Annual Insanity: The Ecuador Edition


It’s been a year of firsts—a year of new beginnings —a year of change and crazy chances taken by a couple of misfit lesbians in a truly wacky world.

Yes, Sara and I sold our home in the US, got married, moved to South America—and that’s not the half of it.

In fact, this time twelve months ago we were just deciding we would move to Ecuador.  It seemed the thing to do, but we hadn’t even broken the news to Sara’s family yet.

In honor of this year’s over-the-top insanity, I thought I’d share a few crazy photographs, images that highlight the wackiness of all that’s happened.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey, the nutty narrative in pictures.

January 2013

We realized a few things at the dawn of 2013, one of which was that we had tired of American consumerism.  We longed for markets that were open-air, not quite so tame—less regularly-rowed and rigidly right angled than those of Kroger or Trader Joe.  The grid was great for the short-term.  In the long run, we wanted wild.  We craved the crazy of a wider world—thick with options and deep with possibility.

So my partner Sara and I decided to sell our home—a downtown, Victorian version of domestic bliss right in the heart of race horse breeding and bourbon brewing country.

I read once that home is where ones story begins, and with the eventual sale of ours, another tale was only getting started.

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Our library in Lexington–

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More of our library–

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The living room with coffee table I painted–

We knew we'd miss the garden Sara had landscaped so beautifully.

We knew we’d miss the garden Sara had landscaped so beautifully.

February 2013

We wanted to know the world the way it really is–for most people.  This choice, this challenge, this elbow-deep digging in soil and sweat, isn’t the life for everyone, but it’s the right life for us–and one the US had given us the privilege to select.  Unlike so much of the world, we, at least, had the education and income to make a choice.

So, we prepared our home for the market but sold it to only the second couple who saw it.  We sold our house in two weeks without even listing it!

That meant we had to hurry and box up our belongings, not easy for me, as my trash-savvy Sara says I suffer from a hoarding habit, from rubbish blindness.  Whatever you choose to term it, I had to toss my trove of treasures, my stash of trash, as Sara calls it.

But I had one request of you, my readers.  Do you remember?

I asked if you would you mind saving some replacement papers and pebbles for me, some new buttons, bricks, and bones? I promised I wouldn’t tell Sara you’d contributed to my hoarding habit—or her clutter curse.

I swore on a saved sale’s receipt and empty cat food can, I wouldn’t!

Painting the bathroom.  Don't even ask about the spatula!

Painting the bathroom. Don’t even ask about the spatula!

Packing my studio.  Lucy "helped."

Sorting in my studio’s stash of trash. Lucy “helped.”

Ultimately, we packed 217 boxes.

Ultimately, we packed 217 boxes.

March 2013

We scheduled a moving sale, sold most of our furniture, and moved the rest of our belongings into Sara’s father’s basement.

But just as we got deep into sorting and selling, packing and stacking—a leaning tower of almost-Ecuador—my dad’s FBI file arrived in the mail—a small, flat package containing only a single CD and only around 400 of the more than 1,700 pages I’d been promised.  I even learned that Daddy had an alias!  (If you are new to my blog, you might not know that my father was involved in organized crime.  I’m writing a memoir about it.)

A page from my father's FBI file--

A page from my father’s FBI file–

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I took signage seriously!

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One VERY LARGE sign. We leaned it in front of the house on the day of our sale.

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Empty house on 4th Street–

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Loading the truck–

April 2013

We moved into friends Mindy and Grant’s pool house, prepared our paperwork for Ecuador visas, visited my family home in Pittsburgh, and flew to New York to get married.

It was a whirlwind wedding–tieing our lose US ends in New York knots–nuptial knots, that is.

When Sara and I married 8 months ago, gay marriage was only legal in 9 US states, but now marriage equality is the law in 18 of them.

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Sorting visa paper work–

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The house where I grew up–

wedding Old Married Ladies!

Newly wed!

New York bloggers “Lame Adventures” and Jackie Cangro were our witnesses.

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Virginia of “Lame Adventures (L), Kathy (center), and Jackie Cangro (R)–

May 2013

It’s true.

In May we crossed a line—another event horizon, binding the world as we knew it to one I’d never even imagined.

I’d crossed over into crazy a number of times, but now our nutty narrative unfolded on the far side of sanity—or, as I now think of it, South of Zero Latitude.

The bottom line is this–we were crazy about our new home in Cuenca, Ecuador.  But that’s not the wackiest half of it.

In short, we flew to Ecuador with two dogs and twelve suitcases, and  found a short-term rental in the center of the old city two days later.

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I think we scared the folks at American Airlines.

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In front of our short-term rental, waiting for the keys–

We got a great view of Cuenca, stretched out below.

View of Cuenca, stretched out below–

June 2013

We moved into our long-term rental, learned how to ride the local buses, and visited Ingapirca, the largest Inca ruin in Ecuador.

Still new to Cuenca and nervous about taking public transit, I remember once when Sara and I boarded a bus, only to discover it was bulging.  Heavily sweatered women crowded the aisles—babies and other bundles strapped to their backs.  Since standing on a bumpy bus challenges my balance, Sara motioned to the only square inch of empty plastic. “Grab that seat.”

“I don’t want to climb over the pregnant woman.” I gestured toward the bulging belly occupying the aisle seat, blocking the window one.  With that, two blue-uniformed school girls stood, pushed their smiles into the aisle, and motioned for us to take their seats.

After we thanked them, I said to Sara, “I’m too old to be pregnant, and I may shout ‘broken-hip-waiting-to-happen!’ But wow, how sweet.”

