Tuesday, March 30, 2010

That Which is Put into a Pot

"What are we doing today?" Brian asked Shelley (as she seems to be the social director).

"Fredi has to go back to the vet" she advised him.

The vet gave Fredi her second dose of parasite medicine and told us to come back yet again in another 21 days. Poor Fredi trembles as soon as we enter the building. She shouldn't. The vet's always terrific with her, but it's hard to forget needles. After we left, we walked down to the Comisariato and picked up a few things you can't find at SuperMaxi and then caught a cab home.

Several times, with several different people, we've had the following conversation: "Back home in X, we saw the relatives from time to time & Y a few times a year but generally our social life was pretty dull. Here, we'd go out every day if we didn't manage it properly. What is it?"

Well...Shelley's concluded it's one of two things (or perhaps a combination of both): (1) Strangers in a strange land or (2) Second childhood back to the playground ~ "Will you play with me?" Take your pick! But the phenomenon seems to be quite wide spread.

As we're swiftly coming up on being in Ecuador for 2 years now, we've found that things have slowed down for us. When you first come there's the mad rush to take care of business where you originally came from, then there's the mad rush to see everything there is to see here, combined with the mad rush to buy everything you need to furnish your new life. Then there's the need to fill that new life with new people. As time goes by these needs are fulfilled and you start to get back to basics. This is not to say the glory of Ecuador, its vibrancy, its people, its wonderful landscapes (from sea, to mountains, to jungle) stop enthralling - it hasn't for us. This is not to say we're not thrilled to make new friends and enjoy the ones we made when we first got here. We have concluded that it probably has to do with the transition from discovery of our adopted land to it becoming truly our new home. It's calmer. We're more comfortable. More secure. This progression too is a natural phenomenon and we're grateful we've managed to reach this stage.

It was time to renew our bus passes so we walked downtown on Friday to take care of that chore. Afterwards Shelley wanted to go for lime tea so we headed up to the Nice Cream place on the main square. All the main square and surrounding blocks were stuffed full of teenagers in their school uniforms & many drum majorettes in their skimpy costumes. We happened to be lucky and just walked by a table in Nice Cream that was being vacated, otherwise with the mob scene we would have had to wait or leave. Along came a mother with her daughter and Shelley indicated to them that they could share our table. Turns out the Mom had spent 25 years in the United States and spoke wonderful English. Her daughter (born in the States) was living here going to Colegio Garaicoa and Mom was down visiting with her. Apparently all the kids were in the street because it was the 65th Anniversary of the Colegio Garaicoa. We had a nice chat with mother & daughter and traded cards so we may see them again.

We took a walk in our neighbourhood on Saturday. Afraid the rain would catch us out, it never did, we managed to get home without a drop. We ran into 3 people we know and stopped and talked on the street for awhile. One couple is getting a container sent down from the States and I'm afraid the rest of us told horror stories about that process. Then we swung over to the Jo-Mar seafood store in the Las Quadras building and picked up 6 salmon burgers, a bag of oysters & 5 shrimp burgers ($15). "You know at Granville Island in Vancouver that would have cost $40!" Brian commented to Shelley.

Sunday we went downtown & met some new people & went for lime tea & cappuccino. Shelley gave advice as to where to buy towels & we listened once again to horror stories about having a container shipped into the country. It was Palm Sunday and the streets were full of vendors selling elaborately woven palm fronds & aromatic herb bunches mixed with flowers. Monday we shopped and Shelley made something called Chocolate Pot. "What does that mean ~ Chocolate Pot?" asked Brian.

Shelley had no good answer.

