Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kitten in a Bag

It always takes a little bit of prodding from one of us to the other to get off our butts and go to Parque Paraiso but in the end, it's always worth it.  Brian's back has been bothering him the last few days (tall man syndrome); just something that happens from time to time and one has to live with.  We lay on our bed in the morning, after chores and breakfast, and talked about what we should do on Wednesday.  In the end, we decided on the park for several reasons:  (1)  walking on grass for some reason is much easier than walking on cement (2) it's a good outing that never fails to cheer us up (3) it's Fredi's most favourite place in the whole world! 

Upon disembarking from the bus, Fredi knew immediately where we were at.  It's one of 3 places in the city where we can get away with unleashing Fredi and letting her go.  She wiggled in Shelley's arms, showing high excitement until we walked across the road and hit the park's grass.  Off the leash she tore in 237 different directions all at once.  Now shih tzu's dogs are not noted for their smiling face.  They have no snout, like poodles & german shepards, and more often than not have a very serious, concerned look on their face.  In the park however, Fredi is giantly and obviously overjoyed.  There are people that could watch this unbounded happiness and not feel better themselves but Brian & Shelley are not part of that clan.  In any case, we walked around the park, met up with several people and a dog or two, introduced ourselves and ventured on.  We also sat on a rock & watched the sights and a little further on sat on a log watching the world go by.  All in all and generally we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Time for another down day, we simply took a walk in the neighbourhood on Thursday, dropped into La Europa and had cappuccino, enjoyed the weather & kept our eye out for a place that sold small poinsettias.  So far we haven't found one.  (We go through this every year and every year we eventually find one.)  Friday was going to be more of the same but some blog friends telephoned to let us know they were in town and had chili powder & currants for us.    (By the way, we're all stocked up on chili powder & currants now!)  We met them downtown for lunch, provided them with a city map, gave them some pointers, heard parts of their stories & in the end directed them to the indigenous sweater etc. market and crafts place in el centro.  We're going to try and meet them for supper again before they leave. 

Aside:  While sitting in the restaurant, the woman beside Shelley started to look around a tiny bit anxiously like she'd lost something.  When Shelley inquired, the woman said she was looking for her sweater.  She asked her husband and he too was sweaterless.  "You must have left it on the bench in the park" we told her.  "Go look."  Her immediate response was to say it'd be gone by then.  Brian rose from his seat and peered out the window.  "No, it's there" he said.  The blue one, right?"  She rushed from her seat, out the door and across the street to the park and picked up her sweater.  Upon arriving back she was very pleased and it set an exceptionably good note for Cuenca.  "Your cell phone would have been gone though"  Shelley cautioned the woman and we all laughed.

Brian went down for his nap as soon as we got home because he was off to the opera that evening, the Barber of Seville.  Again, this event was free, the only requirement being that you picked up your tickets ahead of time.  He had arranged to have dinner with a couple of friends and then on to the opera.  The theatre was completely full and apparently had been for all four days of performances.  The Cuenca symphony, as usual was first class, and the principals in the opera came from Argentina & Ecuador and the quality of the performance was very good.  So Brian arrived home all abuzz with news and fresh impressions of the theatre event, took Fredi for her much later than usual evening walk & then we all settled into bed.

It had come into Shelley's head that she wanted to get a Christmas centre piece for our dining room table.   So, we locked Fredi in the bedroom and caught the bus up to Coral Centro & SuperStock.  We stopped in at Coral Centro first and wandered around the store.  While there were Christmas items dotted throughout the store, there didn't seem to be any central place where decorations & Christmas accessories were being sold.  Off we went down the street to SuperStock and they did in fact have a good Christmas centre.  We looked at faux trees & angels, cloth Santas, ceramic Santas & felt Santas.  Shelley stood in front of a display of baskets and paper poinsettias, her hands on her hips, her head tilted for so long, Brian asked her if she was alright.  We walked past creche scenes & baroque jesters, snowmen of all shapes & sizes and candle displays from modest to ostentatious.  They had fine Christmas dinner sets & plastic serving plates, pillow covers & lights, garlands & tree skirts.  In the end, Shelley got a headache and we ended up leaving the store without buying anything.  It was a hot day and back on the bus going home we were both pretty quiet.  Looking out the window at a stop, Shelley spotted a woman with a small kitten in a plastic bag, only its head sticking out.  "Kitten in a bag, kitten in a bag" she said out loud.  Upon arriving home, Fredi was of course overjoyed to see us.  Brian took her out for a walk while Shelley stood in the dining room and looked at the table.  After a while she shrugged and walked away.


PLEASE NOTE:  Kitten in a Bag is the last Posting for Planet Irony.  "Planet Irony" speaks to all the machinations moving from Canada to Ecuador. It talks about the good, the bad & the ugly, and takes us through our day to day life for about 3 years (2008 - 2010).