“Kindness is cross-cultural,” Sara said. “Like the bus, it unites us on a common journey, if only for a few minutes at a time.”

I suppose that’s how we felt as we traveled to Ingapirca, united in time and place, with a people and their past.

Front of our long-term rental house in Cuenca--

Front of our long-term rental–

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Bus rides in Cuenca cost 25 cents!

Sara snapped a photo of me in the Incan temple.

Sara snapped a photo of me in the Incan temple.

An initial view of Ingapirca.

Ingapirca

July 2013

We learned to eat and  shop like the locals.  We even received our residency visas.

We learned that Ecuador is a paradise for the palette.  It’s, literally, a foodie’s delight—and at prices even the most cash-strapped ex-pat will appreciate, especially when you manage to get your “cedula,” Ecuador’s equivalent of a national ID card, in only 3 months.  It was an amazingly fast and relatively easy process for us.

July provided food for cultural thought, you might say.  We learned what it meant and how it felt to be an immigrant in a new land.

A boy plays with his mother's braid (Sara's image)

Here, family matters more.  There’s less focus on consumerism.

Note the indigenous dress.

Indigenous merchant  bundles herbs at our neighborhood mercado.

Eggs are 10-12 for a dollar, depending on the size.

Eggs are 10-12 for a dollar, depending on the size.

At the Giron Mercado--(Sara's image)

Mercado–

The day we got our Ecuador residency visas--

The day we got our Ecuador residency visas–

Ecuador residency visas and cedulas--

Ecuador residency visas and cedulas–

August 2013

It just so happens that all summer, especially in August, I was busy writing.  Actually writing!  Imagine that—I was engaged in the honest-to-God act of putting fingers to keyboard, lining up words one after the other like Lincoln Logs, constructing  sentences—even entire paragraphs.

And, yes, (hold your compositionally-crazed, chomping-at-the-book horses)—

EVEN (I swear-to-God) chapters!  Chapters of my memoir.   I then shared  a radically revised first chapter at a public reading in Cuenca (and have shared a number more since then).

Then came the pigeon incident.  Let’s just say, it gave me a bird’s eye vie of Cuenca, so to speak.  It was an unexpected and short-lived love affair.

Pigeon chick at 3-weeks-old

Pigeon chick at 3-weeks-old–

First pair of pigeon chicks we watched mature

First pair of pigeon chicks we watched mature–

September 2013

Ecuador in September taught us about abundance—

A lot about it—

That abundance is, as you might have guessed, so . . . well . . . abundant!

For example, I had heard how affordable the country is—that the economy is strong—that my US dollar would go a long, long way.  However, my North American mind could never have imagined buying twelve tomatoes for a dollar or twenty long-stemmed roses for four.  Who in the US or most parts of the developed world could anticipate spending eleven dollars for a month’s worth of electricity or having a $5 gas bill during the “winter” months?

But, as it turns out, the cost of living hasn’t been Ecuador’s greatest value to us as expats.  Rather, it’s the people and place itself we’ve come to care about– even more.

I don’t know what I expected.  It’s not that I hadn’t hoped for either of these.  It’s something else entirely—the sheer surplus of each, I suppose.

More specifically, in September, we learned to enjoy the local street art; got to know our-now-dear-friends Juan and David; visited the waterfalls at Giron; and our container arrived from the US, as well–no problems–no hassles.  Sara even got a job editing for the local, online, English newspaper.  We were blessed.

Sara and Ralph–

Juan (L) and David (R)--We call them "the boys."  They call us, "the girls."

Juan (L) and David (R)–We call them “the boys.” They call us, “the girls.”

I fell in love, not only with the water, but also with the light.  (Kathy's photo)

Waterfall at Giron–

The container truck approaches our cul-de-sac (el returno).

The container truck approaches our cul-de-sac (el returno).

October 2013

Most days the skies in the Andes change hour by hour, sometimes minute by minute.  Mornings are often blue-skied and sunny, but the day darkens as late afternoon rolls around and clouds thicken.  Light deepens and purples as evening approaches.  Sometimes weather patterns accelerate these shifts, transforming the mood in a matter of minutes—overhead a youngster, blue-eyed and blonde, morphs into a brooding old man, graying and hunch-backed.  He ages eighty years in less than as hour.

In October, we saw this specifically when we took trips to the “lagoon” at San Fernando and the Cajas National Park.

These jurneys into the upper elevations of the Andes forced me to look at the sky in new ways, to realize that clouds are more complicated than I had once thought.  They not only predict rain (and, now, store data); they also prove there’s more to gray matter than some might imagine.  Maybe that’s why Sara says I have my head in the clouds.

I tried to get the same shot.  (Kathy's image)

San Fernando–

I love the shadow in this shadow in this shot.  (Sara's image)

More San Fernando–

Blue sky--(Sara's image)--

Cajas–

Juan got the best image of the day--llamas enjoying the view.

Juan got the best image of the Cajas–llamas enjoying the view.

November 2013

November got started with disappearing dinner rolls and an unusual happening in our apple basket.  (Click here for more details.)  And like so many archetypal stories that get started with an apple incident, ours ended in tragedy.

You see, we adopted an infant guinea pig we named Anderson Cooper, but poor Anderson died after only a week.  We were heart-broken.

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Who do you think he looks like?

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If only it hadn’t been so short!

Still, we celebrated our first Thanksgiving in Ecuador, with new friends, if not the most outstanding food.

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

December 2013

However, December made up for the disappointments of the previous 4 weeks.

