Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It used to be that "bill day" meant sitting down with a calculator & a cheque book & a bunch of envelopes and stamps and spending an hour or so juggling money and then mailing the bills off. Later on, bill day more or less disappeared, as chunks of money automatically came out of our account when bills were due. Now bill day lands on the last day of the month for us when we get up and do our ablutions and study Spanish and then head out into the world armed with copies of old bills. First we stop at the ETAPA place near where we live and pay our electricity and cold water bill, then we either walk downtown or hop a bus and go to the other ETAPA place where we pay our internet bill. We don't know why we have to go to 2 different ETAPA places; we just do. Then it's off to our landlord's bank where we deposit our rent money. A few days later we pay for our apartment's maintenance bill and our gas & hot water. No one sends us reminders to pay these bills. We just do it, as do the other residents of Ecuador. There's a mild satisfaction in the whole procedure that was missing when money just dripped into and out of our bank account with no real action taken by us. After we pay our very reasonable bills, we generally have a cappuccino somewhere and once again congratulate ourselves for being where we are.

Oh Happy Day! We've been searching for a hummingbird feeder for months. It took us 2 weeks just to figure out what to ask for: Alimentador o Dispensador para colibri. We've gone, on the advice of friends, to hardware stores and pet shops. We've had several people tell us their friends had hummingbird feeders and they'd find out where they were purchased and let us know. They never did. We've travelled far and wide searching and had no success...until today. Out near the airport there's a hardware store called Kiwi & a large SuperMaxi & another hardware store called Mega Hierro. We'd been to Kiwi searching but the time we'd gone there Mega Hierro was closed. Today it was open and joy oh joy, they not only had hummingbird feeders they had about 6 or 8 different kinds. We chose the traditional Canadian made, glass & fake flowers at the bottom, feeder. "It's tried and true" Brian told Shelley. "I've used them since the 60's. Finding a good hummingbird feeder after all this time is almost as good as getting cable or internet!" he said.

Shelley told him she was happy for him and rolled her eyes just a bit.

So now the hummingbird feeder is mounted just outside our den window. Brian swears that the nectar level has gone down half an inch just in the last day, however, we haven't seen any hummingbirds yet. Brian's friend Jan in Holland said the hummingbirds will definitely find it. He's usually right about such things.

As we do almost every week, we went to the main square downtown on Sunday to see what the 11:00 o'clock entertainment would be. We often sit on a tiny ledge, 4 inches high, just to the side and in front of the bandstand and listen and watch through the crowd. Usually we don't have to stand up as there are gaps through the standing crowd and most people are sitting around the park. Today, however, once the entertainment started dozens of people crowded up to the bandstand and stood listening and watching appreciatively. Brian and Shelley continued to sit on their little ledge and listened to the girl singers belt out their songs. After awhile, Brian got curious and stood up. His mouth agape Shelley began to notice he'd been standing for quite awhile.

"You should get a look at this" Brian told Shelley.

Up she got, creaky knees and all and looked out over the crowd to see 5 girl singers in brilliant blue skin tight costumes cut out at the waist and in the back.

"Ahhhhhh" she said.

Root canal day finally came, although the appointment wasn't until 4 in the afternoon. We kept Brian busy grocery shopping and helping to make a giant vat of Christmas Antipasto (see recipe in Recipe section). Shelley, who most would agree should not be allowed to handle sharp instruments, cut into the middle of one of her fingernails, chopped another's edge off and cut the tip of her computer/mouse finger. When she started to bleed copiously, Brian took over the chopping while Shelley attended to her wounds.

Three thirty finally rolled around. In the taxi going to the specialist, Shelley tried to jolly Brian who was sure his happy pills weren't working any more.

"Of course they are!" she told him, giant smile on her face. "You're in the taxi, you're going to the dentist, you're not shaking uncontrollably. You're just fine!"

"Am not!"

Sitting in the waiting room, Shelley heard no loud moans or screams. Ninety minutes later Brian emerged looking about 10 years older and holding the side of his face, but it was finally done. "Did you hear me?" Brian asked.

"Not a peep."

Coming Up: Getting teeth cleaned, filling the root canal & replacing the extracted tooth.

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