Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hank's First Post--Settling In

What we're going to do is this--we will both write posts, so ideas, thoughts and observations may overlap.  I'm not going to read Barbara's posts so I may repeat some of what she has said--so be it.  I want to express my thoughts on all that is going on here and now.

A little background.  We spent the summer wrapping up our lives in Santa Fe by selling most of our stuff--furniture and personal items, and packed 23 boxes to ship to Bali (where it is now in storage behind the house we're staying in).  What we sent here is a lot of kitchen things, linens, towels, rugs and many paintings and artwork.  We rented the house in Santa Fe, visited our kids in Denver and Seattle and made our way to Bali.

After a couple of weeks settling in, we rented a small, but new house right next to our plot of land.  This two room-plus house has a small swimming pool, air-con and after we installed wi-fi (pronounced wifey here), and a satellite TV to go with our new flat screen we are feeling pretty comfy. We have a view of rice fields, which I absolutely love--they are so green and beautiful just before harvest and represent a fascinating and intricate culture which is unique to the Balinese.  They also go thru a 3-4 month cycle so they are always changing--I love when the ducks are brought in to clean up the fields after the harvest. 

Site of our future home
Our plot along the path with a sharp drop to a river on the left

Our plot of land (and the house in which we are staying) are along a quiet, motor-free path and a short walk in one direction to a couple of cafes, small restaurants and yoga studio and a walk in the other direction to a fairly large supermarket.  This store has almost everything we need, so we are there often.  We make our own breakfasts, but almost always go out for dinner (so many restaurants to choose from), because they are cheaper that what can make at home, and the menus offer a lot more than what we can come up with.

So now--we interviewed a few couple of architects and have settled on one mid-thirties guy and his engineer.  They seem very talented and we have checked out some of the places they have built--very good work, indeed.  After five revisions of our concept we are about to settle on a final plan in the next few days.  Due to our limited budget, and the spiraling costs of materials here we have had to re-think our dream house and cut back many areas--the biggest loss being the elimination of a 2nd story.  Instead we will build a small, free-standing guest cottage--a big savings.

We have been busy here, and will be busy for the foreseeable future.  We have spent time organizing our retirement visa, which we will get in November.  Beginning Wednesday we are both the coordinators on the Information Booth at the Ubud Writer's and Readers Conference, now in its 7th year.  The conference is an extremely adventurous undertaking with writers  (and readers) coming from all over the world.  http://ubudwritersfestival.com
We will be working there but will also have the chance to attend seminars, discussions, interviews, book launches and parties of one kind or another day and night.  There are more than a few authors of books we have both read and really look forward to seeing them.

Dressed for the Ceremony
Balinese Hinduism has many rituals, ceremonies, holidays and celebrations.  It turns out yesterday was one of the only days this month in which we could consecrate the land--that is, converting the land from a rice field to a home site.  So the family that owns the land (we just lease it) brought in a priest and made all the arrangements for a proper ceremony.  This is all much too complicated and  mysterious to go into here, but suffice it to say that the baskets of fruit, fragrant flowers, incense, bells and dead chickens was all we needed.  Lots of chanting and sprinkling of holy water and rice made it all a great experience.

Consecrating the Land
Wish you could hear the bells and smell the flowers and incense


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