Friday, December 25, 2009
You know how an exclamation mark (!) means 'excitement' ?
Should there be an opposite sign that means complete lack of excitement?
Monday, December 21, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
- Reduced chance of heat stroke...duh.
- The weeds in the yard are dead. (Maybe only dormant.)
- You barely feel it when you hit your thumb with a hammer.
- Blood coagulates faster on wounds.
- Fewer overweight people wearing spandex.
- No one expects you to be painting your house.
- No mosquitoes, deer flies or horse flies.
- Brennie makes GREAT soups and chili !!!!!!!
- Save a bundle on air conditioning bills.
- Better to stand outside naked than listen to Bing Crosby sing "White Christmas". That's right up there with watching the "Wizard of Oz".
- Snuggling under a down comforter...oh yeah.
- Everyone else has a cold too.
- Hot chocolate with marshmallows.
- No heat rash or poison ivy. In fact far fewer body rashes.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
In many ways our son was one of those lost kids. He did very poorly in high school (by choice) and made a lot of bonehead decisions by the time he was 18. He was lost, had no direction or knowledge of his potential. His values were confused, etc., etc., etc. We knew there was a great young man buried deep inside him because we knew him from an earlier time. But in many ways he had lost touch with who he was. We also knew that it was necessary for him to get away from us and into some meaningful environment in order to re-discover himself.
Americorps = Public Service
Holy Sh*t! What a change. We could not have hoped for more. His emergence did not go unnoticed in Americorp either. He came home literally covered in awards...and not just participation awards. There are leadership awards and commitment awards and contribution awards. Of the four big awards they give out at the end of the ten months, he got one of them and almost got a second. (This is out of 160 team members.) Only one of the 160 young people got more recognition during their ten months. Nobody wants to read a bunch of details...so I will spare you. I will simply finish with another profound....Holy Sh*t!!!! And "thank god".
Monday, November 16, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Once upon a time, a guy asked a beautiful girl 'Will you marry me?' The girl said, 'NO!' And the guy lived happily ever after and rode motorcycles and went fishing and hunting and played golf a lot and drank beer and scotch and had tons of money in the bank and left the toilet seat up and farted whenever he wanted AND SMOKED CIGARS IN THE HOUSE
For the 3rd weekend in a row, I will be bagging leaves. That guarantees that I will get outside to enjoy the weather. (Gotta love these old neighborhoods.)
Yeah, I am reduced to blogging about the weather.
Monday, November 2, 2009
He said he had:
> H1N1 (swine flu)
> Strep Throat
> Pink Eye, and
Is that even possible?
I am used to the kids all suffering from "hormone poisoning", but this whole germ thing is disturbing.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
“Democracy is a process by which the people are free to choose the man who will get the blame.” Dr. Lawrence Peters, author of the Peter Principle
“Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike least.” Robert Byrne, Chess Grandmaster
“Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.” Oscar Wilde
“There are two things which a democratic people will always find very difficult - to begin a war and to end it” Alexis de Tocqueville, 19th Century French political thinker and historian
“Democracy is the process by which people choose the man who'll get the blame.” Bertrand Russel. This is almost the exact quote as the Lawrence Peter quote above. Peter lived from 1919-1990. Russel from 1782-1970. Who knows
“It's not how you pick your nose, it's where you put that booger that counts.” Tre Cool, drummer for the Punk Rock band "Green Day".
And THAT should settle the question of whether I am deep or intelligent.
FYI: These came from quotesdaddy.com.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Speaking of the land of oz, several years ago the folks over at the Kansas Department of Tourism decided Kansas needed a new image (how would you like to have THEIR jobs?). Unfortunately, they chose to further overuse the gagging cliche from the Wizard of Oz and came up with the slogan "Kansas, The Land of Ahhhhs." We suffered through that one until the new governor came on board and fired all those munchins and hired a new marketing team. They came up with a new branding for us which nobody seemed to get. It was "Kansas...As Big As It Seems". A couple months later Kansas voters adopted a constitutional amendment (by 71%) banning gay marriage and/or same-sex unions. One guy cashed in on this and printed bumper stickers that read "KANSAS...AS BIGoted AS IT SEEMS". Made him a mint but pissed the governor off big time. She must have gotten tired of trying to 'sell' Kansas so she retired to Washington, DC as Obama's Secretary of Health. Now she has an easy job - selling health care reform to Republicans. Bet she wishes she was back in Kansas. (Clarke likes to point out that the Wizard of Oz story is about someone that left Kansas in order to have an adventure.)
