Sunday, September 7, 2014

Color and courage

Wednesday, September 3

It's our 37th anniversary. Sumathi surprises us with a big Black Forest cake, decorated with whipped cream, strawberries, and chocolate. We each have a piece as class starts, then share it with the other classes at break. The taste is excellent - and how we need the treat ... because we have 50-60 verbs coming our way when break is done. Oh my!

We rush home after class to meet the landlord and talk about the bugs. Still the bugs, dripping things from the ceiling in every room. I wrote a list for him, but we get about half of them discussed. We've taken the cabinet doors off some of the kitchen cabinets because the mildew and mold smell is too strong when they're closed. Bonus: the kitchen looks brighter. Mind you, moving the blue fridge to the other kitchen helped, too.

Our promised delivery of chairs for the kitchen and living room never arrives. We' were given two choices - delivery during the day (10am-5pm) or night (5-10pm). We stay up until 10:30pm and then turn out the lights. No happy delivery to end the evening. Still, we're glad to be married. There's no one I'd rather be fulfilling this call with!


The maid arrives at 6:30. It's a struggle to communicate what we want done. We're still doing the initial cleanup in many of the rooms. She giggles when I ask her to record her questions on Google Translate. But we have to leave to catch the bus, though we have no idea how much she understood.

Cultural day at the batik factory
Today is cultural day at language school. Our driver makes three tries at finding the batik factory. On the third road, I remark to W about the "Batik" sign that flashed by on one side. Being strangers, we shouldn't point it out, right? We zip by but when everyone is convinced we've missed it again, I mention it. We backtrack. Yup, that's the one.

There's a huge fig tree in the courtyard. The driver parks, we pile out, and our lessons begin. One fellow is stamping wax onto rolls of thin white cotton. He matches the pattern by aligning dots, much like a stencil. The fabric gets dyed with a base color before two gals begin to work on them. They stream wax over patterns, pick out details, and then loop the cotton over a stand to cool.

Heating the wax
"How long does it take to acquire this level of skill?" I ask our guide. She says it takes at least 5 years to be quick and accurate with the wax wand. Each women makes about $4.50/day for her work.

The guide shows us five basic patterns: food, bamboo, the traditional dagger, a waterfall motiv, and army items (grenades, rifles, etc.) Apparently there's an army base nearby.

On the porch, we're handed a white cotton square. "Sketch something," they tell us. I use my pen to outline a Space Needle, an apple, a maple leaf like on the Canadian flag, and a fir tree.

a 5-second sketch

Wax stylus
The workers heat up globs of wax and show us how to fill a stylus and draw on the cotton. First, we blow into the stylus to clear it. I'm bad at that; the wax drips onto the cotton, regardless. When I'm done with the outline, one of the artists comes over and adds dots inside the apple, curlicues in the background and leaves inside my Canadian maple leaf. Oh well. They dye our cloth blue and hang it to dry before ironing the square to set the dye.

What shall we draw?

Dressed up by an expert

Dying the fabric
Afterwards, we hop out on the street before the school. We have to dash home to see what the maid has done and grab our suitcases. Oh my, she's rearranged a few things to her liking, most of which I don't care about. She's not quite finished the work I assigned but she did a few other things. I asked her to toss the "maggot picture" with the gorgeous frame ... or to take the back off and clean it. She grimaces and motions that she will toss it. But when I come home, she asks if she can keep it and clean it up at her place. Oh, why not? She's made lunch noodles with Bango-flavored shrimp (sweet soy) and a vege dish. Yummy! We lock the door behind us as she rides away on the back of her husband's motorcycle, smiling and grasping the big picture in front of her.

Not exactly a masterpiece, but a smiling group
We walk out of the neighborhood to catch a taxi to the rail station. On the way, we stop at Rasa Bakery, highly recommended by Mrs A at the church in Jakarta. It's our Indonesian son-in-law's birthday tomorrow: we splurge on our obligatory travel treats. (We love this IES Jakarta tradition: every time someone travels, they bring goodies back for the staff to share.)

The train is trouble-free. We eat barbecue chips and chocolates on the ride. We're exhausted from the busy week and staying up late. The B's driver picks us up at the station about 7:30pm and takes us to church for small group. Traffic is hideous. The groups are in full swing and we catch up with the pastor during their table talk. It's after 10 when we get to the flat, where we fall into bed and sleep the night away. It may be our last stay: an intern arrives in 2 weeks and will live here.


W catches a ride with Dave to a seminar with Rev. Alton Garrison of the USA. The Seahawks are playing, but the guys are tied up during the second half. There's a nice turnout of local pastors and W says the information is good.

