Monday, December 27, 2010






scroll down..............


a little further...........

keep scrolling............

a little further.............

you are almost there...........

some things are worth the wait.............

coming up next......

Can't wait until my
new bathroom is finished.

Life is Sweet,

Monday, December 20, 2010


You may (most likely not) remember that our original plan was to remodel the apt when we returned last June 1. It needed (needs) both bathrooms and the kitchen replaced. They are functional, but ........well, they are functional. In addition to the bathrooms and kitch, some other work was on our list. Remove a couple walls and a few etceteras. Well, we had an architecto come by and were blown over and overwhelmed with the prospect at the time. So, we decided to settle for a thorough cleaning and to have every surface (walls, window frames, ceilings, balcony, railings, wood doors .......ALL) either painted or refinished or shined up or something. Including re-finishing the floors. AND, it made a h*ll of a difference and we were happy and there was harmony and peace in the land and the children danced in the street.

So? What about “Nibbling the Bullet”? What is that about? Well on the blog entry where I said we couldn’t face doing all the work and were settling for ..... you know, the paint and stuff. Anyway on that blog entry I said we could not face ‘biting the bullet’ and doing all the remodeling. And, that we were willing to do the paint stuff instead and I called it ‘licking the bullet’.

Anyone see where this really way too long yarn is going?

Back on point in a minute. But not yet.

Last Wednesday we had a bunch of people over for (low stakes) poker. I wanted to set up the finger food stuff in the kitchen. The Brennie wanted me to move side tables (from other rooms) into the playing areas. Naturally, I thought that was a stupid idea. I mean, isn’t that what the kitchen is for? Come to find out (later) that the real issue was, ‘kitchen-shame’. She didn’t want anyone to see the kitchen. My response ....... “H*ll honey, then we certainly shouldn’t let anyone go into the bathrooms.” Wrong and really stupid smart-*ss response!

Back to the “Nibbling the Bullet”.

Have you guessed yet? Yeah. SeƱor Biggy Moutho. I set myself up for having to have the bathrooms gutted and made pretty and sweet smelling. First one bathroom. Then if we are happy with the builder, the other bathroom. Still happy? The kitchen. Still happy? Build a small bungalow in a distant valley (or cliff) for the Brennie!

So, we are not going to bite the bullet ........ simply nibble on it for a while.

I really don’t see the problem. Look at the pics of the bathroom we are starting with. Everything works already! We have bathrooms. What we don’t have is a big-*ssed Harley. Now THAT is our real point of need!

Looks to me like we have everything we need.

Sink, toilet, shower/tub.

Even a plunger. Perfect.

The pipes are convenient.

Really easy to fix if necessary!

How can this be anything but good?

Impossible to run out of hot water with this setup!

No need to worry about staining or damaging the floors.

Already done.

Who needs a vent fan when you got this baby?

AND ..... freshly painted!

Life is sweet,


Thursday, December 9, 2010


Mi amigos,

I have been thinking about you as the heart of winter nears. After 6 lovely winters in Minnesota and another 20 in Kansas, I know the joy of expectation and anticipation that November and December bring. So much to look forward to. The sleet. The freezing rain. Snow. Blizzards. God, I loved it. But alas, for me, it is no more.

Example: Because Brennie and I brought our two little Pekes down with us and because we live in an apartment in old town, I must walk the horrid little beasties at least twice a day down by the river. Yes, it is grim duty ..... a burden. But, I try to be strong. To not complain. So, two nights ago (around 10 PM) I am walking little Bugger and Wanker. Sadly, the temperature had only dropped down to 55 degrees. However, I did notice that the temp in Topeka was an invigorating 17.7 degrees that night. Fabulous! I am trying so hard not to be jealous. But, I am a petty and self-centered toad. I find myself harboring resentments.

However, I try soooooo hard to keep my spirits up. I fight the pain. The loss. The depression. But I am weak. Some times, simply overwhelmed. At such times, I find that going out on the balcony with a cigar, a cup of coffee and a book helps. Please pray for me.

I leave you with some pics I took the other night on my walk:

There was a whole square filled with these luminaries.

These went on for at least 4 blocks.
Maybe more. I don't know.
I was walking in the other direction,
toward the river with Bugg and Wank

Using a different (not better) camera setting.

For this one and the next two,
you need to look at the people
in the foreground to get a concept of the size!

Those black shapes in front are people.

I am not so skilled with the camera.

Life is Sweet (but entirely too warm),

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I had another blog entry written (in the word processor) that I was going to post today and embellish with a couple pics. It was a typical blog post for me ..... you know, the boogers and farts, pull my finger mentality that I m so comfy with.


I have decided to change track for this one entry.

