Thursday, October 28, 2010

33 days and counting.

It seems something is happening every day to get us closer to Cuenca, Ecuador. The big tractor left the place in Willow Springs last week - its new home is in Aurora, Missouri, where it is going to be a project tractor.
 "Old Stumpy" has skidded many an oak log and lifted all of them onto the log deck of the sawmill. That old tractor earned his keep on our place for many years.

The last load of books from Barbara's library going to the Public Library. To quote Cicero, "a room without books is like a body without a soul", our house had a lot of soul.

We thought we had found a rental house in Cuenca a month ago, but we were not able to work out the lease agreement we wanted. We found another rental the other day in the north section of the city but we were not familiar with that part of town. Thanks to Clarke Green, of fame, we were able to determine it was an okay section of the city and we are in hopes of the attorney getting a lease to us soon.

We've been taking a load or two of household goods and tools to the auction site every day, for the auction on the 7th of November. The Willow Springs property goes on the auction block on the 22nd of November. All of our residency paper work has been Fedexed to the attorney in Cuenca, signed and sealed. Early this morning I sold Barbara's tractor - she will be happy about that, but I don't think she will be happy about what I sold it for. A year and a half ago I bought that tractor for $17,500.00 and today I sold it for $11,000.00 and I am going to change all the fluids in it before it leaves the property. If I left it on the property unsold the auction company would sell it for what they could get for it, in the off season to a bunch of cattle ranchers who would pay what they would pay for a tractor with 3000hrs. on it - she only has 47 hours on it. I am trying to make my case, because I may be in the dog house for a while.

All things considered, I think we will make the plane on November 30th.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My view of things.

In the previous post Barbara wrote about Max (the dog) because she felt bad about me "putting him down", even though it was a joint decision - it was my decision. I guess there needs to be some explanation about this. Around these parts I am known as the Alpha Dog, not because I am aggressive ( although I can be ) but because I have a close relationship to animals. In humans natural instincts are suppressed by civilization, people aspire to what they are good at or forced into within the boundaries of society. That never happened to me, I was raised by animals. The short of it is that I am very fortunate to be married to Barbara - one of her PhD's is in animal psychology - who doesn't have the intuitive instinct, but has the intellect to recognize when someone does. Max deserved a chance to live in a non threatening environment and he didn't like it. Like animals in a zoo, out of their natural habitat, he developed nervous habits and ailments related to his new captivity. There is no question he would have died soon where he was when we took him in, but not all animals respond well to what people think are better conditions. Even though he was healthy for the first time in his life and given freedom he had never known, he couldn't overcome his previous life. Max survived abuse I can't imagine, we did what we could for him, no matter how bad we want to right a wrong sometimes we just don't have what it takes.

Max is buried on a knoll with my best skeet gun. When future generations unearth his grave they will know he was a dog worthy of a mans prized possession.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Goodbye, Max

Over on the right, under my picture, there is a picture of Max.  We adopted Max a couple of years ago from the Southwest Missouri Humane Society.  The best guess was that he was 5 or 6 years old; all I saw was a scrawny abused dog who would not come out of the back of the pen he was in -- a pen he was in alone.  We looked at each other, looked at the dog, and went home.  Two days later we were back at the SWMoHS; we took him for a walk and decided to take him home.  We never expected much of him.  We thought he wouldn't make it through that first winter, he was in such bad shape. He'd lived his entire life in a trailer with other dogs; once in a while, I guess, someone would bring them food.  His back had been broken.  When they got him at the shelter, he weighed 55 pounds -- an old English Sheepdog, who should weigh 100 pounds.  At first, he stayed in the garage under Ray's desk.  He wouldn't eat or drink if anyone was in the room with him.  Max never really did get over that.  He didn't bark for two weeks after we got him home. But he came around.  He became a dog.  For such a big dog -- he did eventually get to 100 pounds -- he was very timid.  If someone came to the house, he'd bark and back up.  He hated to go out in the rain.  He came when we called if he felt like it. But he loved the place in Willow Springs, and he liked us, I think.  He didn't like many people and no other animals, but he did like us.

