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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

She'za My Birthday, Too!!!

Anyone who knows me, knows I admired Lucille Ball a GREAT deal.

Remember the episode where Lucy and Ricky are in Italy?  She misses Little Ricky a great deal and it was his birthday and she wanted to call LONG DISTANCE back home to wish him a Happy Birthday.  Of course, back then, they had to place a call with an overseas operator and it was a big deal (not to mention a big price-tag...much to Ricky's dismay). 

Several attempts were made and each time someone from the lobby had to yell upstairs to the Ricardo's room that they were about to put the call through, so Ricky and Lucy would come racing down several flights of stairs (the elevator...she no worka) and, each time, it turned out to be a false alarm and back up the stairs they went.

After several failed attempts, naturally, Lucy broke into a wail.   A little shoe-shine boy who was bugging them for a shine took notice.  He approached Lucy and told her 'she'za my birthday today, too'.   Through the weepiness, she gave him a piece of candy and he dashed off thrilled.

A few minutes later, he came back with a little girl and informed Mrs Ricardo 'she'za HER birthday today, too!'.    Well, what a coinky dink!!!    The little girl got a piece of candy, too.

Yep....it didn't take long before the boy, and the little girl returned with MORE friends.   Lucy said 'let me guess!!!  It'sa ALLLL your birthdays, today too!!'.  She got an idea to have a birthday party for all of them with party favors and candy and, vicariously, celebrate Little Ricky's birthday.   Best of all, the phone call FINALLY came through during the middle of their party and all the children sang Happy Birthday to Little Ricky as Lucy held the phone out.

Sooooo....what has this got to do with Cuenca or me living in Ecuador?

NADA

I just thought you should know "She'za my MaMa's birthday today!".  

Yep, the odometer rolled over to 83.  But, as my mean, wicked sister informed me on my birthday this year....though we may say we've turned 39 (as in mine and Jack Benny's case), we've actually completed 39 years and starting our 40th.   GRRRRRRR   She has been struck from my Will with a GREAT BIG FAT RED PEN!!!

So, I guess Mom is entering her 84th. 

I thought she might get a tickle by publishing her birthday on the internets (note to George W Bush...there is only ONE internet) and those who read my blog from all over this flat earth.

A few interesting factoids about my Mom (oh, btw, Donna is her name):

  • Born March 26th, 1931, in Port Angeles, Washington
  • Smack dab in the middle of The Great Depression
  • Youngest of 6 (3 girls/3boys)
  • Had a job at a Bank handing out customers monthly statements
  • Married Dad in 1949 at age 18
  • Moved from her childhood home to Dad's property and is STILL THERE....65 years later!!  EEESH!!!  (I've lived in over 20 houses so far!)
  • In the nearly 56 years of being together (Dad passed away of prostate cancer in 2005), she made over 20,000 breakfasts for him.  That means another 20,000 or so lunches, too...about 15,000 of those packed in a metal lunch pail along with a thermos of coffee.
  • Add to that, over 25,000 lunches for us 4 kids, over 20,000 dinners of various sizes depending on who was still living at home, over 100 birthday cakes, more than 50 Christmas dinners which must mean the same number of Thanksgiving dinners as well.   There's no way to count how many home-baked pies, cakes, cookies, and breads she made!!!
  • She sewed and darned socks (DAMN SOCKS!)
  • She was home when we came home from school.   Usually in the middle of ironing clothes that were hung on a rack next to the wood heater (only source of heat in our house) or engulfed in 'As The World Turns' soap opera on our black and white television (on which we got FOUR channels).
  • She grew a large garden of peas, corn, carrots, raspberries, squash (ick), rhubarb, and potatoes.
  • She went out to abandoned logged off areas and found prized patches of blackberries, kept some and sold many gallons to local restaurants.
  • She made her own jams and jellies, canned peaches and pears, and plucked apples from our two trees.
  • In 1965 we rode in our 1958 Chevy station wagon to So Calif to see relatives, go to Disneyland, and see the Rose Parade (Walt Disney was the Grand Marshal that year).  Again, in 1969 in a pickup and camper...this time Neil Armstrong was the GM of the Rose Parade.
  • She cleaned the house with her mighty Kirby.
  • She did all the laundry.  In the early days, when she got her first 'automatic' washing machine, it only washed...it didn't spin.  She fed the clothes through the wringer/rollers with a hand-crank then hung them out to dry (weather permitting) or inside near the stove, then ironed the wrinkles out of everything.  
  • She managed the business side of Dad's logging operations, handling payroll, accounting, and paying Uncle Sam.
  • After 3 of us 4 kids went out on our own, she took a job handed 'down' through the family where she drove over 100 miles every day, from town to town, store to store, to pick up rolls of film for processing and deliver them to a halfway point where they were handed over to another driver who drove another 100 miles to the processing plant.   A few days later, customers photos were delivered using the same process, but in reverse order.
  • She and Dad trekked to Alaska in one of their motorhomes.  This was after they took the motorhome apart piece by piece down to the chassis, documenting and mapping every piece, and successfully re-constructed it all!!!
  • They also motored around Canada and the United States to places like Arizona, California, Branson Missouri, and Wyoming to see the grandkids.
  • She combed beaches for clams and oysters.  She's made hundreds of gallons of clam chowder and let me tell you, it's the BEST in the world!!
  • She plays games on the computer (she now has one better than MINE!) and keeps in touch with everyone with email.
  • To this day, she uses a riding lawn mower to mow the field out back.
  • At last count, she has 5 grand and 3 great-granchillen.
  • Today, she makes her millions by playing Bingo 8 days a week and loves to watch ball games on her COLOR television!!!

