Mike Has a Very Bad Day

Years ago, when Michael and I first met in Costa Rica, we did a series of tongue-in-cheek fotonovelas about our new lives: How Mike and Judy Met; Mike and Judy Get Engaged; Mike and Judy Contemplate Marriage, and so on. In those days I shot in black/white, developed the photos in the darkroom, designed and photocopied the booklets, hand-colored the photos, and sent the novelas off to friends and family with the postal service. Remember those days?  When we left Costa Rica (Mike and Judy Consider a Change of Life), we gave up the project. However, when Michael lost his keys this week, which led to a series of unfortunate events that added up to “a very bad day,” we thought we would resurrect the form and have a bit of fun…It all began as a regular day, Michael left early for Cuenca for his usual weekly grocery shopping at the SuperMaxi. Judy left soon after for appointments in Azogues and Cuenca. Michael was to come home early, and Judy later, closer to dinnertime.The downward spiral begins when Michael returns to find his keys gone – no doubt lost in a taxi or bus when he pulled out coins from his pockets. The gate was locked, but he’d hidden two keys for just such a disaster – one for the gate just inside the fence – reachable from outside – and another deeper inside for the front door. What? The gate key is gone! Our compadre who takes care of the property while we’re gone must have used it and did not put it back.

So now Mike has to get into the yard. This requires climbing the 8-foot metal fence – luckily one without spikes on top like all our neighbors – through thick bushes.

On the other side, Mike goes looking for the hidden front door key. What? No hidden key?? El compadre must have used this one too and did not put it back. Chuta! (a favorite Cañar expletive.)

Now the only thing to do is to break into the house.  Judy’s darkroom window seems a likely place.

Mike forces the latch and climbs over my darkroom sink. Ah, in the house at last, and ready to relax, make a fire and have a beer. That will put everything right.  But….what’s this?? No beer??? Oh NO!So it’s back out to buy some beer. Still no gate key, so Mike finds the ladder, luckily left outside behind the house. So it’s up, fiddle the ladder to get it on the other side, climb down, go buy beer, then up and down again….


Judy comes home at last from a busy day in Cuenca. By now Mike has crafted his very bad day into a good story. And he’s brought a special treat for dinner in that little red cooler he took to Cuenca  – sea bass fillets!  Now to just find the breadcrumbs….

What? No breadcrumbs???

Well, that was the end of Mike’s very bad day. He breaded the fish in cornmeal, and it was OK. At the time we didn’t know we would do this fotonovela, so I didn’t take a photo. But here is my sea bass sandwich next day, on our walk into the country… …enjoyed while watching an alpaca make friends with a pig. Which rather put things in perspective…That’s all folks!  Next Cañar Chronicle back to serious things. National runoff election this Sunday, April 2, that will determine the next president of Ecuador. Stay tuned and be sure to write. I love hearing from you.

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29 thoughts on “Mike Has a Very Bad Day

  1. Judy, what a great fotonovela comeback, I loved and enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you!

  2. Thanks Ana – wasn’t sure how it would go down. Very different from other posts. Will I see you in Portland this July at SAA? HOpe so!

  3. Surprisingly, not a VERY bad day for a bad day. I kept expecting something really bad to happen, like Mike falling off the ladder, or cutting himself. Glad it all turned out! Did you ever find the spare keys?

  4. Did you read the Feb 13/20 New Yorker article by Kathryn Schultz titled “When Things Go Missing”?
    Miss you, Judy!!andre

  5. It was only fun to write since it wasn’t THAT bad a day, as you say. I’m just glad I wasn’t around when it was all happening. No, we never found the keys. Mike’s made double sets – one for Jose Maria and family, which they can hide, and another set for us, that only we know where they are…

  6. yes, amazing. We knew alpacas were curious but we’ve never seen anything like that. It was a baby and probably not that cautious. The pig wasn’t really very interested but it was tied and couldn’t get away.