Last month I published a Christmas essay about my father in the Huffington Post, and my post on wrapping gifts with trash was Freshly Pressed, featured on the WordPress homepage.  This were exciting accomplishments!

We, also had guests visit from the US, and hosted a huge party for 20 on Christmas day.  OUR food was AWESOME, but our visitors on the 25th were even more delightful.  It was people palette at its finest.

Christmas day, 2013--

Christmas day, 2013–

Just after Christmas, we drove to Quito with those same friends and visited the Avenue of the Volcanoes on the way.  The landscapes were stunning!

Kathy and Sara at the foot of Chimborazo, the highest peak in Ecuador, at around 20,500 feet--

Kathy and Sara at the foot of Chimborazo, the highest peak in Ecuador, at around 20,500 feet–

Sara got a year-end shot of me taking a photo of Quito stretched out below.

Sara got a year-end shot of me taking a photo of Quito stretched out below.

What’s coming in 2014?  How can we top 2013?

  1. More posts about our adventure in Ecuador, especially about our holiday travel.
  2. More posts about our trip to Pittsburgh last spring and more about my childhood, growing up with a father who was a bookie for the mafia.
  3. More art.  After all it was an art post, of sorts, that was Freshly Pressed just before Christmas.
  4. More of Sara’s awesome images, as she has launched another year of daily photo taking.

So, we  may be crazy lesbians on an outrageous South American adventure, but YOU–my readers, my friends, and family, you who have read my posts over the past year, especially my many new subscribers–you have truly made the past twelve months the richest we’ve ever lived.  Sara and I love sharing our lives with all of you.

Thank you for reading, for partaking, and even, participating in our Ecuador edition of crazy.  Hugs from high in the Andes, from both of us!

What was a highlight from your past year?  Do you have any goals, blogging or otherwise, for 2014?  Is there anything, in particular, you’d like me to write more about during the coming year?

121 thoughts on “Annual Insanity: The Ecuador Edition

  1. What a great year! I hope 2014 is just as exciting for you. Our highlight was getting our mountain house finished finally. My next project is to make a beautiful garden there.

    • Oh, Debra, it must be exciting to have that house finished! Do you have any post with updated photos? I’ve had house-envy ever since I first saw it, even as a work-in-progress. Thanks for stopping by. I love hearing from you!

  2. I loved reading this overview of your year. Like sitting in Cuenca, with you, enjoying a a drink, and listening to all the laughter, the stories, the “do you remembers? What a year. What a life! Can’t wait to visit you. Oh, and the bonus was I finally got to read the wedding post. For some reason that link eluded me before. What an adventure it’s all been. I love that last picture of you and Sara – radiating love.

    • Oh, thank you, dear Joss. I can’t wait till you all visit! It will be so fun to introduce you to all of the wonderful places we’ve discovered, to have you I our home, etc. I SO hope you can make it! And I’m so glad you got to read the wedding post. And you’ve had an amazing year, as well! It’s been pretty exciting for both of us!

  3. Great post! I caught up on some things that I missed during the year. You’ve had so many wonderful experiences — I’m really happy for you and Sara. And I’m so glad you “girls” have found some “boys”. Haha.

    I also didn’t realize your post got freshly pressed in December! Mine did too (the one about cycling in Soweto). Anyway, congrats. I always thought your Christmas-themed posts deserved it. Did you notice a significant boost in traffic this time? I actually didn’t — at least nothing like it used to be.

    • How great! I didn’t know you’d been freshly pressed again either. No, not nearly the boost in traffic, but I think that’s because of the holidays. Or maybe we get more traffic than we used to. Hard to tell. I did get a LOT of comments, however–many of which I still have not responded to. We were on the road and entertaining for much of the holiday. Trying now to catch up.

      SO glad you enjoyed this one. Happy New Year, Heather! Thanks for stopping by!

      • Yes, you might be right about the time of year and the fact that our blogs just get more traffic now anyway. My first post about Mandela, that I published the day after he died, went viral and got a lot more hits than the next one, which was the one that got Freshly Pressed. Ah, the blogosphere. It’s endlessly fascinating.

      • HOW exciting that the first one went viral! My post on making Christmas tree ornaments from trash went almost viral–I mean, I woke up to realize it had had more 2,600 hits the day before. I know that’s not exactly viral-viral, but it was unexpected. But it was the other one that got Freshly Pressed. How funny that we had such similar experiences at the same time.

  4. This was such a great post!! Thanks for sharing your year with us ~ it’s been an exciting time and as a newbie to your blog, it was a great catch up! The reading of your book was excellent. I am excited to read your other chapters when I get some time. Who was the man who introduced you? Is he a professional writer? He seemed to know a lot about writing. Congrats on Huffington Post and Freshly Pressed! Very exciting as well! I’m a skywatcher as well ~ love the clouds and colors! ♥

  5. Kathy, you two have fit more life into one year of living than I thought humanly possible. THAT IS THE WAY TO DO LIFE! Still bummed Tom wouldn’t let me buy your amazing KY house, but he might make up for it by letting me visit “the girls” in Ecuador.

    • Oh, Tori, PLEASE come! I can’t tell you how much we would LOVE to have you. We have two guest rooms. We would love to see Thomas (and YOU, of course). Didn’t even realize you wanted to buy our house in Lexington. What a hoot!

      Okay, so when are you coming? The “girls” are waiting! ——Cappy!

