Back to Cañar 2019

Hello Friends: 

Three days, delayed flights, missed connections, two hotel nights, $12 food vouchers for 24 hours in Miami airport, a taxi from Guayaquil and we are finally here in Cañar, on January 5. Below is Michael blowing his $12 voucher on a Cuban sandwich and guava cheese pastry in Miami Airport at La Carreta, one of our favorite layover stops.

If I count right, this is our 25th year of knowing this chilly, homely, lovely place; our fourteenth year living here half-years, and twelve years in our house. Which, amazingly, stays safe and sound for the time we’re gone. Perhaps because this guy was guarding it?

At least he was on duty the day we arrived, cropping and fertilizing the grass. It’s obvious from the droppings all around the house that our compadres José Maria and Narcisa and family and animals have been an effective security presence around the property during the eight months we have been gone. Inside, some dust and spiderwebs but otherwise dry and ready to settle in. It takes a couple of days (with altitude headaches, me) to open the shutters, uncover the furniture, unpack the sheets, towels, pillows and such, before the house begins to look like home. We uncover San Antonio in his nicho and take a look at the plants

Michael finally agrees that we have to do something about the massive macho aloe that is taking over the interior garden; in a couple of years it will reach the glass ceiling. From the time we moved in I have tended my (low) side of the patio, and Michael his. Many of the flowers I planted early on died during our times away (although volunteer geraniums are thriving along with a variety of sedums). But slowly, M. has invaded my side by planting cacti and jade and that big spiky blue-green creature a friend gave us years ago that keeps producing hijuelos. We’ll wait to see how things get resolved on the pruning issue.

Staying with the patio, a few days after we arrived I was crossing it to the living room with a large 3T hard drive in my hands, when my foot slipped off the brick edge and I went flying. Trying to hang onto the hard drive, I landed nose-first in the garden (hard drive went flying anyway), exactly between a rock and an watering spigot. Either would have done terrible damage, though my face still left a clear impression in the ground. We had no ice yet, but Michael had frozen two pork chops, so those went onto my nose in the first few minutes. After that, things got very ugly with purplish black eye and cheek and scrapes and scratches (no photo please!). During this past week I’ve had to explain over and over why my face is such a mess. Today I’m entering the bluish-green stage with patches of white skin showing through. (In photo below: I landed just to the right of the rock you see at knee-height.)

On to Michael – who is delighted with the result of his hip replacement in September, which means he can climb the hill into town without pain for his daily shopping. At home: cooking, chopping wood, building the fire, cleaning the chimney, hauling the propane tanks that give us the luxury of hot water. He’s so happy to be back in the land where a pound of large shrimp at the Sunday market costs $5.00. He’s in the kitchen now, cooking them along with camote (sweet potato) for a Peruvian-style ceviche tonight.

This is a short chronicle because I want to get it out before a busy week begins. But I must end by thanking all of you who contributed to the Cañari Women’s Scholarship Program these past couple of months. (Thank-you letters will be going out soon.) Gracias to our faithful contributors, we had a successful fundraising campaign to continuing support eleven women in universities full-time, two doing their masters, and various applicants waiting in line. Next Sunday will be our first meeting, with special visitors from the Women’s Circle of Giving in Bend, Oregon.

Cañar Book Club 2019

Finally, I’m anxious to hear what you all are reading and what books you have on your lists for 2019. For my report, I can say that the three-day trip to get here seriously cut into my stash of books. I finished The Gunrunner’s Daughter by Neil Gordon (fascinating, complex, still haven’t figured out all the twists and turns), The Rules Don’t Apply memoir by Ariel Levy, a New Yorker writer who must be one of the world’s most neurotic but charming journalists. Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett (hmm, no comment; found in a sidewalk library in Portland), and I’ve begun A Place in the Country by W. G. Sebald (a favorite writer but I believe these linked essays were pulled together and translated after his death and I’m not yet engaged), and a book by Paulette Giles, whom I knew as a writer in Canada but turns out she’s an American now living on a ranch near San Antonio, Texas. In News of the World she has written a lovely account set in post-Civil War Texas of an itinerant older man who makes his living riding from town to town to read newspapers aloud to live audiences, and the 10-year old Kiowa captive girl he agrees to return to her family. Reading, I cannot help but think of my mother, a great reader, who would have loved this book. Tomorrow will be her 99th birthday, and I dedicate this meeting of the Cañar Book Club to her memory. I miss her every day.

Please leave a reply here or email at: judyblanken@gmail.com. I do love hearing from you.