Tuesday morning we woke up to the toilet leaking. With a myriad of experience from the boat, Brian managed to fix the problem armed only with a screw driver. We went for a walk and puttered around the apartment getting ready for the guests we'd invited that evening. This is the second time we've tried to invite a bunch of single people over for dinner. The first time we ended up with 1 out of the 4 we invited. This time we almost ended up with 3 but invited a last minute guest, so our average is improving. We served baked trout and cauliflower & broccoli with hollandaise sauce and mashed potatoes. At our request, our daughter had brought us a bunch of packages of "add milk & butter only" hollandaise sauce from Canada and it turned out great. The chocolate pot was good too! Shelley looked up the word "pottage" thinking that it might have something to do with that. Turns out it means "that which is put into a pot". (Not helpful.) In any case, we all talked about what we had been up to lately and our experiences in Ecuador and it turned out to be a lovely evening.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's All About the Weather

On Remigio Crespo there's a Fybeca & just down the street from there is what we call the "spice store". We had walked to the spice store Friday morning to pick up some pecans but they were out. We then stopped into the Fybeca to pick up an item and they didn't have it in stock either. It'd been raining that morning but the sun was out & shining hot and although we had to walk Fredi around puddles it was more of a game than anything. We could have thought our time out was wasted but we didn't. With the sun shining, the air clear because of the morning rain, a blue sky & a happy puppy on a leash nothing seems a waste.

Both Brian & Shelley worked full time from the time they were teenagers until retirement. There are as many ways to go into retirement as there are people retiring. Nothing is right or wrong. Our life is pretty placid. We go for our daily walk, have a holiday every 3 or 4 months, eat out once a week and have people over to our place from time to time. Some of our friends find work for themselves in retirement. This is what gives them pleasure. Others travel extensively. Still others discover the internet and go into the world that way. We know one fairly young couple that seem to have a whole world of pleasure in sitting in the park downtown and just watching the people go by. Always pleasant, always there, we chat from time to time and then continue on our walk. There are those that go into retirement and find no pleasure. This is just wrong. If it doesn't suit you, there's a whole world of things that require your presence. Go out and find them! As for us, we're pretty content. After two lifetimes of working, and struggling with ups & downs, we're still and constantly amazed at where we are and how much joy it brings us!

Because it's Ecuador & because we're retired, we have a tendency to make "expeditions" out of certain purchases. On Saturday we hopped on the # 28 bus to go out to Coral Centro & SuperStock. We were looking for a set of sheets somewhere between the two sets of prices we'd so far encountered ($7 & $150). We were also on a quest for a metal loaf pan. We'd found a pyrex one but preferred the metal if we could find one. Brian & Fredi went for a walk and Shelley went into SuperStock. There she found a perfectly good set of 300 count sheets for $50. Leaving the store, we walked down to Coral Centro and Shelley stayed outside with Fredi while Brian went exploring. He came out with a metal loaf pan & two blocks of Kraft Cheddar Cheese. You have to understand that cheddar cheese is very difficult to find in Ecuador, so this discovery made our day red letter!

There was a young couple at the main park on Sunday singing childrens' songs and the crowd really seemed to enjoy them. There was much laughing and tittering. We sat in front of 3 stuffed horses and watched the photographer take pictures of young children. He has a pretty good digital camera and a small picture printer that he carries over to the single plug provided by the park. We sat in the sun for 40 minutes and no one we knew walked by, so off we went to get Brian his roast pig. Monday we shopped and Shelley made Microwave Cheesecake as we're having company on Tuesday. We still have several Tuesdays to go before we're caught up on our obligations, but we're having fun doing it, so that's what counts. Brian's getting confused over what he's served to whom...but Shelley's not worried about it.

Off we went Tuesday morning to the CB Carolina Bookstore to trade in our usual 10 books. We talked to someone there about moving to Ecuador with only 4 suitcases ("One of them filled with books.") When we first came we thought we might have to buy books through the internet & put up with shipping, duty & credit card purchases, etc. We can't express how much we appreciate this English language bookstore right here in Cuenca. The proprietors are wonderful people and there's actually a pretty decent collection of books.