  6. You and Sara created a very good year. I enjoy your photos, friends, and memories. My goal for 2014 is to successfully potty train my two new girls, Sugar and Muskrat, the orphan dogs that appeared at my door just before Christmas. We are making progress but of late our temps have been single digits and they do not want to go outside for anything, least of all to potty. I’m keeping a happy spirit; I wouldnt want to go outside to potty, either.

    • Thank you, JK! I’m so excited that you got puppies for Christmas–and puppies, apparently, from heaven! I think it’s not easy to potty train. Hopefully you don’t have too much carpet.

      It’s been a good year, hell, a great year. Glad you enjoyed the review. And STAY warm!

  7. Dear Kathy,

    Sitting here in a bay window as the rain and wind rattle the sky light of my tree house, looking out on the wood where seven inches of snow has magically disappeared over night, ( the temperature went from 9º to 63º in about twenty-four hours), I thoroughly enjoyed reading your Ecuadorian annual insanity. Your descriptive analogy of the weather as a youngster aging into a brooding old man speaks to me, as does all of your positive recollecting.

    I love tomatoes!

    The prominent events from this last year for me has been traveling to Queens N.Y to the Knockdown Center to be surrounded by creative individuals and to have access to intelligent and generous story telling like your own.

    Your writing and sharing is encouraging. Thank you for being there.

    From the soggy, winter-storm-battered mid-Atlantic of North America,

    Cheers and Love,

    R.

  8. What an entertaining post. You have a gift for gab. I can’t wait to read the story about your father once you get it published.

    I am glad that you two made it there safely and are enjoying Cuenca.

    (My personal goals are to become a better cook, especially since I publish a lot of posts about food.)

    • Ha, ha! This is, honestly, the longest post I’ve every done, by at least 1000 words. I didn’t know how else to get it all in. Sara kept pointing things I had left out, so I kept adding. Alas. LOL

      Wonderful to hear from you, Lynda. I will check out your blog. I’m not much of a cook, but my Sara is. I love to bake!

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  9. One of the highlights of my year, hands down, was being a witness at your wedding! I will truly treasure that experience and the new friends I made that day. :)

    I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for you and Sara. Keep the adventure going!

    PS – I love the photos of Ralph, but Diva Lucy needs some air time too. :)

  10. Oh, Jackie, thank you! What a sweetie you are. We loved meeting you too–and LA, of course. And we can’t wait till you come visit us in Cuenca. Any more thoughts about coming? Will work on giving the DIVA more airtime. God knows, she doesn’t get enough attention. LOL

    Great to hear from you. Hope you are staying warm!

  11. Wow what a year. I only recently started following you and look at all I missed! I remembered reading about your wedding on Jackie’s blog, but it wasn’t until I saw her picture did I make the connection. I’m a tad bit slow.

    I’m really looking forward to reading your memoir!

    Happy New Year to all of you!

    • Gosh, you sound like me. I don’t always put things together–get caught up in the details and overlook the obvious. At least, that’s me. I’m sure you are way better than me. Wouldn’t take much. LOL I’m so slow, I even missed that you read Jackie’s blog.

      Happy New Year to you, too! Stay warm. I can’t wait for you to read my memoir, also!

  12. What a wonderful overview of a very productive year! It radiates your enthusiasm and joy in life and adventure! I love the “people palette” description of your Christmas day crowd…you are – obviously – a writer! Thanks, Kathy!

    • Glad you appreciate that image. It really was a wonderful group with had on Christmas and a delightful day. I’m also happy you enjoyed the post, my enthusiasm, etc. Thanks SO much for reading over the past year, Cindy. It’s wonderful to hear from you! Stay warm!!!!!

  13. 2013 was a year I’d like to forget. So many personal struggles this year that it isn’t funny (many I haven’t even had the heart to share with you). You, however, had SUCH a wonderful year. So many good things and so much happiness–talk about abundance, Sista! You and Sara had the lion’s share of friendship and love this past year, and I can’t think of two people who deserve it more. Here’s to a 2014 that tops this past year! (As for me, I’ve made one resolution–I’m forcing myself to spend more time on me. It has a life expectancy of about two days, but who’s counting?)

    • Oh my dear, Miranda. We love you. I know it’s been a painful year. Feel free to share more whenever you feel inclined–if you decide you do. I’m here. So sorry it’s been rough. Hang in there and remember how much we care about you! Hugs to you from both of us!

  14. Can’t tell you how much I love and appreciate your posts…Your colorful pics and sweet daily details, and insights, nourish heart and soul.

    Mil Gracias, Sharon de Taos

  15. Kathy – This is a veritable TREASURE! When I saw the length, I put the kettle on so I could savor it with a hot cuppa (currently we’re flirting with 50-below temperatures when the windchill factored in). I delight in your recount; in your vivid photographs. I delight in living vicariously through you and Sara in this wonderful adventure of a lifetime!

    • I know. It was CRAZY long! Glad you got the kettle going. It took me a number of kettle-fuls to assemble it.

      Thanks so much for reading over the past year. Thanks for sharing in our adventure and allowing us to share in yours. You rock, Laurie!

  16. Such an amazing post – but then 2013 was such an amazing year for you guys.
    I think I came across you just as you got married (was it through the comments on Laurie Buchanan’s blog, or did I Google ‘crazy misfit lesbians’?) and I remember feeling like I’d gate-crashed the party a little…so glad I did thought. :)
    I just love, love, love Sara’s buses and kindness analogy.
    And I can’t believe you had me laughing about a dying guinea pig! I who was the queen of guinea pigs (all ginger of course) in my home town. Each one sold got me one step closer to fleeing the erm…hutch! Crackers (my true first love – such a shame he was furry and with limited life expectancy) must be turning in his shoebox beneath the pear tree.
    Crackers – in my defence I was set up. I just got quite emotional reading about Kathryn and Sarah’s momentous year. And it’s made me wonder, have they all been like that?
    I can’t think of what I’d like you to write about specifically. Just keep it all coming please. :D x

    • Great to hear from you, K! Glad you enjoyed the post. It’s been a crazy, wonderful year. I will admit, they’ve not all been that way, not by a long shot. The year before this one was a bit of a struggle–and there was a decade several back that was a bitch. LONG story.

