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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Blame it in on the Planets in Retrograde

Look, I understand (at least intellectually) that planets don't actually go into retrograde; meaning that they go backwards in their orbit. I know it just looks like it from our position in the solar system at the time. (Thanks, Neil Degrasse Tyson.) Despite this very scientific knowledge, it's still hard not to blame the funk that we seem to be in on a quadruple planet retrograde (Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto). Broken teeth, el niƱo costal, crappy dollar, intermittent wifi and a barrage of other minor irritants that seem to be plaguing our usually smooth watered life make is easy to blame a phenomenon that doesn't actually exist. (I believe L.M. Montgomery called them "Jonah days" in the Anne of Green Gables series.)

The science behind a retrograde planet
Surely, those huge celestial bodies must have some affect on our little marble of a planet. Come on, the moon creates our tides, so why not have some weird, unmeasurable happenings when we're passing planets and they seem to go backwards? Perhaps it's just the gravitational pull putting things just slightly off. Who knows. I think that there are things out there that we can't explain (yet) and that we might never be able to explain in a scientific manner. In fact, I find that kind of comforting, because usually life surprises the heck out of me and inexplicable things make me feel like I'm not a complete idiot bumbling through life.

Scientists would argue the placebo effect or perhaps self-fulfilling prophecy, but that doesn't make all those gnat infested problems any less. At least I have a better understanding of why historic man looked to the sky for answers - anything to explain the why of something inexplicable. Here's to getting out of the rut, here's to embracing science and getting past a creeping sense of "offness" and here's to our hard thinking ancestors who tried to figure it all out.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Much Ado About Nothing - Going to the Dentist

I am not a fan of the dental drill. I've had issues since I was about seven. Despite having excellent dental care ever since then, I still cringe when I hear the high pitched whine of that little torture device. In fact, I'm a big scaredy cat when it comes to anything other than cleaning. My darling husband - brave in the face of almost every challenge - had dental work done here and they did it without anaesthetic. It didn't bother him at all, but the thought horrified me, even though I know most of the dentists here are trained in North America and Europe and are just trying to keep their clients' budgets in mind.  

Suffice to say that when a shingle-shaped chip came off my front tooth the other day, I wasn't happy.The tooth is mostly composite, a reminder of a childhood accident between my face and the wooden post of some playground equipment. (Thank you, Tony Nolie. No I haven't forgotten you.) Of course, this happened Thursday night, on the eve of the Easter long weekend. (Why don't these things ever happen when it's easy to get an appointment?) I wasn't going to go around for four days with a chipped front tooth, so I girded up my courage and glued the chip back in. It was a process and during the time, I imagined all the things that could go wrong, but it turned out pretty well, except for the crazy glue film over the tooth.

Imagine the upper front tooth (left) with a chip.
Our dentist had an opening on Tuesday morning, so I spent most of Monday fretting about the drill, not having anaesthetic and all the other things that come with a phobia. (Not to mention the fear that the piece would fall out again.) I had to explain to the dentist what happened and that I'd glued the piece back in place (much eye rolling on her part ensued...apparently the worst thing you can do is use super glue) and that I also can't sit for very long, due to my injured muscle and tendon. I hadn't got to the part where I was terrified of the drill and was working up my courage as she poked and prodded around my tooth. "Which tooth is it?" she asked. I pointed to it again and explained that it was a small piece right on the corner. Well, she couldn't even see the crack. All my hard work had paid off. She wound up just polishing up the tooth and then gave me a cleaning. (Now, what dentist in North America would say: "It looks fine, if the piece falls out again, call me," and then just carry on with normal business?) $40 later and I was on my way - no drill, no Novocaine, sparkly teeth and only slightly sweaty arm pits.