Upon arriving home, Brian ate lunch and had his nap and then we set out prepping for our company that evening. Brian made his meat loaf (2 hamburger, 1 ground pork & whatever spices he feels like that day, stuffed with cheese & topped with ketchup). Shelley made salmon pate appetizers (apparently we like variety). Nothing was rushed, nothing was onerous. Company came, we ate, we talked, we ate some more, we talked some more and lastly we ate some more....OK, not lastly, we talked after that. It was a nice evening with nice people and we had a nice time.

Shelley wanted to pick up some chocolate and the best place for us to get good Ecuadorian bulk chocolate is Feria Libre so on Thursday we took a walk there. Shelley needed a cup of melted chocolate for a recipe she wants to try and after buying it she checked with Brian if he thought it'd be enough for a cup. She was advised she had at least 4 cups there. It cost $4. On the way home we let Fredi free walk near the river and she had an absolutely delightful time.

They've been issuing UV warnings here the last little while and it certainly is hot when you're out walking around. Back in Canada people are very concerned about the daylight savings time change and the spring equinox. Here in Ecuador however, it's pretty much equinox all year round, with sunrise at 6:30 a.m. and sunset at 6:30 p.m., give or take half an hour. Shelley discovered by reading, that only people with "weather" talk about the weather. If one day is pretty much like the next, there's not much to discuss, but in Canada where you go from extreme cold to extreme hot throughout the seasons, there's always something to start a conversation with.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

And in the End...

After a Saturday evening watching a movie (The Hurt Locker) on our new TV, Brian was very enthusiastic about his purchase. "You know how people always say you need to see this show or that show at the movies?" Brian pointed out to Shelley, his voice rising at the end of the sentence. "Well" he continued "With this TV everything is just great!"

Shelley shrugged & even complained a bit that it's overwhelming brightness was giving her a small headache. These actions did nothing whatsoever to diminish Brian's enthusiasm.

The next day we did our usual Sunday morning walk to the park. Watched a troupe of dancers. Eyed various soap bubbles on the wind. Waved at small children. Talked to a fellow shih tzu owner. Met a friend. Had ice cream & lime tea. And last but not least went to the market to buy roast pig. On Monday we did our shopping, Brian took Fredi for her walk & Shelley make carrot cake as we were having company for dinner on Tuesday. Tuesday we walked downtown to the post office. Brian got a haircut ($3) & bought 3 pairs of socks ($6) and then we came home & spent most of the rest of the day prepping for our company, except for...you know...Brian & Fredi had a nap. Brian made chicken cacciatore with a side dish of fried mushrooms & zucchini. Shelley took the ingredients for caesar salad out of a bag & placed it artfully on plates. As per usual, we all ate too much, had a good time and enjoyed our evening.

Brian likes to explore the Ecuador Forums and often gets questions about Ecuador through that venue as well as through the blog. Below is an excerpt from an email he sent someone recently regarding crime in Ecuador:

"If you are following some of the expat forum sites you could become a little unsettled by reports of crime [in Ecuador]. Of course there is crime here but statistics indicate that all major crime categories incidents per 100,000 population are only 1/3 of those of the USA national average. We certainly don't feel any more threatened than we did in Vancouver, BC, our hometown. There seems to be more petty theft such as pickpocketing cameras and cellphones. We lost a camera that way and know folks who have had cellphones and laptops stolen. However prudent precautions have prevented any further incidents. We know a couple who had a rather nasty home invasion. They freely admit that they inadvertently made themselves a target. They have not given up on Ecuador though and are moving forward with their lives. Again, statistically speaking, you have less reason to fear for your safety here than almost anywhere in the US."

The morning was damp & dribbly Wednesday so Brian took Fredi out just for a quick walk and then later on we parted ways, leaving Fredi at home clean & dry. Shelley went to a stationery store to pick up some manila envelopes and Brian went to the hospital to visit a friend. Speaking of stationery stores, the other day we were talking with a friend about scotch tape. Shelley advised said friend that one had to go to a stationery store to find some. In Canada, you'd find tape at the grocery store, drug store, corner stores, department stores, etc. etc. Here in Ecuador a staple of most North American homes is actually somewhat hard to find. Also when we did find tape, it required a dispenser. We bought a dispenser and a couple of extra rolls of tape so we're all set for quite some time.