      Sorry to hear you lost Crackers. I hate losing pets. I become SOOOOO attached. Hugs to you and the little Gingers. Hope your sisters are still recovering well.

    • Thanks so much, Charlie. It had, indeed, been busy. It’s great to hear from you. Bet you are glad to be in California, where you don’t have to deal with the frigid temperatures. Have a wonderful week.

  17. I’ll tell you one thing, Kathy– as soon as your memoir is published I will be standing in line to read it. Everything you’ve shared is just so interesting. I had no idea you and Sara had married, made such a move and settled into Ecuadorian life all in one short year! I can only imagine how exciting 2014 will be. Keep writing! You have a story. :-)

    • Thank you so much. I love when folks say they want to read my memoir. It’s a huge motivator, as the writing doesn’t always come easy. I appreciate the enthusiasm. It’s been a wild year. Just hope we can do even half the amount in 2014. Great to hear from you. Please stop by again soon!

  18. What an absolutely perfect year-in-review that you’ve shared with us! I have to say, you two certainly know how to pack a whole lot into twelve short months. It has been so fun to be able to peek in and witness those chapters as they have unfolded, and to be honest, even though several months have passed, I still miss little Anderson Cooper, who was such a sweet soul. I’m very happy to hear your holiday was packed with fun and good food and friends, and I can hardly wait to see what is in store for you in 2014. One thing for sure, it will be an adventure!

    As to your question about what we’d like to see in 2014 … more of the same! And maybe also some blog posts that are specific to indigenous recipes that rely on the local produce or customs of your newly-adopted homeland. I love seeing the photos of the markets, and it would be fun to also see some cooking and cutting and chopping that goes along with food preparation, especially when trying out new recipes.

    Of course, I’m just one of many who will be anxiously awaiting your finished memoir, and have thoroughly enjoyed being able to witness the journey of discovery as you uncover more and more of your history. You are one of the most delightful and talented people I’ve met in the blogging world, and I am terribly envious of your creative spirit, and will happily smuggle in a tiny treasure trove of baubles any time you raise the red flag. *smile* Thanks again for sharing this fabulous year-in-review. Best of everything to you in the New Year!

    • Oh, thanks so much for your comment. You are right. It’s been a busy year. It was only when she had seen the final version of this post that Sara really understood just how much had happened. Don’t know why it can be easy to forget.

      Thanks for mentioning Anderson and my memoir. We miss him, too, and the memoir is coming slowly but surely. And thanks for offering to smuggle in the “art” supplies. I won’t tell Sara and will let you know when I get desperate. LOL

      I forget exactly where you live, but I hope you are staying warm. Great to hear from you today!

  19. I can’t think of anybody who had a busier year than you two misfit lesbians – not even Tara and I, whose 2013 was certainly full of adventure! Looking forward to more blogging adventures in ’14. And BTW…

    “I read once that home is where ones story begins, and with the eventual sale of ours, another tale was only getting started.”

    I like this very much. I’m going to apply it to our own situation. Can’t wait to see what new tales we’ll begin once we short sell the townhouse and move on!

    • Now, you had a hell of a LOT going on, Mark! I think you and Tara rank a close second. Won’t it be good to get your house sold? It really will be the start of a new chapter. Good luck in that department. Take care and stay warm! Great to hear from you. Tell Tara we said hi.

  20. It’s been quite a year – much like yours. In January made definite plans for an Ecuador trip. We arrived in Cuenca late-May and decided to spend the full two weeks there, knowing we’d explore the coast after the move. Yup, decided to move.

    Back to the Dallas area to make all the house repair and upgrades. The house sold in 11 days. Four yard sales, give aways to friends, and final charity pick up got us ready for a scaled down temporary living arrangement in our friend’s guest house.

    For us, it was a trip to my home state of Minnesota to get married, bring back family heirlooms, say goodbyes, and experience one last snowstorm ;). We then drove right into the ice storm that paralyzed North Texas. Thankfully, we did not spend a night on the freeway. After 2 hours we made it the 1/2 mile to an exit and the 1 hour drive 6 miles to a Hsmoton Inn. Ugh.

    We’re now waiting for our last forms to arrive and scheduling our criminal checks. Two more crazy lesbians headed to Cuenca by mid-February. Would love to hook up when we’re settled.

    • Yippee! More lesbians in Cuenca! And goodness, it has been a CRAZY year for you, too. Wow. It’s exciting, isn’t it?

      We haven’t explored the coast at all yet, have only flown through Guayaquil but haven’t taken time to check anything beyond the airport. Yes, there is time. Lots of it.

      Great to know you all are coming. Please stay in touch. We’d love to get together!!!!

  21. Kathy, I’ve been reading your posts ever since Monica led me to your blog . So glad I found you. Your adventures in Ecuador inspires me to travel some more. I returned from a Christmas trip to Costa Rica with my family and extended family. Where we stayed was a little less developed and I loved shopping at the local markets as opposed to the big supermarkets where everyone spoke English. I wanted to be able to speak Spanish( it’s rusty but the beauty was in trial and error) no matter what.

