Home on Whidbey is a family blog revolving around Fran, Ed, Brad, Yessi, plus puppy Benton, and our family, travels, friends, neighbors and community. Thanks for reading.


Pumpkin Party

It's great fun to share our American traditions with Yessi.  She is so enthusiastic to try almost anything.  When she last visited she wanted to mow lawns, drive tractors, shoot guns, hike new trails, travel vast distances on Brad's motorbike, and eat anything we put in front of her. 

This visit appears to be similar, with Yessi game for anything.  So we planned a mini pumpkin party.  We started our family gathering with pumpkin-curry soup and Screaming Banshee bread.  Our dessert was a pumpkin-rice pudding.

After eating pumpkin, we moved onto carving pumpkins into Jack-o'-lanterns.

Yessi and Brad carving Jack--o'--lanterns

Brad resorted to working in the shop at one point

Brad uses a drill and Fran resorts to the old fashioned knife for pumpkin carving

Ed too resorts to power tools, while Yessi digs into the center of her pumpkin to clean it out with her hands

Our glowing Jack-o'-lanterns
From left to right -- Brad, Yessi, Fran & Ed

 Halloween, Halloween,

Oh what funny things I've seen...

Witches Hats,

Coal Black Cats,
Broom Stick Riders,
Mice and Bats!  



A Day in America

Yesterday Brad and I went to Seattle to purchase cabinet hardware from Builder's Hardware & Supply Co. but before we got there we had a couple of mini diversions.  First we went to the Apple Store in Alderwood Mall to shop for a new computer for me.  My present desk top computer is much too large to tote to Ecuador so I was searching for a MacBook Air with Brad and Ed's help.   The discussion on our tech needs is ongoing.  If any of you readers have suggestions, please join the discussion.

Fran, Michael our sales person, and Ed at the Apple Store

After dropping Ed off at Cascadia College in Bothell where he's teaching computer programming and organizational psychology, Brad and I continued on to Seattle to run our errands.  But, on the way to Builder's Hardware we passed the Pike Place Market.  Since it was lunch time, we stopped for a quick 2 hour holiday.  A little hole in the wall Chinese Restaurant, with a 10+ view struck our fancy so we lunched there.  No regrets.  Good food, outstanding view of Elliott Bay, and good conversation.  Then we wandered the market quickly, enjoying the sights.

Fran at the gum wall
How in the world did this wall get started?

A wonderful little coffee shop on Western Avenue with outstanding
gluten free pastries.  I never thought I would say "good" in conjunction with gluten free, but this little shop
is the exception to the rule.  Coffee was excellent too.  Nice proprietors.


Bad news; Good news

The Bad news is Yessi returned to China after spending four months in the U.S. leaving us in a huge missing mode.  The Good news is she will be returning this October, God willing and the Visa creek don't rise.

Ed and I can't wait to see her again.  Benton, if he could understand what we're telling him, would be full of woofs and wiggles.  Brad, naturally, is beside himself.

Hurry back Yessi!  We've been missing you!

A Country Unfolds..

When Brad was on the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand, I went crazy researching every lake, river and town he came to.  Following his footsteps on my computer maps and Google searching every inch along the trail was a wonderful way to be by his side.   By the end of his five month thru-hike on the TeAraroa Tail, I felt like I'd traveled  NZ, from tip to tip, and knew it quite well.

Brad at Bluff, NZ

I did the same thing when he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and the Annapurna Circuit.

Brad on PCT
Brad on the Annapurna Circuit

Now, I'm researching for my own moving-to-Ecuador-adventure and I find the sleuthing equally fascinating.

One item that popped up in my research, and quite fascinated me, was that Cuenca has recycling.  From the Cuenca Digest:

 Cuenca city government has announced that garbage recycling will become mandatory in March. The municipality will impose fines on users of the city’s waste collection system who do not separate organic, inorganic and plastic waste after Mar. 1 (2010).
The ordinance establishing the recycling program was adopted in 2004 but has not been actively enforced. According to the city’s sanitation office, fines will range from $10 to $100 dollars. A spokesman for the office said that fines would also be imposed on people who do not adhere to garbage collection schedules and who place garbage on curbs on non-pick-up days.  

In reading further about Cuenca's recycling program  I discovered that there is recycling before recycling.  Once the residents set out their recycling cans for the city-wide pickup, there is another "pickup" as Cuencanos sort through the cans to capture items that they can turn in for money.  

I'm also amazed by the reports that there is non-stop cleanup by green-suited men and women who sweep and clean the streets.   Their bagged garbage isn't put on the roadside but is instead put in brackets high off the ground to keep it out of reach of he dogs. 