We were supposed to pick up our pieces at the framer's on Wednesday. We deferred the trip until Thursday figuring giving them an extra day might actually mean our pieces would be ready. Shelley had finally found the perfect picture for our kitchen wall, and we went to the artisan shop where she had seen it to pick it up first. It didn't open until 11 am, so we sat in the park for 20 minutes waiting. Brian tried to haggle on the price, but there was no budging. Still, we'd been looking for the perfect item for that spot on the wall for well over a year, and this was the first one that had caught Shelley's eye. We paid full price. Prideful of our purchase, we meandered the streets to the framers. We waited 15 minutes while they served a lady in front of us and then presented our receipt. After much telephoning and dithering about we were told it would take half an hour more for everything to be ready. We resignedly went off for a bite to eat. Brian had a burger and fries for $1.20 and Shelley had an aromatic tea. Arriving back at the framers, it was evident they were still working on our project. Hammering & tapping & much back and forth walking was heard from the workshop above. Several times a somewhat frantic individual came down & spoke with the lady serving us. While there wasn't arm waving, the tone indicated there should have been. The proprietress told us, demonstrating with her fingers close together, just a few more minutes. Another half an hour later, the workman proudly brought down our indigenous wall hanging. It looked fabulous!

With Brian sitting in the front seat and Shelley with her feet curled on the seat in the back, we just managed to get the framed wall hanging into a cab. Brian brought the drill out as soon as we got home and we kept our fingers crossed we wouldn't hit anything important. Our new painting, our wall hanging and the picture of our boat in its new frame are all hanging straight & aligned in the apartment and, they look great!

We're quite pleased with ourselves for some reason. Maybe Shelley feels the purchase of the bourgeois television has been redeemed by the art? Maybe Brian feels he's off the hook by buying something for Shelley that she really wanted? Maybe it just feels good to spend money you can afford? And in the end, perhaps it's just because the sun is shining?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Seeking Good Home

Way back, when we first set up housekeeping here in Cuenca, we bought an indigenous wall hanging; all miniature figures of people & animals & birds & trees & plants & the sun & the sky & a house or two, all tiny stitched onto a background, very reminiscent of "Grandma's quilt". The hours of work it would have taken to make this project is staggering. We'd used two-sided sticky tape and affixed it to our bedroom wall and thereafter commented to each other that we should get it framed. You know how it is: we never got around to it. A couple of weeks ago, Shelley was vacuuming in our spare bedroom and elbowed one of the pictures hanging on the wall. It fell. The frame broke as well as the glass. Since we were going to the framers anyways, we decided to finally get our wall hanging properly fixed up. They're going to stretch it on a frame & then put a wood border around it. As always, the cost was extremely reasonable and we'll pick it up in a week. Right now our wall looks very bare without that whimsical scene covering it.

It's been raining the last couple of days and we've actually slept with all the blankets on (no foot poking out at the bottom). When we've taken Fredi for her walk her underside gets wet and her feet up to her knees get quite dirty. Brian plops her into the kitchen sink and gives her a foot bath when we get home. In any case, we had planned on taking Fredi to the Paque Paraiso on Thursday but felt we'd return home with a bedraggled, dirty, damp dog, so instead went for a walk in the neighbourhood on nice, clean, relatively dry pavement. The down side was, Shelley discouvered a fern plant she wanted and a pot to go with it, so we had to take turns carrying it home.

"I'm worried we'll run out of room on the patio!" Brian told Shelley.
She merely shrugged, admiring her fluffy green wonderful new plant.

