Well, it’s less than a month since I last posted, which is a major improvement.  Eamon will be 14 years old in just 12 days!  He has declined a birthday gathering at Moca and has opted for pizza with Mom instead.  He wanted a new microphone for his computer, now en route from amazon.com.  Kind of amazing he will be starting his second full year as a teenager!  

Work at Quinta Lily continues, somewhat slower than I would like.  I talked to our architect Juan Fernando to see if he could find a ‘maestro’ to supervise the workers and perhaps encourage them to move a little quicker.  Javier can’t be there all the time since he and I always seem to have plenty of other things to do.  We selected the tile for the 3 bathrooms and have found sinks, faucets, etc.  The door guy is supposed to have all the doors finished today for the casitas and the main house.  No idea about the windows, sigh.  I’m not as optimistic as Javier about the doors, but I try to present a positive front whenever he brings them up.  This IS Ecuador, after all.

I’ve managed to get all the photos off my iPhone onto my iMac, so I’m going to try and post a bunch of photos.  I’m using Eamon’s computer at the moment so the photos will/should/may show up later today.

I’ve applied for my City retirement – hurray!  I did a phone interview,  having procrastinated on doing the paperwork while in Seattle.  The retirement analyst was really sweet and helpful.  She emailed me MANY forms to sign.  Two of the forms had to be notarized.  I was depressed at the possibility of another trip to the consulate in Guayaquil – time and cost.  But then a consulate miracle happened!  They were coming to Cuenca and bringing their notary stamp!  I made an appointment.  All very easy – not quite.  They needed a cashier’s check from an Ecuadorian bank for the cost of the notarization.  That’s where it got complicated….  

I spent HOURS trying to get this tiny piece of paper.  The biggest road block appeared to be that when I opened my account, I used my passport as identification.  I came to the bank with my cedula (no passport).  Unacceptable, sigh.  The only thing that saved me was when the person at the counter sent me upstairs to the private banking floor – the staff upstairs speak English.  I’d forgotten I was a ‘private banking’ customer!  They were much more understanding about the passport vs cedula problem and I finally got the check.  The incredibly helpful young lady gave me her card and told me if I sent her a copy of my passport and cedula, she could change the account information.  She also gently reminded me to ALWAYS come upstairs when I needed banking help – thank you!

Back to the retirement discussion…

As of today, the only document I seem to be missing to complete the retirement paperwork is proof of my social security number.  No idea where my card is.  Still looking for one of the statement things they send you telling how much you’ll receive when you retire at age 100 or so!  Mercy has been looking for boxes of papers upstairs on the 3rd floor.  She doesn’t want me to come up because there are cats with fleas.  We have a giant bottle of Advantage-like flea medicine on the first floor that can’t seem to make it’s way upstairs.  If she doesn’t find anything today, I will need to DHL my passport to Dad so he can take it to the local Social Security office and beg for a new card.  The saga continues.

I’m starting a blog for the dog refuge.  I need to raise awareness (and hopefully kibble donations).  Kaitlin, our Moca marketing wiz, is coming to the quinta with me one day next week to take some photos for a brochure and other things.  More about all of that next time…

Life just keeps marching on.  Wednesday at Feria Libre is the biggest market day of the week, so Javier and I are shopping for fresh vegetables.  Normally he won’t go with me on Wednesdays because of his fear I will be attacked and robbed.   Luis cooks fresh soup for the dogs everyday (5 giant pots) and Marco (super vet) said we need to increase to 8 giant pots TWO times a day.  Hence the need for awareness raising.

My goal is to have the first post of the new blog completed this week.  Alert the media!

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Miscellaneous Musings

I am so proud of myself for sitting down to write another post so soon!  I neglected to mention in the previous epistle that we went through Panama City going and coming.  It must have been the exhaustion.  Or old age.  Or a combination….

Our time in Seattle was really wonderful.  The weather was amazing and we enjoyed the sunshine.  I didn’t see as many people as I planned, sigh.  I didn’t do as much as I planned, oh, well.  I shopped way too much and left A LOT of things behind.  Those giant bottles of vitamins, zip lock bags full of red vines and jumbo jars of spices start to weigh down the suitcases pretty quickly.  Eamon and I wore less than a quarter of the clothes we brought with us, so hopefully we will remember that next time we travel.  The new mantra is PACK LESS, PACK LESS, PACK LESS.