  7. The worst part, for Michael, was having to climb over the fence SIX times…glad to see he can still do it. We miss you guys. Will the election result impact you as it has us? It’s crazy here…sure you want to come back? Xo, Carla & Scott

  8. I actually cut out one trip over and back (bringing the groceries in) because I thought it was getting too tedious. No, the election here hardly makes a blip, at this point. Coming back: not for the politics, certainly, but for our friends, and garden and tomatoes and summer. Here….brrrr still. Right now below 60 and raining, I’m in fingerless gloves writing this…

  9. We had a remarkably similar experience here in Villa de Leyva (no alpacas though) a couple of days ago when Edgar had taken our car battery downtown to be recharged, came back by taxi as it was starting to rain and in his haste to get inside our tall portón he left his keys in the outside gate lock. First he thought he had lost or left the keys somewhere on the route of his errands but after half an hour of calls without result he thought of the outside. The lock would not open from inside so we started to think about ladders, etc to climb over our wall to the neighbor’s. Our gate has a little viewing window called a chismosa (gossip window) and we found that with a hand mirror out the chismosa we could see the lock below with the keys indeed wedged into it. We were able to phone the next door neighbor and she came out and took the keys out and gave them to us through the chismosa, after which the lock worked and we were able to get out! I am sure we made a good story for Srta Ines .

  10. Mike and Judy,

    Great story, well told–maybe not so great for Michael. After similar experience, I now have one cardinal rule for keys: zippered pockets! Hope to see you this summer. Pat and Scott

  11. HI Judy & Michael. Always enjoy reading your posts. Tough day for Michael, I can relate, as I seem to misplace my keys several times per day. This drives Noelle, my daughter, absolutely bats, because she,of course, always knows where her keys are, and she can’t understand how I can not know where they are!
    I have spent the winter in Boulder, CO with her & her family, but now I am preparing to transition to Portland in mid-May. I will stay with a friend for about 6 weeks, until the last week of June. Perhaps we will run into one another if you are back by then?
    In case you were wondering, my son Mike is doing really well following his chemo treatments. Other than some annoying side effects, he feels great.
    All the best, and with fond memories of your house & garden,
    your ex-tenant Mel

  12. Ja ja ja ja ja! Yo recuerdo esas fotonovelas. Yo creo que tienes que hacerlas otra vez.


  13. Yes, but Mike says: “I still have to get those damn coins out of those damn tight pockets…”

  14. HI Mel – we’re back in PDX on June 20 and it would be great to have tea with you under the cherry tree, or if too chilly, at the kitchen table. Please make a note to give me a call or email before you leave. So glad to hear Mike is doing well – I get the updates…

  15. Pues, eventos humorísticos tienen que pasar antes de tener ideas para otra fotonovelas. Vamos a ver que pasará…. abrazo.

  16. What a good story! My heart was starting to pound (about the time
    he saw he had no beer)! I applaud Mike for his ingenuity, energy and
    spirit! I might have just sat against the gate, have a little nap, and waited
    for Jude to come moseying up the road home!! xoxos

  17. Too cold, too rainy. But I might have gone back to the bus terminal and taken a bus away….far away.

  18. Michael has perseverance and must be in very good condition to have scaled that fence so many times! I’m impressed!
    Hope you are both well.

  19. Well he certainly had perseverance when it came to getting the beer! Ha.

  20. Hooray for telenovelas! You are my heroes. Surpassing the odds and ending the day with beer & sea bass.

  21. I gasped and cried and shed a few tears when I read he found there were no beers.

  22. How to make “Mike’s Bad Day” into a fun tale of woe…
    Abrazos, Suzanne

  23. Jude, Oh how I love these photo-novelas! I have all the originals and would love to
    display them in a plexiglass box … a Judy Blankenship sculpture. Mike Has
    a Bad Day is wonderful. I’ll print it out, or maybe you help me print it. It has to go
    in the sculpture. I love that he can climb an 8′ gate…period! But to climb it 6 times is
    amazing. Guess all that walking and climbing at 10 thousand feet pays off. You 2 will
    outlive us all! The lost keys, the misplaced keys, the forgotten beer, the missing bread crumbs, the 8′ gate that must be climbed…but on a good note, there was the ladder!
    Thank you for your brilliant humor, writing skill and genius photography. Thank the model, Michael Jenkins. So handsome! So accamadating! Love, your sister Char

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