"Those Not Complicated Need Not Apply" was started about a month after Planet Irony was shut down.  If you look to the right and up a bit, you'll see a cartoon that probably best describes TNCNNA.  Check it out.

ANOTHER NOTE:  Several of the pieces in this blog will refer to and have links to recipes that when clicked on take you to a place that says:  Sorry, the page you were looking for in this blog does not exist.  Go here:  Index of Recipes

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Then the Bus Drove Away

"I miss my kids, I miss the boat, I miss the path alongside Granville Island, I miss Mr. Plineart, Gomer Grunt & Ivanovitch, I miss the Noon Signal, I miss cheap rotisserie chicken at Safeway, I miss FloCat, I miss being at anchor, I miss the Sally Ann clothing store, I miss the library, I miss blue mountains with snow on them off in the distance, I miss..." Shelley paused after her wail and looked up at Brian.

While Shelley experienced some gut wrenching home sickness at about the 6 month stage of being in Ecuador, these days it's a fleeting thing and then tucked into perspective.  We've had some disappointments the last little while and it's easy to fantasize if only you were back home or somewhere else things would be better.  They wouldn't be.  Pandora follows you forever.  Last year at this time we were worried about Brian and his bout with cancer.  Everything turned out great and we were very relieved and pleased.  When you're a kid, you think that all you need to do is grow up and then you'll control your world and all will be well.  Then you do that and amid working & relationships & taking care, you have sneaky little retirement fantasies that involve freedom & security & a letting go of worries & pettiness.  Guess what (?) people are people at any age, the world does what it does without consulting you & your health is a precarious thing, hinged on more than just taking care of yourself.  (This, of course, excludes those magical people who slip through life protected by luck or ignorance (lots of people work hard) and in the end cease to be, quietly and in their sleep.)

Brian & Shelley have agreed that once Fredi & Brian have gone to their reward, then Shelley can travel the world, 6 months at a time in each country.  Fredi & Shelley have agreed that Brian doesn't really need a Volkswagon and feel somewhat and semi-secure in their 2 votes against 1.  (Brian pipes in:  Fredi hasn't decided any such thing!) We're coming to the end of yet another year and as has been the standard for more years than can be remembered, we are grateful we have made it this far and are very happy we're in this place in time that we are now (for now). 

A crazy elf dance was e-mailed to us from Shelley's youngest daughter.  A Christmas elf earnestly boogied to music with the face of daughter number two superimposed on the graphic.  A small thing but, it made us laugh and cheered us immensely.  Monday we shopped.  The store was filled with Christmas baskets & boxes and cakes & there was a special aisle with cartons of wine & rum & liqueurs.  They wouldn't let us buy wine because the census embargo continued from Friday morning until Monday noon.  Arriving home, Shelley made an appetizer and chocolate pot pudding because we were having company on Tuesday.  While Shelley was pottering away in the kitchen, Brian went downtown to pick up tickets for the opera next Friday.  He and a couple of other friends are going to see what it is all about.

The last day of the month was Tuesday and we did our rounds, paying our bills.  We have out-of-country company coming mid-December and were sort of determined to go into hibernation for a couple of weeks before that happens.  The problem is, we have company coming tonight, the opera on Friday, a soiree next week & two other outings tentatively in the works.  Once the Christmas season is over and things have settled down again, it looks like it'll be time for another holiday out to Vilcabamba or the coast or maybe even some place new.  It's nice to get away and not feel any obligation except to lie on a strange bed & read and to go for a long walk once a day.  In this sense, and many others, retirement is the fantasy long thought of.  In any case, after Brian's nap, he poached a seafood medley and Shelley set about making chowder.  In due course our company arrived, lovely people, and we ate well, drank wine, talked about this and that and generally had a very nice evening. 

It'd been awhile since we'd ventured to Parque Paraiso, so we hopped on the bus and headed there.  The bus was very crowded and as we worked our way to the back a young man got up to give Shelley his seat.  Shelley thanked him but demurred as it would have kept Brian standing in the middle aisle, not a great place for a big man to be.  We finally made our way to the back of the bus and hung on around the curves and sudden stops.  Eventually someone left and Shelley stepped over an indigenous woman's voluminous skirt and the packages she had on the floor and sat down in the seat next to the window.  Fredi in her lap, she nodded to the indigenous woman and the woman with a stern face nodded back.  We sat quietly for the rest of the ride, mostly looking out the window and when our stop came, once again Shelley stepped over the packages & skirt and followed Brian from the bus.  Hitting the side walk, Shelley turned and looked up at the woman.  She was looking back at Shelley through the window, again with her dour visage.  Shelley picked up Fredi's little arm and waved it at the woman and the woman looked away quickly and then back at Shelley and then a small small smile broke out on her ancient face.   Then the bus drove away.