Sunday, November 28, 2010

Two Days and 2900 Miles to Go

In 48 hours we'll be at the Springfield airport, starting our journey to Cuenca.  There are a few things left to do, but they are scheduled and I hope for no more major surprises -- we had a doozy on Friday, but we will take care of that Monday.  Our packing is almost done.  It's time to go, and we are having the usual "let's get going" reaction.

I will miss Springfield in some ways.  I've lived here 22 years, and in this house for 12.  I've moved a number of times, though, and I know that each new place seems strange at first.  It will take longer to become accustomed to a new country and a new language, of course, but we are up to the task. 

What will I miss?  I'll miss friends.  During my years at Missouri State, colleagues have become friends.  Some of them I can count on for anything.  However, with email and webcams and VOIP, we'll keep in touch.  I miss our pets, Max and Garbo.  Max, of course, you know about -- both Ray and I wrote about him -- but it would have been too hard on Garbo to take her with us.  She has a permanent home.

We leave with no unfinished business, no lingering doubts, and no regrets.  The next time you hear from us we'll be in Cuenca.  I can't wait, and I hope you keep reading.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

5 days left in the U.S. - so short I can sit on the edge of a dime and dangle my feet

The "to do" list for the U.S. is getting shorter and the list for Ecuador is getting some attention - finally.

The land in Willow Springs sold at auction on Monday and we closed on the refinance of Barbara's house in Springfield yesterday. The trash hauler comes today to take all the remaining stuff in the house to the dump and Barbara has struck a deal on her car. She did a really good job on delivery date, so we will only have to rent a car for 1 day to get us to the airport early Tuesday morning.

There are a lot of things that can still fall apart on the U.S. side of this move - because we cut a lot of legal and financial stuff real close. There is no stopping our move to Ecuador and our end is done, if someone decides to change the rules in the middle of the game the burden lies on them.

The Opinion Section 

 I have always joked about a mans tools and his truck, you know, you can tell about a man by the truck he drives or the tools he has .... etc.. There is some truth to that. Having been toolless and truckless now for a couple of weeks and having to ask my wife for the keys to the car whenever I want to go somewhere or do something, not being able to cut that tree down, you know if the toilet breaks I can't replace the ballcock, I mean I don't even have a framing hammer - that's how you fix a toilet isn't it ? You get the idea and it really is a problem. Next to my kids flying from the nest it's the worst feeling I have ever had. There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon and thanks to the various blogs from Ecuador and google translate I have found some really good trucks for sale in Cuenca, motorcycles too. I gotten some leads on land outside the city and I have been to Coral where I can replace all my hand tools with like and kind. I have to admit the idea of building in Ecuador is going to be like trying to teach an old dog new tricks but the fundamentals are the same where ever you go and I am up to the task. The future looks bright once we get out of the brambles.

Friday, November 19, 2010

10 days left in the U.S.

The end is in sight and in less than 2 weeks we will finally be in Cuenca, Ecuador, for the next year anyway.

We have had a couple hard frosts this month here in Missouri, I sure won't miss the ice and snow or the associated utility bills. We've got all the paperwork done for the title company to handle the closing on the Willow Springs property and a new lower interest rate mortgage for the Springfield house should at least break even when the place is rented out. I have made some pretty decent money in real estate over the years, but in today's market it is kind of a crap shoot.

Of course the immigration laws have changed in Ecuador since we sent our papers to the lawyer a couple of weeks ago. It seems that in addition to having everything apostilled, we now have to have our marriage license and pension papers approved by the Ecuadorian Consulate. I guess that's the way the cookie crumbles and we will deal with it, or not. The funny thing about this is that neither the lawyer or the consulate agree on what papers need to be approved, I guess the solution is to have them all approved, so what else is new ??

                                                          The Opinion Section
No matter what you do, no matter where you go, no matter how hard you try to do what is right, there is going to be someone with their hands in your pocket. Is it intentional or is the situation so complicated that no one can figure the cost before all is said and done?  My money is on the former. As a people, we have become complacent with the idea of additional costs which has become the new normal for contracts and agreements. When a contract is made, written or verbal, actual or implied the parties are said to be bound to the terms of the contract. Today that means - bound to change the terms of the contract. If a piece of candy cost 10 cents, why do I get 14 cents back in change from a quarter ? I know this is an over simplification but when is the last time you bought a new car and paid the contract price or paid a lawyer the contract price ?  There are always additional costs - heaven forbid if you build a house or do any home improvement. Personal responsibility seems to be a thing of the past and I miss it.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A male perspective on selling everything.