So what does all of this amount to? Ecuadorian dental care is fair, affordable and the dentists are (mostly) responsible. If I ever do need serious dental intervention, I'm going to be brave and confess my stupid phobia and trust that they'll take care of me. (PS, Thanks Ron, for the title of this blog installation!)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ode to a Good Man

It has long been mysterious to many people, the relationship between Ron and I. I get it, I really do. I was a tender 20 years old when we met and he was divorced with three young children. At first, I think it was just a lark for both of us. I thought he was cute and he was playing the field, so why not?
Still cute after a quarter century!
We couldn't have foreseen the future ahead of us or we both would probably have run screaming, but that's why life and love work the way they do. 26 years later and here we are, traveling around South America and still happily together. He takes care of so much. I'd like to say that ours is a marriage of equals, but every now and then I realize how much he gives. I make an effort to be appreciative for every morning coffee that he hands me, the garbage that magically disappears on a regular schedule, the clean laundry that shows up in my drawer and the cups of tea to help with any lingering inflammation in my damaged muscle and tendon.This is on top of his intrepid entry into the kitchen to clean up after hurricane Danica has blown through to make a meal. (My motto: messy chefs are the best chefs!)
Helping with the foundation of a house
for a local family

The last several months have been hard. Nothing is normal. Pain has a way of seeping into the cracks of everything and makes every day challenging. My injury has interrupted our daily lives in a way that we've never experienced before and it has tried our relationship; and yet here we are. Much (okay, really all) of that is thanks to Ron. I know how hard it is for him to see me in pain and suffering. I'm sure he feels as helpless as I do, because neither of us can do much but wait for me to heal. Through it all, he's been a champ. He carried the load of the household chores when I couldn't do anything but lay on the sofa and cry. He ran to get pain medication, ice packs, heat packs - really, whatever I needed in the moment. He's Florence Nightingale in black.
Embracing "Trekiness"

As I poured my own second cup of coffee this morning (a rarity), I realized how amazing he really is (a truly rare creature); how much I love him and how he's affected me. He expanded my horizons in so many ways and he has always accepted me exactly as I am. That's powerful. So, I just wanted to take a moment and say thank you to him. I wanted to tell him that I love him so much that words fail me (also a rarity). From all accounts, it's hard to find a good man, so I'll count my blessings. That is my ode to a good man.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

La Segunda Vuelta - Goin' to the Polls 2.0

The whole democratic process here has been a real eye opener. I, at least logically, understand that there are different ways of electing a government - the US election proved that, but to see it in action is a whole different reality.

For a bit of a recap, in Ecuador the incoming president needs to win 50% of the popular vote, or if that is not achieved, the candidate has to receive 40% of the popular vote with an equal or greater than 10% margin than the second place candidate. This is written in the law and is (to all appearances) sacred. The two leading parties, after the first round of voting, came in at 39.3% and the following candidate had 28.1% (give or take). So the required margin was achieved, but not the 40% requirement. A month later the country went back to the polls to decide between the two. 
Lenin Moreno - Movemiento Alianza Pais
It was very close. The good news is that the vote was only between the two presidential hopefuls and their vice presidents - each team being awarded one vote per ballot. The further good news is that the winner only needs one vote more than the loser; there are no substantial margins to be achieved.
Guilermo Lasso - La Alianza Creo - Suma
It's been a bit ugly. The current party has held office for 10 years. This fact leads a lot of people to accuse voter fraud. The current president is VERY thin skinned and, because of that, he likes to try and control the media to a certain extent. He isn't running this time, but his hand picked successor is. The challenger is a gentleman who was involved with the government when Ecuador's economy took a dive and they had to switch to the US dollar to try and stabilize things. 

Currently, with almost all the votes counted the incumbent party seems ready to take power again. (They're sitting at 51.17% while the opposition is at 48.83%. In truth, the current party already has the majority in the assembly, so whoever wins the presidency is a bit moot.) Here's the thing...there are people out there that truly believe that the current administration is only in power due to voter fraud...and they've done it again, this time  round. The challenger isn't making things better by demanding verification, accusing the existing party outright of fraud and corruption. (It's all very USA style politics, or so it seems to me.) 

In honesty, I'm trying to get my head around it, because Latin American countries have really had their challenges with legitimate governments. There are people who live here who have seen rampant bribery affect the outcomes of "democratic" elections, so they have a right to be doubtful, or so I would guess. I just can't fathom it. Everything looked above board at the polling stations, the governing body that counts the ballots had information out rapidly (relatively speaking) and the percentages seem fairly consistent. It was always going to be a close race.

I'd like to think that the process has been legitimate, but I don't have the history here that lifelong Ecuadorians have, so how can I say? I guess the proof is in the pudding and the next year or two will show whether the winning candidate was in earnest or not.

Que viva la democracia!