Goings On About the House

rooster profile

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.

rooster 2 roosting roosterNow 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.

garden cropped veggie from garden

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.)

valentine chicken chicken w potatoes

We also have a wild blackberry vine in a corner of the field that has produced enough for a couple of berry/orange cakes…

berries better cakeMeanwhile, 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.field of quinoa

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).

quinoa close agronomo

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?)



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12 thoughts on “Goings On About the House

  1. Judy I just love these chronicles. I am continents away, sitting in my A Frame at Caldera watching the snow fall on the firs, but I feel so connected to you and Michael.
    What good news about Lourdes. Brought tears to my eyes. You know I always think about childhood illness, and how so many great artists suffered through illness as children. With you as a role model she is nearly there. Bluetooth or not!

  2. What a great post! So happy to hear about Lourdes!
    As I sit here watching the 14th snowstorm (no kidding!) to hit the northeast this year, your photos are an absolute breath of springtime.

  3. HI Julie – I always love hearing from you too. Please send photos of the Caldera project, if you can… Did the famous lunch with OPB ever happen?

  4. As always, the mere idea of other places warms my heart – and my son Evan (almost 26) is at the end of his 2nd month of traveling. You might recall that last year he lived in Guanacaste, his (and our) 2nd home – and he worked for the school he attended and the one where Stephen and I also taught. What goes around…
    Anyway – he went to Israel on the “birthright” trip sponsored for Jewish kids up to age 26, a 10 day whirlwind tour to the hightlights of the country – and from there he went to Turkey and fell in LOVE with Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ismir and other nooks and crannies. From Turkey he went to Croatia, where he is now, and from there will head to Greece. One thing I’m glad we instilled in our kids early on, was the love of other cultures and how small the world really can be when you open your hearts to others around you. This obviously has nothing to do with your post, but since you were a part of our initial move abroad to Guanacaste and connecting us with wonderful people, I thought you’d like to know how next generations handle the same thing! xoxo

  5. Sounds like Evan has your adventure travel genes…and how great that he’s doing all this at this age – not too young, not yet tied down. All this will surely influence the rest of his life…

  6. Great post, Judy. Tell Michael to make chard pancakes. And that quinoa will open up a whole new realm of possibilities! (Rinse well and toast grains to lose the bitterness!) Can’t wait to hear about more local birds. xo

  7. Hey Laura – Michael asks that you send the recipe for chard pancakes. And I’ll try with info on the birds – I’m not very good!

  8. Delighted to hear about Lourdes and to see her image!
    Tons of snow and extreme temps in NY this season. Enjoy your stay.
    I am heading to Mexico in April with my son and his family but only for two weeks.

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