Month: September 2017

Italian Overdose

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Our realtor here in Bali, is married to an Italian man named David. Her name is Mun, and she is from Sumatra.

Mun’s father in law is a sweetheart named Alfredo, and he is very proud of his Italian culture and customs. Mun’s mother in law named Wayan, is Balinese, and has been married to Alfredo for 30 years.Last night Wayan and Alfredo invited us to come over so they could teach us how to cook an Italian meal since we had expressed interest in wanting to learn. We had no idea what an amazing time we were in for…

When Alfredo talks about food, you have to stop and make sure he’s describing pasta, and not a woman’s body. He is very passionate about food – it’s smell, texture and flavor. Each ingredient must be fresh, well selected and beautifully blended into a creation that causes ones taste buds to stand at attention in awe then melt in a delicious symphony. Even while describing his favorite pineapple, he had us all convinced that there was simply nothing sweeter, fresher or more addicting in the world.

Wayan is a kitchen Goddess. She works efficiently and with total calm, ease and incredible knowledge. Wayan’s sister and her Italian husband joined us too.

We started by measuring our flour and semolina, to make pasta. Semolina, which is ground hard wheat, is necessary to add because it keeps the pasta dough firm when immersed in water. We added salt to the flours and formed 2 little ‘volcanoes’ on the table from the mixture. In each volcano, we added olive oil, 5 eggs and some vinegar.

With a fork, Mycah mixed the egg mixture in the center and slowly added flour from the sides into the mixture in the middle. Finally it was all mixed and needed to be kneaded by hand. When kneading pasta dough it’s important to place all the pressure on the ball of your hand when baring down.

Once the dough was ready, we placed chicken wrapped in rosemary and bacon and tied into a neat package with a string, into a pot to cook slowly after browning.

Jude and Teresa peeled garlic and chopped onions.

The smell coming from the kitchen was already captivating, and attracted some gawking salivating creatures.

Teresa and I finely chopped a kilo of Roma tomatoes and added them to a pot on the stove, while Emma help turn the crank on the pasta maker. This brought back memories of turning winch handles on Tanda Malaika and made her very happy.

As pasta past through the pasta maker, it became thinner and thinner, then sliced into linguini sized noodles. These were rolled with flour sprinkled all around, then wound up into pasta nests.

At the table, Jude and Aidan were recruited to peel some boiled potatoes then mashed them in a fancy strainer gadget thingamajig.

While we were busy in the kitchen as the evening wore on, the sunburned from skateboarding man folk relaxed their exhausted bodies outside.

Bella, the tiny 1 year old pup, stuck around to catch anything edible that fell on the floor.

The kitchen was a busy place with only fresh ingredients to be found. Freshly picked giant green olives were sliced,

more garlic and mushrooms prepared,

and smells exploded in the air like pop rocks in your mouth! Pots were brewing, ovens baking, noodles swelling and veggies roasting! The lasagne made with freshly made noodles didn’t have an ounce of cheese in it aside from parmesan on top. Apple pie was removed from heat to cool down, bowls were filled and filed out to the table, and drooling bodies were called to attention.

Two long tables were set to feed all 17 of us, and food was slowly transported out for all to see. First course was pasta in a delicious olive/tomato/onion/garlic sauce. We were so full afterward.

The second course was the best lasagne I have ever eaten! I commented on the creamy white cheese inside and Wayan explained that it was not cheese, but a white sauce made from melted butter, flour and grated nutmeg. It was absolutely out of this world! Our stomachs bulged from beneath our clothing.

The third course was mashed potatoes made from potato, nutmeg and butter and the fall apart in your mouth chicken/bacon bundles sliced up with perfectly grilled eggplant,

and buttery perfectly seasoned sautéed mushrooms with fresh garlic chunks. I felt myself fading in and out of a food coma as I heard gasps, ooh’s and aah’s in the background someplace.