For a while, Max has had trouble running and walking; he had a hard time lying down, and his skin was a mess; no matter what we did, even when he was flea-free, he'd chew on himself till he bled.  We found nothing that would help.  He was miserable, and getting worse.  We left him with a pet sitter when we were in Cuenca, and he wouldn't do his business outside for her.  She tried her best.  And, even after we got home, he went inside.

Ray took Max to the vet today, and after a long talk and much thought, decided to do what we'd known for a while had to be done.  Max is at rest now, at peace (if I can say that about a dog), and I miss him.  For such a useless dog, he was the best.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Getting down to it.

Well we're in the stretch, I don't know if it is the final stretch, but things seem to be going the right way.

We've given up on selling the house in Springfield - decided to refinance and rent it out. Barbara's car is attracting attention, and we haven't even run an ad yet. The pictures for the auction have been published and the Nov.7th date for the auction is carved in stone. All of the Ecuadorian residency paperwork has been apostilled and is on the way to the lawyer - I'm sure something won't be right about who apostilled what and will need to be worked on, but it doesn't matter something other than spending money is happening and that's a good thing. The flights back to Ecuador have been booked with round trip to Miami, just in case. We are having a hard time deciding on either hiring a van from Quito to Cuenca or flying. There is some symbolism here, but I am afraid I'm not smart enough to pick up on it.

We are heading back to Willow Springs to do the clean up. Got to drag the old tractor out of the woods for pick up on Tuesday, clean up the construction site for the big house, decide what to do with the sawmill and burn a bunch of stuff. Barbara will be going back to Springfield after a few days and the big dog and I will be left in charge of finishing up. I'll have to bring a load of stuff back from Willow that Barbara has already sold and given away, then one more trip to take my tools and guns to the auction site and clean out the storage rental.

We've passed on a couple of rentals in Cuenca because of long term leases, our thought is short term until we get there and can see what we are renting. We will probably be moving out of town anyway when we find some land to build on, that way we can be closer to the building site. In my opinion there is nothing worse than driving a long way to work on a building project, it slows production and has a way of side lining the main purpose of the construction - kind of like living in Springfield and building in Willow Springs. I've done way to much of that - in my retirement I'd like to give it up.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cuenca in my dreams

I've spent the last couple of days getting my bigger laptop back to almost what it was before it crashed (thanks to my friend Ed Matthews, emeritus professor of Computer Sciences and head nerd, for fixing it).  I had some help in getting the software I need reloaded, as you can see.

Garbo, our one-eyed cat, spoiled

Every night, I dream of Ecuador.  My dreams are about Cuenca, as are my daydreams (not very productive behavior, you know). 

We arrived in Cuenca in the evening and didn't see much of the area before dinner and sleep.  The next morning, I got my first view of Cuenca from the balcony of our room at the Villa Nova Inn.  The inn is on Av 3 de Noviembre, which runs along the Rio Tomebamba.  This was my first daylight view of Cuenca.

Across the river you can see Ave 12 de Abril and Parque Madre.  We walked across the bridge to the other side and through the park on our way to the nearest Supermaxi many times.

This picture represents the first thing I dream about.  Is it any wonder that we want to live near here if we can?

More pictures and more news about our move later.  Be happy and be well.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Yes, we are still moving to Ecuador

We have been following quite a few blogs from expats who have moved to Ecuador. The idea is to learn from other peoples experiences. The blogs have been very helpful and have kept us on the right track. We got a local (Cuenca) attorney working on our papers right away, decided what part of the city we wanted to live in initially, made some contacts for rental properties while we were in Cuenca, sent off all the papers that needed to be apostilled as soon as we got back to the states - we're cooking, right ? Well, not exactly.

