Quarantine Projects

While we were in quarantine, we decided to work on the outstanding projects we have on the Ol’ Flores Ranchito. Much like the quarantine, these projects have gone on and on with no sure end point in sight. 

We had purchased the materials for these projects earlier this year or as a last minute dash to the ferreteria the first week of the #QuedateEnCasa campaign since everything was still open. Little did we know that, just like the work on the house, businesses would be open and closed in fits and starts. 

Quarantine Project #1 Tejas

Putting tejas on the pestana (overhang) on the front of the house was actually begun in February but was interrupted by this and that and it still isn’t finished here in July. There are 3 tejas that need to be placed yet. So here’s how that project went.

If you’ll recall, one of my house goals of 2020 was to finish the front of the house decoratively. The ledge on the front of the house that serves as an overhang needed to be covered with roofing material. We hemmed and hawed whether to get the old fashioned tejas or the newer flat ones that come in more colors. To determine which would be more economical, we went to three different places that sold them in Moroleon.

The first one has the two browns and one orange I was considering. I thought if we had multiple colors it would tie in the color of the doors, the color of the chimney and whatever color we decided to paint the house (which is still under debate). For pricing purposes, we went to two other places and found that the tejas were $100 per square meter cheaper there. 

The next day we went to the closer of the two cheaper places to pick them up. Well, guess what? They didn’t have the color I wanted even though we had asked the day before. So we went to the farther place. They didn’t have the exact color, but one was close enough and in stock. I gave up on the three-toned design. I was tired of hunting stuff down. 

My husband had done the calculations and we bought the amount he had calculated. It took about two days for him to install the tejas on the pestana. Only, he hadn’t included the length of penstana on the animal side of our ranchito. And that meant another trip to the ladrilleria (brick and roofing tile place) 

Only by then, the first period of quarantine started so the tejas (roof tiles) sat in the garage for several months. Meanwhile, we started on the second project.

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Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle 2020 and Online Nature Camp

If you have kids or grandkids, you’ve probably been watching the debates on whether it is safe to open the schools again next month. Here in Mexico, schools will be completely sanitized the first week of August and remedial classes will begin August 10 but the full school year calendar hasn’t been released yet for whatever reason.

There is talk about alternating days to reduce class size and implementing online classes for the days the students aren’t in school. There has also been rumors that only states that are considered “green” according to the semaforo (coronavirus traffic light) will open in September, which leaves out our state Guanajuato. But it’s all still speculation at this point.

My son is in his final year of prepa online (high school) and has 4 more courses to complete to get his diploma. While we didn’t have the pandemic in mind when we made this switch, we’ve certainly come to be grateful for our decision.

Meanwhile, I continue to teach children English in Latin American countries online with class-size swelling to five students per group. I am also glad I won’t be going back to the local elementary school to teach this year. 

Many families are considering homeschooling for the first time these days. The uncertainty and additional work parents will be shouldering is daunting. That’s why I’m thrilled that the Ultimate Bundles group has stepped up to offer the Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle 2020 from July 27 to July 31. 

Contained in this super bundle are 13 eBooks, 10 eCourses, 22 workbooks/printable packs, 4 full curricula, 3 memberships, and a summit with products for every age group. The total value of this packet of information is $1378.79 but you’ll be able to get it this week for just $29.50.

Let’s break down the bundle:

  • Preschool & Kindergarten has 9 products worth $222.49.
  • Elementary School contains 11 products worth $197.89.
  • Middle School includes 9 products worth $264.54.
  • High School has 7 products worth $166.94.
  • Homeschooling Organization includes 6 products worth $111.95.
  • Homeschooling Support contains 9 products worth $314.98.

If you are unsure how to begin your homeschooling adventure, then this bundle will help you get a taste. If you are an old pro at homeschooling, then this bundle will give you a chance to spice up your regular curriculum.

The bonuses:

  • Wild Happy Family Media Membership worth $27.00
  • Teaching Self Government – The Home School Helper & Starting Your Homeschool Right classes worth $23.92
  • Bookroo FREE book box for any club  for new customers or, FREE download of 3 minimalist posters for existing customers worth $19.95-24.95
  • Musik At Home 2 Month’s FREE Subscription worth $31.98
  • Love From Mim Printable Planner Sticker Set worth $16.25

Plus:

  • MadeOn Skin Care Beesilk Family Size Hard Lotion Bar worth $15
  • Orglamix Glow Oil Serum Roller worth $18
  • Puro Co. Focus Aromatherapy Blend for Kids worth $18.00

If you are still on the fence about homeschooling this year, this bundle will give you helpful guidelines and useful curriculum to test the waters while the school opening dates are still under debate. What have you got to lose?

Countdown Timer

Another fabulous homeschooling resource that I’m excited to tell you about is the Online Nature Camp from Herbal Academy. It’s a four-lesson course that can be done on or offline that consists of engaging, hands-on educational activities for kids ages 6 to 12.

The four lessons are:

  • THE WORLD OUTSIDE YOUR DOOR
  • HELPFUL GARDEN FRIENDS AND MORE NATURE ART
  • HAVE FUN IN THE KITCHEN
  • TAKE CARE OF YOU! CREATE YOUR OWN SELF-CARE

With activities like flower crowns, herbal bath bombs, and plant print shirts, you just can’t go wrong here!