OK, I have promised my spouse I would try to see the glass as half full rather than half empty (I've always hated that analogy). So, to assist me in my attitude adjustment, I have started watching funny movies, scanning humor websites, and trying to 'reframe' my impressions of situations to see the silver lining. Did I mention Zoloft?
Movie recommendation: Saving Grace. A British movie about a middle-aged woman who finds herself in financial ruin when her husband dies and leaves her in debt. She decides to make money using her gardening skills...and growing pot in her greenhouse. Yeah, it's pretty dopey (but hilarious) and has some great scenes - especially when her prim and proper ladies tea club brew up some tea using marijuana leaves.
Life is good!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Fluffy is the little girl (princess)....also accurate. We often call her "Fluffy the Pretty Princess".
We caught Corky later prancing around in the princess outfit, which only confirms something we have long suspected. Unfortunately we were unable to get a pic of that.
Yes, we have become the crazy old people and their little dogs.
Note that Brennie is dressed up in an apron. She is dressed up as a woman that actually cooks. My saying that is not quite fair to her. She did spend 2 or 3 hours cooking yesterday. Cooking dog food. Yes she cooks dog food on the weekend. Right now she is baking cookies (to send to the kids....our human kids in Portland and New Orleans). I will be lucky if I get dog food for dinner or any burned cookies. Oopsie, gotta go (wash dishes).
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Things I WILL Miss:
- My Harley
- Fast Reliable Broadband Internet
- Speaking English
- Our children ... will have to fly further to visit.
Things I WILL NOT Miss:
- Being on the job at 7:30 every morning for 25 years.
- The US health care system (this alone could be a 1000 item list.)
- A 30 minute lunch break....again for 25 years.
- Mowing the yard. July - September can get 90 or 100 degrees + humidity.
- Mowing other peoples yards. I had a mowing business for 4 summers...... that's what bought the Cuenca apartment.
- Raking leaves
- Pulling weeds
- Automobile ownership (purchase, repairs, registration, gas, insurance,etc)
- The school lunch. Just putting that in for fun seeing as how I never actually eat it.
- Delusional enabling parents that refuse to let their children take responsibility when they screw up. (another possible 1000 item list.)
- $1.50 avocados that are rolled to Kansas from California.
- Mosquito's and chiggers.
- Gangbangers and wannabes.
- Shoveling snow.
- Property taxes of $200+ a month
- Overpriced hookers. (Just putting that in to see if anyone actualy reads this dribble.)
- Gas, water and electricity averaging $420+ a month.
- The Bible belt and people that wear their religion on their sleeve.
Things Brennie WILL NOT Miss:
- Listening to me bitch about the above
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The house is for sale now. The move to Cuenca is approx. June 1. It would be terrific if we could get the house sold and have that out of the way. But, if it sells now, we have to find some type of temporary home.
The "Good News or Bad News?" Part:
If we have to find a temporary place...... (are you ready?).....we qualify for a "seniors home". I think this is hilarious. Brennie doesn't. Not at all.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
1) an old friend
2) a new friend, or
3) not include in either category above....whatever that means.
Whoever you are, you may or may not know our son Alex
Nevertheless, here is a link to a NY Times article about the Americorp team he leads.
Incidentally, he is one of the youngest Team Leaders in Americorps and one of very few to become a Team Leader their first year in.
Link to NY Times web article:
Link to slideshow at NY Times website:
Link to a pic of our boy at NY Times slideshow:
The hardcopy article is on page A7 of today's (Monday, 9/7) NY Times. Yeah, I went out and bought it.
Some days are just really sweet.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Flowers – Picked from the neighbor’s yard. They were old and blind. The neighbors, not the flowers.
Music – We played George Winston on our stereo from his album called “Winter”. Little did we know we had just moved to a house in Minnesota with inadequate insulation. The winter of 1984 was one of their coldest on record.
Maid of Honor – Sweet Choctaw…the real reason I married Clarke.
Preacher – Clerk of Court from Sterns County. He was the biggest expense of the wedding, ($20)…and the only person in a land of Norwegians and Scandinavians who would marry a couple of heathens from Oregon.
Wedding party – Only family. Of course, we had to have the wedding early in the day while everyone was sober.