    Wow! What a year you and Sara have had. I loved your photos and um, I had not caught up on the one about your dad. I loved that you are getting to write and those waterfalls are gorgeous.
    I love my writing but since I have two young children, it is another life altogether. I have decided that I need to take the time and create the space for me to write, even if it is for half an hour every day, this year. Btw, I love your library photos. I cannot live without mine.

  22. What a wonderful year, filled with adventure! Your images are all so colorful, and Ecuador looks like paradise from here. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed again, and on the Huffington Post essay. Well done! :)

    • Thanks so much, Robin. It’s been an amazing year. I have to admit, that Ecuador, at least in the Andes, it a lot like paradise, at least to a good number of folks–especially the climate–spring/fall-like all year round. Hard to beat. Great to hear from you, Robin. Hope you stay warm as the arctic chill pushes east.

  23. Hi Kathy/ Sara, just got back from an incredible gorgeous and beautiful 4 hrs horseback ride through Parque National de Podacarpus……very very tied/sore! Checked off our bucket list. Juan trekked down a very slippery and muddy trail to get that photo of a beautiful waterfall ….up their with Kathy losing her crocs. Tell you more when we get back We just finished Kathy’s blog and LOVED It

    David Korkoian and Juan Morales 0983800162 David 0958708396 Juan

    954-295-1618 Florida 954-353-4675 Magic Jack

    • Of course, Juan trekked down to get the photo. I would have done the same. Can’t wait to hear the story! I know it is BOUND to be ENTERTAINING! Loved the video you sent. Can’t wait for you all to get back to Cuenca, so we can hear all of the details!!!!!!! Love you guys!

  24. Kathy, such a treasure reading your year in review. What an amazing life you two live! Thank you for sharing it with all of us. I feel like whenever someone shares their life (or a dream) then the receiver gets to experience it a little too. It’s no small gift. Hugs and blessings for 2014.

    • Oh, Kathy, thank you! I love to share, as you do, too. As you know, it’s a gift for a writer to have folks read and share in the adventure vicariously. It makes the experience all the richer. Hugs and blessings to you, too, my friend. It’s great hearing from you!!!!

  25. Out of all of those stunning pictures I think the one I like best is your little bitty hands holding the camera (banner picture and again at the bottom of the post).

    I don’t think anyone’s year can compare to your year with Sara. The “recap” could be a mini series!!!!!!!!! :)

    So much living to do. You guys do it so well!

  26. How I have loved enjoying your adventures through the year with Sara. Thanks for sharing these amazing times and striking photos. I like to think that I can now be considered one of your blogging friends – you two certainly are mine. May 2014 be as exciting and fulfilling as the past year and may we continue to read all about your life as in reading I feel part of your life. Thank you, thank you…and hugs from the other side of the world.
    Judith

    • Oh, dear Judith, you are most definitely our blogging buddy. I have loved reading your blog. It’s so fun to make connections this way. Glad you enjoyed the post–and we hope if you ever make it to South America, you will come visit us in Cuenca. We have two guest rooms. You are always welcome! Happy New Year. Thanks for everything. Hugs from us to you, as well!

  27. Quite a journey ladies. Hope you are happily settled. My wife and I are planning out our move to the EC coast in June. If you can offer some suggestions on visa, cedula and/or container shipment assistance, we would certainly appreciate it. Thanks for sharing your exciting stories. I am glad to hear that your adventure has been so rewarding and memorable!
    Warm regards
    Tom

    • Thanks so much, Tom and Kathy. It’s been an incredible year for us. How exciting that you are preparing to move to the coast. We’ve not been there yet, I’m sorry to say.

      I would love to offer advice about visa, cedula, container issues, if you’d like to email me. My address is kownroom@yahoo.com . I would recommend using Joe Spots of C2C shipping. I would not recommend hiring someone to help with visa or cedulas unless you have the extra income to afford it easily. We ended up feeling like we could have done it easily on our own. But that can depend on the office you are working with. If you are not going to e living in Cuenca and dealing with immigration here, it might be different.

  28. Thanks for the retrospective, Kathy! Ecuador looks so beautiful, and it sounds like you and Sara were meant to be there. Everything is unfolding so wonderfully for you (Anderson Cooper notwithstanding). And PS: congrats on FP– I didn’t even realize it until now. (Boo me!)

    • Glad you enjoyed the retrospective, Dana. It’s been an incredible year. Moving here was the right choice for us. Thanks for the congrats of FP. I don’t notice was gets FPed anymore either. I suppose, I don’t have the time. Great to hear from you!

  29. Like Jackie, I enjoyed serving as a witness at your wedding to Sara very much. That was not anything I ever anticipated doing, but about 25 years ago I was maid of horror for a high school classmate I have long lost touch with. It was a big, gaudy ceremony with a Great Gatsby theme. I was pressured into partaking. It was such a miserable experience I wanted to throw myself into oncoming traffic from start to finish. Your wedding, on the other hand, was magnificent! We all seemed to click instantly and it was so much fun. I will always look back and feel very lucky to have met you and Sara. Meeting Jackie was an added bonus that wonderful day.

    Wow, you guys had quite a year in 2013. It was so jam packed I now need to go to sleep.

    • Gosh, THAT does sounds like a nightmare! I always hated being in weddings, and I was in a number of them over the years. I’m not much of a get-dressed-up kind of person.

      Glad you enjoyed our wedding day, as well. What a fun day–get married and make new friends all at once.

      Hope you got some sleep and are staying warm!

