Thursday, April 15, 2021

Vaccination and Ramadan begins.

 No walk for us today. We got vaccinated yesterday and are told to take it easy for a day or two. So I'm on the balcony at the office after working for a few hours ... taking a break until the Thursday walkers claim us for lunch nearby.


In the entry, I fill a winding branch (bare, after we ate the golden coconuts from Beba) with red bromeliads from the garden. We'll toss the bromeliads once they dry up.

In the living room, the birthday kilim brightens up the pastels on the pillows. 

We have our usual sets of meetings and a study in the morning. W comes to pick me up from the office before noon. IKEA has opened a store in the next city so we'll eat lunch there.  The usual menu items are $0.40 - $1.50. (It's most expensive for the combo: a refillable drink, a hot dog, and fries.)

W signed us up online for entry to IKEA. We have a 3-hr window, along with a LOT of other people. The first group hasn't left when we're let in. We head first to "AS-Is": I need a good office chair.

I find a good one in the main shop but am not sure I want to spend that much. Mind you, I've been using 3 others and my back is always sore. I hate to spend money if we find it for less among the returns and floor models. That is good stewardship, right?

While we're there, I check options for pots for the office balcony. IKEA's little garbage pails ... cheap and can be cut down to size. Plus, when community dinners start up again, maybe we can use them for games or decor. I try a bright blue one. Nope, it just looks cheap.

"As-Is" has European pillow forms (30"X30") marked "display" @$6.50 each. My impression: "Get it," so I pick up 2. When we arrive home, I check the linen cabinet for covers. Ah, yes, I forgot that a friend sent over 2 quilted covers last week. They're a perfect fit and create a comfy back-rest for the benches we use on pizza nights and other house visits.
We pop into a friend's restaurant to say hi. Next door, the fruit stand is selling "stinky fruit" (durian). Any of you try it yet? Two small segments cost $4.50. We have a durian tree in the garden. We'll wait for the fruit to ripen.
Ramadan starts today and ends May 17. Many Muslims will not eat or drink from their pre-down breakfast until the sun goes down before an evening feast. The women are progressively more weary (cooking at 3am... preparing food and cleaning up into the evening hours) and the men have little energy during the day's fasting hours. Children, the elderly, and pregnant women are exempt.

We switch our date day from Wednesdays to today. We record Sunday's talk in the office around 7am. Since we are already near Nara Park where we eat our date-day breakfasts, we combine recording and breakfast.

The three hedgehogs are out in the yard, so cute!

In the hallway outside the office, I spot a perfect little creature, a 1/2" (+1 cm) tiny bug scooting along the tiles. Everywhere I look, my hearts astonished by the One True God. On the one hand, he keeps the planets aligned with perfect physics. On the other hand, he lavishes one small artistic surprise after another on us.
Keelee and I meet for our weekly update . She asks what I'm doodling as we talk. I'm trying to work through a book I've had for ages. I feel obligated to go through it.
"Why?!" she asks me. The sketches I'm making are childish and unappealing. It's a great question. I like to finish what I start but what a waste of hours this would be. I post it to a sale site right after our meeting. Thanks, Keelee! Ah the clarity of a coworker.
However, this palm stalk along the street fascinates me. I could happily draw it and "have" something interesting.
We have an appointment for our first vaccine shot (Sinovac). We're allowed to sign up because we're over 60-years-old and considered residents. The others who may get their shots are medical staff, factory workers, teachers, and essential services.

We are impressed by the organization of the government in the local sport arena. Immediately upon arrival, young people escort us from the parking lot to the "old people" area. They guide us step by step through the process. It is all done with utmost respect and smiles whether the aged are ambulant or in wheelchairs.

We get held up for an hour while they try to find my resident data. The resident number printed out with such a blur that no one can figure it out. Finally, our last guess is the right one. Onward - 
The volunteers take many selfies and snapshots with me. No one asks, "Is that ok?" There's a smiling person behind a camera, click, "terima kasih!" (thanks) and that's that. I smile behind my mask with my most convincing eye-wrinkles. I'm the only blond among the hundreds of volunteers, busloads of workers, and the various halls of seniors. I spot only two other foreigners besides W and me. (They're dark-haired.)
Someone comes up while we're sitting at a station and whips a blood pressure cuff around our arms. Then with a smile, they'll off to the next persons. W's blood pressure has gone up during the data muddle but it's just under the permitted rate. The guy checks mine twice because it's the usual: 100/70.