I bought myself a new computer – an iMac.  The laptop I had been using from my friend Jack started to die right before we left for Seattle.  Eamon has taken various and sundry parts from my desktop, so I was able to rationalize the purchase quite easily!  I have wanted an Apple computer for as long as I can remember!  I am in heaven!  The only slight hiccup came a few days before we were coming back to Cuenca.  How was I going to pack/carry it?  I jumped online and started power searching.  I found an iLugger that would fit in the overhead bin.  With express (expensive) shipping, I had it the morning we left.  We had way too much luggage, which displeased the son, but we made it home with everything intact.

While in Seattle, I made the decision to sell Moca.  After the remodel, the place looks amazing and I couldn’t be more pleased.  The challenge is that Moca needs a very hands on owner in order for it to continue to grow and thrive.  I realized I can’t be that person.  I have an incredible son and I need to spend more time with him.  Nothing is more important than Eamon – period.  So, if anyone is interested in a chic, fully equipped cafe/bar in an incredible location, please let me know!  If you would like more information and specifics, please let me know!!

Progress continues on the casitas at Quinta Lily.  The metal for the wall is being delivered today.  I need to learn how to insert my iPhone photos into the blog.  I know it must be easy – maybe I’ll ask the son…photos may be coming soon!


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Back from Seattle!

Hola!  Here I am apologizing again for being such a poor poster.  I’m making another lame semi-promise that I will be better about writing.  It’s not that there isn’t much going on, quite the opposite, in fact.  Here’s a first installment – remember I said there was A LOT going on.  Don’t want to write too much and put anyone to sleep….

We left for Seattle late July.  The trip started off VERY badly, thanks to my poor planning.  We had a flight out of Guayaquil at 6 a.m. so I decided to forego a hotel room (we had to be at the airport at 4 a.m.!).  We took the last flight out of Cuenca, which landed us in the airport at 9:30 p.m.  BIG MISTAKE.

There is not much going on at the Guayaquil airport that time of night.  We sat for awhile in the only restaurant/bar place that was still open.  Even this early on in the wait, Eamon was not a happy camper.  It only got worse.  Had to have been one of the longest nights of my life.  At midnight, the date rolled over to July 23rd, my birthday, so I decided to treat myself to ice cream (and kill more time) back at the same restaurant/bar.  Eamon refused to participate in the celebratory feast.  He preferred fuming with the luggage.   I finally had to return to the son and the suitcases.  By this time a chatty toddler had appeared and wouldn’t go away or go to sleep.  Every other seat was filled so there was no escape.  Did I mention Eamon was NOT a happy camper?

At last it was 4 a.m. and we dragged ourselves to the check in line.  Thankfully this happened quickly and smoothly, our luggage was checked through to Seattle and we were at our gate by 4:30 a.m.  I thought the clean, cozy chairs and incredible ambiance would improve Eamon’s mood.  No.

We flew first to Las Vegas.  Customs was slow but uneventful.  We found our gate and I tried to tempt Eamon with official American fast food – Burger King.  All he could do was complain that there was no McDonald’s.  I left him sulking in the cozy chairs at the gate, returning with fries and GIANT fountain drinks.  Still nothing.  We hit the magazine store and loaded up on candy and magazines.  Eamon’s made a somewhat terse comment about how crazy I was for buying so many magazines and so much candy.  I didn’t apologize because everything was in ENGLISH!  Sigh.  I was drooling over the penny slots right by our gate but denied myself, fearing it would set a bad example.

At last we reached Seattle!!  My dad and aunt were picking us up outside the luggage area.  Sounds pretty easy and straightforward.  We couldn’t see my aunt’s car anywhere.  Dad finally strolled up and said he was sure my aunt would appear almost immediately because she was ‘driving around’.  No signs of her!  Dad sent Eamon to look for her and he never came back.  I was certain his mission was successful but wasn’t sure why he didn’t come back and tell us he had found the car.  Oh, well.  Eventually they arrived and we managed to get everything into the car.  By this time we had been up at least 40 hours.  I could barely put one foot in front of the other.  Despite our fatigue, we were SO, SO happy to see both of them!!  We made it!!!

Stay tuned for more….

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June Is Almost Gone…

June is almost gone, time seems to race by.  Eamon is finished with school and we are headed to Seattle next month!  So much news, what do I choose and where do I begin?