We're scheduled to go out Thursday evening to a place called the Terrace that is supposed to cook wonderful beef. Anyone who's done any sort of research on Ecuador knows that "wonderful" beef is not that easy to obtain here. Thus, a small walk in the neighbourhood was enough to satisfy during the day. Brian talked to his friend Jan for 2 hours on Skype. Jan's been work-related galavanting around the United States (Washington, D.C., Orlando, Florida & New York City) and had popped back home to Holland for 2 days before he's off to China. We get tired just thinking about his schedule. Shelley read her book, played Scrabble on the net & generally lazed around until our evening out.

Have we mentioned retirement is W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L!?

Brian had steak & Shelley had a burger at the Terrace and both were great! The place was packed with people waiting to be seated and there were people out on the terrace even though the night was a bit cool. The decor is very North American but with several TV's blaring (as is the Ecuadorian way) and a full house thus, the ambiance was noisy! We had a bottle of wine ($22) so the bill for the both of us was $45. A bit pricy from our normal evening out but still quite reasonable. It appeared a good time was had by all.

The weather was a lot better by Friday morning. We had several chores to run downtown and were delighted that the sun was shining. Brian and Shelley, yet once again, discussed the possibility of purchasing a bigger TV (the word "helicopter" went unspoken). We went down the appliance street and Brian popped into several stores doing due diligence regarding pricing. (Note: There seems to be a penchant for alike stores to sit side by side on the same street. Thus, there's a cloth street, a small appliance street, an electrical (e.g. light bulbs, etc) street, a camera street, and so on...)

"Go ahead and get one" Shelley told him. "I won't make you feel guilty even though we have perfectly good little television that our daughter wanted before we left Canada and that you wouldn't give to her."

Brian professed that he couldn't just go out and buy the TV without total capitulation from Shelley. "Apparently I require total capitulation" Brian told her.

Shelley smiled (you know that small small smile) and shrugged. Brian then discouvered that in fact, he didn't require total capitulation. After many false starts: going to the store during siesta, not being able to get it to work, having the man from the store come by the apartment, juggling the things on our shelving unit, cursing the ancient gods of power cords & remote controls, guess what? We now have a brand new 32" flat screen HD colour television in our front room and a perfectly good little TV in our storage locker. (We'll eventually give the little TV away to someone who can appreciate it & give it a good home.)

Brian had stopped into the Comisariato store in Quito when he was there with Sammy & picked up some sausages & curry powder & a jar of crushed chili peppers that we couldn't find in Cuenca. We decided on Saturday to take a walk to the Comisariato Popular on Av. Remigio Crespo Toral 236 y Juan Iniguez to see what they had. No great sausages, no curry or chili powder but Shelley did pick up a bulk size liquid hand soap and a couple of other items that SuperMaxi doesn't carry, so the trip wasn't a waste. Brian had arranged to meet someone at the La Europa on Remigio Crespo for one of their surprisingly good Nescafe cappuccinos, so Shelley & Fredi caught a cab home with her items and had themselves a rather luxurious bath (not together!) while they had the apartment to themselves.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tomorrow Means Maybe

It's 10:19 on Friday morning. There are two men cutting an even bigger hole in our kitchen ceiling. They brought a square of something white that they're going to fit into the bigger hole and then they're going to fiberglass it all shut. Tomorrow, they're coming back to paint! Brian has taken Fredi for her morning walk. Shelley hides in the back bedroom, playing with the computer, listening to the awful cutting noises emanating from the kitchen. There was a bit of a flurry at the beginning because we couldn't supply our own drop cloth. Brian finally pointed out to them that there were a bunch of boxes in the basement that could be cut up and used. This is, in fact, what they did. When they were finished they did an absolutely wonderful job of cleaning up too. We've lived with our hole so long, are we going to miss it? Na.

Speaking of our hole, we've been teased from time to time about spiders coming down from it. This, to our knowledge has never happened. However, the last few days we've been killing large spiders all over the apartment. They are not gargantuan, frighten the horses, Godzilla spiders, but they are about 3/4's of an inch across. Brian suspects they're coming in our open patio door. They may not frighten horses but do seem to intimidate small dogs as Fredi doesn't want to have anything to do with them. Normally, other than a large beetle spied on the street from time to time, we don't see many bugs in Cuenca. Note: we've killed 4 spiders in the last 3 days, so don't get concerned there's been a terrible invasion.

