Friday, September 23, 2016

"Do you like cooking?" Ummmm...

My soul is begging for an art date. Anyone game?

Way up on the neighbor's wall = the gardener trimming the hedge with a machete. (The red swing frame is 7' tall.)
The muggy air (76% humidity in the house) makes us a bit lethargic. We've fallen into routines of where we go, though we meet with new and old friends. Groceries. Errands. Church and community meetings. Meals. I need friends to go to an art class with!

Every Tuesday and Friday, I stroll out the gate to the little park a half-block away. The Ibu-ibus (women) have the security guard start the boombox for our half-hour of exercise.

Dr. P is leading one morning. She welcomes me with a smile and gives some clarification in English before switching to Indonesian. "This is our national program. In the hospitals, they will do it once a week to keep the elderly moving."

What a forward-thinking idea! (Imagine trying to roust American patients from their hospital beds to march in place and chop at their arms.) Part of our routine involves slapping the wrists, forearms, upper arms, and shoulders. "These are pressure points that help circulation." It sure helps relax my shoulders before I get to work.
A typical downpour: rain sprays off every surface
Monday, September 19.2016
I'm in language school every Monday and Friday. We drive a half hour to the school. Across a little table, the tutor and I point and hold and move objects. I'm remembering so much more, but it's a little at a time.

In the corner of my office, a roll of vinyl has been slowly collapsing into folds. The church nearby staples 5'X5' posters on wooden frames to highlight their themes. After Christmas, they pulled off the vinyl and gave us a few sheets. Now's the time to use one of them: movie night guests sometimes have trouble finding our gate. Surely a sign that size is be big enough.

I find the cheap acrylic paints we bought at a stationers and pull an old brush from the rolled-up brush-storage in the cabinet. A short exploration pops up a thick blue Sharpee marker. Ahhhh. My soul starts to unwind as the ideas come.
First, lettering: Movie Night, 6:30pm. Everyone welcome. It starts to pour. The rain splatters off the tiles on the porch. I drape the edges of the sign over a chair, a table, and an old sofa. My legs are getting soaked but the paint is not running.

It's a bit bare. Should I add a graphic? Maybe a clip of film? That works. But then, because the sheet is still huge and white, I add a film reel. (Scale: the red tiles are 4"X8".) Good enough.

Waldemar is on an overnight visa run to Kuala Lumpur. (I did it last week.) He comes back with a slight flu that keeps him under the weather for a few days.

Tuesday and Wednesday
It's movie night on Wednesday. The freezer is full of baking: we have to keep things in the fridge or freezer or the moist air collapses anything containing absorbent sugar or flour.

An older part-timer comes at 2pm and heads for the market. She's teaching the younger gal how to cook fried rice (nasi goreng). They burn a few things and the house smells. (W gets a fan to air the house: we don't have a kitchen fan because the breeze comes up the valley through the livingroom, kitchen, and up to the laundry terrace.)

They do a lot of dishes since I've been cooking all morning and there is no automatic dishwasher. They also mop splatters off the floor.

The helpers joke around with our neighbor
- FYI on Indonesian kitchens -
Oh, it might interest you to know that we have 2 kitchens, which is typical in older houses. When we moved in, there were no faucets at the sink and the kitchen layout was strange (to us.) The fridge and bottled water dispenser sat in the living room.

We rearranged things a bit: we bought a counter-top water base for the bottled water everyone drinks and moved the fridge into the kitchen. It's a good thing W is handy. He added faucets at the tile sinks. On the white formica nailed over the base cabinets, I laid 2 black floor tiles and a cutting board (made by a handyman from scrap teak).

The oven sat against the back wall, unusable because the mice had chewed out the lining; one or two of the range burners worked. The landlord paid us back after repair guys fixed it = they hauled the oven to our driveway, worked all day, and gave it back with 3 gas burners on auto-spark and one that ignites with a hand-lighter. I turn on the gas and flick that lighter over the oven burner to start it, too. The oven temperature settles at 425oF (225-ish C) so it's a "manual control": in other words, I open and shut the door not to burn what I'm baking.

Out the back door is another sink. We bought a little metal table and a 2-burner compor (gas stove) for frying: that's where the ibus make the fried rice or fried chicken or fried vegetables or fried ... well, you get the picture. It's called the dirty or kotor kitchen. There's a strange 70s throwback, a tiled water reservoir back there, too. (It holds hundreds of gallons of water). I guess if the pressure got too low, the former owners put on the pump to get water on the hill where we live.

Someone always asks me at these dinners if I like cooking. This week, I finally think about that. Do I? I sure cook a lot and it feels easy. But do I like making food?

Actually, the cooking could be replaced with any number of creative things. What I like is to replace our stressors and oft-interrupted routines with activities that require no thought. After years of cooking, the menu and recipes develop on the go. I open the fridge to get the first few ingredients ... and pretty soon a few hours have passed and we have a big spread to share with guests.

Cool, right? That's enough about kitchens.----

We pray for no rain: we've had floods down the hill and that's a great deterent to going outside. God gives us a dry evening.

At 6:30, people start to arrive. Most students sprawl on the floor or on pillows, while older adults sit on chairs or at the table. Tonight,  30 or more come for supper - and then watch the movie -

- before an intermission and dessert (fruit, cookies, and more). When the movie is done, we discuss it and hang around to visit.

This month we watch Secondhand Lions, a family film from the 90s. Everyone loves it. Well almost everyone. A film buff from France grouses about how simplistic the plot and quick the resolutions are. "You don't just move on. What happens to the mother? And the plane crash? It's not that easy." No, it's not. But this is old Hollywood for kids.

We ask what it means to live life fully. We talk about how complex the "good guys" and the "bad guys" can be. There's a lively discussion as usual.

When everyone has eaten supper, I put away the food - we give it away to poorer attendees and split the rest between friends and the helpers. And the helpers do dishes and gossip in the "dirty" (frying) kitchen in the back.

"Thank you. I met so many people," said a newcomer. "May I come next month too?" Half a dozen new guests leave their WhatsApp numbers for the group announcements.

Walking day. Hurrah! What a relief to get outside. Waldemar, Dr W, and I take Gypsy down the hill.

Then we cut across the river and the neighborhoods for coffee with Angela, who lives nearby - but is under the weather today.

We get home before noon after about 5 km (3 miles) of ups and downs. Not bad. Not bad. And no rain, either!

Below are some photos from last week's walk, for your enjoyment.
The last shall be first, said Jesus. Well, here's how the walk ended.
Natural caves and waterfalls 
Gypsy explores
Waldemar ducks through a tunnel
The streams pour down after heavy rains
We pause at a stream crossing, with a waterfall in the background
This footbridge is pretty advanced, compared to some
Lettuce and green onions grow in the hills
Everything wet has to be dried ...
Bunnies. Pets or rabbit saté coming up 
We poke our heads inside a ramshackle building. Hey, a mushroom farm!
And more and more often, barbed wire across the paths we used to roam, as the wealthy acquire the hillsides
Read more:
*If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea. 
Isaiah 48:18 NIV

*The kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Romans 14:17–18

*Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. Colossians 3:16 ESV

*Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1: 2-6 NIV

Moravian Prayer: Jesus, you have shown us the example of a suffering servant; yet, we admit to self-absorption. We are embarrassed by our fascination with the superficial and temporal. Guide us, Jesus, beyond our own needs and desires. Teach us that peace and joy come through service in your name and that our truest identities are found in you. Amen.

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