Saturday, September 19, 2015


In August 2014, Peggy and I decided on an amicable divorce.  Our marriage of 26 years had been largely based on our mutual desire for family and home.  The kids were grown and gone, the home was now too large and expensive, and we had gotten on each other’s nerves.  We just didn’t have any interests in common, and found we couldn’t work or communicate directly with each other.

This was rough for me.  I was on unpaid leave from work to avoid being bullied by a harassing headmaster and department chair, and didn’t know how that was going to be resolved.  Even if I was working, there was no way for me to keep the house and garden, which meant leaving the neighborhood.  I considered numerous places to relocate including Florida, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Ecuador.  And I’ve never been good at dating, but I did not want to be lonely.

In November, that all changed with a first email from Alina:

"While surfing on the web I found your site. Perhaps you do not remember me, but I think we met back in the late 1980s in Ecuador. I think it was you who joined our group from Catholic University in a collecting field trip in the Andes? I remember you were showing us some Aikido techniques during the trip, and after that I joined the dojo directed by Christine (French instructor living in Quito at that time). I continued Aikido and did get my black belt!”

Wow!  Somebody found me!  We struck up email and skype conversations, and discovered that we had a great many interests in common.  Natural history, travel, collecting, martial arts, movies, and not least: looking for love and a stable relationship.

We had our first meeting in 27 years in late January, a long weekend.  Everything clicked immediately.  The day after my visit, Alina phoned and said she was going to Ecuador in two weeks to see her family and job hunt with her shiny new PhD.  Would I come with her?  Absolutely!  In the first week, we decided we would marry.  In the second week, she found us jobs as research professors at the Universidad Estatal Amazonica in Puyo and decide to emmigrate.

Since then, our lives have been whirlwinds of activity.  I had to retire, sell the house, divorce Peggy, empty my garden, get rid of lots of stuff, wrap up my insect research at the MCZ, pack our stuff, load it into a container and travel to Philadelphia, NY, Boston, DC, Gainesville, London, Yellowstone, Seattle, Edmonton and various other places.

Ecuador might not be any easier at first, but eventually we might settle down.


  1. Well, Mike, best wishes. I have been using and enjoying your Critiques of L. site for many years and, as a botanist, I have little interest in economics beyond what has become necessary. Ecuador and surrounds have many topical ecosystems in need of systematic and other basic info, so ALL the best and Thank You!

  2. Hi Mike! Just learned of your move via Matt Mattus' blog. Congratulations on your renewed relationship and best wishes for your new job and life in Ecuador.

    I'll think of you in Ecuador when your daylily 'Ice Trumpets') blooms again. Did anyone take over your Hem. lines? Probably well down your list of priorities, considering how much had to happen before your departure. Hope to be able to keep up with you via this blog as you settle in.

    1. My Hemerocallis breeding is not done yet. I'm starting some in Ecuador (where I don't think there is any competition) and I have about 5 years worth of introductions growing at Harmon Hill Farm. I will be detailing my old and new programs in the Daylily Journal, starting with the next issue.

      I'm advertising discount seed and unregistered seedlings from my lines for people that would like to continue my programs. Free for youth members.