Well, Saturday morning we waited fruitlessly for the workmen to come back and paint the ceiling. We sort of knew in our heart of hearts that expecting them to arrive two days in a row was asking too much. Brian took Fredi for a short walk and Shelley stuck around just in case, but no one came. We had planned on going out Saturday evening to a birthday party soiree, so it wasn't important to us that we do anything special in the day time. Nevertheless, even knowing better, it's hard not to be somewhat disappointed.

It's important to remember, no one is trying to avoid an obligation; our hole was in fact eventually fixed and the painting will eventually be done. It's just that the system of making these types of appointments, preparing for them, making sure that the required supplies are on hand, etc. needs a little work, and then there's also the "yes" factor. Ecuadorians seem to be genetically incapable of saying no. "No" might happen, but face to face, faced with "no", it just doesn't take place. "After tomorrow" means sometime within the next month. "Two weeks" means about 6 weeks. "Tomorrow" means maybe, but certainly sometime. It's hard, having grown up in the North American culture, to make the changeover, but we're getting better each and every day. Retirement helps!

One of our blog friends just arrived in Cuenca, so we arranged to meet her downtown at the main square on our usual Sunday morning outing. Born in Ecuador, she has spent all of her teenage & adult life in the United States & her working life in New York City. We met her last summer when she was visiting Ecuador (to see her family) and found her absolutely facinating. She's currently (retired for awhile) living in Pennsylvania. She has a charming blog called looloo by the lake and is starting another blog called looloo in ecuador. We met and chatted and went for ice cream & tea and then took a walk up to a piece of real estate she's thinking of buying and then chatted some more and then went for lunch and... you know... chatted some more. In any case, she's here for a couple of months and then back to Pennsylvania & then she'll come back to Ecuador more or less permanently. (You know how it is: depending on how things go.)

There was some consternation about doing our shopping on Monday morning because there was a notice in our elevator that they'd be servicing it at about the time we'd get home. The thought of walking up 4 flights of stairs, at least twice, with loads of groceries didn't sit well. As it turned out however, we didn't have to. The elevator was working, at least until Brian came back with Fredi after her walk. He sat on the stool in our foyer and panted for awhile. Shelley guessed the elevator was down. We'd also managed to run into the developer for the building and advised the hole was fixed (!) but they hadn't shown up to paint it as promised. We were given a beatific smile and asked for our telephone number. Presumably we'll get a call letting us know when the painting will happen.

Shelley made rum cake and cut up sour fruit so she could lace it with sugar and it could sit in preparation for a fruit salad. We're having company for dinner on Tuesday and Brian's going to make our favourite chicken curry, so he thought a fruit salad accompanying it would go well. After Brian was up and at 'em (you know, after the operation) everyone and their dog had us over for dinner, so we're starting the reciprocal thing. It'll take us a while to catch up but there's fun in the doing so it's OK.

Now...it's hours later. Shelley is covered in chocolate & rum & white sugar up to her elbows. She's cleaned chocolate off of her slippers & shirt & rum from the counter...white sugar sticks on the counter tops E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E. The rum cake only needs to settle now & Shelley needs a "time out".

Thursday, March 4, 2010

But What About Fredi?!

Our last blog mentioned we were expecting workmen to come fix the hole in our kitchen ceiling at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday. At 9:45 two workmen and the developer for the building showed up and took a look at the hole and advised they'd be back in 25 minutes to fix it. At 10:20 some friends of ours dropped by for 10 or 15 minutes to pick up some almost spicy sausage Brian had bought in Quito for them. When they left, Brian took Fredi for her morning walk. Shelley stayed at home waiting. Brian & Fredi arrived back home at 11:07. Shelley shrugged at them indicating nothing new had happened. At 11:28 Brian started preparing the meat loaf we were planning on serving our guests that evening.

