Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Quito with the Family

So, this past week has been up and down.  Last weekend, there was much time spent in parks, including a paddle-boat ride in the Parque Carolina (the closest park to our house):

On Monday and Tuesday, I did due diligence in the archives...and the kids played a lot of poker, apparently.

Anya also drew me many pictures, including this one of Toonces on a volcano:

On a clear day, the kids discovered that they could see a "real," snow-capped mountain from their bedroom window (which I am pretty sure is Cotopaxi.  Hopefully none of my fellow Ecuadorianists will laugh at me and tell me otherwise).

And today, we all took the TeleferiQo (gondola) ride up the mountainside and took a walk with beautiful views of the city below us and the mountains above us. 

At around 12,000 feet (4100 meters), it was both figuratively and literally breathtaking.  I would have loved to hike further, but the kids didn't have it in them.

But then, there was the everyday and familiar, in the midst of the other beauty:
What else but the dandelion, of course?

What adventures have you had lately? 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just When I Got Used to Quiet...

Suddenly, the apartment that felt big and empty and lonely now feels:
and noisy.

They are here.  My noisy, sweet family.  Could hardly believe it when I saw the kids (who, of course, woke up before 5:00 a.m.)

There are signs of them everywhere.  The messy beds:

Anya eating (constantly):

DVD and computer time has already begun:

And Samuel, of course, is already complaining that he is bored.

I don't really know what to do with kids in Quito...guess I'll have to learn.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

On Fathers' Day

On Fathers' Day, I think of...

1) My Dad

Who lived a long life of sacrifice--first for his country (pictured here), and then for his family.  Dad worked nights for a long time, giving up time with his wife and kids because he could earn more money for them by working at night.  It was not easy being my Dad's daughter.  He was strict, and he could be cruel.  But, he also provided me with a model of honesty and morality, and he sometimes gave me true tenderness when I needed it most...those were rare, special moments when he let his guard down.

2) My brothers...
(this photo was taken over 11 years ago, when my Dad turned 80.   All the siblings except Pat are in the picture).

...Steve, Mike and Kevin (Tim was wise enough to get a dog instead of have a baby).  I can see Dad in them, perhaps especially in the way that Steve and Kevin have "soft spots" for their daughters.  (Mike only had a son, but he dotes on Anya whenever he sees her).  Yet I also see more gentleness and steadiness in my brothers than I did in Dad.  they have done well to live up to the best of Dad and to avoid many of his faults.

3) Nick (of whom I only have a 23-year-old photo, and it's back in MA). 
Ah, Nick.  My academic "Dad," mentor, and dear friend. Nick, understanding what it's like to have academic talent and be from a blue-collar background, took me by the hand and guided me to this life.  He stuck with me and cheered me on. He was the first person (even before my parents) that I called after I defended my dissertation.  He also is the friend who can most readily make me laugh--really, really laugh--even when I've had a horrible day.

4) Last, but of course most important: Howard. 

Father to my children and my partner for many years.  I don't even know where/how to begin.  Howard is a true co-parent.  Many men claim that, but Howie really lives it in the true spirit of equality.  He gave me beautiful children, and has stuck through hard years to join me in...well, not an easy place (that doesn't exist in parenting), but in a good one.  He's also a fun person to co-parent with:
  • He invented "Old Man Chuck" in our story telling game (which ony he, the kids and I understand, so don't even try)
  • He can make children's board games incredibly fun for kids and grownups alike
  • His nickname for Anya as an infant was "Shark Bait" (to explain: Samuel was, at the time, obsessed with the movie "Finding Nemo.")
I could go on, but: Howard, you know the whole story. You are, indeed, one of the world's best Dads.  I'm privileged to parent with you. 

Who do you think of on Fathers' Day?

My Other Vice...

...besides books.  Well, okay, one of my other vices, besides books.  What's a gal to do on a Saturday afternoon in Quito when she needs to get out and has already had too much coffee?

Why, buy earrings of course.

I went into an interesting-looking touristy artisan store.  Lots of gorgeous silver earrings, and leather bags, and pottery--all of which were too expensive to justify.

Then, lo and behold, I found them: the cheap earrings.  These cost me $7.50 per pair and I adore them.
The black and blue pairs are my favorites, but...I just can't resist trees.  I did manage to resist buying a moon pair, though, which is unusual. 

These are only okay, but they also only cost $4.50 per pair, and I know exactly which scarves etc I will wear them with. 

Besides, the black ones will look great with my glasses.

In total, I spent a little over $30.  Not bad.  Maybe I can call this a guilty pleasure instead of a full-blown vice, then?

What are your favorite little vices?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Howling, anyone?

I've had a special companion here in Quito for the past couple of evenings...the full moon.  These pictures don't do it justice, but it's just gorgeous outside my apartment window.