And, I love this, cattle are often put by their owners in the center strip or along the sides of roads to eat the grass, keeping it mowed and neat, while feeding their livestock.   Seeing people along side the roads digging weeds (actually edible herbs) that they sell at the market is also a common sight and helps keep the sides of the road tidy.

The thrift of the culture is so wonderful to read about after being frustrated here in the states with the love affair we have with objects, just to then carelessly toss the leftovers out the window or into the landfill.  

A complaint I see on expats' blogs is that there are no thrift stores.  The Cuencanos use what they buy and then reuse it so it does not result in waste.  I see this as a very good thing.  I might miss my trip to Good Cheer, but I'm going to be very grateful to live in a culture that does not thrive on waste.

I often read that Cuenca is a very clean city. The cars and busses are clean. The streets are clean. The people wear clean clothes.  The city is manicured.   Music to my ears!

Here in my progressive town in the Pacific Northwest we have not yet achieved recycling, nor does our city keep the streets swept and grass mowed on a very regular basis.   I know there will be things I don't like about Cuenca, just like here, but I will thrive in a non materialistic atmosphere of cleanliness and good maintenance.


Researching Cuenca, the City of our Retirement Destination


A great weekend of beautiful weather here on Whidbey Island.  Each day we enjoyed a delightful bike ride in the sun and warmth, we joined friends at Useless Bay Coffee Company for breakfast and coffee, and still had lots of time to research Cuenca, Ecuador.  I spent a great deal of the afternoon reading Cuenca Chronicles which has provided numerous tidbits of information I had not found on any other of the Cuenca blogs I've read.  Interesting little facts like, Ecuador is, primarily, a cash society with merchants not accepting checks or debit or credit cards for small items.  Large bills, like a twenty, are equally useless.   Pockets of change are what one needs for shopping.    There are laundry services  that wash, dry and fold clothes for $2.50 per week, so why purchase a washer and dryer?  Items made or grown in Ecuador are inexpensive; imports are very expensive.

Looking forward to shopping the craft and food markets, but not looking forward
to the first attempts at negotiating Spanish. 
How nice to have someone provide this un-hyped information in a friendly, chatty manner.   Far too many reports or blogs have a hidden (or not so hidden) agenda so one can't trust the information.  Like we've  read again and again that the weather is 75 degrees every day and no heat is needed.  Wrong.  It's warm many days but the nights can be very cold so if the days are cloudy and rainy, the house will not warm up.  Be sure to pack sweaters, jackets and electric blankets was the advice, and don't think every day is a barefoot day.   Additionally, it often rains every day (just like here) the difference is that there is usually sunshine every day too.  One report is that each day provides all four seasons of weather.  I'm not thinking we'll find the weather so different from here except the days won't be so short or cold in the winter or so long in the summer.  In Cuenca the sun comes up at 6:00 a.m. and goes down at 6:00 p.m., bringing consistency to the light.  It's the lack of winter light that bothers me more than the rain here in the NW.


We have changed our plans a bit.  First we thought we'd leave for Ecuador this fall but my health issues forced us to postpone to early 2014.  Now we are planning on traveling to Ecuador in January for a month; coming back and packing and cleaning up our affairs; and returning to Ecuador early spring.  So we'll be around for the holidays and long enough to enjoy the $150 worth of bulbs I've planted.

Ed and I vacillate between great excitement and great anxiety about leaving our home, community, family and friends.  We so very much love Langley and living here,  it seems strange to leave.  Plus missing Brad is a given.  On the other hand we are really ready for one last adventure.  Experiencing a new culture, meeting new friends, learning a new language will all be challenging but exciting and fun.  We also hope to do a great deal of travel in not only Ecuador, but neighboring countries, so our minds will be  expanded, which is a very good thing.

Some of the details of preparation are well underway.  Benton has had many of his shots and has been microchipped.  We're in the process of ordering the certified copies of all important documents and scheduling doctors' appointments for our shots and clean bill of health certificates.  We're already talking about what we'll take and what we'll leave behind.  However, some of the packing decisions might be more easily determined after our month in Cuenca checking out the situation, and perhaps renting an apartment.  It would be nice to have a place to call home immediately upon our arrival, especially for Benton who will no doubt be pretty freaked out from his long flight.

So, this is the update, and yes we are still planning to move.  The plan right now is to put our home on the Vacation Rental Circuit so we won't be burning any bridges by selling it.  If we decide to return to Whidbey Island every six months to visit or permanently in a few years, we'll still have a home to return to.  We've already lined up a gardener and property manager and Brad is building the cabinets that didn't get built before we moved in.

It's happening...

Biking might be more utilitarian in Ecuador
Hasta luego!