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Natural Healing — Toloache

The beginning of the rainy season in our normally dry area brings with it all sorts of flowering plants that not having grown up here I struggle to identify. Every year, directly in front of our house, a deep green plant with the most glorious white blossoms appears. And every year, some part of me screams “POISON STAY AWAY” at the most primitive level. This year, I decided to positively identify this plant to determine whether my inner plant scream was accurate. It’s not like I’m doing anything else lately.

Anyway, after trekking over to its location to get a few pictures, I leafed through my favorite herbal book Infusions of Healing by Joie Davidow and came across a picture of a similar plant with the botanical name Datura. Armed with this bit of knowledge, I took my search to google to positively identify the plant.

This plant that raises my danger hackles is either a Datura leichhardtii or Datura wrightii, which is also known as Datura meteloides, tolguacha, or Sacred Datura. The internet can get you only so far. Both are native to Mexico and fond of heat. They can grow into a bush that can get up to three feet tall. All parts of these plants are poisonous. 

In English, varieties of the Datura species are known as thornapples, jimsonweed, Devil’s trumpets, moonflower, Devil’s weed and Hell’s Bells.

In Nahuatl, plants in this species were called Toloache, Tolova xihuitl, or Tolohuaxihuitl. Datura innoxia was Toloatzin (bended head) and Datura stramonium was Tlapatli (the plant with the nodding head). In Maya, plants of this species are known as Tohkú and Mehen-x-toh-ku.

Datura ceratocaula is a swamp dwelling plant known as Torna Loca (it makes you crazy). Datura arenicola is another variety native to desert areas in Baja California. Datura discolor is found in the Sonoran desert.  Datura quercifolia is called Toloache hoja de encino (oak leaf plant) because of the shape of its leaves. 

Interestingly, Datura metel is believed to be a result of pre-Colombian cultivation in the Carribbean that somehow traveled to India in the second century C.E. This makes it the oldest plant introduction from the New World to the Old World. 

These deadly plants were used ritually and medicinally by the Aztecs. Priests ingested the plant to induce hallucinations they believed were from the gods. These altered states allowed the holy men to visit ancestors or foretell the future. Not surprisingly, ingesting the seeds and flowers causes respiratory depression, hallucinations, psychosis and arrhythmias.

Datura innoxia is still used as a visionary drug by the Mixtec and added to chicha (corn beer) or pulque (made from the maguey) to induce prophecies. Jugo de toloache is made from D. innoxia and sold as a love potion. Maya Shamans smoke chamal (cigars made from tobacco and dried D. innoxia leaves) to induce a trance.

Datura ferox is believed to be an incarnation of a deity to the Tarahumara and the Huichol. The Tarahumara add the seeds to tesgüino (corn beer). 

The Tepehuanes believe toloache is the husband of the corn woman and son-in-law of the sun. Several indigenous groups once used this plant in rites of passage ceremonies and it is sometimes still used in brujería (witchcraft). 

The Little Book of the Medicinal Herbs of the Indians records several medicinal uses. The leaves of the Tolova xihuitl variety were used to treat earaches and scrofulous tumors. Tolohua leaves crushed in egg yolk was a remedy for glandular swellings. Pain in the side was treated with Tolohua-xihuitl. Genital inflammations were treated with a heated poultice of a variety of herbs including tolohua-xihuitl. A salve was made for cracked feet from herbs, resin, the blood of a rooster, and tolohua-xihuitl. Lesions were also treated in a three part cure that ended with the application of ground up tolohua-xihuitl. Skin afflictions warranted an herbal wash that included tolohua-xihuitl. 

Bernardino de Sahagún recorded that this plant was used to treat fever. The leaves were applied topically in an ointment to alleviate arthritis and sciatica pain and ground up seeds were used for gout. Flowers placed under the pillow were used to treat insomnia or induce a trance. On the other hand, he also wrote of it being used as a poison designed to harm enemies. 

One remedy from Coahuila, calls for the toasted leaves of the Datura wrightii to be placed on sores. In other areas of Mexico, toloache tea is given to laboring mothers to help with the pain. Manteca (lard) and D. innoxia are used to treat joint pain. The Maya traditionally use the plant to treat rheumatism. Smoking the dried leaves is used to treat respiratory ailments.  

Crushed leaves give out a bad smell. The morning blooming flowers are sweetly scented and are found in white, yellow, pink and pale purple. The plant adapts to its environment, making it sometimes difficult to identify. For example, in a perfect setting with adequate sun, shade and water, a plant can reach up to three feet high. However, in a dry area, the same variety might only reach ankle height with small flowers and leaves. 

Although all Datura varieties are toxic, the level of toxicity of a given plant is dependent on the age and growing conditions. This variation makes it hard to determine ahead of time how much of the plant can be used safely for medicinal purposes. In fact, sometimes poisoning may result from eating honey that was made from Datura nectar. 

Datura innoxia has the highest antioxidant levels of the species. Datura stramonium contains alkaloids, tannins, carbohydrates and proteins. Both varieties have antibacterial properties. All parts of the plant are anti-inflammatory and many also have antifungal properties. Extracts can be used to counter cypermethrin pesticide toxicity and organophosphate exposure because it contains atropine. It has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of gastrointestinal ailments and cholera.

Even though the Datura has been used medicinally for centuries, I don’t believe myself qualified to make any sort of concoction from any part of the plant in front of my house. However, I had a marvelous time running down all these interesting bits of information. 

Do you have  Datura in your area?

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