  30. What an amazing recap of the year! So much happened. A year filled with milestones that you won’t soon forget. I admire your braveness in picking up and starting over in another country. You opened yourself to the world and, in the process, you’ve found love beyond measure. Congratulations, Kathy, on a life well lived. (btw, don’t know if you saw comment I left you on my blog, but if you haven’t yet done so, please be sure to read the last part of my Lightning in a Jar series). As a memoirist yourself, I value your input. :)

    • Great to hear from you, Monica! And glad you enjoyed the post. It has been a pretty amazing year.

      No, I did not see the comment your left. I will go check. I’m so far behind on my reading it’s pathetic. Thanks for mentioning it.

      Hope you have a great week!

  31. Kathy, this was a lovely look back at your adventures over the past months! I’m sure it was as wonderful to write and remember it all, as it was to read. I look forward to reading more of your very interesting, colourful and endearing posts over the next year! Congratulations on taking the plunge and allowing us to come along with you :)

    (Also, I may have fallen a bit in love with what Sara said about kindness, on the bus. I can see why you married her ;D)

    • Thank you so much. Isn’t Sara a sweetie? Now you see just a bit of why I love her so. She’s a wonderful woman to share my life with.

      Glad you enjoyed the look back. Thanks for reading over the past year. Hope all is well in your part of the planet. I love hearing from you!

  32. Hi Kathy! What a wonderful summary of a very exciting year… Looking forward to sharing your experiences in 2014.
    The highlight of my year was definitely the trip to Peru and I hope I can visit Ecuador one day, but for now I am hoping to take my kids to Rome this year…we’ll see.
    Have a fantastic week!

    • Thanks, Gertie. How exciting that you will taking your girls to Rome. I have never been to Italy. They must be excited. Glad you enjoyed the post. Hope your week is going well, also. Great to hear from you today!

  33. Oh Kathy, what a wonderful year of transitions you and Sara had! It’s amazing that you made so many new friends so quickly, and Ecuador looks like an awe-inspiring place, full of stunning natural beauty and bright colors in the villages. I kind of envy you your escape from American consumerism. Warm congratulations on your marriage and the Huffington Post essay and on being Freshly Pressed! *hugs*

    • You’re so might, Barbara. This had been a year that it will be hard to top. We love it here. The people are friendly and the landscapes are stunning. Not to mention the fact that that the cost of living is a fraction of what it was in Kentucky. Thanks for the congratulations. It’s wonderful to hear from you today! Hugs to you, too!

  34. Dear Kathy,
    You are such an exciting blogger to follow. You are multi-talented, vibrant and have so much to share.I was along for the whole ride during 2013 cheering you two on and as I read this year end post I visited the others again. It was a sentimental journey for me and I was surprised to find there were some like buttons I had failed to click. I loved reading your huffingtonpost article and I’m eagerly waiting your memoir.

    I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for you and Sara. In fact I wish I was there because I know you two would appreciate me more in person. I’m deadpan online and more animated offline. My body language and facial expressions crack others up and I excel at improv so I know how to work a crowd. However, online our body language which is up to 80% of our communication is missing and my kind of humor doesn’t go over well online either. Who knows what the future may hold. I’m putting Ecuador on my dream vacation list.

    Sending you two {hugs} and kisses and looking forward to more great blogging in 2014.

    • Oh, timethief, you are SO kind. I’m honored that you appreciate my blog–truly! I can write, but I lack the skills and talents for blogging that you do, so I appreciate your “one cool blogging site,” as well. And now that I have finally discovered your personal blog, I’m even more thrilled. I SO enjoyed the recent card-making post.

      Hope you are staying warm up there in Canada. I love hearing from you. Thanks so much for stopping by. Hugs to you, too!

      • Hi Kathy,
        I like the theme change but I want to give you a heads up on the Twitter widget in your left sidebar. It’s intruding into the post text box.

      • Thanks, timethief. I didn’t mean to activate, so I’ve switched back. I need time to figure out the details of switching. Once I got it changed, I couldn’t figure out how to keep the twitter widget from being too wide. Will try the change again tomorrow. Thanks again for the heads up!!!!!

    • How wonderful to hear from you, Z. I appreciate your internet challenges. Your situation sounds a lot like ours in Haiti. Gosh, it was SLOW. Glad you were about to load this image-heavy post. I could never do that. Hope your week is going well!

  35. I read every word, loved the pictures and I’m looking forward to more in 2014. An aside, my 17 son who attends a Waldorf school where “Moms” and “Dads” as parents are the norm said to me the other day, “Mom when I have kids same-sex marriage will be old news—they will never know any different.” Made me smile. :-D

    Hugs from Chicago.

    • Ah, your son sounds like a sweetie, Katybeth! I hope he’s right. And I’m thrilled you managed to read the entire post. This one was INSANELY long. Take care. Hope your week is going well. Hugs to you, too!

  36. Congrats on the FReshly Pressed honor — I wondered why you had so VAST a number of comments!! — and I love all the looking back at 2013, your huge year of change! So happy you are loving Ecuador — and we’re on the same continent at this moment! Mendoza, Argentina for us, Cuenca for you!! Have a Happy New Year and keep on writing that memoir, Kathryn!!

    • Thank so much, Betty. I appreciate your taking the time to leave a comment while you’re traveling. Loved seeing the photos in your post today. Can’t wait to make it to Argentina. Thanks also for the congratulations. Enjoy the rest of your trip! Happy New Year, my friend.