Quinta(s):  I was able to purchase the land (almost) adjacent to the first quinta I found.  Now we have Quinta Uno and Quinta Dos.  Quinta Uno has morphed into a dog rescue haven.  It happened gradually; I would see an abandoned dog on the street or at the feria and decided it needed a new home, good food, medicine and lots of love and before I knew it, there were 60 puppies at Quinta Uno!  We have an amazing vet, Marco Ortiz, who keeps them vaccinated and healthy.  Marco chose the name – ‘Refugio Del Mejor Amigo’.

Of course there is MUCH more to the story than that!  But then the blog would be a novel and nobody would read it.  We have had our share of highs and lows in the past few months.  When I bought Quinta Uno, it was partially fenced.  We built an ENORMOUS kennel space with lots of running room and a big heated shelter.  A few of the dogs figured out how to jump over or dig under.  That’s when tragedy hit.  Someone put poison out and 15 of my babies perished.  The world seemed to stop while we built a very high wall (9 feet) all around the quinta.  It is embedded in concrete so there is no digging under or climbing over. We wanted a concrete wall but the city said no, despite our pleas.  They approved a metal wall so now the quinta is surrounded by reinforced sheet metal!  Very, very hideous but I can sleep at night knowing the puppies are safe.  Javier and Mercy’s son Luis lives at the quinta and takes care of everything.  He is a wonder!

Of course, Eamon is convinced that his mom has gone crazy.  Maybe I have, but just a little and in a good way….

Moca finally re-opened on June 7th!  It got a spruce up and looks pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.  We kept all the good stuff on the menu and added even better stuff!   We now have awesome martini’s on our drink menu.  The quinta(s) have taken a lot of my time and energy, but I’m trying to re-focus on Moca.  I really want us to be successful and (hopefully) profitable!  It costs QUITE a bit to feed all of the babies!  I didn’t realize HOW much until Javier and I started planning for when I’m away, oh, my!

We will be in Seattle 4 weeks.  We are VERY excited and looking forward to time with family and friends.  Eamon has gotten taller and more proficient in Spanish.  I have gotten thinner and (somewhat) more proficient in Spanish.  I have promised myself I will take care of all the things I intended to do in December but didn’t.  Fingers crossed…

Oh, we have a new member of the family – Julius the amazing Great Dane!  He is 5 months old and already the size of a pony.  Photos tomorrow, I promise!

I (finally) read all of the Harry Potter books.  I am in love with Harry and I want to live at Hogwarts!  Eamon says I’m obsessed, another source of acute embarrassment for him.  He’s just jealous of my new Gryffindor high tops and  Quidditch sweater.

Mercy had her baby – welcome to the family, Alejandro Rafael!!!

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Happy New Year!! We’re Still Here!!

Happy New Year!  I have been BEYOND derelict with this blog!  No excuses, just lots of stuff going on!  Here is an abbreviated catch up:

November – Can’t remember.

December – We went to Seattle for Christmas!  Eamon had a straight ‘A’ report card and was in the top 3 of his class!  I got permission for him to miss the last 4 1/2 days of school so we would have more time in Seattle.  This was our first trip back since we left in July 2011.

First impression:  COLD!!  Dad and Kathleen picked us at the airport and we thought we would freeze to death!  They drove us to Sonu’s house – what a happy reunion!  Zane (age 7) decided he was sick because he wanted to be home when his Irish brother arrived!  Lots and lots of hugs and happy tears!  Sonu was incredulous at my smaller self – I am down more than 100 pounds since she last saw me.

Hugs and happy tears continued when we went to retrieve Siraj (Eamon’s very best friend) and Raya from school.  They have grown so much!  Siraj is only 2 months older than Eamon but is close to a foot taller with a new, deeper voice and facial hair!

The days leading up to Christmas were a blur of shopping and catching up.  Eamon saw several of his good friends from school and spent quality time with his brother Joel.  Joel is a sophomore in college and has become an adult, wow!  His first visit on Christmas Eve took me aback – I thought it was Andy walking through the door.  He looks so much like his father.  I felt hot tears filling my eyes.  Bittersweet….

The days flew by and I didn’t accomplish everything I planned nor did I manage to see everyone I wanted but I’m hoping we’ll be back sooner rather than later!

January and February – I sold the downtown loft and the penthouse – JUBILATION!

