We Love You, Rachel

March is here.  We have sun and rain, and fairly warm temperatures.  We also have incredible sadness.  Eamon and I lost our Rachel a couple of weeks ago.  Rachel was our 11 year old dachshund who came with us from Seattle.  Almost There! 010

One ordinary morning, just another school day, we noticed that Rachel was panting.  I checked and her heart was beating really, really fast.  Eamon and I decided we should have Marco take a look at her.  I texted Javier.  He came and took her to the clinic.  He texted awhile later and said that Marco thought she might have pneumonia and he was going to keep her at the clinic to monitor her.  Rachel always liked to sleep under a blanket, so I took her fleece snuggle sack to the clinic.  She was as happy as ever, thrilled to see me, smiling and wagging her tail.  I told Marco that I thought she had been trying to clear her throat in the morning, like she had something caught or stuck.  He tried to look down her throat and she just went limp.

Marco and his assistant Angel put her on the exam table and started CPR.  I called her name, telling her how much we loved her and wanted her with us.  She came back and in just a couple of minutes she was happy and smiling again, wagging her tail.  Marco said he thought he should do an x-ray to see what was going on.  I started to tear up and told him how much she meant to us and I knew he would do everything he could to find out what was happening.  He said he would call me when he knew anything.  I kissed her, told her we loved her and then I came home.  She was still wagging her tail and smiling.

A couple of hours later, Javier showed up at the apartment, which was surprising since he was planning to be at the quinta most of the day.  Marco had called him to tell him that Rachel was gone.  After they did the x-ray, she went limp again, but this time they couldn’t bring her back.  Maybe if I had been with her, she would have heard my voice and come back…

I couldn’t breathe and started to sob.  I couldn’t stop.  How was I going to tell Eamon she was gone?  I called Shirleymaye in Seattle and tried to talk about what had happened, but mostly I cried and cried.  Then my dad called and I cried some more.

It was almost time for Eamon to get home from school and I knew I had to pull myself together.  I’m the mom and it’s my job to keep myself together.  I went into his room, where he was typing away on his computer – just an ordinary afternoon.  I asked how his day went, if he had any homework – all the ordinary things.  Then I told him I had something to tell him.

I wasn’t together, I just started to cry and say how sorry I was, that I shouldn’t have left her at the clinic, that she shouldn’t be gone, that it was all my fault.

I have the most incredible son in the universe.  He put his arms around me, told me taking her to the clinic was the right thing to do and it wasn’t my fault.  Mostly he just sat next to me being incredible.   I finally stopped crying.  I told him that Marco had asked Javier if he could do an autopsy to confirm what he had seen on the x-ray.  I asked him if he thought if we should give him the go-ahead and he said yes.  We have to know what happened to her.

She had a tumor on her liver that was pressing against her lung.  Javier was at the clinic for the autopsy.  Marco showed him the tumor.

We had her body cremated, we brought her ashes home in a wooden box.  We brought her snuggle sack home, too.

I sit on my bed with my other four legged babies, and I still expect Rachel to peek out from under the blanket.  I know she had a good life – she knew how much we loved her.  But it’s too soon for me to be reflective and philosophical, I am still too sad and miss her too much.  But I also know that she is still smiling and happy, wagging her tail and watching over us.  We will love you forever, Rachel.

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It’s February Already

Too much time has passed since my last post and LOTS of things are happening!!  Where to begin…

We are moved in and settled in the apartment behind Moca.  MOST of the things in the apartment are from Seattle, so Eamon seems satisfied.  He is riding the same bus to school that he did from the house.  I like the convenience of being so close to Moca, and I’ve started making crockpot soups for ‘Wednesday Soup Day’.  The soups are a big hit and always sell out – hurray!

We went to Vilcabamba for Christmas week.  It’s very beautiful and warm, but MANY, MANY bugs.  I went into town and bought several kinds of lotions to try and ease the itching.  None of them seemed to work very well.  One afternoon Eamon counted 41 bites on my left leg, how special.

View from our front patio


This is a shot as we were heading down the path to breakfast one morning.  Really breathtaking.  I have heard from a couple of wise ‘previous visitors’ to Vilcabamba that if we get a vitamin B-12 shot before we go that the bugs will leave us alone.  We really didn’t do much except hang out on our balcony (like a treehouse).  Eamon showed me how to play Minecraft, I played games and read books on my Kindle.  We both enjoyed all the time we had together!  What a lucky mom I am!


Christmas breakfast on the patio in Vilcabamba.

