I’m a dog! Hey!

A little glimpse into my life in Mexico these days.

the twigster,


PS: Try to make a story by connecting the pictures.

Here’s mine: I’m a dog and I like to run around in the corn. Oh! and I loveeee flowers. Flowers. Flowers. Blue flowers! There’s my master at work. She’s always in the store. She should come play in the mud!

IMG_7586_2 CIASPE: In Bloom IMG_7520 IMG_7331



I am starting the process of packing up. I am finishing my Peace Corps service at the end of October. I can hardly believe it, but starting to pack is helping me to process it all. Just now, as I was going through some old notebooks, I came across a letter I wrote to fellow Peace Corps Volunteers at the middle point of my service.

Dear Fellow Peace Corps Volunteer,

1. Let’s find comfort in our overlooked accomplishments and more importantly, in the connections we are building. I may not have fixed all of the bio-filters in the communities, and your garden may look a little crispy, but what else happened today? Today one of my english students composed a coherent sentence. Today, I drank really good local herb tea and wrote a report that both my counterpart and I were happy with. Who did you connect with today? What did you do well today?

2. Constantly, try to remind yourself who you are and what you originally set out to achieve during your service. Don’t change your name to fit the language, if you don’t want to. There is nothing wrong with celebrating your culture and your new adopted culture either.

3. Yes, projects are important, but will the number of installed gardens be what you take away from your service? Remember the larger picture and the other two goals of our service.

4. Find your cheerleaders and be your own cheerleader. Seek help from other volunteers; they are going through the same thing you are. Call home too. People miss you and want to see if they can help you somehow.

I love that I am meeting people that I may have never had the opportunity to meet. I love that I am helping to break down the myths of US success in my migrant heavy town. I love that I am seeing life on both sides of the border. What do you love about your site and what you are doing? Focus on that and the rest will fall into place too.

the twigster,

Enjoying a carne asada at the non-profit, CIASPE in Querétaro, México.

Enjoying a carne asada at the non-profit, CIASPE in Querétaro, México.

PCM-13, COS having fun, August 2014, IMG_4461

Close of Service Conference: This group has been the best support during my time in Mexico.

We, team CIASPE, started a biointensive gardening course in three communities of Amealco, Querétaro in January 2014. Every other week we made the 1 hour drive from the experimental farming center to the communities of El Apartadero, San Bartolo, and Tenazda. Over the course of these past 6 months we learned a bit about the history of the people, their desire to grow their own food, and the factors that sometimes get in the way of meeting that goal.

We shared information about composting, soil improvement, organic plague treatment, double excavation of garden beds and so on. I share with you some results of the great collaboration.

the twigster,


PS: The CDs in the fist photo are meant to keep the birds away. What a great way to use what’s at hand!

Chasing Birds

Chard Explosion

A Different Start

            CIASPE  is a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable agricultural practices and research. It is a fairly young organization, only three years old, and the majority of its funding has come from its sponsor organization, GMI. As CIASPE is growing older, the organization is working towards covering a larger percentage of its operational costs and becoming more financially independent from its sponsor. Seeing CIASPE’s desire for self-sufficiency, the CIASPE team began to conjure up the vision of opening a gift shop to generate a supplemental income for the non-profit.

            CIASPE receives visitors from universities, other non-profit organizations, and groups of people interested in the sustainable food movement. The traffic and the demand for the products already existed. We met this basic rule of business. Next step: a suitable space for the store. Once we found and transformed a perfect nook in CIASPE’s teaching center, I drew on my contacts in Huimilpan and began to slowly fill the store with inventory. I called Lourdes from Capula, and ordered 30 bottles of nopal capsules. Next I spoke with Gustavo to develop jewelry made from seeds, and so on. As excitement began to build about the store, CIASPE team members began passing me more and more information about potential products.

            Today in the store we are selling organic seeds from CIASPE, portable solar lamps, crocheted key chains and baby toys, nopal products, succulent plants, and manuals about the biointensive method of gardening. The store continues to grow as Equipo CIASPE seeks budding products and continues to build relationships with community members through our gardening courses. For example, we are teaching women in Amealco to crochet baby blankets so that they may sell their work in the store as well and gain a small income. The store, therefore, is not only generating income for CIASPE, but also for community members with whom CIASPE works.