  37. Pretty bold, just picking up and moving there. I mean, I’ve picked up and moved to a couple countries (Saudi Arabia and Taiwan) to work but I knew I wasn’t there to stay. Pretty cool to do that….1700 pages?! Umph.

    • Yeah, I suppose it would be bold for most folks. But we’ve lived a number of places around the world and had a pretty good idea what we were wanting. That helps. I bet Saudi Arabia was an interesting place to live, as a woman.

      Yeah, 1,700 pages. I getting ready to appeal for more of them. Plus, the pages I did get were SO heavily redacted, also.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. I love your art!

  38. You two are very sweet and seem to live a very rich (with love and experience) kind of life. I LOVE your decorating taste and your writing is exquisite…. Though, after listening to your super sweet voice read chapter one of your memoir, which is excellent, I felt a wave of writers envy….. You are so good! Do you have someone who reads and critiques your work (honestly) as you go?

    Happy 2014,
    Lindsey

    • Hey Lindsey, so wonderful to hear from you. So glad you like our home and my writing. Yes, yes, I belong to a writer’s group here in Cuenca where we live. We meet once a week for two hours and give one another very honest feedback. It has helped my writing enormously. Happy New Year, my friend!

      • Sounds like a good thing to have. I recently started my memoir and I’ve been craving feedback already… Lo and behold, a blogger who I just connected with the other day offered to be my beta reader. I’m really excited about the prospect, but am unsure because I don’t know the person. I guess I bring this up because I would love to hear your thoughts. Would you send your work to someone you don’t know? How long have you been working on your memoir for?

  39. A belated Happy New Year to the old married farts. What a wonderful story, what will you do for an encore? Marielle & I love you both. I cannot begin to top what others have already written so I will just say DITTO.

  40. Thank you! What a wonderful post. I miss my sister and brother-in-law and when she posted this I just clicked on it and what a nice surprise. Keep up your adventurous treks! My limited travel adventures have kept me happy for many years after the fact, and now longing to travel again. I signed up so that I might read future posts. Loved the description of the overloaded bus. The children in Samoa do the same thing (offer their seat to their elders). In fact I have a bunch of bus stories about Samoa. Now that I have so many stories and pictures from my sister Susan, I really want to visit Ecuador someday. Thank you for sharing your stories!

    • I’m so glad you stopped by, and thanks for your kind comment. I, too, have a sister named Susan, by the way. How long has your sister been in Ecuador?

      Thanks also for subscribing. Also, you live in Samoa? I’ve never been there. Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

  41. Loved this recap of your past year. I’ve followed you all along, but it was fun to remember some of your adventures through this post. Your life is so full of activity and change. I can’t help but think what a contrast my same ol’ same ol’ life is to yours. But I think we’re each doing what our hearts love to do.

    The highlight of my past year? Probably the news of my son’s engagement! My goals for blogging? Blog more, and blog more thoughtfully. My goals for otherwise? Possibly write something (other than blogging.)

    • These are all great goals, Terri. I love your happy goals posts, too.

      It has, indeed, been a busy year, but then maybe that’s why I enjoy reading about your more quiet life. It’s a balance to manic pace of life we live.

      Wonderful to hear from you, my friend. Hope you are doing okay with school starting again. I know you will miss Kacy. And congrats on our son’s engagement! That has got to be a BIG deal for a mother!

  42. Loved the photos. What a year it’s been for you! I have no plans except to live a bit more, travel and try new hobbies. I’m doing Dry January at the moment (no alcohol for a month) and finding it surprisingly easy. Got a few more things planned for this month but I’m very positive about the year ahead.

    • Heck, Megan, you’ve had a big year, also, what with your trip to Australia. How I would love to go there!

      Good luck with the dry month. Glad it has been relatively easy! Hope your week is going well so far!

  43. Thanks for a recap of your year. It’s been some crazy ride for you too. I give you a lot of credit for both your adventuresome spirits and your guts. And wow. You are becoming a flaming success at writing. Keep going on the book. I think you will find an agent and editor with no problem. (A little envious here.) But you deserve it. Keep going. Let me know if you need/want any beta readers.

    • Thanks, Christine. It has, indeed, been a busy and wonderful year for us. I’m ready now for things to slow down a bit. I’m, frankly, exhausted. Thanks for the reading offer. I will definitely let you know when I’m ready. I love hearing from you!

  44. What a great story! I am originally from Ecuador but live in New York. I share your appreciation for this wonderful part of the world and go there every summer. As the famous explorer Alexander Humbold described it: “Ecuadorians are strange and unique beings: they sleep peacefully surrounded by roaring volcanoes, live poor among incomparable riches and become happy listening to sad music.”
    I haven’t been to Cuenca yet but I hope you enjoy your new home there.

    • How wonderful to hear from you! Yes, we DO love your country. What a gorgeous place! And what a wonderful quote. Thanks SOOOOOO much for sharing it with me. Hope you make it to Cuenca one day soon. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you’ll visit again soon!

  45. So sorry to be only just now getting around to read and comment on your latest blog posts, Kathy. I loved your review of the year. I find it’s a good thing to do — I usually do it by reviewing my journal, only to find that I haven’t much changed my circumstances. So this year, my intention is to get out of my financial hole, due to fallout from caregiving for a decade, unpaid, for my mother who suffered from dementia. I want to move forward, ultimately, by starting a nonprofit foundation, or something akin, to advocate storytelling and the humanities, as you know I have posted on my blog. I have also posted a request on GoFundMe to raise personal funds — I have realized I cannot climb out of my hole without help. I have posted a link on my Facebook page and in a day or two will post my request on my blog.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

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