Friday, March 18, 2011


Before I begin I must mention the passing of Owsley Stanley, a seminal figure of the San Francisco 60's scene and a very brilliant, influential and accomplished man.

The paradox of choice and what it means to us living in a third world country (in most ways.).  When we go into a supermarket or large store and want to buy a blender, toaster, detergent, shampoo or any item we are not confronted with a massive selection of choices like in Target.  We chose a Panasonic blender from a choice of two brands and were fine with that. And the same with a toaster-oven.  I have maybe 3 different brands of shampoo to choose from and guess what--my hair is just as clean as when I had to select from 15 brands!  Do we really need to choose from a plethora of brands when selecting a product to wash our clothes?  I always hated how much time I wasted standing in front of those shelves at K-Mart staring at all the various household cleansers hoping I'd pick the right one. No More!


We are into the final month of our building project and spending a great deal of time selecting basic household items. All of our furniture is being built to our specifications and everything seems to be ready now. We'll be spending a lot of time receiving the furniture as well as the large appliances, because of the difficulty of getting to our house.  I have said previously that we live on a path which is a 7-8 minute walk from where a car or motorbike can park. So we must give the supplier directions to the Bintang Supermarket (near the steps leading to our Path) and then the driver must call me, at which time I will walk down to the truck and lead the driver up to the house.  If the items are large I hope the driver has a helper or two or else I have to call up to the project to get some of our men to come down to help. Whew!

Oh yeah, the phone calls and the problems.  Most Balinese speak a limited amount of English (at some places none) and my Indonesian is the same (as is Barbara's), so if there is a problem or I must call to request delivery look out--communication failure!  Look--living in a nation  that does not speak one's native tongue is difficult, and add to that the cultural differences and you have a recipe for frustration. Something I experience often.  Simple things are just not done the way I am used to in the States.  


We have a bank account here and will be able to pay the electric bill online (I'm pretty sure),and we already pay the satellite TV company online through a bill pay program.  But not everything is quite so simple.  Drinking water and gas for the stove must be brought up and paid for in cash upon delivery.  And then there's the water company-two visits to the water company and I finally figured out how to do it.  I have to go in to a different office between the first and 20th of each month and pay in cash.  Okay, that doesn't sound so hard, but trying to understand the woman behind the counter was not easy.

As for electricity, we have been promised the much anticipated juice on or about April 10th--but we all know how that goes.  To complicate matters we must be out of our present digs on March 31, so we have to move into the house at that time or find other temporary housing or get a generator.  We are going to buy a generator next week and, assuming the house is ready for us on the 1st, hook it up and run it for a few hours in the morning, afternoon and evening.  Hopefully this will be needed for no more than two weeks, or whenever the electric company hooks us up.  We have yet to figure out how we are going to get gas up to house to power the generator.  Any suggestions?

Now, in order to move in we must hold a ceremony which must follow age-old guidelines as to exactly where and when.  This is to assure the house has been cleansed of all evil spirits and the gods will be shining upon us.  We turned that over $650 to the landowner to purchase all the necessary fruit, vegetables, eggs, flowers, chickens, ducks and holy men to make the ceremony just right.  We are now waiting for the decision as to the most auspicious date.  There is a calendar listing just which days are proper for different life events, but this falls into the holy man's decision.

Wish you all could be present for this event, but alas, that is not going to happen, so wish us luck and good cheers! 

Since Barbara is now riding on the back of our motorbike we are getting around town much faster and easier, so we're trying new restaurants and enjoying most of them. Tonight is the night we go to the Fly Cafe for what is always a very good dinner and trivia night with friends--good fun.  Last week we won a bottle of beer for winning a  bonus round of 60's music! Wahoo!  Tomorrow night is the sixth week of our movie club--Dr. Strangelove, one of my all-time favorites.  And, last Tuesday we saw an excellent world music band at the Jazz Cafe which featured a young, wonderfully talented and beautiful female violinist from Hungary.  They'll be playing every Tuesday for a while, so we'll be back.  