Other than the moon, my evenings are filled with the tedium of organizing 1000+ images each night...and, even at that, I am behind on my work with them. But, it's all worthwhile.  Finding some interesting stuff these days.

And, at least, I have the moon for company.

What does the full moon do for you?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Observations in Avoidance of Work

So, on this rather long and empty Sunday in Quito, I find myeslf needing to work--and resisting it.  For a break, here are a few observations:

1) Still concerned about how I'm getting all these books home:

2) Puzzled by water in Quito:

The bottle on the left I got in a restaurant, and it cost $1.30

The bottle on the right I got outside the archive, and it cost 40 cents.

Better yet: this 6 litre bottle cost about $1.20.  ????  I don't get it either.

Another Quito thing: parquet floors in apartments.  I guess I don't mind them completely, but it's annoying when some of the little pieces start rattling and coming out of place.

Quito also smells of over-polished floors.  I have to be careful whenever I walk around my apartment in socks.

What do you notice when you are avoiding work?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Back in the Saddle

I am, at long last, doing more of the research that I came here to do. I'm not yet entirely sure where it's going to take me, but there is something seductive about archives.  I can feel the excitement just finding myself near old volumes.  Here are some pictures of the stacks that I took at the Museo Nacional de Medicina, where I am allowed to wander around to look for what I need!

The main problem with this archive (aside from the disastrous impact of having had movers who jumbled all the volumes of documents) is that it's veerryyy high up.  And I have this mild fear of heights.  Every time I get too close to the railing, my legs start to tingle, trying to tell me to move them in the opposite direction. Alas, my greed for documents wins out over self-preservation.

And then, it doesn't hurt at all that this is the kind of view that I have as I enter and leave this particular archive:

I'm also doing some work at the Banco Central, mainly in the Fondo de Ciencia Humanas...but no photos of that (yet).  Dear Christa was my introduction there, and she is a wonderful research buddy. 

On Monday, it will be time to get my considerable rear end over to the Archivo Nacional de la Historia and get a feel for what's there.   Hopefully, I'll get to return there in a year or two.  And to Ecuador more generally.  There is just too much to do in a month or so....

So many little time...

What part of your work is just...irresistable?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Paths We Take

Living in Quito, and now alone until Howie and the kids arrive on June 22, I have a sense of being in Limbo.  I am in my life, in that I am working and writing and breathing. But, I am not in my life, in that this is not my ordinary existence. 

My time here so far has gotten me thinking about the subject of parallel lives.  Geneen Roth’s work on food and body brings this up: who is it that we are spending so much time and energy trying to be, rather than living our lives as we are?  We try so hard to achieve some ideal that we fail to live the life that we have before us.  We daydream it away.  This is not dissimilar from mindfulness teachings and practices, which are aimed at bringing us back to where we are now.  In this sense, I have to stop worrying over what I “should” be doing while here and just take one step at a time, seeing what I discover in the archives.  Every time I am in Quito, I feel like it’s vaguely unreal.  Yet, I have been here many times before and I have a record of work and publication to support the idea that I certainly belong here, doing what I do. 

Parallel lives are also about contemplating the choices we did/didn’t make.  I am away from the home and family that are usually at the center of my life.  Instead, I am in the midst of unusual circumstances and people I don’t often see, and it makes me contemplate choices and paths that take us in one direction or another in life.  What if I had never met Kim Clark, would I still be an academic now?  What if I had not had kids, would I feel freer here, or would I just experience a deeper loneliness?  What if I had never met Howie, or had not called him when I returned from my dissertation work in Ecuador?  Would I be with someone else, or alone? 

In short, Quito makes me wax philosophical.  Maybe I need to read a trashy novel or watch a crappy movie.

What paths have you chosen?  What alternate lives do you imagine? 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fog, Inside and Out

I'm not getting enough sleep lately, and this morning, Quito matched my state of mind:

I actually find fog quite beautiful.  Granted, it's most beautiful at the ocean back home, or in the paramo (high altitude lands) here...but there's something that's vaguely mysterious about fog that I just love.

Later, in the afternoon, we got a massive rain and hail storm that lasted...close to 1/2 hour, probably.  Had to wait around to walk home from the conference. 

In other news: the LASA Quito Ecuentro went well overall.  I got to meet new people, catch up with a few I already knew, and hear some good talks.  More book review contacts.  And my own presentation went fine.  Can't really ask for more than that.  I didn't even buy too many more books!

But, a loooooong and lonely weekend awaits me here in Quito.  Time to pull out the work, novels, and knitting to pass the time.  And, on Monday, it's back to archives to start research in earnest (only having about 3 weeks to do so!  yikes).  Quite overwhelming.