After that, we were served warm apple pie with freshly made vanilla gelato! I slide from my chair onto the floor and found myself at the top of a heap of other bodies I vaguely recognized as my children – already in coma’s as well, only to wake 3 days later with an imprint of a belt buckle on my right cheek and a large tear down the middle of my dress with my belly poking through.

What an amazing, delicious, out of this world, evening! Wow! Now all I have to do is find my daughters Italian husbands!

Rumblings

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It has been a busy few days here in Bali.On Saturday afternoon our son, Jordan, arrived from Florida. He’s joining us for a month and it is wonderful to see him.

We can’t wait to take him on our adventures!

Emma made him a lei from plumeria flowers in our yard, and then on Sunday, made some for our friends, Teresa, Daniel and Nico, who flew in mid afternoon.

Teresa and her family are sailing friends of ours. We met them in Panama when we were preparing to head through the canal. They were preparing to sail their boat, s/v Savarona, to Europe at the same time, and we instantly became good friends. About 6 weeks after losing Tanda Malaika, they suffered a far greater tragedy…Teresa’s Sweetheart, who she’d been married to for 25 years, unexpectedly passed away from a ruptured aneurysm in his aorta. We invited them to come be close to us here in Bali, where we could perhaps help them find peace and healing. They will be renting a villa not far from our home for the next month and a half, before returning to the US for a memorial with family.

With them and Jordan here, we are now a crazy group of 9 people, and look like the Bali gang as we make our way around the island on 5 scooters! Speaking of scooters, we have been teaching Jordan how to ride one, and he’s catching on quite well.

All the creatures are enjoying lots of quality pool time together.

Danny has continued to enjoy is work trip and recently flew back to Beijing from Japan and next week will fly to Dubai for a week. He will be gone for about another month.

Mt Agung, the rumbling volcano here in Bali, has continued to groan and grumble like a cranky old man waking unwillingly. We have been told that so far, 60 – 70 000 people have been evacuated from their homes, and are in shelters that have been set up is safe zones. The tragic part is that they left their pets behind, so right now there are thousands of dogs, cats, cows etc that are starving to death. An organization has begun retrieving as many of these animals as possible, and setting up temporary camps in a safe zone for them. Today we went to the store to purchase huge bags of dog food to contribute.
The people that have been evacuated are in great need as well. We will be helping to cook meals and package them up for distribution, and have purchased hygiene products, mosquito spray, toothbrushes, toothpaste and sugar to take to the camps.

A huge problem Bali will be facing when the volcano erupts, is that most of the produce is grown in the fertile soil up against the volcano. When that area is destroyed by lava, a large food supply will be gone, and volcanic ash will contaminated water supplies.
Mt Agung has been placed on the highest possible alert level and todays earthquake was felt all through Ubud, which is 20 km (12 miles) up the road. We have been told that the longer it takes to erupt, the worse the eruption will be, and that in 1963 the same volcano erupted 10km into the air and ash was blown all the way to Jakarta.

Here at home we have prepared well. We keep the scooters full incase of a tsunami from all the earthquake activity, and we loaded up on extra water, food and masks for here at home for volcanic activity. We have plastic and tape to close off necessary areas. We’ve had family council meetings and made plans and are ready to help those around us as much as we can. Please don’t worry about us, just pray for the locals and the poor animals.
Life is exciting and is all one big learning experience. I love it and am grateful for it.

Babysitting Bali style

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Each hour has been busy and each day has been full. We find ourselves so busy and relish the times when we relax by the pool with nothing but chilling to accomplish. How does that happen? We haven’t wasted time, and have been wise and efficient in our choices – yet at the end of the day there are still unchecked items on my to do list. Becoming a full time sailor gave us more time at home, for sure, even if it was working on projects together at home on the sea – the important part being that we were together. Now, Danny has been gone for almost a month and has signed up for another month at the BBJ owner’s request, and the kids and I find ourselves busy in Bali!
It’s not easy babysitting a monkey! Meet Hanna. She’s a bundle of energy filled with curiosity, mischief, orneriness, and all that monkey sort of stuff! She insisted on pruning me…I think she recognizes the African in me – we are kindred spirits. She wanted to climb everything, ride Aidan’s skateboard,

drink the pool water, take Emma’s glasses, and cuddle up to Jude (who is afraid of monkey’s).