December was also the month that the non-profit, Refugio Del Mejor Amigo, was officially created in the U.S.!  With this in place, we will be able to try and raise funds to support the more than 100 dogs I have at the quinta.  All donations will be TAX DEDUCTIBLE.  My refuge blog – dogrefuge.wordpress.com is growing and I managed to add a PayPal link to it all by myself!  I was so proud!  We also have a page on Facebook – Refugio Del Mejor Amigo and our followers are growing.

My two dear friends Sarah and Lynda are helping me generate publicity and awareness for the refuge – I am so lucky to have both of them on our side!  Multiple heads are always better than one and our ideas and plans are taking shape and growing.  Javier has talked with some of the meat sellers at Feria Libre and they are holding onto their extra ‘throw away’ bones for us everyday.  We collect them and take them to the quinta.  This routine is similar to dumpster diving, but they are FREE and the dogs LOVE them!!

Work continues on the casitas a little at a time.  I have to really focus on fund raising because monthly costs are high.  The goal is to get Javier, Mercy (mom) and Mercy (daughter) moved in and living in their casitas by the end of February.  Then we can turn our attention to getting the house up for sale.  As always, things take longer and cost more than you plan.  Oh, well, that’s life in Ecuador…

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Thanksgiving Week

This Thursday is Thanksgiving.  I think we’re going to a restaurant with our friends Sarah and Dan.  I have a couple of turkeys in the freezer but going out will be easier.  We’re starting to move things to the apartment!  We painted it a lighter color which really brightened up the space.  We changed the electrical outlets to 3 prong grounded and did a few other cheap cosmetic changes.  Why does everything take longer than planned?  I’m going to PuntoNet and Direct TV today or tomorrow to schedule a move.

Eamon says he only wants things from Seattle in the apartment.  Since we brought next to no furniture in the container, the new space won’t be ‘pure Seattle (PS)’ but fairly close!  Linens, clothes, shoes, dishes, photos, art work and some pieces of furniture are all ‘PS’.  The Ikea daybed counts as ‘PS’ and will be our sofa.  It should be an eclectic space.  Photos should be coming soon!

The highlight of last week was my brainstorming session with Sarah and Inge about fund raising for the dog rescue.  These two are incredible!!  Inge is the founder of Happy Dogs in Cuenca.  They organize free spay and neuter clinics, which happen almost every weekend.  To read more about her amazing work, check out her blog – happydogsincuenca.wordpress.com.  They also have a Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/happydogsincuencaspayandneuter

We talked for more than two hours about fund raising, education, dog food recipes and all things canine related.  We came up with a long list of ideas and possibilities.  How lucky and blessed I am to count these two ladies as my friends!  Once we’re in the apartment, serious work can begin!!  I’ve started the blog for the quinta refuge – dogrefuge.wordpress.com but I have a very long way to go!  

Eamon was puny last week and missed three days of school.  Fever and flu, I think.  I discovered that the drive-thru at McDonald’s is now open so I drove through and got him some chicken nuggets.  He was very happy!  Sadly, they aren’t serving sweet tea yet and they are incredibly stingy with ice in the fountain drinks.  I don’t think Javier understood my drive thru elation despite multiple attempts at an explanation….he just couldn’t comprehend why I didn’t want to stand in line!  









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On A Positive Note – Small Successes!

As I was reviewing my previous post, I was struck by the ‘pity party’ tone.  Very  uncharacteristic for me!  Today I am happy to share successes big and small….

The door guy remains LOST.  The metal garage door maestro has joined in our pursuit.  The door guy owes him more cash – not a surprise.  Javier, Juan Fernando and the maestro are making daily calls, without success.  I have suggested we ‘post a scout’ who can call EVERYONE should the door guy appear.  While there is general support (and head nodding) for this idea, the scout has not yet been posted.  Success (sort of) – I have stopped worrying, for the moment!

On the Diner’s Club tuition front, I called their customer service number and was able to explain my tuition payment dilemma.  He gave me another code that Javier took to the bank.  Success!!  Tuition Paid!!

Much painting, tile work and electrical wire installation has been happening at the quinta:

Blue Casitas!

Blue Casitas!

At first glance, the blue seemed a wee bit bright, but after a few minutes I really liked it.  Sonu thought it was cool and funky – like me!

Christmas All Year Long!

Christmas All Year Long!

The new garage door and wall!  Success – we can celebrate Christmas all year long!  I still think I should paint the little squares and door detail to reduce the freak factor.  Golden Retriever Olenka – background; Boxed Sebastian – foreground.  The colors hurt his eyes…

Mercy Likes Red!

