Dear Friends: Well, I’ve been trying to write a blog about the regional elections, in which I’ll vote for the first time, but since they will not be held until February 23, I’ll write a short entry this week about domestic goings on, with the election blog to come, after I’ve voted.
Although we’ve been in the house seven years now, the birds are just discovering us, at least those that want to move in. Last week a little black hen wandered into the yard and as dusk fell, tried to roost. She pecked at the window where Michael was playing chess, perched onto the deck rail, disappeared, showed up at the kitchen window, pecked again, then settled down on Michael’s rubber garden shoes to sleep, leaving a nice little gift. Next day she was out in the quinoa field, pecking away. Michael took her water and grain, thinking she belonged to one of the neighbors and was surely lost. She roosted again that night on the front porch, and by the third day was gone. We miss her.
Now we have two little finches, also pecking at the windows but also trying to nest in the light fixture on the back porch. After watching them for several days, Michael has decided to build a bird house. He got up this morning, put on his work pants, rustled around in his storeroom for materials, and by cocktail time, the glass birdhouse was done and hung on the back porch (looks like a frame in this photo). It remains to be seen if the birds like it.
Michael’s also been in the kitchen, of course – and in the garden – which our compadres Jose Maria and Narcisa planted before we arrived: broccoli, chard, scallions, and so much cauliflower that we are eating it pickled.
For Valentine’s day, he made a special meal chicken in sweet red pepper sauce, with potatoes. (The hilarious heart-shaped chicken breast a complete accident, only noticed later.)
We also have a wild blackberry vine in a corner of the field that has produced enough for a couple of berry/orange cakes…
Meanwhile, we’re watching with interest the quinoa that Jose Maria planted for the first time in our back field (it’s always been corn, potatoes or peas). For the first month it was hard to tell the weeds from the quinoa plants.
But with recent rains the top leaves are turning lovely shades of pink, and yesterday Jose Maria brought an agronomist to show him how to weed and hill the plants. I can’t wait to see the maturation of this traditional Andean grain, which for some reason the local folks do not eat (they say it is bitter in its natural state, and takes too long to prepare).
Finally, for those who remember the medical saga of Lourdes, the young daughter of Jose Maria, I have great news. We had just moved into the house when she was diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease; then shortly after total kidney failure, a long hospitalization in Quito, two miserable years of dialysis in Cuenca, and then finally – the miracle – a kidney transplant in Quito two years ago. After a delicate first year without major complications, Lourdes is now a healthy 17-year old, back in school after losing three years, with good color and some growth, and enjoying a pretty normal life. Here she sits at my computer, researching music, asking me how to use Bluetooth to connect my computer with her cell phone (huh?)