Saturday, January 13, 2018

Controlled freefall

115 people ate at our house Monday through Wednesday. Even I was surprised when I did the quick count.

Monday, January 8, 2017
We love the group that comes over for a study - they're interesting and as absorbed as well are in learning together. We've had so much rain in the last week, but it doesn't rain until everyone is gone.

Two helpers are hard at work today. One is the regular cleaner. We have so many guests that a clean home is a priority. She washes the porch where we'll meet, and then makes 3 pots of tea and a few trays of cookies for the study.

The other lady is a cook from the neighboring hill. She tells me, "Don't bother with Western food. These women won't like it. I will cook something for them."
The women behind the scenes: Ibus A and S

She leaves for the market, spending $40 on chicken, vegetables, and red rice. When she comes back, she gets to work on the meal for tomorrow's arisan, a neighborhood group of women that meets monthly. They're coming for lunch tomorrow.

Sumathi is staying the week - what a treat to have a friend in the house. I feel like a horrible host this week: there's so much going on that I just ask her to help herself as I cover the bases for our gatherings. I just can't keep track of anything more. Maaf, Ibu Sumathi! She's a good sport about it.
We squeeze in a few walks

I sleep in. HELP! I was up in the night from 1:00 to 4:00am so I set my alarm for 7:00. That should have given me plenty of time to rest and still get ready. Except that I wake at 8:30 - I didn't hear the alarm and W's prepping for next week's classroom, sitting on the porch.

I have to sort out my head first. Sumathi helps me set up for lunch and I walk around the porch and the kitchen a few times to remember the flow of lunch and what has to be prepared.

Waldemar goes to pick up 30 Bariton Bakery food boxes: inside are a cup of water and a few snacks. The arisan custom is to pick up a box, snack for a while, and then eat lunch together. Sometimes there's official business or an update on a project we are supporting.

The official start time is 10:30 but women begin to arrive at 10. The first group sits on the porch, enjoying the breeze coming down the valley. The chimes ring an accompaniment to their chatter. All 20+ women are accomplished: some have worked in education, politics, medicine, or are otherwise connected.

Gradually, more ladies come and spread out in the house. They've been here before, but with IbuWi who lived here for 40 years. The house looks a lot different with Westerners in it (including emptier).

IbuWi is still part of this group. She takes home all the vases left behind for me. (Good thing that I bought a few at a wholesaler last week.) She also has the guys manhandle a non-working washing machine down from the laundry roof into the back of her jeep. She leaves a non-heating water dispenser and another old washing machine: the helpers are welcome to take them or we'll toss them.

The arisan women have known each other for 30-50 years. I'm the newcomer. I understand so little, but can converse a little more this time around. Sumathi can understand most of it, but says she's rusty in speaking after being out of Indonesia for the past year and a half.
Wow, I owe the arisan a lot of money. I paid for September and October, but I don't have a receipt so can't remember if it's this group or another. I'm asked for 4 months fees and pay up without complaint.
The treasurer gives me back a portion for food costs, so it's all good. The women say they liked the food, so IbuA was right - they probably wouldn't have enjoyed a Western lunch.

Canadian friends of ours brought along a few suitcases of scrapbooking goodies two years ago. (Thanks, Trudy!) We're still using up their stickers, papers, glue, and other supplies. Today, we set up to make a photo page. The gals ooh and ahh over the sample pages, getting ideas on how to set up and personalize the craft. Some of the gals got the announcement via WhatsApp and have brought their photos. They choose materials and make some beautiful family pages.
A few didn't get the updated message: some take supplies home so they can work at leisure. "I don't have a husband and my days can be long and lonely," says one older lady. "This will be fun when I am by myself."

When they leave, the helpers help us clean up. The floor is sticky, but they'll be back next afternoon to carry on.
Friends from the local seminary drop by to say hi to Sumathi. It's great to see our language teacher again, who brings her 1 1/2 yr old miracle son (she's in her mid-40s). We drink tea and eat the yummy baking they brought along as a gift. I'm just not up to setting up another food tray.

During a breather, Sumathi asks me, "What are you making for movie night?"

I'm startled by the question and shake my head. "I don't know yet. I can do only one event at a time." With today done, I'll start to think through the next thing. I'm pretty sure we have enough food in the freezer and fridge for the big dinner tomorrow night.

Monthly movie night is tonight. Sure enough, when I wake, I have a general menu in mind. I make a list on the fridge for reference, to make sure we stay on track. W sets up the projector and has someone help him move furniture for the onslaught tonight.

Last night, we thawed 4 commercial-sized packages of frozen sausages. Sumathi starts grilling them as I head to the grocer for last-minute supplies. (What a help she is, my right hand in saving me that hour or two of prep.)

And here they come! Love these young people.
When I get back, we boil water to cook 3 huge packages of spaghetti noodles. Though the pot is very big, it can only take one package at a time. Because we live at an elevation where water takes longer to boil, it takes over a half hour for each pack of noodles, refilling from the drinking water dispenser after each packet and reheating.

While Sumathi keeps grilling, I pour olive oil over the cooked spaghetti to keep the noodles from sticking to each other. I'll warm them before our guests come at 6:30. I cook a big pot of coconut curry sauce for the sausages and heat spaghetti sauce, too.