We've got a couple pieces of property here in the states to unload, equipment, tools, household goods - a life time of accumulation. Turns out that stuff is the easy part. Culture shock - the thing everyone talks about - that's the thing. We haven't even moved yet and we are getting killed by the stuff we thought was secondary to "Getting out of Dodge". It's not about learning spanish, finding the right flights, shipping and visa's - it's about us not being smart enough to figure out just how deep the water is ( cultural differences )..

The U.S. State Department is making up stuff as they go, I guess that is nothing new. The Consulate is still operating under the rules from several years ago, I guess that isn't news either. Who would think the Secretary of State where I was born would lose my birth certificate and not know what an apostille was, but cash the check to do it. In Cuenca we talked to a lot of people, shook a lot of hands and heard a lot of " no problems".  We figured it out after we got back to the states - what would I do if someone got in my face, jabbered a bunch of stuff in a strange language, pointed to things that were just confusing and acted like they wanted an answer. I'd shake their hand, smile and say " no problem ". I'd just want to be clear of these lunatics.  We'll be lucky to get anything done in Ecuador while we are still in the states because I was that lunatic. My wife is a lot smarter than I am so she wasn't counting on any of the contacts we made, but I was. So much for having things lined up before we moved.

Yes, we are still moving to Ecuador but I have a lot of humble pie to eat before we do.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunrise in the Ozarks

There was a little frost on the pumpkins this morning in the Ozarks of Missouri. We are really looking forward to not having this weather event in Ecuador. I guess as we age we become less temperature tolerant. In any case, we have spent a few days in the solitude of Willow Springs - we didn't even see the feral cat that normally hangs out at our place. Our dog was tracking new deer trails - we have a resident doe and the dog knows her scent, so this must be the start of the rut, he was a little nuts.

All the things I was going to do this weekend, I didn't. I was going to shot some clay birds, I leave a few guns out there but the skeet gun travels with me, it's the best of the best - you just can't miss with this gun - or maybe I'm just a god shot. At any rate, the skeet gun stayed in Springfield this weekend. There were some other thing I was going to do too, I was even figuring it might take a week to 10 days, but I lost interest even before we left Springfield. I think, I am sure I want to move to Cuenca, Ecuador.

Still a lot to do before we move - we are busy giving stuff away and Barbara is making a list of the stuff to ship to her relatives in Washington state. I'll know tonight if I have a buyer for the property in Willow Springs, I have one more lined up if this one falls through. If neither works out, I'll auction the place off. The Kubota dealer says he is interested in Barbara's tractor, but he hasn't gotten back to me yet and one of our friends is interested in the old International 460 if he can find someone to haul it for him. I didn't run the sawmill this weekend so I don't know if I want to sell it whole or "part it out", it's brand new, I just built it a few months ago to replace the one I had before.

The stuffy old college professor is busy grading essays for one of her on-line courses, so I don't think you'll see a post from her for a few days and if you are counting on me to keep you entertained - forget it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Still planning to move to Ecuador

Thanks to the great reporting from Clarke in Cuenca and the assurance of our Ecuadorian lawyer, we are still planning the move to Cuenca on The 1st of December - maybe sooner. The show seems to be over - for now. It may come back to bite us later but the benefits of life in Ecuador still outweigh staying in the U.S. despite a coup attempt once in awhile.

We have found a nice apartment in Cuenca that we will rent if the lawyer can get the lease arrangements worked out. Thing are moving along nicely. We've lowered the price on the house in Springfield and if all else fails we'll rent it out. There has been some interest on the property in Willow Springs, again if all else fails we'll auction it off. All the household items, my tools and equipment and my truck are set to be auctioned off on Nov. 7th and ads go in the paper for Barbara's new Subaru and a new home for the cat and dog.

We're headed to Willow Springs for the weekend, clear our heads, fire up the sawmill, skid some logs, maybe shoot a few clay birds - that sure makes me feel better, especially since I have to sell my guns to move to Ecuador. Any question about what kind of person I am - does "redneck" ring a bell ? That brings up another question - how in the world did a stuffy old college professor and a construction working, gun toting, motorcycle riding redneck ever get together ? Stay tuned.