Thursday, July 7, 2016

Ramadan 2016 ends

Friend-visit online: love this lady (and her cat is cute)
Tuesday, July 5
Guests drop by all week. It's polite to visit people and bring a small food gift: dates, cookies, or part of a meal. I do some visiting online as well.

We've planned a few errands but most shops are closed. Employees have left for their villages to spend the last two days of Ramadan, Idul fitri or Lebaran with their families.

W and I have forgotten to eat breakfast. By noon, we're hungry. I call ahead to make sure the cheap Chinese restaurant is serving food. Yes, they answer the phone and say they're open. We're on our way, after ACE Hardware to buy screws for W's repairs and a binder for teaching notes for my upcoming session.

When we pull into the parking lot, the restaurant is closed. Did I call a different location? Maybe, or ... something. The uncertainty of "what will we find when we get there" defies expectations, time after time. We shrug it off to eat at the restaurant next door.

Open house: always ready for guests
We can choose to "Boil" or "Grill", either a soup or self-sauté at the table. We choose the soup-for-two. Waldemar says, "Probably more filling." They have a delicious cooling avocado coffee drink to tamp the fiery chilis in the side sauces. It feels familiar: oh, wait! It's the Japanese version of Swiss raclette and fondue.

Hindus, Chinese Buddhists, and Westerners are eating at this time of day (2pm); Muslims will wait to eat until sundown on their final fasting day of the month.

Some restaurants stay open, with servers standing around on their regular shifts. But no foods are cooked or drinks served until dark. People make no apology about "mixing" church and state. Islam informs all parts of the life of its followers. We marvel at how shy Christ's followers feel about doing the same.
Monetary gifts are expected by kids:
resellers stand at the roadside near the banks.
They charge a small percentage
for "clean money," exchanged with used bills

We wake exhausted and sleep-deprived after a night of loud Loud LOUD prayers and popping fireworks. I take out my earplugs at 5am.

"Did you rest?" I ask W.

He shakes his head, "Wow, that was noisy. You?"

"I woke every hour or so and the volume was the same. Loud."

Our house is somewhat sheltered from mosque turrets and kampung (village) noise, but last night we heard at least ten loudspeakers in the neighborhood and across the valley, volume turned up to full blast. I don't remember this decibel level from last year.
"A month of blessing" ends
In the morning, the neighborhoods are empty and eerily quiet. Everyone else must be sleeping in. The dog strolls around with us, looking for companions. No such luck.

It's time to bake a few kinds of cookies. We try to keep goodies on hand since a lot of people come and go. The kitchen stays cool (75oF/ 24C). There's no kitchen fan but windows and doors are open to allow breezes sweep through the house.
Puff pastry cookies (before)

I'm hungry for Spätzle, homemade German noodles. (My recipe here.) The ingredients are basic. The process is easy: stir together flour, salt, eggs, a pinch of nutmeg, and water. Rest the dough for 20 minutes. Boil. Drain. Ohhhhh. So good. It's our taste of home while Indonesian families around us celebrate with their traditions and traditional recipies.

My hair is so annoying. I've cut it 4 times in the last 2 weeks, trying for a shape I can live with. That's it. I'm done! No wonder my grandma (same face shape) wore hers in a bun and refused to fuss. I'll be growing out layers to return to the usual cut!
grrrrrr! Hair fail
In the evening, DrH and her daughter Alice drop by. "We've cooked too much," they say.

They've brought a huge meal of rendang (spicy beef), potatoes, traditionally wrapped rice, tofu, eggs, and chilis. They - and we - have already eaten supper, so we bring out the tea and chat - and tuck the food into the fridge for tomorrow. Something to look forward to! We send them home with a plate of fresh cookies.

The night was quiet. We ask neighbors about it.

"Oh, the loudest night? The prayers and reading mark the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Idul Fitri." Ah. 

But last night was a night for sleeping. Makes us happy.
More pedestrians and motors (motorcycles) are on the roads as we walk Gypsy. Groups of ojeks (motorcycle taxis) with very old people, youngsters, and everyone between head to gravesides, where families will honor their loved ones.

Zoom. They pass us going to the graveyard. And zoom - they're already done and going home as we finish our walk.
Only the 10" spiders are busy: see the legs (those are not twigs)

I wonder if there's fruit in the jungle on the other side of the wall. We wander down to the green gate in the wall of the empty lot next door.
Open the door in the backyard
to a tropical paradise
The gate creaks open. We dodge, avoiding the nest of paper ants on the posts. Enormous (4-foot) leaves welcome us into a wild jungle of banana and avocado trees, vines, and overgrown paths.
Those are big leaves
The dog runs ahead. Whew: he bumps the web of an enormous spider that spreads across the steps. I see it quiver and slap the web out of the way with a vine. The spider is two hands wide.
A quick shot of the spidery monster. Glad I saw him before he dropped on me.
W follows me up the stairs and photographs the 10" spider
We dust off the webs and knock mud from our shoes back at the house. The feast DrH left behind yesterday makes a perfect lunch. The rice is wrapped in a traditional weave.

We spend the afternoon visiting. Our first stop is with the neighborhood secretary and his wife. They are hospitable and welcome us to their home, providing tea and cookies. They are kind, well-educated, and patient with us. W can chat and understand most of the conversation. I catch more than half, much more than expected. (I understand better than I can speak.)

We have a gift of thanks for the head of the neighborhood council. But where does he live? We've never been so we'll have to ask someone. Every village is divided into neighborhoods with their own elected councils and Pak RT serves as head for a year or two.

Hey, we're passing Albert's house - a friend from church. Is he in the same council group?

We call Albert from his gate and are welcomed in. More treats! His wife provides sweet tea and banana pie. Sooo good. We compare the receipts for garbage and security collections (services of the neighborhood council). The names are the same. Yay. Albert knows where the council president lives.

"I'll walk you down," he offers.

We talk and pray together before our walk together. No one's home so we walk back past Albert's and then home.
Gypsy is always happy to explore.
Night falls at 5:50pm as the prayers resound from the speakers atop the mosques, a cacophony of voices and desires.
Indonesian reality check: I love baths.
But our stone bathtubs were repurposed as ponds and
suspended over the drainage canal in the back yard
Read more:
*The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. Zephaniah 3:15

*Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

Moravian Prayer: King of kings and Lord of lords, empower us to stand firm as we continue to await your return. Give us renewed strength. Keep us alert and equip us for standing up against the evils of this dark world! Amen.

C. S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain, on obedience and sin:
In obeying, a rational creature consciously enacts its creaturely role, reverses the act by which we fell, treads Adam’s dance backward and returns.
Traditional doctrine points to a sin against God, an act of disobedience, not a sin against the neighbour. And certainly, if we are to hold the doctrine of the Fall in any real sense, we must look for the great sin on a deeper and more timeless level than that of social morality.

This sin has been described by Saint Augustine as the result of Pride, of the movement whereby a creature (that is, an essentially dependent being whose principle of existence lies not in itself but in another) tries to set up on its own, to exist for itself. Such a sin requires no complex social conditions, no extended experience, no great  intellectual development. From the moment a creature becomes aware of God as God and of itself as self, the terrible alternative of choosing God or self for the centre is opened to it.

This sin is committed daily by young children and ignorant peasants as well as by sophisticated persons, by solitaries no less than by those who live in society: it is the fall in every individual life, and in each day of each individual life, the basic sin behind all particular sins: at this very moment you and I are either committing it, or about to commit it, or repenting it.

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