10 thoughts on “Back to Cañar 2019

  1. Glad it wasn’t worse that the black eye/nose thing and it could have been teeth and worse! Yikes! This weekend and today are those SPECTACULAR Portland days of nothing but cloudless, pure blue sky and starry nights! Hiking galore! Travel is never easy or quick these days and glad you finally arrived, unscathed until…
    Sending love your way and rats that we didn’t make the time to get together here during your time in Portland.
    xox shoshana

  2. Ouch! Sorry to hear about your face plant (in the garden!). Reminds me of all my tumbles while working in the yard. Usually happens while I’m distracted. Your house is aging better than a hundred years of solitude. Beautiful mature garden you got. The sheep is a nice touch.

    Tucson has worked well for us. Other than an exploded hot water heater, we have no complaints. Very sunny and warm. Lots of hiking and biking. Tucson appears very progressive. To invoke the cliche, it’s the Austin, Texas of Arizona.

    Glad to hear Michael’s kitchen magic proceeds apace. Give him my best and congrats on another successful landing on the equator.

  3. Judy and Michael, Wonderful to see you back in Canar again. Judy, sorry about your fall and your black eye. Michael good news about the hip. You just reminded me I need to contribute to the scholarship fund. A few months ago I tripped on a raised cement slab on the sidewalk on the way to Harvard Square and broke my arm. Staggered to the taxi stand with bleeding knees and got the to hospital. Just finished a piece on the courageous savings group promotoras in El Salvador and Guatemala which I will send to you very soon. Un abrazote Jeff

  4. Judy, I feel for you! Last year I tripped while running for a bus with a large backpack containing my laptop on my back. I hit the pavement face first yielding a grazed eye socket, a massive bruise that turned into a black eye that then spread down my cheek in glorious technicolour, and two chipped teeth. Plus I felt 100 years old and utterly humiliated. I wish you better!
    As for books, I’m half way through the amazing “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles. I thought in the first few pages that I wouldn’t last. Too gentle and not enough story. But I stuck with and am so glad I did. It’s utterly beautiful and the writing is nothing short of genius. Plus it’s quite long so it’ll keep you going for a while!

  5. A Gentleman in Moscow is such a favorite of mine. Was hard to put it down. News of the World is a wonderful book also. I am mailing a check to your NW Irving St. address. Will that get to you there? Shirley

  6. Queridos Judhy y Michael….bienvenidos a casa! que alegría saber que están de vuelta….me apena lo de tu ojo Judhy …pero veo que va por buen camino de recuperación…al ver las fotos de casa…me ha entrado morriña de ella y de las buenas tardes y noches que compartí …recuerdos muy gratos …espero que pueda viajar a Cañar y visitarles…me encantará …reciban entonces un abrazo muy fuerte y buen provecho con esos camarones!
    Manuel

  7. You didn’t even mention the big spill when we spoke! Ugh. I’m glad it wasn’t worse. You and Sevi have twin spirits because he just bit it on skates last weekend – his black eye is almost healed, but he looked pretty bad for a week. Looking forward to seeing you soon! Let me know if you need a replacement for that 3G hard drive!

  8. Judy – so glad you & Michael are in recovery mode from your fall/surgery! As for the book club, I also loved the Gentleman from Moscow. Just finished the autobiography Education by Tara Westover. It is a can’t-put-it-down read, and chronicles her very disturbing childhood which she struggled successfully to survive.
    As I write, we are about to go into a deep freeze here in Vermont, with temps going well below zero this coming weekend. Sure makes me miss those slightly cool & rainy winters in Portland!
    I forgot the Canar scholarship donation what with the Christmas chaos this year – where can I send it at this late date? Looking forward to other Canar news! As ever, Mel

  9. Jude, love your Return to Cañar, When you’re gone..I’m gone. I feel like I live
    there with you and Michael and the speed keeping an eye on the grass, and the house. It’s such a joyfull moment when you do your first blog. Sigh! Ok, we’re
    all home!
    So sorry for your flying through the air. So happy you missed the rock!
    I tripped and fell into Alex and Elena’s house Sunday after Mary Poppins.
    (Did I think I could fly?)
    A cardboard box of leftovers in one hand, scarf and coat and bag and who knows what ll in the other. Fell with a big clunk into the hall way,
    but from a step in the garage. No damage done, just the thought..
    Do NOT FALL!
    I have a couple of interesting books to add to the club. No authors as I don’t
    have the books with me. But everyone will know what to look for.
    Love , you sister, Char

    • OOps, Love, Your sister…but it could as well be Love You, Sister!

      The books I liked last month:

      A Stranger in the Woods
      True story of an American Hermit.
      So interesting it’s hard to describe.

      The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
      An old book, but renews faith in the power of reading.
      The power of the book. All written as letters. A wonderful read.

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