            As the store grows, we will continue to seek potential markets. There is talk of starting an online store using etsy, but we are not quite there yet. We are also developing salsas and natural beauty products using plants and veggies that come right from CIASPE’s garden. It will be a truly beautiful thing to not only promote sustainable farming practices, but sustainable consumerism through CIASPE’s small “organic boutique”.  We are generating an income for the non-profit, for community members, all while supporting our mission of promoting sustainable lifestyle choices.

the twigster,


PS: We still need a name for the store. Any ideas?

Lourdes from Capula with her xoconostle jam & nopal pills

Lourdes from Capula with her xoconostle jam & nopal pills

Nopal in Bloom

Living the Dream

I recently moved to CIASPE, an experimental agricultural center just outside the city of Querétaro.  I am working for a non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting and teaching sustainable agriculture practices. I am doing exactly what I love.

the twigster,


PS: More to come soon…

Bio-intensive Garden Beds

Pup at Work

That Little Fluff

It was a rainy and chilly day in Huimilpan. The sky was overcast and that seemingly omnipresent sun was nowhere to be found. I was working from home that day, an excuse to stay in sweatpants and a flannel shirt. Hunger, boredom or procrastination led me to the kitchen in search of something edible. Moving around boxes of pasta and bags of uncooked beans, I knew I was down to the dregs of my kitchen supply. I had to leave the house. The horror.

I made it to the market without any run-ins. As much as I rock it,  grunge still hasn’t been accepted as a look here in Huimilpan. I was more than halfway back to my house with a full canvas bag of veggies on my shoulder when I spotted a small black fluff ball peaking up at me from under a truck. Naturally, I stopped. I’m cold, so she must be cold, I sympathized. I  got down on the stone sidewalk, and started calling to the little fluff. She came, I scooped.

Oh, I was just so excited. I had a new little friend. I rushed home while Fluff made herself cozy on my arm. I pulled out the remaining dog food from Canela’s stay and anticipated the chow down. Fluff casually walked over to the bowl, sniffed the croquettes, and came back to sit on my lap. Weird. We moved on to the bath. I took out the flea soap and the comb and got to work. Only one flea. Weird.

The little Fluff was so cold, so I decided to blow-dry her. She sat on my lap content as could be as I styled her curly black hair. She let me brush her paws. She let me hold her paws and look at her nails – her short, clipped nails. In that moment I realized exactly what I had done. I stole a dog. I finished her ‘do and did the only thing I could do. I took her right back to where I found her, dropped her off, and hoped her owners wouldn’t be confused by their dog’s spa day. Goodbye Fluff.

the twigster,


PS: I am going home for Christmas this year and I get to play with MY dog!

A Disguise

Street Dogs?

Day of the Dead

This Mexican culture that mocks death and celebrates it at the same has inspired me to write the following calavera. Calaveras are full of subtle or not so subtle wisecracks that criticize the living.  With that said,  please don’t take my poem too seriously…

In dedication to the dedicated Peace Corps Volunteer

Here lies a good Peace Corps Volunteer,
Who died of grief
From being stood up at community meetings,
Left alone at each meeting;
She has died of a defeat
Received a blow too big
And such was her foolishness
That she was already in the tomb,
Turned into skull and bones
And waiting for community members
to join for the meeting
of the dead.

the twigster,


PS: Today was the last bio-intensive garden lesson in the communities. People are growing veggies!

Death by Diabetes: Dedicated To Those Who Loved Their Sugar

From Death to Compost

From Death to Compost: Dedicated to Those Who Have Fought For the Natural World

Diamond Encrusted: Dedicated to Those Who Die in Vain

Diamond Encrusted: Dedicated to Those Who Have Died in Vain

Hand in Hand: Dedicated to Those Who Have Died of a Broken Heart

Hand in Hand: Dedicated to Those Who Have Died of a Broken Heart

Cempasúchil: Dedicated to Those Who Have Not Given Up on Life and Her Beauty

Cempasúchil: Dedicated to Those Who Have Not Given Up on Life and Her Beauty

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