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.


  1. your "rant" really made me miss discussing politics with you! it is hard not to be dismayed about what is going on here right now. I've been meaning to read that book for some time now, I'll have to bump it up the list. I am so happy to hear how well your house building is progressing. It looks terrific! what time you must save not having to wade through a billion choices of the same thing too.

  2. your tanned chest! love it. miss you guys, wish i could be there for the ceremony!