Guests – We knew not a soul in Minnesota so Clarke rounded up some neighbors. Ever the tactful guy he knocked on their door and said “I know you’re going to be watching it from the window so you might as well come over and get a good seat. Bring your own lawn chair.”
Clothes – We did not know until the morning of the wedding what we were wearing. I ended up wearing a wrap-around skirt, knee socks and birkies. The blouse was purchased from my favorite thrift store in Oregon…the same place I bought the slacks Clarke wore. He had gained some weight and couldn’t fit into his own. Yeah, he used to be skinny!
Memories – Priceless! The children did not turn out so bad either…
Brenda may remember it different.....
.....if so, she can do her own post.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
For LOTS more words, you may go to:
For like a whole novel.....try: (a great read, but, not for sissies or people with sucky bandwidth)
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
We love it here and will be returning next June. Duh....we bought an apartment.
What do we love so much about Cuenca? The list is long, but at the top of that list is all the wonderful people we have met here. The main idea of this post it to thank all of our new friends here. You have made this visit wonderful and you are the main reason we are coming back. Without you, Cuenca is just a beautiful city. With you, it will be our home. You know who you are, so I won´t try to name everyone. If I tried to list everyone, I would just screw it up.
Special thanks to all those who encouraged Brenda with all the ¨ïnteresting¨ ideas for improving the apartment. I hope you are around with your checkbooks in June.
See you soon,
Clarke and Brenda
Friday, July 24, 2009
We can´t wait to come back and get started on the next phase of our lives.
No new pics or anything because the Internet in our current rented apt has been down for a couple days and Internet cafes here in Cuenca.
FYI property taxes are $20-30 a YEAR ( $2 - 2.50 a month). No heating bill because none of the houses here have heating or air conditioning.....neither is necessary on the equator in an 8000 foot Andean valley. Water and electric will be less than $30 a month...combined. We won´t need a car and therefor no car expenses. Gotta buy a motorcycle of some kind.
Life is sweet.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
We weren't looking.................
It just sort of happened.
It is in the downtown historic district.
The city shots are views from the balcony. (veranda?)
Perfectly livable right now,
but there is a reason that there are
no pics of the kitchen or 2 bathrooms.
We'll knock out walls
and do the remodel next year.
The deal is not final yet
and may fall through.
But we are prety confident
that it is a done thing....gulp.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
The Good: Lots and lots of busses. They go everywhere in town….for 25 cents. If you stay on the same bus you can probably ride it all day for your quarter. All the lines are numbered and there might be 50 different routes (I really don’t know). I have seen Linea #1 and Linea #50 and lots of #’s in between. By the way, apparently some of the city busses go a considerable way out of town.
The Bad: No route map. Truly, there is no route map. I have asked around and there appears to be (yes I am saying it again)….no route map. The sign in the front window tells you about three of the major stops it makes. However, if you are truly a newbie - that is not much help. For instance, most of them say “Universidad” on the front. Well, I think there are 8 universities in Cuenca. Apparently if you are born here, the routes are part of your genetic memory. For newcomers, it can either be exciting, intimidating or frustrating …..but it is never boring!
The Ugly: This isn’t really the “ugly” but more like the “miscellaneous”. The busses don’t give change. So you must have exact change. Apparently there is a shortage of quarters in Cuenca ….. solution is to get a roll of quarters. I got mine from Nancy Watson. She calls them bus tokens. Take some time (days, months, years …..”time” is a relative term) and ride the busses till you know where they go. I have done some of that and it can be interesting. By the way, none of the busses seem to go in any specific direction. If a bus happens to be going east when you get on…that means absolutely nothing.
What is the worst thing that can happen if the bus is NOT going where you want? You can always catch a cab. Costs about $1.50 - $2.00 and there are 4,000 of those in Cuenca.
For a Good Time.....catch #7 going south on Salano (not east on 12deabril). Stay on the bus until it fnishes the loop. Take a box lunch, bottle of water and a book. make sure you start out well befor dark. Enjoy! For more fun, stay on for the other loop of the figure 8 that it does!
Friday, July 3, 2009
She went lap swimming.
She made me climb stairs for 45 minutes. She is stupid. I hate her.
And oh yeah, .......Here is a pic of the guy that made my hat. I thought he used gestures because I can't speak Spanish. Turns out he is mute. An extremeely likable man. I went to his store because it was truly the most humble place I saw selling hats. He makes them all himself. As it turns out....he is pretty famous around here.