It seems I spend a lot of time posting to this blog to give my perspective on something that Barbara has posted. I always thought that when we decided to do something it was our decision and we agreed, then it was done. It seems that in the decision to move to Ecuador there are so many smaller parts that we still agree on but the point of view is vastly different.

This past Sunday we sold all of our household goods, which included my left over tools - which were considerable and the truck. Barbara's post was about how well she did on items she had purchased at other auctions in years past and made a profit on at this auction. Tables and chairs, dressers and beds, pot and pans, blenders and juicers, even jewelry and her personal pistol didn't phase her - but to me it was a traumatic experience. I was out in the lot like a used car salesman explaining how a Missouri Fox Trotter stud colt had cracked the front grill on the truck and how many board feet of  red and white oak the planer had milled, that those are Craftsman ratcheting wrenches, the skill saws have new brushes in them and there is a new chain for that chain saw, be careful those are laser levels, the difference between London and Philadelphia trowels and why a Martin ratchet is so much better than any other. It was a terrible day for me - I am truckless, toolless and soon to be landless and I have smoked my last Macanudo cigar.

 This isn't really a Macanudo, it's the last of the Torano's - Exodus 1959 Silver. I have one Macanudo Crystal - Robusto left but I won't have a picture of that because tears will be rolling down my cheeks. I used to grow Connecticut broad leaf without an allotment, so I would trade a bale or two for cigars and of course Macanudo's have a Connecticut broad leaf, shade grown wrapper.

This isn't the greatest picture but you get the idea.

Monday, November 8, 2010

One More Step

Yesterday, our household goods, guns, and the truck were auctioned off.  I thought it would be difficult to watch, but it wasn't hard at all.  Some of my things went for more than I paid for them; for example, an accent lamp with an art glass shade went for $15.  I paid $1 for it at an auction about two years ago.  Our Churchill Blue Willow plates, saucers, cups, gravy boats, and sugar bowl, which cost us about $35 at the same auction, went for $80.  The truck went for more than Ray thought.  Our guns did very well.  Of course, this is part of gun country.

So, now we're down to it.  I will be taking more donations to the Disabled American Vets thrift store later today; then, we'll start serious cleaning so I can call the rental agent and tell her she can bring potential renters over to look at the house.  Someone is coming to look at the Subaru today.  In the long run, though, I think I'll have to talk to the used-car sales manager at the dealership and see what he can do.

Three weeks from tomorrow we'll be in Quito, then on to Cuenca on December 1.  I'm feeling my usual anxiety because I've been waiting to see the lease on the apartment we want in Cuenca.  I'm really going to have to give up this sense of time urgency.  I've been working on it, but it's my one Type A personality trait and it seems to persist.  You'd think that six months of retirement would have taken care of it, at least in part.

Our friends Paul and Natasha Simpson - we met them in Cuenca when we were there in September - are having a rough time.  Keep them in your thoughts, and, if you pray, pray for them.

Friday, November 5, 2010

25 more days

Yesterday Barbara's tractor was trucked to its new owners in Mt. View, Missouri. The new owners are happy with their purchase, planning to use it as a replacement for an old Farmall. They say the old tractor will be restored and used in parades and shows by their young daughters. They will be surprised at the power and versatility of their purchase compared to their old tractor - a definite step up.

After a long day in Willow Springs, I was surprised to find that the attorney in Cuenca had finally sent a draft of the lease on an apartment on Av Luis Cordero. It will sure be nice to know we are not homeless when we return to Ecuador. Our Visas have been applied for and according to the lawyer should be ready within 10 days of our arrival in Cuenca. We are still having issues with our bank in the U.S. about things that were " no problem " now being areas of concern since we are shifting things around. As a result I will be shutting down my contracting business. Fortunately for us, I know a thing or two about accounting, so we can make quick changes without consulting. Too many people have their fingers in the till - I guess I shouldn't say anything but I feel compelled to voice my opinion about the small business environment in the U.S., especially when your moving out of the country. Back in the day, business was conducted as a sole proprietor, cash and trade with no paper trail, expenses directly deducted and revenues under reported, never hire an employee, make everyone a sub contractor, never declare a profit and when you hit the 3/5th rule start a new business and transfer assets as personal investments. I am not saying I ever did that but it sure would cut out all the paper work and the never ending parade of taxes, insurances and fees. Sorry, I run up against things sometimes that kinda piss me off.

The household items auction is Sunday at 10am and the house in Springfield is pretty much empty. The rental agent says there are a number of people interested in renting the house. We are in a sad state of affairs but the transition to Ecuador is only 3 weeks away and we are nearly ready.