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Looking out my Backdoor: Missed my calling


August 29, 2019

Today I bring you the banal, the mundane, my trite self-discovery in household hints.

Soap-pads Ohso Special. Also known as SOS or, in Español, “fibra metalica.” Can you believe I could not find any of those soap-embedded, finely-shredded wirey scrub pads that I think of as SOS pads, no matter the brand? Not anywhere in town.

I am a proponent of shopping locally. Though my town is small, I generally find whatever I need in a store right around the corner. Fruterias and aborrotes abound, that is, fruit and vegetable stands or grocery tiendas.

As I said, we are a small town. Our tiendas are small but abundant, one on every block. Shelves are crowded. The item I search out might be behind other items, high on a shelf or behind the counter. One learns to inquire.

Other stores are specialized. Like the spice lady or the herb man. Or my favorite cremeria. Or the egg lady who doesn’t have a store but sells eggs out her front door while chickens run loose in the back yard. Or the strawberry truck or the woman who scrapes and chops Nopale cactus in the Mercado.

Often I shortcut the search process by asking Leo or Josue or Erica, “Where can I find a whichit?” If they don’t know, it might not exist. Then, and only then, I might put it on my list to bring from the States.

My last trip, I returned with a new deck of playing cards and leafy-lettuce seeds, which I can get here but didn’t know where until this very week. Other times I’ve brought pickling spices, jar lids and rings, and a particular shampoo.

Oops, almost forgot the other resource — the Big City. When Leo asked me if I needed anything from Costco, I showed him my empty Ajax box for “fibra metalica” scrubbies. Maybe I’m sexist but when I sent a man to buy a special cleaning tool, I was not surprised he returned empty-handed.

Back to my wished for soap-pads. I bought a box a couple years ago. Ajax brand, printed in Espanol. Contents, five pads which I used stingily and judiciously because I knew they were a rare item.

My drinking water comes in twenty liter jugs. In my kitchen area I have a Mexican-style water reservoir with a spigot on a stand. The jug sits upended on the reservoir. If one is in a hurry or careless with the spigot, water might drip onto the floor. Over time, a mineral deposit builds.

I’ve used razor blades, vinegar, and CLR and they all work, sort of work, with generous application of elbow grease. Quite by accident, I used the last soap bubble of my last pad, swish, swipe, and wiped out the entire calcium deposit of the ceramic tile, Vila! Shine restored.

Most of us, well, some of us, Okay, “I” have a dirty little secret; an area I hate to clean and put off scrubbing but my procrastination leaves a grimy residue on my consciousness. Water in our area is laden with minerals. My shower tiles are despicable but nicely hidden. They only bother me. But bother me they do. Hence — my sudden need to find soap pads once I discovered how quickly and easily they work on tile.

I threw my brain up on the rack and pulled and stretched until it yielded the secret of where in the world I might have purchased my Ajax pads. In Magdalena there is a fairly large, warehouse type bodega. I have not shopped there in the last couple years. The store carries things on the shelf which are hard to find in our town, things like yeast and soap pads.

I trotted around the corner to con Lani into a trip to Magdalena. She’s an easy touch and we had a good outing, each finding things we wanted, including my soap pads and more leafy lettuce seeds.

When you come visit, I shall hand you sunglasses to don when I show you my sparkling shower tiles. I missed my calling. I should be in advertising.


Sondra Ashton grew up in Harlem but spent most of her adult life out of state. She returned to see the Hi-Line with a perspective of delight. After several years back in Harlem, Ashton is seeking new experiences in Etzatlan, Mexico. Once a Montanan, always. Read Ashton’s essays and other work at http://montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com/. Email [email protected]


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