When reprimanding her she gave me the stink eye, and looked at me as if I were the inferior species, then immediately made kissing sounds with her lips to apologize and groom me once again.

Any locals we meet that are in their early twenties or younger, call me Mom. We have adopted a sweet 22 year old named Widhi, who loves to hang out with us. With Google translate, we can have long conversations. She Whatsapp’d me a few nights ago saying she wants to introduce us to a Balinese dish called ‘Tipat Santok.’ She said her friend makes it to sell and she’d like to bring us some. Tofu is dipped into egg and then a tempera powder of some sort, then fried and mixed with spices, peanuts and bean sprouts.

The salad that came with it consisted of sliced pineapple, jicama and green mango, which you dip into a sweet and spicy sauce. It was all delicious.

Stanley, our sweet ‘foster’ dog, is as sweet as ever. She comes and hangs out with us a lot now. Several mornings I’ve walked into the dining area where Emma is working on her school work, and Stanley is laying at her feet under the table.

She is so skinny! I’ve given her a couple doses of deworming medication and I realize it’ll take time to put meat on her bones, but I long to see her fat and healthy.

We gave her her first shampoo this morning. Emma picked her up and brought her over to me where I had the hose running, and she never tried running or snapping, but stood there as we shampoo her coat, then dried her off with a towel. What a wonderfully natured pup! She wags her tail a lot when she greets us, and responds to her name.

For those who know me well, you know that I’m not much of a shopper. If I need something I’m a woman on a mission – get in and get out. Mycah needed a pair of jeans, so today her and I jumped on the scooter and rode over to find some for her. It was painful.

Of the 300 pairs she tried on, all but 2 reached below her calf muscle in length. We’d walk into a store and the Balinese people working were so friendly and sweet, and would look down at her feet then start to glance up, up , up, all the way to her waist – which is about 4” above their heads, and nervously smile knowing they had nothing to fit legs THAT long, but were going to try anyway! They brought out XXXL inseam pants from the very top shelf that’s never approached since giants no longer walk the earth, and they’d still be too short. She eventually tried on mens jeans that sort of worked, and finally after we’d both broken out into a cold sweat, she found some at the ‘Lee’ store.

The cool air that moved over our drenched, exhausted bodies on the scooter ride home, felt so good!

There has been lots of talk concerning volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunami’s, here in Bali. The creatures and I had a family council meeting and looked at a map together.

Mount Agung, which is the worrisome volcano, is in the Karangasem region in the North East. We are clear down close to where it says Denpasar, in the South. Our plan is that if we are exploring and the volcano erupts, we’ll head for the beach. If there’s a tsunami, we’ll head for the volcano. If both happen at the same time, we’ll head to the center somewhere around the BALI text. If we have no cell service and can’t come home and get separated we’ll meet at the monkey forest and wait for Danny to show up in a stolen helicopter. When I asked Danny his advice on what to do if a tsunami hit and a volcano erupted simultaneously, he said…”go sideways!” (Let’s hope he flies better than he gives advice.)

It’s been so hard for us to sit here, knowing that so many people we care about are in hurricane damaged areas and we aren’t there to help them. It makes us want to hot wire a big Coast Guard boat from around here and head out to help…not that we would EVER think about really doing that…

Our son, Jordan, who lives in Florida with his mom, will be arriving tomorrow, and we are so excited to see him! I have a feeling he’s going to love the chaotic scooter rides!