"Like your father," says Mom when I update her. Not much raised his blood pressure, either.

After the jab, more young people escort us to another hall filled with seniors and their helpers. "Please wait 15 minutes. Tell us if you feel any symptoms: a headache, sore arm, or joint pain." W's arm is a bit sore the next day, but that's it. We get a notice for our second shot in 4 weeks.

On the way home, we stop at Borma so W can find some cables or whatnots. I go straight downstairs. Do they have something useful, re-usable, or recyclable for the balcony plants. How about the dippers used by locals for showers?
Pots themselves are cheap (just over $1 each).
We take time for a short break before our weekly team meeting.

Much of the week I'm working outdoors. I do 6 takes of a podcast for a group of partners. Then I send it off to Waldemar. That's it for me - 6 tries are enough. W will add Indonesian captions. He's a perfectionist so he may take out the buzzing cicadas and the roars of motorcycles going by. If not, I'm ok with that, too. (= One of us is not a perfectionist.)

The balcony is a comfy place to work. We enjoy meetings out here in the morning shade. Today the space is saturated from a big rain that blew through overnight. Slowly the mats start to dry out underfoot. There's a rumble of thunder and the sky goes dark. The huge downpour holds off until after noon. But by then we're under cover.
Read more:
*The Lord had made them joyful. Ezra 6:22

*Rejoice that your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20

Moravian Prayer; You guide us, our good Shepherd, leading us both in ways seen and unseen. We celebrate your presence with us. Help us to feel the joy of living in you. Amen.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Baptism and beauty

Monday, April 5, 2021

Easter Week One passes quietly. The beetle skeleton is still stuck to the leaf by the porch. I think about grabbing it as part of a floral arrangement and keep forgetting.

This 2' bloom reminds me of Christmas trees, fully lit. There's a whole border of these blooming nearby.


It's a scramble to keep things straight: we write the Sunday talk before the weekend and record it on Tuesdays. W and the media team go through it and assemble it as the week goes on.

We "attend" online on Sundays, along with the BIC community and friends around the world. It's a lot more work - sometimes it's tiring. Before Covid, we prepared all week and showed up in person for one day. Now work lasts all week. (We do admit sometimes that it's nice to eat breakfast on the porch on Sundays and not have to dress up to get out the door before 7am.)

I don't know our city at all since I never drive. So I have NO idea where anything is. W chooses our destinations and shopping near where he will run errands. He keeps his eyes on the moving digital map, knowing where he's headed.

He's encouraged me to do the same. Without an end goal in mind, it's round and round for me. Then, when we drive past something familiar - after many twists and turns, the compass points in my head are completely confused. Shops and landmarks appear or don't show up. I truly have no idea where we are.

Starting today, I ask Pak Gum to drive me to a neighborhood on the map. W stays home. Gum and I go up and down every street and I take notes of what is in that area and where things are. So that's where the main hospital is? I didn't know, though we've driven by dozens of time on the way from or to somewhere else ... and changing one-ways and temporary traffic barricades that appear and disappear don't help.

After W posts his theology talk on Wednesdays, we meet at Nara for breakfast. I'm often deep into work already, so maybe we'll change date day to another day of the week when both of us can meet earlier.

A kilim arrives in its multicolored splendor; it's my "senior" birthday present to myself. Until we get to IKEA for a rug underlay, it lies on top of the wool rug already there.
The cicadas continually hiss in the background, whether we are at home or at the office. One flops down by my chair (3" long) as we sit outside. It's still moving, but barely. By the time they fall to the ground, they're almost dead.
On the other hand, this 3' snake slithers across the street in front of me as I walk to the office. I have to find someone who knows snakes. I don't think it's poisonous. It has an oval-shaped head but venom glands stretch the back of a dangerous snake's head into a triangle. It's still a little bit of a surprise - and it has almost wound itself across the street by the time I snap a picture.
Ibu Sieo sends some Chinese tea over. It's fragrant and delicious though Google Translate cannot make any sense of the label.
In zoom sessions, I finish the star doodle and move on to quilting and the next shape in an art book: branches.
What do you suppose this is, below? Take a guess?
One of our friends is an artist who carves lino for block prints and works with leather. This is one of his beautiful "wallet" creations.
On another walk to the office, I spot this usual bloom, which produces a lumpy fruit that's popular in health drinks, called nona?
Wednesday we also check out some pots at the local nursery.
I'm determined to try something different every time I go into a restaurant. How else will I know what's good? These Chinese noodles at Maystar dim sum are extremely spicy and chewy. "Like," from both W and me.
What a special time. Marie loans her pool for Misha's baptism. This walk of faith is a walk of obedience. Christian baptism signifies our identification with Christ's death and resurrection. "Buried with Christ; raised to walk in newness of life," W says as he baptists Misha. (Josh took her through a catechism earlier.)
After, we go to Baby Dutch for coffee and pancakes, and then wander across the street to order a takeaway treat from Vilo, the new gelato restaurant.
To finish off the day, we hang out together with Misha and her family on our porch.The gelato is tasty and the company is good. They're considering adopting an adult dog. Of course, our dogs are happy to have us nearby, petting them as the cool wind blows through.