Gigi (Dave's wife) gives us a pretty clock as a housewarming gift and we're off. We pick up Johanna (Alton's wife) and head for a mall. We have a fabulous Thai lunch. Really fabulous. Gigi orders way too much - except that we fall on it and devour the exquisite foods!

We line up for foot massages and get shushed because we're laughing and talking. Gigi shows me the Zara Home store and takes Joanna next door for fashions. By the time she comes back, I have found the clearance sale corner. I snag a bright blanket and curtains - silk, cotton, in patterns and stripes - for tablecloths. Gigi finds a few things as well, before meeting with her musicians at church.

It's choir volunteer weekend and dozens show up for supper and rehearsal. I find myself lip-synching after just a few vocal exercises and my voice never does come back. I have no idea what words I'm singing after the song is through - I'm totally silent in the moment while my lips are moving and my breath goes in and out. It's somewhat surreal. (I knew I'm not a singer but this auto-shut-off proved it to me.) I'm called to obedience and showing up. I stand with the rest, whose excitement at singing makes me happy. We're done about 9:15 and get to the flat at 10:30pm.


W and I head back to Zara Home and new markdowns. We buy 4 bags of sheets and duvet covers for our beds and windows. (I wanted white curtains to replace the dirty gold ones ... and these will do very well.) Instead of $140, the beautifully embroidered cotton duvets are $20. The $80-120 flat sheets are $10. The $180 blankets are $20. I'm not surprised. Like usual, God brings things our way when the time is right. We take a taxi to drop the purchase off at the flat.

The security guard insists on flagging down a bus outside the gates of the house. We tell him we are taking the angkot (a direct ride) to the mall where W will check out electronics and I need to buy walking shoes. The bus driver (not our angkot) promises he goes to the mall.

But he turns another way and takes us downtown near the church, to the bus lot at Block M, where we were just this morning. The driver points us to another bus in a long queue and takes our money. The heat is a sweltering 95oF and the air is still. We hop on the second bus. And wait and wait. I get a raging headache from the pollution and heat. We've had no lunch since our early and light breakfast. The bus starts to drive, but pulls up behind 6 non-moving buses in a one-lane turnout.

I've had it. W humors me by hopping out and flagging a taxi to the mall. (Of course we sit in traffic for 3/4 hour.) Our total commute? Over 2-1/4 hours instead of our 20-minute ride on the angkot. I'm faint in the heat and my blouse is soaked with sweat. What a relief to hit the mall's air-con and grab a bite at 2:30pm. I find some shoes but the guy at the electronic store follows W around so he can't do his research. "He wanted to sell me everything I look at," W grumbles later.

We head back downtown to church to line up at 4:30. I follow a new friend up onto the stage and lose her in the dark. But I find a place near W and the choir sings. (I lip-synch automatically. Did we really rehearse these songs last night? I sort-of remember a few parts of some of the choruses.) The band is amazing as always. I find Juliana in the pew and sit with her. Dr. Garrison plays a few songs on the piano and speaks on the hope that sustains us. It ministers to my soul.

The staff congregates afterwards for supper. It's my first "hot meal" with them. Usually I'm with someone when everything gets going and we head for supper when everyone is almost done. Yummy food as usual. We sing Happy Birthday to Mario and enjoy the Bandung treats. (They are good! Avisha was right!)


I'm up at 5am. I thought W was setting an alarm so we could leave early so I don't go back to bed. Nope. He sleeps until after 6, we eat some cookies and tea, and head out just before 7.

God's gift to W: there is hardly any traffic on the road. Whaaaat?! We'll have a 2002 Honda CRV to Bandung for the next while; perhaps a newer car is becoming available. This one drives great and has 50K on it. But we haven't driven since Seattle and W hasn't driven on the left side for over a decade (and barely then.) I'm white-knuckled and in a cold sweat the whole way as he figures things out. It takes under 2-1/2 hours door to door, unbelievably fast. (We often sit in traffic for 5 hours, just on the shuttle.)

We unpack, go for lunch, and W departs for town. I do loads of laundry, recover our bedding, and label the bedding for the correct rooms. The chairs are delivered and the two young guys try to figure out how things go together. Lest they ruin the furniture, I give them a generous tip and send them off with assurances that my husband is very handy.

He is. He comes home and assembles the seats in a jiffy.

Chirping. I told W the other day that it sounded like a bird was in the house. He assured me it came from outside but tonight I find out who's making the racket. It's the house lizards! Hopefully they are hard at work. Three come swooping across the kitchen wall from the garage, clinging to the plaster and chirping away. Ugh. Useful. Still ugh. W scrapes a dried lizzy-poop off the light switch where they sat while we were away. We still have school work. So I have to send this off and get to work.

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