Sailboats and monkey’s

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Max has unfortunately returned to New Zealand. We would have kept him longer if we could have, but classes have resumed and he’s responsible enough to return for them. Before he left we had to do a couple things with him – one of them was to show him the Monkey Temple in Ubud. The monkeys took a liking to him.

They were as cute as ever, and the best part for me was to watch the newborns learn to use their little hands with great concentration and curious minds.

Emma had a visitor too. She always has to be careful with her glasses because they like to run off with them.

Another youngster noticed something interesting in the mesh side pocket to Emma’s backpack, and REALLY wanted it! I’m pretty sure it was just a hair tie.

I love to look at the various interesting statues around Bali, and found this one to be fascinating… I’m not quite sure what’s going on here. I don’t think they are throwing up hairballs, but you never know!

On Thursday evening, we played Futsal with a group from church. Max was amazing! I rugby tackled, which I have not doubt is not allowed, but no one dared challenge me on it either.

Futsal is when soccer is played indoors, which is nice because the field is smaller and you don’t have to worry about losing the ball.

We will be playing again this week.

The other activity we wanted to do with Max, was to rent Hobie cats and sail. Since his parents own a sailboat, he is also used to sailing, so he, Aidan and Emma took one and Jude, Mycah and our friend, Brandon, took another.

This was the first time the creatures had handled a boat on their own since Tanda Malaika, and even though it was a much smaller scale, they still felt a small degree of anxiety. It was good for them to get back out there.

It was wonderful to find a beach that was clean, with water that wasn’t brown!

We decided that we’d have to return to snorkel out a ways to see what we could find.
After about an hour sail, the creatures returned with big smiles on their faces.

They spent a few minutes cooling off before ice cream and a scooter ride back to our home.

What a great group of creatures. I love hanging out with them!

Danny has now landed in Japan, and will be there for about a week before flying the owner to his next destination. On Saturday, our son, Jordan, who lives in Florida, will be joining us for a month. We are excited to have him with us!
We are grateful to be sharing these Balinese experiences as a family.

Trying to make a difference

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It’s no surprise to hear that I am an animal lover. I’ve been a mother to dogs, horses, goats, sugar gliders, chinchillas, fish, salamanders, hamsters, chameleons, pygmy chameleons, hissing cockroaches, chongalolos, a pot belly pig, regular squirrels, llamas, an African rock python, an eel and a hedgehog – to name a few.
As we have traveled, a couple things that REALLY bother me and keep me awake at night, are suffering animals, and suffering elderly people.
Bali certainly has its fair share of both of these, and it just really breaks my heart. In the mornings if I’m running an errand on the scooter, sometimes I’ll see women that have to be in their 80’s with a rope tied around their waists, the other end of the rope tied to a basket woven from palm leaves, and they are walking down the street, dragging the basket, picking up garbage – sweeping and dumping everything into the basket.

These sweet Angels should be sitting reading to a grandchild on their laps, and enjoying their last few years of life in a peaceful, restful manner. Sometimes I see them with a towel on their heads to protect their skin from baskets full of bricks that hey are carrying to construction sites. I love these dear people and want to help them all. I want to know their names and their life stories.
I’ve seen an overwhelming number of thin, weak and wound covered dogs roaming the streets. I carry a small bag of dog food with me on the scooter, so if I see a dog in need I can try feed it. I posted a question on the Bali expat site, asking if anyone had considered opening a sanctuary for Bali dogs. I received several replies stating that the better route is to educate the Balinese on how to take care of pets, and offer free sterilization and vaccinations. A woman by the name of Rhonda Lepsch contacted me, and told me about a program she’d started, (balijetsetpetz.com), and said that on the 15th of every month they have a place where people from the poor communities can bring their dogs and cats to be spayed, neutered and vaccinated for free. Everything they use is donated and the vets that come to operated, donate their time. I told her that the creatures and I would be there on the 15th to help. It was an hour ride on our scooters to the location, so we gassed up at the fancy hand crack gas stations and set out on the days adventure.