Mercy Likes Red!

Mercy is going with dramatic red!  I’m not a big fan of the contrast color (Marfil?) but I don’t have to live there.  Even the bathroom is red:

Happy Tile!

Happy Tile!

Javier and Mercy will be living ‘bold and blue’!

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Now we come to my casita.  My bedroom at the river house is a happy, bright lime green which I want to duplicate at the quinta:

A Bit Too Bold, Even For Me!

A Bit Too Bold, Even For Me!

Sigh.  This wall made my eyes water and I could feel a headache coming on.  Javier is going to tone it down before we paint the downstairs….an almost success!  Javier can fix anything!

Success!  I have found our ‘in city’, ‘during the week’ abode.  Eamon and I will be moving into a cute apartment in the same building as Moca!  It has a glass covered patio so a couple of my tiny dogs can live with us!  The building is secure with a 24 hour guard – hugely reassuring to Eamon.  Once we are settled, work can begin to get the house on the market.  Javier and Mercy will be living on site for painting, cleaning, sorting, purging –  and taking care of the other four legged family members.  They are too small to move to the quinta without their people, doors and windows.

Apartment photos coming soon!


Ciao, ciao, pity party!!

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Door Guy Lost and Other Minor Complaints

Javier has been trying to reach the maestro who is making all of the doors and windows for the casitas and main house at Quinta Lily.  He called Juan Fernando, our architect, who was able to get a hold of the maestro.  Apparently he is having problems with some financial institution and they have swooped in and taken all of his tools and supplies.  Translation –  he can’t work right now.  Sigh.  He (allegedly) promised Juan Fernando that he’ll return my cash.  A face to face discussion is happening as I write.  No idea when the swooping happened or if the swoop (or is it sweep?) included windows and doors for Quinta Lily.  Stay tuned.

Santana (Eamon’s school) changed how tuition is paid this year.  Every family is (theoretically) getting a Diner’s Club account with a virtual credit card.  Monthly payments are then (theoretically) made to Diner’s Club.  They made this change because some families are not good at making tuition payments.  So now Santana has all of the tuition from every family in their bank account.  Hurray for them!!

I have been trying to get the Diner’s Club code since August.  I need to pay September and October tuition!  After repeated emails, the school finally sent me the number, along with where and how to make a payment.  Surprise, surprise – THE CODE DOESN’T WORK!!  I emailed the school AGAIN – no reply so far.  I guess I’ll have to drive up to the office and beg for help…stay tuned.

I’m reducing the price on Moca.  If interested, please let me know.  

Progress continues on the casitas and main house.  Last week we bought paint for the inside of my casita, the roof and the exterior of the building.  The plumbing is moving along and the electrician is doing his thing.


We decided on a deep, rich blue which should go well with a red roof.  We’re waiting for a forecast of no rain for a number of days before painting.

My last minor complaint of the day is Etapa.  I HATE ETAPA.  A few weeks ago Luis got a notice that the name on the account had to be changed or they would shut off the water.  My attorney’s office graciously agreed to handle the paperwork since they know how much I hate Etapa.  I promptly forgot about it.  One day last week the water was cut off at the quinta!!  How could this have happened?  After speaking with the person who was in charge of the change, he informed me that I needed to go in person.  UGH!!  I HATE ETAPA!!

We went by his office and picked up a huge bundle of papers.  He assured me that everything I needed was in the stack.  Off we went.  We DIDN’T have one paper, which of course was required.  I called my person, who talked to the Etapa lady.  He was hopping into his car to bring the REQUIRED document to Etapa.  Sigh.

I moved away from the lady’s desk and sat in a chair as far away as possible.  Twenty minutes or so later, the REQUIRED document was delivered.  Another twenty minutes later, I was able to sign the papers and the name on the accounts for both quintas was changed.  We have the papers to prove it!  Luis is still waiting for the water to come back on.  I HATE ETAPA.

I should end on a positive note – the Red Socks won last night!  Hurray!!  I added some photos to the dog refuge blog.  Check them out at dogrefuge.wordpress.com

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Happy Birthday, Eamon!!

Today is Eamon’s 14th birthday!!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE BEST SON IN THE WORLD!!  We’re having a birthday pie instead of cake and dinner will be pizza.  I asked him if he wanted to invite a few friends to Moca but he declined.  We’ll have a fun evening just the two of us!  He’s getting a new microphone for his computer, but it hasn’t come yet.  The presents from his Nana and Grandpa haven’t arrived either.  Eamon is (unhappily) accustomed to the mail system and Club Correo, so he knows the packages will show up eventually.  Javier will make a post office run today just in case anything is there.

