Notes from the domestic front

DSC_2030 (1)Well, we’ve been in Cañar two months now and I already feel time going by faster than it should. I look at the calendar and see March full of activities and events, and even into April. Our day-to-day life is pretty quiet though there’s always something to break the routine. In fact, that’s our favorite refrain when things go wrong: “IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING….” Last week, for example, workers began taking down trees below us, and left us without electricity, off and on, for several days. The first day the power went off I walked down the road and found a young man up in this enormous tree with a hand saw! P1120569 He’d dropped a limb on the lines. CentroSur, the power company, came and reconnected us, but in the days that followed they simply cut the power during the day while the tree cutters were at work (now with the steady drone of chainsaws), and reconnected us at night. Just imagine what this would do to your schedule if you knew that from 8:00 – 4:00 you’d have no Internet, no lights, no fountain, no radio, no working outlets. Well, you’d just do other things. Michael’s stove is gas so he cooked.DSC_1995My laptops have batteries so I kept working until they went out. Then, I suppose, it was time for a glass of wine – and we still have the fire in the fireplace, thankfully. Life could be worse.

We’ve been in the house eight years and the interior garden plants – I remember how excited we were with those first little plantings – have grown enormously – from the macho aloe vera reaching for the sky (with two birds’ nests discovered in it last year) to the jade plant blooming like crazy and dropping baby jade plants to colonize Michael’s side). The oregano, on “my” side, that we were so pleased to think we’d have close to the kitchen, had so completely taken over, even infested with tiny white flies, that it was choking out all other plants. With help fromthis unidentified monster thing: P1120576Michael decided to take on the patio garden as a project (after his visa/passport affair was settled, but that’s another story). He tore out this thing, plus all the oregano, though a network of roots lurks just waiting to come up again. Yesterday we went shopping for new plants at Marco’s, our plant dealer who lives up the road, and came home with a tree (another project), 5 or 6 cactus, and other weird spiky sedum things, all for $20 (think what that would cost at Portland Nursery!) The result, earlier today:P1120663Meanwhile, not to be outdone, I was out in the kitchen garden thinning the minuscule lettuce plants that visitors helped me plant a few weeks ago.P1120665

What do we do for fun, you ask? Well, yesterday we had a tiny adventure when we decided to explore a church that has intrigued us for years, seen from the bus high on a mountain in the town of Biblian, between here and Cuenca. P1120596 Michael packed a picnic lunch and we got off the bus at the approximate elevation of the church and started walking. It was still a big climb, and just as we needed to stop to catch our breath we saw this:P1120601 An old woman in bright colors sitting in front of a yellow house weaving a straw hat. Beside her, a little store with an old man. “Buy a beer!” I urged Michael although it was only about 10:00. I needed time to chat and take some photos. Maria Angelita Dután Zhinun is 92 years old, and has been making hats since she was eight, taught by her mother. P1120613

Her hands are still supple, her hearing fine, her sight good enough to weave, and her sense of humor intact, along with her eagerness to talk. We soon got down to the personal stuff. She married at 16, has had 26 pregnancies, seven left alive, and the old man in the store (her partner) is her nephew. I guess she has outlived all the men her age. She spun other stories about Saint Rocio in the church up the hill, miracles, and stuff. P1120617We didn’t get it all, but this stop with María Angelita made the whole day worthwhile.P1120629

She liked my blue eyes and asked Michael if that is why he married me. I asked her if we could have a photo together. After, we continued our climb up the mountain to the church, but it rather paled next to where we’d just been.P1120632P1120636

We had our picnic lunch (with great views), walked on around and down the back side of the mountain and caught the bus home. “We must do something like this again next week,” one of us said, but we both agreed.

I’m going to pass on the Cañar book club this time. I think once a month will do, so please send your latest reads and comments for the next chronicle, on March 20. Meanwhile, stay in touch; I love hearing from all of you.

7 thoughts on “Notes from the domestic front

  1. So, I was waiting to hear more about the church. I noticed it when we went by on the bus two weeks ago. It is intreging in its location, if not its architecture.

  2. Who wears the hats she makes? Where does she sell them? What are they made of? Are the crushable and waterproof? How long does it take her to make a hat? How much do they cost? Does she make any other products? Are they only in white?

  3. Your gardens look great! Are your neighbors surprised to see you both digging in the soil?

    Working in Déleg more than four decades ago, I saw that church from the road every trip to Cuenca and back and wondered about it. Work and the schedule took precedence and I never made time to visit. If I had walked up the hill, Senora Maria Angelita Dután Zhinun might have been in the same place weaving hats! Surely she hopes to see you again.

  4. I am selfishly happy that time is passing so quickly 🙂 Love seeing you garden and Michael’s cooking. Sad that you won’t be here for Soren’s graduation.

  5. I love when I get lucky on the way to Cañar and see a woman tucked inside her home weaving a hat. Also, I can’t wait to see the garden! You’ve undertaken a lot since last Wednesday.

  6. Wonderful stories and photos. Thank you for sharing your life with us. I just finidhed H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald and I enjoyed iy thoroughly.

  7. Queridos Judy y Michel, saludos desde Pereira, veo con mucha tristeza que nuestra bella calle de árboles la están tirando, es una pena, ¿sembrarán uno por cada tumbado? de resto me alegra verles bien, y que se pasaran un lindo dia en Biblián, compartiendo con María Angelita. Saludos y espero ver ese jardín interior bien hermoso en un futuro cercano, muchos abrazos

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