» Archive for September, 2010

Ode to the Outmoded Commode

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 by Marie

Dear Flush Toilet,  How we don’t need thee.


You waste 2 gallons of water per flush.  The average person flushes you 4 times per day.  So daily, per person 8 gallons of water, usually drinking quality, go down the toilet.  Literally.  What a lovely thing to do to perfectly good water, eh?  Mix it with poop and send it away to be treated by sewage plants.

Oh, Flush Toilet.  How we don’t miss thee.

In the last two years, we’ve hosted approximately 400 people for a total of 6,807 people-days.  In those days, Flush Toilet, you would have been flushed around 27,228 times.

That is 54,456 gallons (206,138 liters) of water that has not gone down you, Flush Toilet.

54,456 gallons of water that can be used instead to water important plants, cook healthy meals, and bathe in.

And, Flush Toilet, just look at your replacement!

composting toilet

Comfortable, well-built composting toilets are clean, close to living spaces, and turn human waste into humanure: perfectly good dirt that we can use in our gardens.  We can even use it in veggie gardens (though we don’t, because despite studies that show properly composted human waste is fine to use in food gardens, it tends to gross our visitors out).

What’s that you say, Flush Toilet?  You think these new composting toilets stink??

You’re wrong!  By throwing in a handful of sawdust or tree leaves after use, the compost toilet doesn’t smell.  When we anticipate heavy use we throw in a few gallons of sawdust before and after to keep them smell-free.

What’s that you say, Flush Toilet?  You think you’ll never be replaced by city-folk, only by some weirdos living in the woods in Mexico??

You’re wrong!  Composting toilets are gaining popularity.  Indoor compost toilets are increasingly becoming an option for facilities that want to conserve water and have a proper way to deal with waste.  In fact, Flush Toilet, toilets like you didn’t gain popularity until the late 1800’s.  You’re a new invention, and if I may be frank, a stupid one.

So, Flush Toilet, here is our ode to you, the outmoded commode:

Ode to the Outmoded Commode

Flush Toilet, you were our dear good friend,

but really, this silly relationship must end.

Problems you solved, but problems you created,

just so our need for convenience could be sated.

In your lovely chamber water, poop and pee became mixed.

And sometimes we had to call the plumber to have you fixed.

With the ongoing need to plunge, flush and clean,

just so our poop can go off to a land unseen,

we must, Flush Toilet, give composting a try.

And thus, with no sadness, we bid you good-bye.

For more information on composting toilets, see:

13th annual Mushroom Fair in Senguio, Michoacán

Sunday, September 5th, 2010 by Marie

We traveled across the state to spend two nights in Senguio, Michoacán, for their annual mushroom fair (La Fería de Hongos).

Senguio is a small town close to Ciudad Hidalgo.  Once a year its residents host the mushroom fair.  They set up a long table full of identified wild mushrooms.  Several stands sold spores of shiitake and oyster (seta in Spanish) mushrooms.  Town restaurants cater the event with a wide variety of mushroom dishes including tamales, posole, tostadas, soups, burgers and more.  One table was set up with over 20 filling choices for mushroom quesadillas!

The fair was tastefully organized with events and educational workshops throughout the weekend.  There were tours of the area, workshops on medicinal mushrooms, even a hot air balloon making workshop.

We felt warmly welcomed by the town.  The director of the fair, Carlos, was busy the entire weekend coordinating events and activities but still took time to chat with us.  The owners of the restaurant “El Coyote” were so kind, offering to take us mushroom hunting after the fair.  We were stuffed again and again with mushroom treats.

Senguio was decorated with mushrooms!  Mushroom trash cans, mushroom posters, even little kids dressed up in mushroom suits.  The drawing on the fair poster was the winner of a drawing contest among the children in Senguio.  We loved looking at all the entries.


For anyone interested in mushrooms, this fair is very impressive.  It was well organized and attended by some of the most respected mushroom experts in Mexico, including Pátzcuaro resident and author of our favorite regional mushroom book, biologist Horalia Díaz-Barriga Vega.

So we send a big virtual thanks to the lovely people of Senguio.  We’re looking forward to next year!

The Mushroom Fair / La Fería de Hongos photoset on Bosque flickr

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