I am SO HAPPY to announce that Eamon has FINALLY gotten into a Harry Potter state of mind!  Hurray!  Our internet has been beyond terrible so he has been forced to watch TV with mom.  After his first movie, he was hooked!  We’re having an evening with Harry tonight!  Javier has been to Puntonet a number of times.  They appear to have problems with many customers and promised to credit our bill for the many days with HORRIBLE internet.  Maybe today – it would be a nice gift to Eamon!

Two of the casitas have been painted inside!  Mercy chose a cream color with a bold red accent wall.  It looks really nice.  Javier wanted blue.  Oh, my.  The accent wall is a BRIGHT, HURT YOUR EYES BLUE.  The accent wall is a lighter grayish blue.  He asked me what I thought of the color after he saw me take several steps back and shield my eyes.  I told him that if he and Mercy (mom) liked it then I was okay.  I also said I don’t have to live there (thank heavens).  I recommended changing the light blue to a less gray tone but he didn’t seem too interested.  We went to the paint store Saturday to look for my room and the exterior of the casitas.  I will be going for my signature lime green inside.  The exterior will be a dark-ish blue and the roof will be red to match the other two buildings.  Progress is really happening – very exciting!

Then we have the garage door.  At least it’s up and working, which is wonderful.  I chose red to go with the green wall surrounding the place.  Not a good choice.  It just doesn’t have that festive holiday feel I was going for!  There is a design in the metal with little squares so I may try painting them a different color.  Javier and the workers think it looks awesome!  Hideous is a better description…

I wanted to remind everyone that MOCA IS STILL FOR SALE!  STILL FOR SALE!!  STILL FOR SALE!

I’ve started my blog for the dog refuge!  I did my first post last week!  It’s still a work in progress, but a very good start.  If interested, check out dogrefuge.wordpress.com.  I’m really hoping that our internet improves so I can do more work and add a photo section showing all of the kids at the quinta.  I have SO much to do, but it’s a beginning…


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Thanks, Photos and More!!

This is a WONDERFUL day!!  I have everything I need for my City retirement!!  INCLUDING THE SOCIAL SECURITY STATEMENT!

One of my amazing readers told me how I can get the statement online at ssa.gov and IT WORKED!!  Thank you so much!  Please keep reading because I will probably need assistance at some/many future dates!  I’ll be sending everything via DHL to Seattle today!  Hurray, hurray, hurray!

I uploaded all of the photos from my iPhone onto Eamon’s computer.  He doesn’t know about it yet since he’s in school.  I don’t think he’ll mind.  Here are some random photos – Quinta Lily, Eamon in Seattle, etc.  Enjoy!

Living Room - Quinta Lily Main House

Living Room – Quinta Lily Main House

Above:  We haven’t done anything in the main house yet except add a bathroom.  VERY rustic, but cozy (cozier after some clean up, etc).

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Above Left:  This area in the main house is where the kitchen is going, hopefully sometime this century.  Javier has his back to the camera and the other people are the sellers.

Above Right:  The untouched attic where Eamon wants to hang out.  Sometime this century, or at least before he goes off to college.

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Above Left:  Iota.  Above Right:  Bocelli.  They roam the dog refuge and protect everything.  Bocelli is blind but you’d never know it if you saw him running and playing!  Both babies are permanent residents of Refugio del Mejor Amigo.  Love you!

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Above Both: Moca after the remodel.  Note the beautiful artwork and sculptures by Miguel Illescas!  It’s still for sale!!  It’s still for sale!!  It’s still for sale!!

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Above Left:  Eamon and his brother Joel!  Can you see the resemblance?  Above Right:  Eamon and his GOOD, GOOD friend Ethan!


Above Left:  Zane and Eamon, with Eamon’s best friend Siraj sitting on the sofa.  Siraj and Eamon have been best friends since they were 2 years old.  Eamon is their Irish brother.  Above Right:  The happy guys!   Zane, Siraj and their sister Raya REALLY want Eamon to come back to Seattle IMMEDIATELY.  Sigh.


Above Left:  Casitas in progress at Quinta Lily.  Above Right:  Looking down from the top of Quinta Lily towards the rescue center.  Refugio del Mejor Amigo is to the left and down, behind the trees.  The two properties almost adjoin each other, which is VERY convenient and wonderful!

Today is low on content but high on color!  More to come in the next day or so!  The wall around Quinta Lily has been painted a bright green and the garage entry door is going to be red!  Quite festive – ho ho ho!

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