Although we are 10,000 miles from home we both read the news every day--NY Times, Huff Post, Daily Beast et al.  Most of our friends read the news too and we are all grateful not to be in the States right now.  I think the political climate is the worst I have ever seen, what with the maniacal conservatives cutting funding for anything that helps people. But god help us if we mention cutting military spending!  The governors of Wisconsin and Michigan are unbelievable--with Michigan being even worse than Wisconsin, if that is possible.  If you don't know what is happening in Michigan right now read about it--you won't believe it.  We're not alone--the whole world is a mess.  (Recently read Half the Sky & Stones Into Schools--everyone should read these books.) Well, sorry about the rant, just had to get it off my tanned chest.

Friday, March 4, 2011


 Last night was Ogah-Ogah night in Bali--the night that precedes Nyeppi or New Years Day. This night is a couple of weeks in the making as young people in every village spend their spare time making the Ogah Ogahs you see on this page.  This is but a small sampling just from our village--there are hundreds all over the island.  (This would make a wonderful picture book if one could travel all over during this time.)

They are made of papier mache', but very strong and sturdy as they are put on make-shift bamboo pole platforms and paraded thru the streets while much noise is being made banging drums and cymbals, and chanting--loud.  

They are meant to be scary in order to frighten away the evil spirits which fly overhead during the New Years.

This is a wonderful night with all the locals and tourists out taking pictures and having a great time--lots of food vendors selling corn-on-the-cob, tofu and rice dishes and toys for the kids.
At midnight everything and everyone quiets down in observance of the New Year.  For the next 30 hours--until 6am the following day all lights must be off, no one--cars, bikes, people can be out.   Even the big hotels down south keep all guests from leaving the property, and the airport and seaport is closed for the day. Silence is the key word and it is strictly observed.

The idea is that when night falls and the evil spirits fly over the island they will not see Bali--what a great and clever idea!  Why haven't we thought of that in the west?

I hope you all enjoy looking at these photos--we had a lot of fun taking them and being a part of Ogah Ogah night!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011



Just back from 2 weeks in Seattle and Denver, visiting the kids, sister and the grandkid…but, happy to be back in Bali. Weather has been breezy since I’ve been back. Glad to be able to take the boots and sweaters off…and relax in just shorts and a tee.

Lots of progress on the house while I was away…overseen by Henry. The finishing touches are going into place. Polishing and grouting the stone and pool edge. Doors and windows are now all in. Laundry room being finished including the ‘staff’  toilet which we neglected in the initial contract.                                                                   

Water fountain in the entry way is now in place, and the small fountain in the outdoor shower will soon be plumbed in as well. The Bale….is finished except for a light fixture. Looks like we may be 3-4 weeks away from completion……but still no electric!!!!!!!!
Looks like we may have to purchase a generator if the electricity can’t be hooked up before we’re ready to move in. Noisy, but the only alternative that we have. Of course, no one can tell us what’s really happening. It’s like being in a Kafkaesque novel…lots of paperwork, lots of people involved, lots of offices to visit and officials to speak with….but, no answers regarding time frame or cost. This is very frustrating for us as you can imagine.


We have heard horror stories of having to wait for up to a year for electric, of having to pay exorbitant amounts to bring it up to this area…to the benefit of us and our neighbors…but, what to believe? We’ll just have to take it one step at a time and see what happens.
Have already had an offer on it for a 20 year rental…but, the amount wasn’t enough to make us want to sell it at this time….we haven’t even moved in yet!
Milo is growing as well. Still trying to toilet train him, and have been making a bit of progress. He has sharp little teeth, bites our feet and is a little devil…but, so cute that we can forgive him almost anything.

MR M THE 2nd

So…that’s life in the big city…we watch the ricefields grow, the flowers bloom, and the skies turn color as day morphs to dusk….