She's a strong woman, that Mom of mine!!  Though she'll NEVER admit it!

 
HAPPY
BIRTHDAY
MAMA!!


Enjoy the photos!!!
Dano




Oldest to youngest, Mom on far right.
 

Wedding photo 1949
 

 
 

 


Mom (top) and her sister slash best friend Edna
 
Mom with granddaughter Sara
Mom with granddaughter Sara (yep, same one)


50th Wedding Anniversary
'Rosie' (Donna) the Riveter



75th Birthday
 
 
80th Birthday











Friday, March 7, 2014

3rd Anniversary is Leather, right?

Happy 3rd Anniversary to me!  

Last month marked 3 years I've lived in Cuenca, Ecuador, South America!!!  Also, 3 years into my retirement which was pretty much kicked off by the fact I was kicked out of job after job by Corporate America.  Maybe I should thank them for being the impetus for retiring early (albeit poor).  But, you'll never hear it coming outa MY mouth!!!

Kinda like looking back over the past year on New Years Eve, let's take a gander back at what transpired over these past 3 years, shall we?  It's not like I spent a lot of time in my rocking chair, or Barc-o-lounger in front of the boob-tube.

In no particular order:
  • I bought a house, I remodeled it, I sold it.
  • I bought 2 apartments and marketed them as short-term rentals for travelers who wanted more than just a room with a bed and bath for their stay.
  • I moved 3 times.  Once because my landlord, who lived in front of me, had 5 yappy dogs who yapped all day long at anything and everything and nothing, plus they had 5 cars which yelped (their alarms) every time they unlocked and locked their car and even let their car alarm wail and wail and wail while they casually vacuumed the interior!!!
  • I bought two sofas, two love seats, a dining set, two beds, dishes, a desk, a washer, a dryer, a dishwasher, a TV, a lawnmower, artwork, and a partridge in a...oh....wait.
  • Oh, and two cars
  • The day I purchased my 2nd (and current) car, the window was smashed out and petty items stolen.
  • I transported my dog Gracie, and my two orange kitties Chip and Bozo from the USA to Cuenca.
  • My little boy Bozo died after only 1 month living in South America.   He was only 8.
  • I adopted Marcelo from my friend Marcelo...thus, the name.
  • I visited back home (Washington.....no, not DC....STATE) twice.  Once, for my Mommy's 80th birthday.   83 coming up on 3/26!!!!!
  • I had diarrhea many times.
  • I've eaten in over 50 restaurants in Cuenca alone.  Yes, I kept track of them.   I have many more on my list to try.
  • I attended Symphony concerts.
  • I've gone to 5 of the 6 Banos (thermal baths/resorts) located in Cuenca.  I regularly go to one of them at least once a week.
  • Didn't play a single game of Bingo.  Hi Mom!!!
  • Visited several cemeteries because their architecture I find fascinating.
  • My car broke down SEVERAL times!
  • Walked into every church/cathedral I encountered, if the front door was open.  Never got struck by lightning.
  • Went to a disco built in and around an old airplane.
  • Climbed the steeples of the Basilica in Quito.
  • Wandered amongst Iguanas in Guayaquil.
  • Rode the Devils Nose Train.
  • Went to places around Ecuador, such as:
    • Guayaquil
    • Salinas
    • Montanita (3 times)
    • Puerto Lopez
    • Poor Mans Galapagos island
    • Quito (3 times)
    • Banos Ambato (4 times)
    • Puyo
    • Tena
    • Edge of the Amazon
    • Macas
    • Paute
    • Chordeleg
    • SigSig
    • San Bartolome
    • Gualaceo
    • Loja
    • Ibarra
    • Vilcabamba
    • Malacatos
    • Zamora
    • Zaruma
    • Giron
    • Santa Isabela
    • Machala
    • Otavalo
    • Cotacachi
    • Molleturo
    • Saraguro
    • Playas
    • Riobamba
    • Ambato
    • San Fernando
    • Sucua
    • Azogues
    • Biblian
  • Saw more waterfalls than you can shake a stick at.
  • Attended a fundraiser/auction that raised over $7,000 to support spaying/neutering the out of control dog population in Cuenca.  Cats welcomed, too.
  • Got Marcelo tutored (or that's what I told him anyway) and his front tires declawed (my drapes are happy).
  • Been to many, many outdoor indigenous markets around the country.
  • Orchid farm tour.
  • Trebol rose farm tour.
  • Malls in Guayaquil and Quito.
  • Up the side of a volcano via an aerial tramway to 13,000 feet overlooking the city of Quito below.
  • Flown between Cuenca and Quito, and Cuenca and Guayaquil.
  • Went to the Ingapirca ruins.
  • Went to the Equator and straddled the North and South hemispheres.
  • Published 157 blog entries, with over 150,000 views.
  • Got my permanent residency Visa and Cedula (Ecuadorian Id).
  • Got my Censo, too....but they don't require it anymore...that is, 3 months after I was denied travel home because I didn't have my Censo card (but I did have a valid Visa and Passport) because I kept being told they were 'out of paper' and couldn't issue the Censo because of it.
