Wednesday, February 16, 2011



The newest addition to our family is an 8 week old pug, whom we named Milo.  He is a handful, and housebreaking him is a lot of work, especially right now, for me, as Barbara is visiting kids and grandson in Denver for 2 weeks.  We had to give him vaccination and worm shots, so we called the local vet.  He came to the house, checked Milo out, gave him the shots and charged us $25--not a bad deal.

Meanwhile the work goes on at the house, with a lot of noise as the guys are cutting granite tile, sanding (electric sander) and using an electric planer.  The workers are great--we don't communicate much as only a few of them speak any English at all and my Indonesian is very limited , to say the least.  They are almost all from Java and eating and sleeping on the property.  They all do very exacting work--especially visible now as we are into the finishing bits.  The only problem is we can only get them to work 7 days a week!

There are decisions to be made every day and also changes all the time as we visit other peoples homes and get ideas.  All these changes cost, so we must be very careful what we ask for.  We have made a few mistakes, but nothing we can't live with.  One mistake was of omission--we neglected to install a toilet for the staff.  So we have to build a small structure (like an outhouse, but made of cement) with electricity and plumbing.  It will go right next to the laundry/storage house and should be just perfect.  This had to be done because all of our house toilets are open and that would not be acceptable to the staff.  Our staff--we hired a woman who will be our house manager, help with rental guests and run the place when we're not there, and will also be the pembantu (the person who comes in every day to clean, cook, do laundry any all household chores).  
We also hired the wife of the landowner to come in for a few hours each day to help.  We were obligated to hire her as it is just the right thing to do in this culture.  Sometimes people are hired to do minimal work because us, as Westerners, must keep good relations with the locals.  We plan to keep them both busy, as we hope to rent the bungalow out as much as possible, and also the main house when we are not here.  We will also need a gardener 3 times a week to keep the garden and grounds looking good, green and colorful.

So much is happening right now--the air conditioners have been installed; ceiling fans are going in; light fixtures and outlets; plumbing fixtures; painting and varnishing; and more every day.  The terrazzo work is almost finished and it is an interesting process--day after day of laying down layers of cement with with colors, sanding and polishing.  The bathtub and 2 bathroom counters are terrazzo and they look just great.

Our guest bungalow will be finished by the end of this week so we can receive furniture and appliances and lock them up. 

I must mention one of my favorite meals here--ayam talliwang.  It is a dish that originated in the neighboring island of Lombok and it is simply delicious.  There are only a handful of restaurants that serve it here and that is all they serve--the only one near us is a half hour drive.  You sit down and food is just brought to you--a whole, but small chicken, not as meaty as in the States, but grilled perfectly.  The special part is the bowl of sauce that accompanies it--I wish I could tell what it consists of, but I can't, I only know it is slightly spicy and great.  You also get rice and a plate of vegetables.  And the cost? $3.50!  Can't wait for my next Ayam Talliwang!

I know most of the States and Europe is having a rough, cold, snowy winter, but here in Bali it has been hot and sunny.  We are in the middle of the rainy season and it has been a mild one with not much rain.  The evenings have been pleasantly cool here in Ubud but I wear only shorts and t-shirts day and night.

A few people including Barbara and I are starting a serious film club (altho we will watch comedies) to meet once a week, see a movie and discuss it.  One of the people has a giant flat screen TV and with the current availability of movies to download free the possibilities are unlimited.  We also go to Trivia Night once a week at one of our favorite restaurants and have joined a friendly group of old farts. It's very popular with older ex-pats like ourselves and a fun way to pass an evening.