Ecuador is located on the equator, so most people mistakenly believe it is hot and humid here. Yes and no. Yes, it can be tropical on the coast and the Amazon jungle regions. Cuenca, however, is located in a valley of the Caja Mountains in the southern part of the Andes where the weather is ‘eternally spring’. June, July, and August is considered their winter season where the weather is still gorgeous but it rains more often. November, December, and January is their ‘Camelot weather’ – so they tell us.
Cuenca has three rivers that flow down from the mountains and through the city on their way to join mother Amazon. Consequently, Cuenca is known for its pure and refreshing drinking water. We enjoy it right from the tap.
La vida es buena! (Life is good!)
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
My brother, John, is a certified chef and is known far and wide for his scrumptious creations. I have always admired his ability to create a gourmet meal out of whatever he can scrounge out of the fridge and cupboards. However, I am the baker in the family (at least he lets me believe that). So, today when the baking mood struck in an apartment without an oven, I asked myself “WWJD?”
The strawberries were purchased out of a wheelbarrow near the indigenous market, the chocolate was obtained at the Mercado in a raw slab form (they grow cocoa beans down here, too!). The chocolate has never been ‘cut’ so it took lots of sugar. I also threw in some coconutty, gooey stuff I found in a store called ‘manjar de leche coco’. Maravilloso!!
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
We do a lot of walking here in Cuenca. One really does not need a car in this town. Buses are cheap – a mere 25 cents. A taxi ride across town is $2.00 – max. As Clarke and I wander this lovely but foreign city, we often ponder on why Cuenceanos do or say the various things they do. I, being the more imaginative one, frequently come up with some creative “hypotheses”. Additionally, being deaf, I’ve become quite adept at reading body language and facial expressions and will frequently “guess-interpret” to Clarke what I think a native is trying to tell us in Spanish. Clarke, being the left-brainer in the family (just the facts, madam), will often look at my rear-end and ask “do you know that for sure – or are you just blowing smoke out your arse?” It’s become our inside joke, reduced to a rear-end glance. Truth of the matter is: we both have been doing a lot of smoke-blowing down here and will continue to do so until we master the language – and culture.
Speaking of mastering the culture, the best thing we did was switch to an English speaking, bi-lingual Spanish language teacher. Our original language teacher was a delightful person but her English skills were limited. After two intense, stressful weeks of the immersion method with no English instructions, I called it quits. There was also a situation that happened with our language teacher that was confusing and hurtful. I knew there were cultural implications but we lacked the language skills to resolve it. Clarke endured for a few more sessions but I found a bi-lingual angel named Mia. Mia is from Ohio with a degree in Latin American studies and is married to an Ecuadorian. But most importantly, for me, she can explain things in English. When I told Mia I wanted part of our language sessions to include a discussion of cultural differences, she laughed and said “ok, the first thing you need to know is that Ecuadorians do not like to accept blame – for anything! Ecuadorians will rarely say they are sorry because that implies they assume blame for something." In fact, they even have a word for it in their language “disculpo” which translated means literally ‘unblame me.’ On came the light bulb! Now that we understand ‘disculpo’, we see it in action quite often here.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Well, apparently our hostess was as inexperienced as myself. However she was a good sport and offered to show us how it worked. So, she leaned over the bidet and turned on the left and right handle. Do you see where this is going?
Now in the picture above, it would seem that the water is adjusted about right. Maybe her bidet is some type of bidet on steroids or something. You gotta be able to see where this is going now.
We are calling it an Ecuadorian shower. Gave the ceiling a pretty good scrubbing, too.
Our hostess is a wonderful person with a great sense of humor. She laughed harder than we did.
The cleanup was left to the remodeling crew.
Yet another day in paradise.
Monday, June 22, 2009
One explanation that I read is that many years ago when they started to be popular and famous, they were shipped from Panama to the rest of the world.
Before we came down here, I expected that many/most local men would wear them. After all, we are at 8000+ ft. elevation and it is so easy to be sunburned here. (skin cancer you know) But NO, in actuality, very few men wear any kind of hat at all. Even baseball caps are pretty scarce. Most of the people that do wear hats are norteamericanos. If you wear a wide brimmed hat, it pretty much labels you as an outsider.
However being a fair haired boy and prone to skin cancer, I have to wear a wide brimmed hat all the time......well, not actually indoors. So yesterday, I traded in my wide brimmed canvas hat for a Panama. I don't blend in any better in my Panama....I just look a little prettier.
