think they are because that is how it works. Rarely do we ever get the whole, real truth, and rarely is one side all right or all wrong. Though sometimes things can run 60% – 40% or even closer to 90% – 10%.

I would love to have a good, reliable source for news and analysis, but I’m not feeling that right now.

The best I can hope for is to read and listen to what both sides have to say and hope some of the truth is filtering through.

It is so very early in this presidency. What will happen today? Tomorrow?


It Would Be Mythical

The WordPress Daily Post’s Daily Prompt is Mythical.

A few months ago I could have gazed to the future and fancied that one day, one glorious day, the Daily Prompt would be mythical. 

I knew today was different when I awoke. My head felt …. 

And so this sunny November day — it is the day of the mythical prompt. 

And it is a Friday which makes it even better. 

I have a sniffle and I ate too much yesterday, but I won’t let that stop me from making use of this mythical opportunity. This won’t be the last. 

Zote Soap in English

The Zote Soap website has, at least temporarily, removed the English portion of it’s website. It’s website is here at: http://www.zote.com.mx/

Since I think it’s super helpful to have some of this information in English. I’m posting the translated version of a few pages to this page.

Note that the text here is as-translated by my browser (for now), so there are mistakes — lots of ’em. Some of them are even pretty funny. Helpful tip, the word zote in Spanish can be translated to English to mean dim, stupid, or dunce. So when you see “dunce” in the translation, below, assume it means Zote. I’m leaving all the dunces there for now just because. Where ZOTE was typed in all-caps, the translation left the word ZOTE in tact. I doubt anybody actually named Zote “stupid” so I’m going to assume they meant “simple.” It is a simple, basic, true soap. But who knows. I’ll try to do some research.

Hopefully you get the gist of the translations. If you have any questions just ask. I’ll do my best to answer. I still like Zote soap and find it in stores here in the Washington DC area. In fact, I find it in even more stores than when I wrote my original Bar Fight: Laundry Bar Soap post.

The partent company of Zote is here: https://www.lacorona.com.mx/jabon_lavanderia.html




It is recommended to wash clothes people sensitive skin being of natural origin .



ZOTE is a soap pure Laundry, unburdened made based on coconut oil and beef tallow, containing optical brighteners, whose shape and size are ideal for hand washing.

In the past, in rural areas of Mexico, it was common to see women washing their clothes with dunce in rivers, on special boards or rocks, or in bowls in their homes;because since Crown it launched in 1970, it became a favorite of Mexican housewives to remove stubborn stains and wash delicates products.

In the beginning, soap ZOTE was manufactured with an almost manual process. Today, we have the most modern equipment and the latest technology for the manufacture of this and all our products; but we retain the original formula that led to ZOTE to be the market leader in Mexico.


The basic ingredients of natural origin used in the manufacture of dunce are the same used for toilet soaps; therefore, it is not abrasive ingredients that make ZOTEideal for washing delicate items that may be damaged in the washing machine (as sweaters, woven clothing and underwear), preserving them in good condition product and extending the life of the same. For this feature, many used to wash the clothes of people with sensitive skin or baby clothes.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, has great cleansing properties, making it ideal for prewash collars and cuffs of shirts and to remove stubborn stains.

Another of the distinctive features of ZOTE is her perfume: the essential oil of citronella plant has a pleasant smell like lemon; Thanks to this ingredient, clothes washed with ZOTE retains a fresh and pleasant smell for several days.




The main raw materials are tallow and coconut oil, they are neutralized with caustic soda to the saponification process, contains salt (sodium chloride), glycerol, bleach fragrance optical and dye, in the case of ZOTE pink and ZOTE blue. optical brightener soap ZOTE contains an optical whitening bleach discolor clothes without clothes. Optical brighteners are compounds that provide brilliance to clothing, giving a visible blue color to the garment washed; his work is seen in white clothes. WHAT TO DO IF SWALLOWED If swallowed (which is very difficult to be solid) can cause nausea or vomiting. It has no toxicity problems. WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF EYE CONTACT In case of contact with eyes should be rinsed with plenty of water. 