  • Encountered a lot of stupid Bureaucracy.
  • Was hired by 46 clients to drive them where they wanted to go, 54 times (obviously, some were repeats) covering over 4,600 kms (about 2,700 miles).
  • Planted hundreds of plants and flowers and shrubs in my current house yard.   Two dump truck loads of dirt, somewhere well over 75 individual bags of dirt, lots of grass seed, and 210 bricks to create planters.  Even made a water feature by using a bathtub ripped out of one of my apts, sinking it in a hole, and installing a fountain pump.
  • Painted the entire interior of 2 of my homes.
  • In the little more than a year I'd owned them, I had 66 bookings in my apartments with an average stay of 12 days each.  Therefore, I have cleaned the apartments 66 times, too!!
  • Taken over 3,600 photos of people, places, and things in Ecuador.  Organized into 143 folders.
  • Been pulled over by the police several times...even got extorted by one!!!  But, I got my revenge, too.  hehehhehehehehe
  • Had my car broken into and the computer 'brain' stolen from it.  $3,500 to replace.
  • Attended many parties at Granny's.  Washed the dishes afterwards.
  • Stood in line at the Post Office waaaaaaaaay too many times waiting for that piece of mail that took between 10 days and 2 months to arrive!
  • Partook of many of the festivals.  Corpus Christi, Carnival, Independence Day, Day of the Dead, Christmas, Parade de Innocentes, New Years Eve burning of effigies, etc.
  • Purchased (at $1.50 - $2 a piece) and watched over 150 movies on DVD.
  • Cleaned my house myself, mowed my lawn myself, washed my car myself, did all my laundry myself.  But....my dishwashing machine washed my dishes!!!
  • Was an extra in a short film/video about family of circus/clown performers, whose father just died, and one of the sons failed at being like the others and became a banker.
  • Helped clients find apartments/houses, furniture stores, buy and set up cell phones, appliances, move, set up utilities, etc.
  • Got my EC drivers license.
  • Gone without water in my house for 10 days.  I'm now 'down' to an average of 2-3 days a month where the water has been turned off for unknown reasons.
  • Voted in EC elections.
  • Said goodbye to two friends here in EC who died way too early.
  • Signed up for the EC government medical program which covers 100% at $69 per month.
  • Ate Cuy (guinea pig).
  • Explored off the beaten paths on my motorcycle, discovering many treasures such as old-fashion 1-lane wooden bridges.
  • Hosted one visitor from back home.  ONE.  And it was my EX!!!!!!
  • Met people from Texas, Oregon, California, Winnipeg, Alaska, Rhode Island, Toronto, Idaho, England, New Zealand, Colorado, Argentina, Florida, and lots more.
    • Of course, in the mix from all these points North, South, East, and West were whackos, ding-dongs, and downright clueless, such as:
      • The guests who complained over paying $30 a night to stay in a 900 sqft modern fully furnished 2-level apt.  I was over-charging them.
      • The guest who complained an iron skillet wasn't provided.
      • The guest who complained I didn't pre-inform him to bring his laptop so he could watch American TV while in Cuenca....Ecuador....South America.
      • The guest (same folks from the 1st bullet) who complained the internet speed was too slow for all their internet streaming devices they brought with them....to.....Cuenca....Ecuador....South America.
      • The lady who asked how the water pressure is in Ecuador (the COUNTRY).
      • The obese man that complained about all the steps, while he unpacked large packets of Snickers bars.
      • The whacko who attacked a woman in the USA, changed his identity, married a woman who didn't know, escaped the Law and moved to Cuenca and married an Ecuadorian to use her money and get his residency and run a Bed and Breakfast!!!
      • The people (there's several) who can't be more than arms length from their dog, or let their dog set foot on the ground, or must be accompanied by their dog everywhere they go, and of course could never NEVER train their dog to not bark incessantly at anything and everything that moves (or doesn't).
      • And, one of my favorites, those who don't know when to shut up.  Somehow, they are able to breath without missing a beat in their endless yammering.
      • Ok....one more....kinda like David Letterman's Top 10 List.  Those that refuse to learn Spanish.  They expect the locals to understand them, or they pawn the task off to one of their friends who HAS learned Spanish to do it for them.  Why should they learn Spanish?  It's not like they're in Cuenca............Ecuador...............South America!!!!!!

