Friday, January 13, 2012

Our First Visit Back to the US

Our first visit back to the United States since we moved to Cuenca in May is about to begin.  It feels long awaited because we had planned to return every 6 mos and it's been 9 mos.  I am very excited to see the grandchildren who are 3 yrs,  in Oregon and 6 yrs, 9 yrs old in San Diego. I will admire how they have grown, go to a soccer game, buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies (with wheat flour in them so I won't eat them - darn), read to them every night, play at their developmental levels, get silly with them and generally enjoy every precious minute.

I will also see my entire extended family in Idaho, except for three nephews and their families who live elsewhere.  I will have quality time with my parents, who are in their 90's. I will continue to answer questions about why it is important for me to live in Ecuador at this life stage. My mom is 93 and is enjoying her new IPad 2 - she is amazing.  She loves doing face time  {:-D  with grandchildren, daughter, great-grandchildren.

I will spend time in Portland, seeing all the dear people I can. I'll spend every possible minute with Cindy, hanging out, sewing, searching for things on my list of stuff to bring back.  Oh, and attending 3 days of quilt classes to add new skills. I'm going to be making a melon block quilt 
                                  Using these fabrics

I LOVE my quilt teacher, Victoria Jones.  If you want a sincere, funny, non-judgmental, incredibly skilled teacher, call Art and Sewl in Vancouver, WA  and schedule a class with her.  She teaches at some other places but I'd start there. She also may be doing some national shows.  I'll update this after my visit.

My beloved Calico cat Feisty will be cared for by a wonderful, kind friend. Feisty has become very clingy since we moved here and we have  no other pets for her to annoy.  She also sleeps most of the time, being almost 17 years old. I hope she will get along fine... but worry about this a little - will she know I'm coming back?

When she was a young cat, we lived in the country outside Portland where we had alpacas, chickens, dogs and horses - and 2 barn cats plus this small tyrant of a cat who bossed everyone around.  She was a fierce hunter who dropped off a steady supply of mice, voles, moles but left birds alone, making me happy.
                 As we unpacked container boxes, a new place to sleep.

She would go on a sojourn every August when our neighbor began combining (harvesting) wheat. My stepson Robb called it Feisty's Catabout, like the Australian Walkabout coming of age journey.

I hypothesized that harvesting the wheat caused a huge supply of small creatures to be vulnerable for her hunting. We had no houses near our property so she apparently just lived off the land and wandered for awhile. Each year her time away was longer. The first year she was missing for a week, the second year 2 weeks and so on until her 10th year when she was gone for 13 weeks.  I had mourned her loss each year only to have her return - to delight me again.

So that last journey, when she was gone so long, I decided that if she returned to me, she would become an inside cat.  We were moving to the city and she had no city smarts to make it in the mean streets of Sherwood, OR where there were 2 dogs and a cat in nearly every small yard, just waiting for a new cat to become lunch.

She adapted well to being an inside cat, accepting that it was time to remain inside and live a slower pace.  I've never left her for more than 2 weeks so I wonder how she will do without our daily interaction.  The "cat sitter" will do her best to give Feisty some attention each day but...we shall see how it goes.

Yesterday, a friend made some gluten free scones and shared them with me.  Such a treat!  And they were delicious. He plans to experiment with more.  I asked to be the official taste tester.

A couple we know from Portland is moving to Cuenca for a 6 mo job.  We have been e-mailing back and forth about getting together some time after they arrive.  Yesterday, Lenny was buying some groceries and ran into them.  They had arrived about 2 hours before! Cuenca is a good sized city but you will run into someone you have met here or someone you know from home nearly every time you go out!  It is cool but a bit eerie.

For weeks I have been ordering fabric online and gluten free flours, grains, chicken broth and sauces, having them sent to my dear friend Cindy who is housing a TON of stuff for me.  I will pack things as well as I can up to that 50 pounds per bag limit.  There are so many items I wish I could bring back to make living gluten free easier.  But I'll do my best.  I do miss good yeast bread so I hope to bring back my fav items for gluten-free bread making, i.e. sorghum flour, millet, red quinoa.  I am also bringing back a grain mill so that I can grind arroz integral (brown rice) into a very fine flour.  Other gluten free grains too, like quinoa and millet.

It will be interesting to see if the lower altitude, higher humidity and cold weather causes increased fibromyalgia pain and lessened mobility.  I'm hoping I can skate along and not have to slow down. My level of energy is excellent in Ecuador now - I hate to let go of that!
I am approaching this as a wonderful break to see my family and friends - that is the most important thing.

I also look forward to our return back to Cuenca to continue my new life here, where new things happen every day.
Cuenca, Ecuador is home now.

Have a terrific week end and stay tranquilo - a state of mind.
Make every day a new one to remember.


  1. Glad to hear you decided to go with a grain mill. Hope it works out great for you. Which one did you decide to go with? I've been messing around with Gluten Free Baking from the CIA and Robin Rybergs ultimate gluten free cookie book. Both of them eschew exotic flour blends. I'm starting to do some taste testing to see how much the taste of various products is really affected by simpler flour blends. Have a great visit!

  2. Hi Sharon... I'm excited you and Len finally get to return to Portland! Sounds like you have lots planned... coupla thoughts for the kitty.

    I have heard that it is comforting for animals to have something with their owner's scent to curl up on.... perhaps you could leave Feisty your nightgown or sweater or something similar on your bed to comfort her in your absence? My sweetie pie loves to curl up on my sweaters or t-shirts even when I'm here! Maybe you could even leave a few set aside and your friend could bring new pieces of clothing out over the time you're gone? Just a thought. Also, some personal experience... I had to leave my kitty for about 6 wks while caring for my mom in 2010 and she was all alone, and she did fine... was definitely glad to see me when I got home!...

    There is a great website for FM sufferers called run by Dr. Teitelbaum. It sounds like you have a good handle on it and have improved a lot in EC... awesome. I don't have FM or CFS, but I do have hypothyroidism and had adrenal exhaustion. Dr. Teitelbaum's site is a wealth of information... he actually had CFS in the 70s and lost his practice for a while before he figured out treatment protocols... you can also follow him on Facebook and he has lots of good tips every week or so. Just an fyi... his work is so amazing and he also has a good book out.

    And one more thing re me... don't know if you saw my comment several blog posts back, but a comment you made several months ago to me... saying you hoped I didn't have to wait 8 yrs to "retire" made a big difference in my life. I had planned to retire at 65... but after you said that, I thought "wait a minute, maybe I don't have to wait til then." Long story short, my consulting work ended very unexpectedly in Nov... and I decided to move to San Miguel de Allende which is an artsy town... to pursue my painting and sculpture full time... and I sold my house in 2 wks in Dec!! Anyway, thanks to you for planting the seed so that I could begin to look at life differently... it was truly a gift!

    So glad you both are enjoying Cuenca so much... maybe some day I can visit... have a great visit back in Portland/San Diego and Idaho!!