October 2009

In honor of our first water bill (an astounding $130.00 for 14,000 gallons of water) I’ve decided I will be devoting a lot of my attention to water conservation through the end of this year. Call it an early New Year’s Resolution, if you will, but I hope that the methods for conservation I implement this next few months will carry on for years to come. And now I’ll mention the point that most of that 14K gallons of water running through our house was caused by a broken toilet handle in the place we just began renting and neglected to fix.

In the shower: Take shorter showers. Pretty simple, right? If you really seem to have trouble managing your time in the shower, pick up an egg timer and limit your showers to 5 minutes. A five minute shower with a standard shower head consumes around 20 gallons of water. You can go a step further and replace the head to a low-flow model which will use only 7-8 gallons of water in 5 minutes.

In the toilet: Remember and actually use the old adage, ‘When it’s yellow, let it mellow. When it’s brown, flush it down.’ Obviously, you must throw your toilet paper in the trash to keep from clogging the toilet and don’t be afraid to flush after you’ve peed 5 or 6 times because the smell will get a little overwhelming. You can also place a brick (enclosed in a ziploc bag) in your toilet tank to trick your toilet into thinking the tank is full. Most toilets don’t need to use as much water as the tank will allow. Just make sure to place the brick carefully so it won’t interfere with the flushing mechanism.

In the kitchen: Never let the faucet run continuously while washing dishes. Try to fill a sink with hot soapy water and soak dishes to remove particles before scrubbing. If you don’t have many dishes to wash, fill one of the dirty (but relatively clean) bowls or cups to be washed with a bit of soapy water and use this to dip your sponge in to wash dishes. Also, try rinsing your dishes at a lower water pressure.

In the yard: If you need to water your lawn make sure you are using your sprinklers when they will be most effective. Although most sprinkler systems are programmed to water grass twice a day, try to get by with watering it just once, and an hour before the sun rises is usually the best time to do it. In the middle of the day, the water evaporates too quickly for the grass to soak up and in the middle of the night the water can attract fungus and mold!

These are just some basic steps to help cut your water consumption and there are plenty of other things you can do to help out. Just google ‘water conservation’ to find an array of options. I’ve even tried going a step further than some of the practices I’ve outlined here. For instance, I took a couple of gallon-sized water containers and cut the tops off to put in the shower below my feet to catch some of the run-off. These water containers sit in the shower until I need to flush the toilet and when I’m ready, I remove the toilet tank lid, pull down on the flusher, wait until the valve at the bottom has closed and then pour my saved water into the tank. I’m trying to collect more suitable and long-lasting containers to keep outside to collect rain water for the same purpose.

Anyway, it’s nice to think we’re helping out by not wasting so much precious water. I’m also sure my bank account won’t mind a smaller bill.


I’ve been really lazy about my cameras lately and decided it was finally time to download all the photos from the last couple of months. I realized I have a bunch of cute puppy photos to share!

This is Oliver. Or little dude. Or sometimes little shit.

He’s not easy to photograph because he’s so dark and moves fast so I’m satisfied if I just get a few that aren’t a blur.

He was so little back then! Since we’ve brought Oliver home 2.5 months ago he has more than doubled his weight and has learned to sit, shake and roll over. I joke with everyone that I can tell he’s getting bigger because his poops are increasing in diameter. He’s a little stubborn sometimes, but generally a good little dog. He has recently been racking my nerves about not walking in the grass when it’s wet out (which is every morning) so it’s been tough to make him pee and poo in the mornings. We’re working on that. Amazing that he doesn’t mind getting bathed or getting sprayed with the hose, huh? Just doesn’t like his feet getting wet.

We left Angeles to stay our last few days with Angelita in a little apartment on the outskirts of Manila. While here we traveled into downtown Manila to see some historical buildings and also made a day trip to Taal Volcano.

A guy pedaling a bicycle taxi wouldn’t leave us alone about giving us a short tour around the city, so my mom finally hired him to point some things out and guide us around. He wasn’t accustomed to having to pedal around 3 fat Americans, though, and we even got a few laughs from his friends who referred to us as ‘caribou’. TJ and Mom decided they would help and pedal for a little while.

Lunch in the city.

When we got to Taal Lake we chartered a boat to take us to the volcano in the center.

We were pestered into hiring a guide with a horse to lead us along a very obvious path to the rim of the volcano. Mom rode for a little while and hiked the rest of the way. I guess most foreigners would rather pay the small amount for a horse so TJ and I were looked at like we were insane hiking the whole 1.5miles to the top.

Taal is an active volcano and the lake in the middle of the volcano is not swimmable, so we just looked at it from the rim.

This hike was less dusty than the hike to Pinatubo but we still managed to get really dirty feet.

This set of photos concludes the collection. So here they finally are, 5 months after the trip.

On the way to Mt. Pinatubo we passed a long set of steps that lead to the top of a hill that my mom remembered visiting. You are supposed to climb to the top, pay your respects and leave a donation.

There is a tunnel cut into the hill which deadends in a small cave with another shrine.

Lola called her friend over to give us all manicures to help clean up our filthy nails.

Red Horse is a pretty strong beer that feels like a punch in the gut when it hits your stomach.

We all helped Richard wrap soap – his community volunteer project.

And John Paul showed me how to fix broken flip flops.