We've asked BIC's active team members over for a BBQ. Waldemar brought a Kettle grill from Singapore a few years ago and has loaned it out a few times. While washing the racks, he notices that the plastic handle has been melted. That lowers resale value but at least nothing else is damaged.

I try a new recipe from Ish our head chef: pasta and cabbage for 12. It's pretty good - and there's lots of it (made for 12). I bag it up and freeze it later, after forgetting to hand it out along with the other things that get divided.
Ish brings chicken, while Josh grills steak on our barbecue. Nothing like South American drillmasters and chefs. They know food! and it is all delicious. Alice makes desserts with strawberries and a lemon custards (oh yum) and Clau brings a homemade potato salad.
It's a comfort and lots of fun to hang out together. We can unmask on the porch in the fresh air. It's been a long while since we've been able to gather, except in small groups.
W and I are signed up for our first vaccinations this week and looking forward to getting that over with. Once people are vaccinated, we can consider reopening in person.

It's a restful evening because everything is tidied quickly. We're ready for sleep by 7:00. I can barely keep my eyes open once the sun goes down because we get up by 4am most mornings.


I'm wide awake at 3am after 8 hours of barely-interrupted sleep. I read and write until it's time to get to the office. Several meetings lie ahead. I pull out my quilt so I can focus attention on the person at the other side of the call.

Read more:

*Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength is spent. Psalm 71:9

*Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

*Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:14-18

*If God is for us, who is against us? Romans 8:31

*So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16 

Moravian Prayer: Jesus, help us to hear you calling and to remember that we are yours. We fear no foe with you at hand to bless, though ills have weight, and tears their bitterness.

Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, your victory? We triumph still if you abide with us. Guide us to be your hands, heart, and feet in this world today. Amen.

Monday, April 5, 2021

For freedom you have been set free ...

 Saturday, April 3, 2021

I kick the ball, my flip-flops catch on the pavement, and my toe is slammed into the concrete. Ouch. And even more so when it starts to swell within minutes.

I'm not one to suffer long. I can barely make it through supper, even with an ice pack on my foot. When I hobble to bed and put up my foot, I ice several more times. And then it's time for bed.


Well, that helped a lot! I skip our usual walk though, ice-ing  my foot one more time. And I rest up most of the day.

There's Stollen for breakfast, a traditional European bread eaten at Easter and other feasts. Mom bought us some when we visited her in Canada in December. Let's enjoy it today in the traditional way. The marzipan (almond paste) inside is delicious, too.

Before the morning online Gathering (BICOnline), I clean 3 aquariums (fishbowls, really) on the porch and in my home office. My favorite usually sits on its log: the glass was hand-blown in Bali onto the piece of wood.

We put the wood/glass temporarily on another surface while W painted its table last week. When I lift up the tank to return it to its place, there is a swarm of hundreds of ants and a piled mass of white ant eggs under it. We pour boiling water on the log and the table. Gone.

The bowl sits alone on its length while the wood dries. It's pretty because you can see everything from the top.

Something about the lazy swirl of fins relaxes me. Not having to heat, filter, or light a tank makes these fishbowls easy to maintain on the porch. We empty the water and refill it every week or two. That's it. When fish get siphoned out with the waste water, we scoop them up with a net and pop them back into the tank.

I chose this particular bowl from hundreds in the Bali factory because of its size (2' tall) and because it didn't topple off its side without the wood stand. From the top and the side, we can view the "landscape" of poured glass. There are dozens of little fish hiding in the plants. There must be a new spawn from last week.

That's the beautiful natural world. But today I'm mostly immersed in the spiritual world. Meditation. Wonder. Astonishment.