When we arrived, Rhonda assigned Mycah to help with check ins and organizing which pet goes in next for surgery.

Jude had to stand by in the operations,

then wash instruments and get them ready for the next surgery,

Max, Aidan and Emma had to take care of pets in recovery,

which included medicating their eyes before they woke completely.

I was the floater between stations to assist in any area that needed it. I’m quite confident that I could neuter a dog if I needed to at this point, but I’d need to watch a few more times to be able to spay them.

I was fascinated with how tiny the ovaries and uterus are on a dog!

We cuddled so many dogs.

We played with puppies,

and tried to be of best help we could with our limited knowledge.

Aidan and I managed to run to a local cafe down the road and bring some food back. I love the way food is placed on a sheet of brown paper then stapled together. No utensils are provided because it is to be eaten with you’re hands.

By the end of the day we smelled like dog, and had been peed on or had blood on us and were ready for outdoor showers and then a dip in the pool.

Ever since we moved in to our villa, a skinny little dog has been stopping by and has not allowed us to come close to it. I has a collar on so I think it’s owned by someone in the neighborhood, but they obviously don’t feed it much or ever pet it. We named it Stanley and have been putting food out for it, and last night he let me pet him for a while and when I rubbed his tummy I realized he was a she. This morning she was asleep by the pool and wagged her tail a couple times to greet us.

Even though we don’t do much, we hope that by the time we leave, all the little actions will have made a big difference. We have so much to be thankful for!

Helmet hair and incense sneezes

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I am a giant. A large woman with constant helmet hair who towers over those around her (aside from her kids). I look around as I walk through a crowd, and at eye level see the creatures. At chest height all around us bob a million little people – like the Oompa Loompa’s in Charle and the chocolate factory. The only difference is that these ones are petite. I feel like my new name should be Helga.

When venturing to the store to purchase clothes hangers, we couldn’t help but notice how tiny they were…for tiny shoulders, and our clothes just fall off them! Kitchen countertops in most homes are at Oompa Loompa height, clothing and shoes come in skinny midget sizes, and seats arranged in waiting areas are small and extremely close together. I’ve noticed that all gazillion times we’ve been pulled over by cops because they see we are white people and tag us as tourists that most likely don’t have Indonesian drivers licenses, they have had us sit down to talk to us so they can ‘tower’ over us and come across as tough. The end result is always the same – slip the a bribe and off you go. Jude, Mycah and I, do finally have 1 year Indonesian driver licenses now though. One policeman told us if we paid him 2 500 000 IDR he would get us 5 year licenses. Luckily we didn’t take his bribe because we found out that on our visas we can only have a 1 year license. In order to get a drivers license here one must take a written test which is only in Indonesian and of course a translator is not permitted, as well as a road test. But, on our visas we cannot get licenses so after a friend from church made a little arrangement for us which involved a 1 000 000 IDR bribe, we simply walked into the police station, paid the bribes, sat and smiled for the camera and walked out with licenses.

Update on Tanda Malaika…she is still sitting on the reef. As far as we know, the person who wants to take her, is still planning on it but we haven’t been updated on when. The GoFundMe money brought in $30 000, and we are so incredibly grateful for your help. $25 000 of it is for her removal from the reef, and the remaining $5000 went to airfares getting us from Bora Bora to New Zealand and then New Zealand to Bali. We cannot thank you enough for your generosity, and please know that as a family we will always be ready to help you in any way we possibly can.

Danny is still gone. He has flown the BBJ from Singapore to Beijing back and forth and may fly the owner to Hong Kong this week. He is doing well and we miss him very much.

We decided that our pool needed a rubber ducky, so we found one at the grocery store, and have been having fun with it! Since we miss marine life, a whale seems to have joined the family too. Our realtors little girl, Mikol, came and swam with the creatures. She’s so cute.

