Friday, June 15, 2018

Nature edition: summer all the time

Wednesday, June 13, 2018
It's absolutely a beautiful summer ... still. Oh wait. It's always gorgeous here - flowers, green leaves, and sunshine.

But we're getting crabbier, the more sleep-deprived we get. It's comforting to know that in a few more days, everyday life will resume. People will eat and drink during sunlight hours and have energy to work.

This week, families return to their villages or tribal centers. Repairs are delayed. Errands are deferred. Employees, household helpers, craftsmen, etc. have disappeared.

Our neighbors bemoan the need for cooking and cleaning, which they are used to having done for them. People joke about the big cities being the safest and most dangerous during this week. While there are fewer cars around, those are driven by their owners - who haven't been behind the wheel since last year's Ramadan.

In a week, shops will reopen, work will start again, and we can refocus on the tasks ahead. W drops me off so I can shop for groceries while he goes to the glassmaker.

I walk past a painted archway - and look down on houses in the valley. It's a typical neighborhood entry: narrow, steep, and the passage to a whole village tucked away from the main street.

Our older helper comes for a half day and full pay. Using malinjo leaves and berries from the tree in the backyard, she cooks a sour soup that I love. And she takes home a few extras - some cookies, small gifts, and a smile - she's happy to have the week off.

Our friend Alice is hosting guests from Bali, Russia, and Indonesia at our place this week. She makes sure they are settled in: her own house is equally full of relatives and friends. She'll order Go-Clean to tidy up after everyone.

Tourist buses discharge their passengers at the hotels and pull up to park in empty lots along the streets. Traffic is crazy in the evening as people head home.

The evening study is cancelled, so we visit near home. W and I walk through the neighborhood, calling out greetings, visiting neighbors, and wishing them God's blessings.

"Watch out for your things," warns a neighbor. "The next days have the highest crime rate, since many of us are not at home."

The cacophony of sound goes on all night: chants, prayers, speeches, and firecrackers. It's an all-night buzz. I shove in ear plugs and sleep most of it away.

We go for an early morning walk. The flowers along the way are gorgeous, whether in gardens or growing wild along the roads.
Red tree roots glow in the morning light
White bulbs shine at the side of the street
Blooms within blooms: bromeliads capture rain in miniature water gardens
Shrubs light up a wealthy neighbor's gate
Shortly after 7, we're back at the house. It's a religious and family holiday - and we miss our families. We make a few calls. The time difference is 14 hours (we're ahead) so everyone is headed for bed as we're getting started.

For some reason, I'm in the mood for scones. So I pull out the Fischer scone mix from Seattle and whip up a few for W and myself. Blueberry yoghurt subs for clotted creme. And an old jar of IKEA lingonberry jam replaces lemon curd. It's our own version of a comfort breakfast.

We eat overlooking the garden. Orchid roots droop in tangles from the gnarled guava tree. Pink zinnias tower over the gardenia bush and stalks of white ginger blossoms. Sweet fragrances drift toward us on the breeze. The morning turns cool after an initial sunny hour or two: 72oF (21oC). Brrr.

In the late morning, I walk to Dr H's house. Families are sitting outside on every street, visiting and chit-chatting. Kids chase around their many little cousins.

Dr H and I visit a friend in hospital. It's Mary's birthday but she's spending it in recovery from knee surgery. Not fun.

W and I walk a few blocks to the Nara restaurant complex. The manager of Wild Grass Restaurant sees W and stops by to say hello. W was their first customer a few years ago, while I was applying for my American passport.

After our meal, we wait for our bill. The credit card machine is malfunctioning so we sit outside with two couples. They ask how we enjoyed the food. "Excellent!" and we describe what we liked most.

They beam and introduce themselves as owners of both restaurants (Wild Grass and Nara). "Where do you live?" asks one man.

The other man replies with the name of our neighborhood. How does he know us? Is his wife in the arisan (women's group)? They look vaguely familiar. If you want privacy, you're in the wrong place; many of the locals watch us foreigners and gossip about us. They know a lot of things that we've never told them. (We have nothing to hide, fortunately!)

We leave them with a business card and an invitation to supper at our place. "We always enjoy your food. Perhaps it is time for you to come to us and taste a meal at our house."
Easy arrangement. Pop the top of a plant and 3 flowers in a vase.
I'm working on my book again - and getting close to having the text done. Who knew it would take so much effort to split a dissertation into 3 parts? Next, I need to redo the citations and figure out self-publishing. Ugh.

The bamboo chimes rattle in the wind: it's been overcast and gloomy most of the day and maybe we'll have rain.

Read more:
*He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge. Psalm 91:4
*He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. Isaiah 53:5
If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 (NKJV)
*In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11 NIV

*In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10

Moravian Prayer: Heavenly Father—may we focus our hearts and minds on Jesus, our treasure, casting aside our feeble fears. May we love one another as you have loved us. Emboldened, may we serve one another in our communities without reserve.

Dearest Refuge, in you, all our needs are met. Thank you! Let no human word, nor mortal utterance, shake our confidence in you. Give us boldness to proceed to do your will and love others. Amen.

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