We post the BICOnline Easter talk and comment as friends watch from everywhere. We are 14 hours ahead of the West Coast where many friends live, so they're "live" with us on Saturday night.

Easter is a special holy day for our own community of faith and Christians around the world. We remember what God has done on Resurrection Day each year (as some prefer to call it).

All day long, I'm consumed with the unfathomable grace of God. How could our Creator love us enough to take our punishment, our sins, and our debts on Himself? That was the only way we could be reconciled to God. And that is what He accomplished for us: the Perfect One sacrificing Himself for his imperfect creatures. Amazing.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free," Paul wrote to the Galatian church mere decades after Jesus' resurrection. "Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1)

All day long, I'm pondering that freedom. Why is it that most people - myself included - choose comfortable restrictions and bondage to unhealthy things? We could be living the lives of exuberant goodness and expansive kindness that God offers us. I have no answer. I'm as broken as the next person. So I revel in the mystery of grace - the unmerited favor of God.

We order lamb for lunch, a traditional Passover dish that represents a sacrifice feast. The same menu (goat or lamb) is common when Muslims celebrate their religious festivals. For Easter, of course followers of Jesus are commemorating God's sacrifice of his own Son.

The lamb is tasty, roasted just right. We have lots of desserts, too: Apong's pumpkin pie, cookies, and a special palm-fruit dessert Dr Wuri sent over. Melvina returns from her walk with sweet coconut water for us. Yum! W and I waited for her, but finally started eating. We are finishing dessert on the porch when she comes back. She brings her meal outside to join us.

W has 2 appointments in the afternoon, one a coffee and the other a meal. About this time in her own timezone, my mom visits Dad's graveside (he died in December). She leaves her beautiful arrangements of flowers and remembers how much she was loved. The last time she was there, I was with her. This time, my brother takes her to the cemetery.

Something occurs to me as I prepare for my usual food in the evening. Spiritual disciplines can become legalistic and lose their meaning. There's nothing particularly spiritual or useful to God about the disciplines themselves. Rather, they bring our attention to God and allow God to shape us. I have had the same fasting routine for years. I decide to shake it up between now and Pentecost (50 days away).

So ... Sunday supper? It's been a while. What to eat? How about the soup made yesterday? It's delicious - barley, split green peas and lentils, meat, and vegetables. By mid-afternoon I've also had at least six 16-oz mugs of tea so it would be good to switch to peppermint tea toward evening.

While W is gone, I watch a few podcasts on art and creativity. It's a whole day of feasting and feeding the soul and mind, along with connecting with dozens of people in our city and around the world.


W has purchased 5 A5 notebooks and 3 A4 notebooks for me, along with 50 glossy cardstock sheets that I'll use for gelli-printing. They're delivered to the house in 1 day - for about $10. I start sketching right away, playing with line and setting up a journal. I've been doing minimal journaling for about a year. 

It's amazing how much you can track in a 1" square. This guy has written down fitness, travels, meals, sleep, connections, and the most important thing he's done in a day. Wow - I choose the daily habits and things I want to track for mine. (Read more about his system of minimal journaling here.)

We walk a one-mile loop instead of our full distance. The soles of my shoes are too flimsy to provide enough support for the stubbed toe. But it's not too bad. I choose stiffer soles when I return to the office after lunch. There's a talk to write, emails and a vlog to post, and a few other matters to finish.

Monday in the office is always full. While I'm thinking, I doodle from a book on natural shapes (Yellena James: Star, Branch, Spiral, Fan). I've wanted to work through the book for years, so here we go, a little at a time. One of the podcasts advised, "This week use colors you hate." That would be the ones on this page: grays, pastels, burgundies ... 

Today the office porch is finished. The final touch is swapping out the white floor tile for a blue-and-white one. Better. Done. It started like this

and evolved to this. I work here nearly every morning before the sun comes round to that side of the building. It's a great place for tea or a chat with others, too. I am content.

Happy Week 1 in the Easter Season on the Christian calendar, everyone! "Christ is risen."

"He is risen indeed."

Read more:

*The Lord said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

*Jesus said, “Because I live, you also will live.” John 14:19

*But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 1 Corinthians 15:20

Moravian Prayer: Risen Lord, we celebrate your resurrection and claim your transcending love. Thank you for your living and loving presence in our lives. Help us to realize the joy and comfort of living for you. Amen.