You can wash your clothes in the sink or laundry to adjust. Thoroughly wet the garment and scrub it with soap dunce until foaming.

Rinse with plenty of water until the soap is gone. If desired, you can add softener Carisma .
Hang up and let dry as it does regularly. In case of woven garments it is recommended to dry on a flat surface on a towel.



Carve your laundry with dunce before putting it in the washing machine, for prewash collars, cuffs and stubborn stains, ensuring superior cleaning.





To prepare soap liquid ZOTE there are two simple ways:

• In a bowl with hot water of more than 2 liters, let soak a bar of soap ZOTE 200 g overnight.
In the morning you can use the solution water with soap for hand washing or washing machine.

• in a bowl add a soap ZOTE 200 g of any color and cover with about 2 liters of water,
bring to boil on the stove, stir occasionally until a thick solution. REMOVING TOUGH STAINS without chlorine Apply the soap mixture ZOTE boiled still hot and dry directly on the stain of the garment. Put the garment in the sun until the soap hardens and pull it off; the stain will be attached to it. The remaining solution may be used at other times, following the same procedure.




Add the grated soap like dunce of any presentation to the washer from the start of the wash cycle with detergent. Upon normal wash cycles, you will realize that there will be more control foam and your clothes are whiter. To peel, you use a common knife or a cheese grater.



Add a piece of soap ZOTE inside a sock or cloth bag sealed, put it in the washing machine in the last wash cycle and rinse.




Often our customers write to us and tell their stories, and among the most common are: • WASH HAIR AND BODY For its high content of fatty acids, its low level of free soda and being a pure soap can be used for washing the hair and body. • as fishing bait it is known that the dunce pink works well for fishing for catfish. The scent of citronella seems to attract the fish. • REPAIR tube or pipe If you make a mixture of soap dunce with sugar, you can make temporary repairs to cracks or leaks in pipes. • REPELLENT MOSQUITOS the aroma of citronella is known to drive away mosquitoes. • Insecticide for pests of plants disappear, should boil water and soap ZOTE white, let it cool and empty in a sprinkler with sprinkler. • sCULPTURES with instruments to sculpt, you can make a sculpture with a pill soap dunce . If you try, we recommend you do when soap is cool, because once hardened it will be harder to handle. • perfuming DRAWER If you want to perfume your drawers, you can put a piece of dunce in a small cloth bag in his drawer. his coffin will be perfumed and if it comes to a drawer where he keeps clothes, notice how your clothes give off a scent of freshly laundered. > Back to our website lacorona.com.mx



Can I bathe with dunce?

Many people in Mexico bathe dunce . Soap ZOTE is made on the same basis a soap and free alkalinity of both is very low, so they fulfill similar functions. However, unlike a soap, ZOTE contains additives that make it ideal for clothes care. Can I wash BABY CLOTHES? Because the formulation ZOTE has very low alkalinity, it contains salts they could massively deposited on clothing and has no toxicity problems, so it can be used to wash the baby ‘s clothes. If you have any questions, ask your doctor. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WHITE dunce, PINK AND BLUE? Compounds ZOTE white, pink and blue are the same, the only difference is the dye containing the latter. In northern Mexico, the pink soaps dominate the market; while the southern population prefers white soap. So it is a matter of personal taste. DOES THE DYE ZOTE PINK AND dunce BLUE can stain clothing? The dye containing ZOTE pink and ZOTE AZUL not stain clothes under normal washing conditions. To wash MY CLOTHES WITH ZOTE CAN DESPINTARLA? the ingredient ZOTE to launder clothing is known as optical brightener , its function is to reflect light so that white look brighter. As it is a non – chlorine bleach not discolor clothing. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TOILET SOAP NORMAL AND A dunce? The only difference is that ZOTE contains more moisture, and toilet soap may contain an additive that highlight some quality . (Antibacterial for example)

jump, Jump, JUMP!

Today’s prompt from WordPress Daily Prompts is, Jump!

Just jump right in.

I think I will.

Jump for joy.

Dance a jig.

Avoid the bridge.

Take a leap of faith.

And jump. Jump. Jump!

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