"Meat loaf!" you say. "Who serves guests meat loaf? That's a plain family only meal."
Answer: We do. Brian's meat loaf with ground beef & pork and a myriad of spices is great!

Brian & Fredi went down for their nap at 12:21 pm with instructions to wake Brian up if the workmen came. We'd already decided, since we had company coming for dinner that evening, that if they showed up much later than 2 o'clock, we'd have to turn them away. By 4:15 we were confident we didn't have to worry about the workmen interrupting our evening. Once again, we've fruitlessly waited. Once again we'll go about our business until we run into the developer again (he conveniently lives in the building), ask him when the work will be done, note his surprised face and then go about this now familiar routine. Sooner or later (perhaps) our hole will be fixed. Stay tuned for the next installment.

Brian had found a place in Quito where he could get his Cedula colour copied & laminated and he decided we'd search around and find such a place in Cuenca and do Shelley's. During one of our Fredi walks we discovered a place in our neighbourhood, so Wednesday morning we set out to get the job done. The entire process cost less than $1 and gives you the confidence to pack your Cedula around without having to worry about losing it. They did such a good job with Shelley's, it actually looks better than the original!

It's been a year since Fredi had her major shots done, so on Thursday off we went to the vet. She got a rabies shot & 2 other shots, plus a parasite pill and her nails cut. Her temperature was taken & she was weighed. We also came home with some multi-vitamines and something called Gel Antiplaca for her teeth, as well as some Advantage flea & tick medication for the next time we head out of Cuenca (not many bugs in Cuenca). The total bill came to $37.80. Fredi, although she started trembling as soon as we entered the vets, was a wonderful dog, patient with all the poking & prodding. She has to go back in 21 days for her 2nd set of parasite medication but other than that is off the hook for another year except for getting her nails cut. These days, Shelley's tweezers the hair out of her ears & trims her coat once every 2 weeks. The vet also showed us how to "milk" her anal glands so this is also done when she has her bi-weekly bath. We can't quite bring ourselves to cut her nails but usually this costs $2 when we get it done once every 4 - 6 weeks.

As we were coming home from the vet, we noticed one of the better known real estate women from town as well as the developer for our building showing off a suite for sale. The couple they were showing it to, came up to us and asked us if we were Brian & Shelley. They'd read out blog. We advised them there were no major problems with the building and the location was wonderful. We also seized the moment and pointed out to the developer we still hadn't seen anyone regarding the hole in our kitchen. He somewhat sheepishly advised us someone would be by tomorrow. Now that's some sort of cosmic justice thing happening...isn't it? In any case, we'll see what happens.

For several months now, we've been discussing possibly going to either Europe or England this summer for a holiday. Two months ago Shelley announced she didn't want to go.

"What'll we do with Fredi?" she wailed.

The end of 2009 & beginning of 2010 was a fairly eventful time for us. Brian's brother got sick & passed away and Brian flew on short notice to Canada to say goodbye. Before you could blink, Christmas was happening and in the midst of all that Brian himself was diagnosed with cancer. Now everything's just fine these days, but the whole experience was anything but restful.

Our daughter came for a visit and we took a 4 day adventure bus ride out to the coast and back. To say we were pleased with Sammy's visit is an understatement but any new person thrown into a closed mixed causes at least some sloshing.

"But what about Fredi?!"

Maybe I'll want to go to Europe next summer or even in a few months" Shelley told Brian. "But right now I just want to be at home. Can you understand that?" she asked him. "I don't want to think about anything complicated. We can go to Vilcabamba or Salinas for a holiday. Just let me be for awhile." She batted her eyes at him and after only several months of wrangling he finally gave in.

"Ok...But I get a big screen TV & a helicopter" he grumbled.

"Where are you going to keep the helicopter?" she asked smiling indulgently.