Just enough room, if you squeeze in
The helpers arrive at 3:00 to make 2 pots of rice and a Sunda dish with potatoes and tiny meatballs in spicy sauce (which the ladies loved yesterday). They cut greens for salad (minuscule pieces despite 3 months of "can you make it bigger please?" haha), and chop fruit for a big bowl of fruit and yoghurt.

A young law student shows up 1 1/2 hours early with a cheery, "I'm here to help!" We send her to the "dirty" kitchen where the helpers are chopping and sorting. Sumathi and I are almost done in the main kitchen before clearing off counters and setting out plates and cutlery.
By 6:00, there's a crowd and they keep coming. S counts 75 but a few come and go all evening, as usual. We start the meal at 6:30 - and whew! It disappears into the long line of students and young professionals.
One of the bittersweet things is saying goodbye: one gal is moving to Germany this month. "Bye, Mom, I'll miss you so much," she says. I'll miss you too, sweet young lady.
We offer the caution to consider those behind them in line. "Please go back for seconds once everyone is though, ok?" but some plates are heaped inches deep. (But who cares, as long as everyone gets food and the food gets eaten, not tossed, right?)
A regular and his visiting brother honoring us during their limited time together.
As the food dwindles, during a second lineup, I ask the helpers to put supper on their plates. "Stash them in the back! There will be nothing for you if you don't take some now."

And sure enough, there's not even a grain of rice left (disappointing, since they usually have plenty of leftovers to take home.)
Just hanging out to talk...
During intermission, all the baking in the house gets eaten. We've put out the last of the cookies, all the snacks people have brought, and set out the fruit. It's gone in no time!
Celebrating a few birthdays, including for 2 Claudias
The classic and awful movie Galaxy Quest is a total hit. There's screaming, laughter, and afterward, lively conversation. People get up and move around, forming and re-forming new chat groups. They drift from living room to kitchen to porch, refilling their water glasses so they can talk some more.
"Please go through the neighborhood as quietly as you can. Try not to wake the neighbors, ok?" The house is empty by 11:00pm. Sumathi helps us close up before we all fall into our beds exhausted.

It's a grading and writing day, between reordering the house. I put some tablecloths and a few slipcovers from chairs and sofa in the wash.

Since we're washing up, it might be time to change the LR from cream to purple. (Thanks to IKEA for their decades-old slipcover, so well-made that it has traveled to Indo with us.) I leave only one big picture in each space. Empty. A fresh start. Since the weather is the same all year, I appreciate a change in decor more than ever.
Before and after
The evening study is at the Bamboo Shack. We have so much fun with these guys. We alternate facilitating with having others lead: Beba and Alice agree to be in the hot seat next week.

Waldemar meets a friend for breakfast. Pascal has returned from his home village, bringing a hand-painted batik shirt for W and a length of fabric for me. Very pretty! (Perhaps I can sew a skirt with it after things calm down?)

For brunch, Sumathi and I walk with DrW to Ethnic, a restaurant nearby. The food is good. The company is even better. Our friend sneaks to the front counter to pay while we're not looking, (hey, thanks!) and then we walk home together.

We considered going to Pasar Baru (the big central market) but S is not feeling 100%. We relax instead. In the early afternoon, W and I take S to the airport. She makes it to Singapore safely by evening.

On the way home, W and I stop along the street at a wholesale flower market. It's late in the day, so for about $6, we get 6 big bunches of white mums and little purple stems, plus 5 "Queen of the Night" stems (white flowers that release their fragrance at night). When I open the newspaper to clip the flowers ... "Eeew! Yuck!" the mum are crawling with scale and mealy bugs. I strip the leaves into the sink and make 3 huge arrangements. (Live and learn. I'll check next time at the florist shed.) The 2-3'-tall bouquets are beautiful anyway.

After cleaning away bugs and floral debris, I'm not hungry. We snack and veg out with a TV program. Then it's bedtime. Thank you, God! The house is very quiet indeed.

What a lousy start. I forget about my 6am walk with DrW. She kindly WhatsApps her faithless friend that she's off, after waiting in vain for me to show up. I'm puttering, getting ready for a big baking day.

One of the guys from the neighboring hill comes to pick the avocado tree. We have promised a full day's wage for picking the tree: someone may have to come back in a week or two to finish if all are not ready. The guy picks for 2 hours, and tells us the next crop will be done in a week or two.

However, he asks for the full amount, saying no one would come back on the second day. (I arranged this through an acquaintance; she says she probably misunderstood me.) W discusses and debates the arrangement with the picker, who is adamant. In the end, to keep harmony, W gives him the full amount but won't rehire him. I feel the turmoil of negotiations in a language we have not yet mastered.

It's a catch-up day, too. I have an online class to grade. Looks like there are 24 students enrolled, which is a multi-hour endeavor. They each write 4 things per week ... but I prefer to wait until everyone's assignments are in so the grading is equitable. That means a long day of grading ahead.

IbuA spends a full day baking to replenish the total devastation of everything food-like on Wednesday. "I'll be back Tuesday, and continue then," she promises.

Read more:
*Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.

Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Psalm 150 NIV

(What else needs to be said?)

No comments:

Post a Comment