We have a housekeeper. Her name is Monica. She is just a sweetheart. My dear Brennie made her cry today. Monica has been working and crying for about an hour now. So what did the Brennie-Beast do?

Well, we have a combo storage room / laundry area / tiny maid's quarters on the roof. The Brennie-Beast asked Monica to give it a cleaning. This is not the reason Monica is crying. I mean, she is a housekeeper after all. She cleans stuff. But, up in that area, we have some doors and some shower doors and some other stuff we have taken out of the apartment and didn't know what to do with.

Back to this in a second......

Monica came to us via some friends of ours that she also works for. They were introduced to her via a local couple. As part of the intro agreement, we had to agree to pay Monica what everyone else is paying her ........ $12/day. We had to promise. $12/day, no more. You know, don't spoil it for everyone else ....... and don't spoil Monica. By the way, when Monica started working for us, she quit another lady that paid her $10/day and she had to strip the wax off her floors every week. (My Spanish is bad but I think this is accurate.)

MOVING ON AND A SLIGHT DETOUR ...... and I WILL eventually get to what the Brennie-Beast did.

Let's look at this pay thing from my personal perspective. I taught in the Kansas public schools for 20 years. Kansas was 42nd to 46th or 47th in the nation in teacher pay that whole time. Benefits? Health Insurance? Don't make me laugh. In order to be able to afford to teach I always had to create other streams of income and over the years there were many. For the final 4 years, I had my own little lawn mowing business. Except for a couple extraordinarily bad days (the first year), I never earned less than $20/hour mowing. Usually it was $30+/hour. And I worked a lot of hours! That is my personal perspective .... and now back on point.

Monica arrives at our house at 8:00 every Thursday. She walks 1/2 hour (1/2 mile? I think it is 1/2 hour, actually.) to get from her house to her first bus. She also has to take a 2nd bus. Total commute 1 1/2 hours each way. By the way, she is one of the most personable, cheerful people I have ever met. Truly a ray of sunshine to have in the house.


Well, 'The Beast' gave Monica the doors and glass/plastic shower doors. Monica's house does not have doors or windows. Did you get that? Her house has no doors or windows. Holy shit! No wonder she is crying.


We have never paid Monica the $12 a day. Not even close. Some promises are evil, so we broke the $12/day promise immediately. Never remotely intended to keep it. Remember what I made mowing yards (and cleaning gutters and cleaning leaves and trimming hedges and hauling sh*t to the dump)?

I read a gringo blog entry a few weeks ago basically telling gringos not to over tip, or over pay for services, etc. You know, don't spoil the natives. Don't upset things. Don't raise expectations or hopes. We are guests here, so follow the local custom (of oppressing the poor). I have heard this a number of times.

By United States standards The Beast and I are not even remotely rich. We always saved for retirement, been very careful with our earnings and now have a decent nest egg. But by US standards ....... not rich. By Ecuadorian standards, we are 'Fabulously Wealthy'. Almost every gringo down here is 'fabulously wealthy'. It is relative.

So what do we do?
- We give money to beggars. Not the alcoholics, but the old, feeble, crippled and disabled. I give a buck. Not 25 cents. A buck. Because we are FW.
- I tip. I tip cabbies unless they try to overcharge me. If they try to overcharge, I will give them as little as possible. I tip the guy that brings the heavy gas bottles to my door. I tip the poor and the hard working. I tip the waiters and waitresses. And, I am going to start tipping the poor and hard working even more ....... every chance I get. Because we are FW.
- I break my promises. Yep, if I promise to underpay the hired help ....... well my word is no good on that. And I am VERY old fashioned about keeping my word, telling the truth, etc. But giving my word to underpay, to oppress ......... yep, that is a lie.
- And you know what, I am going to do more of the above. As much as I can. Because we are FW
- I am going to stop price haggling as hard as I have been. (I have gotten very good at it by the way.) Haggle, of course. Drive a hard bargain ....nope, not any more

To those that say, don't overpay, don't tip, don't upset things......

Life is sweet,

Upon leaving Kansas, I vowed not to get controversial any more. No talk of politics any more. Be congenial. Avoid arguments. Etc. I am not interested in debating any more. Seek tranquility and harmony. Change the subject if someone starts talking politics (or gossiping), etc. Avoid arguing with idiots and morons. (Oopsie, strong statement ...... my bad.)

This post is a distinct breech of that vow. It is a temporary slip. I promise. I will return to banal moronic blogging ASAP. I promise.

If anyone feels like posting a comment taking issue with what I have said here. Wants to argue it, criticize it, debate it, point out how I am ruining the economy and/or status quo, etc. No problem. I will simply delete any opposing comment. Back to peace, harmony and tranquility.