What's left to do?

Well, there's Peru (border is 3-hour drive away) and Columbia (Bogota, Medellin, Cali) right next door.   Still more restaurants to hit.   The Zoo and the new Planetarium are still on my list.  Haven't been to Crucita and Bahia de Caraquez (northern coast) yet.  Banos beckons me back again (before the volcano obliterates it).  There's always more plants to plant.  Maybe one day I can go to that new restaurant that just opened up that has purty murals in each room.  But, alas, at this point I can't because I can't have a table to myself or even with my date unless I'm willing to be glommed together at a larger table of strangers I don't wish to share my private conversations with.  SOME day us single folk or those that are identified as a 'couple' will have the right to enjoy their own private table.  Sighhhh.

And, there's my short-term apartment rental guests who keep coming and coming from all points of North America to either get away from the cold, or the hot, or the government that caters only to the rich and powerful, or the wars, or the insane medical costs, or the abandonment of common sense, ethics and integrity, or the Kardashians....or, all of the above.

Dano

Enjoy the photos.  All just random stuff I've been saving to publish 'some time'.



Common tree around here.  Flowers are referred to as 'Angels Trumpets'.

Someone decided to dump a truckload of dirt smack dab in the middle of our road.  It was there for several days before someone finally scooped it up and tossed it over the fence.

Some time ago, I got stuck up in the middle of nowhere.  I flagged this guy down (like he was a taxi!) as he was travelling down the highway and asked him to help get me out, way up in the hills.  It took him over an hour to get me out as the road was slippery and he kept sliding towards me.  This is what I saw when sitting in my seat in the car, facing uphill towards him.  That's the tow strap (on the ground to the left) he hooked onto his bucket to pull me towards him a foot at a time.


video

Video (click arrow) of homemade fireworks from the past weekends' Carnival kickoff in Parque Calderon...the center of the universe in Cuenca.  I love how the pinwheels reverse direction towards the end of the video.  Click the lower right-hand corner to enlarge the screen.

Gracie in the dog house.
 
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About Me

My photo
Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Cuenca and greater Ecuador. I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live here.

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