Monday, March 1, 2010

And Again the Rain Came Down

Fredi & Shelley by themselves: Lying on the couch watching TV, Fredi cozies into Shelley's shoulder. Shelley's on the computer, Fredi circles herself onto the couch nearby. Shelley's reading, Fredi lies on her legs, shifting with every move. Going to bed; Fredi pushes herself as close as possible, curled deep into the warmth. Brian & Sammy are in Quito. Fredi mourns & sucks up big time to Shelley.

Sammy & Brian shopped 'til they dropped in Quito. Sammy found a photography magazine in Spanish for her husband & a vase with penguins on it for herself. Brian came home with more curry powder & sausages that are actually a little bit spicy. Apparently neither one of them got a good sleep, so Brian arrived home with caffeine jitters & a longing for a tub bath. Sammy text(ed) from Houston that she'd landed & again, many hours later (18), that she was back in Vancouver. Her flight was delayed an hour in Houston but other than that everything went as fine as can be expected. Fredi, of course, was (!) OVERJOYED (!) to see Brian.

Saturday we trekked downtown to look at a shirt Shelley had spied while shopping with Sammy, but it turned out they didn't have any in her size (all too small). We sat in the park for awhile and enjoyed the people & the sun & the busy(ness), bought a couple of $1.50 movies and then caught a bus home. As all but one of our income tax slips had arrived, Shelley then proceeded to the Canada Revenue Agency internet site and printed out the forms we needed for our 2009 income taxes.

"I'm stressed enough after printing out the forms" Shelley told Brian, riffling through an inch of paper to demonstrate. "I'll do your taxes another day."

Because Canada has a tax treaty with Ecuador we could file a special form once and pay 15% income tax thereafter (no matter what our income) and not have to file any more forms, however, as it turns out our income is such that our taxes are under 15%. Thus we continue to file the myriad of documents to receive our "bonus" refund.

And again the rain came down. One of our shelving units for plants out on the patio got so overweighted with water that it started to tip over. Shelley took her slippers off and went out to the patio to save the unit & her plants. She was out there less than a minute but came back soaked to the skin. The thunder cracked overhead and the river rose up and over our measuring boulder and up the stump on the end of the island. Fredi trembled at the might of nature & our satellite TV went off and on with the vagaries of the wind and the rain. That night, late in the night or early in the morning, Shelley had been sleeping and Brian was reading. She woke up and asked Brian what the heck he was doing doing because the bed was bouncing. Apparently we had had ourselves a small earthquake!

On our way downtown for our Sunday walk we encountered a marathon. A police helicopter was circling the entire thing & policemen were at street corners redirecting traffic. It seemed to be street performer day down at the park; we encountered three of them putting on small plays as well as a troupe of dancers. We sat in the park and eventually several people we know came by and we chatted with them for awhile. There was a new couple we'd never met before from the States and we were asked if we'd show them the ropes in getting roast pig at the 10th of August market. We of course, were happy to oblige. We then showed them where to buy bus cards & another new bus route to their home.

From time to time we get teased because our life seems such a routine to outside people. Shelley & Brian get along really well and we like to spend time alone together. Ain't nothin' wrong with that! After the last few months of anything but routine, we're kinda glad to be quiet for awhile. We shop on Monday & go downtown to the park on Sunday. That's it really; our routine. Oh...if we're going to have people over for dinner usually we have them on Tuesday. Can you guess why? You got it (!) We shop on Monday. In any case, after shopping Shelley came home and boiled chicken for her salads for the rest of the week (she continues to fruitlessly try to lose weight) and made Cream Cheese Brownies (OK! Cream Cheese Brownies don't help) but (you've got it again!) we've got people coming over for dinner on Tuesday.

Steady readers of this blog will realize that we've had a hole in our ceiling in our kitchen for some time now (can it really be well over a year?!) Several blogs have mentioned this hole. In a different mood, Shelley may have written songs dedicated to this hole.... In any case, we made arrangements with the builder yet again for contractors to come and fix the hole on Tuesday morning at 9:00 a.m. (Note: We have dinner guests coming at 5 p.m.)