I bought a quinta – MORE JUBILATION!

March – I’m doing some remodeling in Moca and plan/hope we will re-open sometime this month.  Very exciting!

I realize I’m leaving out MANY details, but they will be coming very soon!  Photos, too!

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Fire and Rain and Andre the Poodle

I finally uploaded some photos from my Blackberry!  I’m sure there are many splendid photos on my camera, however, I’m not certain where Mercy has hidden it.  I have no doubt it’s in a secure place, just unknown to me at the present time.  Stay tuned.

Remember my heroic dousing of the flaming propane tank?  Here are a couple of ‘post fire’ snaps:

I took this picture the morning after the flames.  The hose burned off.  Note the charred stub.

This is the outside wall of the kitchen.  It somehow looked worse in the light of day than it did in the dark.  You can’t see it in the picture, but the window screen sort of melted.  I’m hoping we’ll be able to scrub most of the black stuff off the (brand new) wall.  Every time I walk out the kitchen door I am reminded of how disaster was averted.

Now for the rain.  Since I last posted, we had a huge (larger than usual) downpour.    This was the first time I had seen the street flooded in front of our house.  The water surged down the street (parallel to the house) and there wasn’t really a place for it to go:

I took this picture from the second floor balcony.

I can’t explain why the patio umbrella is open in the storm, you’ll have to ask Javier.  I’m certain he has a very good reason!  The flood must have come to the attention of the city road people, because at the end of last week a huge bulldozer chiseled a path from the street to the river.

My baby Andre, who lost a fight in the yard a week ago, is much better.  He has been at the vet since last Monday.  His bite wounds got badly infected and our doctor decided it was better for him to stay in the hospital.  If he had been wounded in Seattle, I would have already applied for a home equity loan to cover his medical bills.  Thank goodness he lost the fight in Cuenca!  Hopefully he can come home tomorrow.  No loans needed here.  Our doctor is AMAZING!!

Today is my wedding anniversary.  I have been nostalgic and sad all day.  I love and miss you, Andy.  Sigh.

Eamon and I went out for breakfast this morning and discussed our upcoming Thanksgiving menu.  We agreed I would cook.  He thought it would be better if I bought a ‘pre-cooked’ turkey which only required ‘heating up’.  He has forgotten that I used to cook almost everyday when we were in Seattle – too spoiled by Mercy, I guess….

The Seahawks won today – hurray!  We’re going to decorate Moca for Christmas this week, ho ho ho!

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November is Here! Miscellaneous Snippets…

I am listening to the rain and Eamon is doing his homework.  The Seahawks just won in Seattle and seeing the skyline from the stadium always makes me a bit homesick…

But there is no pity party happening.  Javier, Luis and I strolled along 12 de Abril today, the last day of the big festival and I found another alpaca poncho (you can never have too many!) and a gringa sun hat.  Eamon says I can only wear it in my bedroom.  He isn’t a fan of  ‘gringos con sombrellos’ and does not want me to look like one, despite the fact that I am.  Go figure!

I met Eamon’s teacher this past week.  She is terrific.  Despite my not so great Spanish and her not so great English, we had a lovely conversation.  Eamon is doing VERY well in class – HURRAY!  She would like to see him make some friends, but I know it will happen little by little.

We have a miniature poodle named Andre.  He is bigger than Heidi, but not by much.  Despite being neutered and sort of small, he REALLY doesn’t like male dogs, even when they are bigger than he is, so we keep him in garage section of the yard.  Just to be safe, or so we thought….

When we got back from the festival yesterday, Javier opened the garage door and the big dogs ran out.  They had somehow managed to get the gate open and were in the garage side of the yard.  Javier herded them back inside and while he was doing that, I saw Andre.  He was laying lifeless in the other side of the yard.  He must have gotten into a fight with another dog(s) and lost  We brought him into the house and Javier called our vet.  He came to the house, checked him over and gave him a couple of injections.  He was back this morning to clean the wound on the top of his head and give him some more pain medicine.  WHAT AN INCREDIBLE DOCTOR!!  Thankfully, he is doing better today.  He will be on antibiotics for 10 days.  My poor little guy.

I have reduced the price on my two condos.  The Palermo penthouse is $300K and the San Sebastian loft is $89K.  Alert your friends!

Mercy has the entire house decorated for Christmas and we are looking very festive!

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