FYI, genuine Panamas are very expensive. I bought mine is a really seedy looking store in a not so pretty part of town. As it turned out, the old guy I bought it from actually made it. He has been making them since he was 6 years old and is well known. He took me out of his store and down a narrow hallway. Then we went up some pretty rickety old stairs to his other little showroomie workshopie type place where the rest of the hats were. All in all, it was very cool. Newspaper articles about him on the wall and everything.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
They have the best motorcycles, cool uniforms and get to carry guns. Some even have pistol grip, pump shotguns with 18 inch barrels .......very cool and makes me kind of homesick for mine. No pictures right now. Sorry.
The policia nacional have the coolest motorcycles.
This is NOT a posting from the 'softer side.'
Friday, June 19, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The story always made them (and me) feel better so we coined a phrase from the book that we frequently use in our family…”some days are like that, even in Australia”. Translated it means “even in paradise, there will be bad days and you just have to believe that it will be better tomorrow.”
I had one of those days yesterday. I will leave out all the details. Remember the phrase “Anything that can go wrong, will?” Yep.
Later, after a good cry, our sweet daughter emailed me nine words that helped put it all in perspective. She said, “Mom, some days are like that, even in Australia”.
Out of the mouths of babes…
Hasta la vista!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Gee....too bad the pics didn't work out.
As a consolation, I am uploading a pic of a lovely meal we prepared in our own little apartment.
Spanish Phrase of the Day....
"No comiences Brendita."
Don't start with me Brenda.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
It appears that most drivers save some money by not purchasing their cars with brakes (they must be an added cost option).
After all, who needs brakes when you have a horn????
You can always slow down by running over a pedestrian or 2.
Tomorrows blog will nave pics of Brendita (Brennie) taking salsa lessons. Clarke will be edited out of the pics
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
In Kansas, that makes me shorter than most of my male students.
Here in Cuenca, I am tall.
It is kind of cool....until you go shopping for clothes.
I forgot to bring a sweater, so we set out to purchase one.
"Todo es neuvo"...everything is new! It's scary yet exciting. It's daunting but exhilarating. Each day we venture out of the comfort zone of our apartment presents a new challenge. Did I mention exhausting?? Learning a new language at our age is no walk in the park, but I was unprepared for the emotional exhaustion of being hearing impaired and learning a new language. The pronunciation! E is pronounced like a, i is pronounced like e, g sounds like h but don't forget the h is silent! And that rolling sound made with the tongue with the letter r? Well, that one will have to wait.
I love the Ecuadorian people and have been moved by their generosity and hospitality. While riding in the van from Guayauqil to Cuenca, aside from the astounding beauty of the scenery, two things happened that I will never forget. Our seatmates were a young couple from Cuenca who were in Guayaquil on business, Marysol and Claudio. Marysol and I connected instantly, in spite of our language barrier. She knew a little English and I had my dog-eared Spanish dictionary. For the next four hours, through halting "Spanglish" and pantomimes, we managed to learn much about each other. When we arrived in Cuenca, the driver stopped at the edge of town where passengers are normally dropped off. Negotiations transpired (with lots of gestures) between Marysol and the driver and Marysol obviously won. The driver reluctantly started up the van and delivered us to Claudio and Marysol's home where she insisted on driving us to our apartment. So...we were personally delivered to our front door by perfect strangers who had no agenda except kindness. Many hugs later, we promised to get together for dinner after we know the language better.
The second memorable thing that happened was with the other van riders. Two timid young girls from the rural area were also traveling to Cuenca. At about the halfway point, I bravely announced that I needed to use the "bano" (one of the few words Spanish words I knew). With a disgruntled look, the van driver stopped at a restaurant where the rural girls and I ran giggling like schoolgirls to the outside bathroom. (It's a girl-thing, even in Ecuador!) I finished first and went back to the van. However, the girls detoured into the restaurant and bought lollipops for all of us, driver included. For the remainder of the trip, we all happily sucked on lollipops while I mused over the wonderful lesson I had just witnessed on generosity.
Hasta luego (see you later)!
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
Brenda is in heavan. She got a blender today so she will probably live on fruit smoothies.
Avacadoes????? Three for a buck! Big, ripe and perfect. (That almost sounds sexy.) We had guacamole and fruit smoothie for dinner.
Peanut Butter. There is a store that does sell JIF. It is very expensive. So what. It is JIF, so I will pay whatever they have the nerve to ask.
Gotta go. Adios.