Max is still with us until the 17th, and has been so fun to have around. When we set out on the scooters, he rides on the back of mine with my phone in hand and is the perfect navigator.

For about $5 a person, we can rent surf boards for the day.

The creatures are having blast and a half learning to surf – using the information taught to them in their lesson a couple weeks ago.

They are doing quite well. Here’s Emma!

Aidan…

Jude…

Mycah…

And max, who towers over everyone…

As usual, they got goofy and crashed.

They had so much fun being back in the water. The twins even surfed hand in hand!

On the beach there were all sorts of vendors selling peanuts, which I found fascinating.

And also fruit.

Today we will be joining a woman who once a months gets together with a veterinarian and vaccinates, medicates, spays and neuters dogs. It will be an interesting day as we learn and participate. I’m sure it will be heart breaking, since there are so many homeless and incredibly skinny dogs on this island. I have chatted with people about opening a sanctuary for them but the problem is that when we leave, there will be no one to run it. After talking to many people, including the one we are helping today, we’ve decided that the best approach is to educate people on taking care of dogs and to neuter and spay them to stop the constant birth of litters.
Life is good, and we are so grateful to be able to help where we can, learning constantly as we go along.

Tirta Empul, Tampaksiring, Bali

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A couple of young girls from the Philippines were visiting Bali for few days, and wanted to visit Tirta Empul before leaving – so we did. This Hindu Balinese water temple contains a bathing structure which is famous for its holy spring water.

Apon entering the temple grounds we were given sarongs to wear to keep with the Hindu requirement of keeping our legs covered below the knee.

Emma received a little help tying hers on.

We’ve been so pleasantly surprised to find the men in Bali to be very respectful of women. There’s little to no flirting and absolutely no cat calls. The other day our landlord was over and referred to his wife (in her absence), as the most beautiful woman in the world. It made me so happy to hear.

At the main entrance to the temple, stands a huge statue of Vishnu, a Hindu God named for the supreme consciousness Narayana.

The temple is divided into 3 yards, Jaba Pura (front), Jaba Tengah (central), and Jeroan (inner). Tengah contains 2 pools which are fed from the natural springs, and in this place one is able to wear the appropriate clothing and enter to stand beneath each spout and wash in the healing powers of the holy waters.

It is beautiful to watch, understanding the faith that those participating have. On either side of the main pool, are statues – one of an elephant and one of a dragon.

Several places throughout the temple are altars where sacrifices and offering to the Gods can be made.

We loved quietly walking around, admiring the amazing craftsmanship involved in building the structures.

Some men were re – thatching a roof…

In other areas, men lounged around without a care in the world.

I love their posh lounging areas.

A large, picturesque koi pond provided a beautiful foreground for some of the temple structures.

There were so many places to sit quietly and think for a while.

Our driver’s wife and little girl were fun to watch as they lovingly rubbed noses and cuddled.

It’s easy to feel peace in places like these.
We were told that in the area is a famous restaurant among the local people, and for about $12 we fed all 6 of us a delicious meal

All seated around a beautiful table.

I thought about our sailing friends who recently lost a loved one, and of those out there losing boats and other property to Irma. So much destruction everywhere and it’s not over yet. This is the BVI, where Leopard catamarans like Tanda Malaika were securely stored – one of the safest hurricane holes in the area.

I’m filled with so much gratitude for the road we have walked, the trials we have endured and the lessons we have learned. What we have gained in friendships and knowledge is irreplaceable. I have found peace with it all. I am so grateful for it all. Every bit of it. On a daily basis I have written back and forth to so many who have lost boats and are feeling so lost. I feel their pain. I cry with them. I let them talk about the rollercoaster of emotions they are feeling and in the end they feel better…until they need to talk once again. It’s my turn now – to give back some TLC to sailors in distress, and I humbly take my place with immense love from the safety of Bali. How is it, that I am so blessed?