Thursday, April 29, 2021

Rocking Chairs

Exciting day. Did the first recording in the newly refurbished studio which was our tiny guest room upstairs but now there's a new big room I call the Family Room or Katrinka's Sun Room. So I recorded an episode of Life in Bali in the refurbished studio sans bed so there's more wiggle room today and I liked it. I give more details in that podcast - get rather carried away. While I was doing that Katrinka was a block away buying some stuff from a woman who's moving to another place. She got two rocking chairs, originally from a trendy coffee house in Ubud. I always liked rocking chairs. Really got into them because of having babies. Always had one in the US since the first baby named Kelly was born. Hadn't thought about them once since coming here. Then today when I came downstairs after recording, Katrinka said to go look at the rocking chairs she just got. They're on the new back porch upstairs. First glance I was shocked. One red and one blue standard type plastic garden chairs mounted on attractive wooden rockers. Sat in one. Immediately fell in love with it. Katrinka came up. Sat in the other. Comfortable. Design that was at the same time elegant, funky, and humorous. And they worked so well. So comfortable. The sun was getting low. We looked over roofs of wood, thatch, tile, with vegetation greenery rising up from it all, kites wafting in the wind. From now on we'll pass the days fading light time there with mocktails.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

A Poem from Somewhere

 So I finally got one of those goals from yesterday done and as for chapter 15, got a lot done on it. And started the first phone chat for a podcast in a few weeks. Cuke What's New posts are up. But now I want to go to sleep but need to prepare today's podcast, the latest piece from Tassajara Stories. No I can't do it. Yes you can. I play a game of spider that takes extra long to win. I could be almost through the podcast prep if I hadn't done that but now I'm feeling more ready for it. I can do it. No you can't. You'll keep putting it off. At times like these when I'm fighting myself and need to boost my confidence and charge into a task, I think of Edgar Guest and his famous poem. This goes back to my childhood. A favorite. Not the one with the line that goes, "It takes a heap of living, to make a house a home." Not that one but the one that goes

They said it couldn't be done
And he with a grin replied
I'll not be one to say it couldn't be done
Until I've gone and tried.
So he buckled right in
With a trace of a grin
By golly he went right to it
And he tried that thing
That "couldn't be done"
And you know what?
He couldn't do it.

Or maybe that's from Mad Magazine - I can't recall the source. - dc

Monday, April 26, 2021

Typical way I spend time getting things done

 So today I had two goals - get started going over the audio and text files for chapter 15 of the 2nd edition of Crooked Cucumber, and send my suggestions for five Zen books in plus answer some questions for a new book site. Woke up at four. Got going at the laptop about 5:30. Always play a game of spider first. It's like a little thought bath, calming. Glance at BBC. Open up the relevant files and pages of notes for chapter 15 - seven different pages. Two showing at a time. But wait - I thought maybe I hadn't gone over one of them yet for chapter 14. That took an hour and a half.  Back to chapter 15. But better look at email first. Not much that's demanding. Ah one from Mike Dixon. He and I are going over a paragraph for the 2nd edition of CC because since the book first came out over two decades ago, I've learned from him the true story of how Shunryu Suzuki's well-known enso, sumi circle, came to be. It was done in 1966 for a poster for an art show he was setting up to raise money so we could buy land for a monastery. So I start looking for the poster on cuke and end up working on that for an hour and a half.  Back to chapter 15. But got to What's App housekeeper Kadek reminding there's a ceremony here today and please get some catfood and milk (for tea and coffee to add just a bit to the cashew-almond milk we make - that she now makes   Back to chapter 15. Meanwhile I've gotten hungry. Eat a delicious pear with some sesame butter. Back to chapter 15. Get a few more lines in and Katrinka reminds me it's getting late. Ceremony at 10. I sweep out front and the courtyard, put on a nice shirt, get out a sarong, udeng headpeice, and sash, the later two which I can't find. Kadek arrives. She brings me the headpiece and sash and tells me to get the matching blue sarong. She puts them on me the correct way - each gets tied. OK. Landlord Ketut arrives in festive white sarong etc, mask below his chin as usual. We'll wait for his son. We sit outside. Hanging gate bell rings. Two tech guys with new cables for studio and to set it up and do some other stuff. I remind them I said I'd call when we were ready. No problem. Back to Ketut. Gate bell rings. It's the water meter reader. I wave him in. He knows what to do. Ketut's son Kadek arrives in festive gear. Katrinka in lovely colorful women's festiveness. Bell rings. It's Mudik. Brings his motorbike in. Before he can take off his helmet I apologize for not having told him can't see him till afternoon to go over bill for all the electrical work. No problem. He's off. We go upstairs. Katrinka has cleaned our altar and our Kadek has hung the curtains that drape before the two doors, wiped surfaces clean. Our Kadeck and Katrinka have already made offerings to the shrine out front by the street and in the kitchen. Our Kadek has made another altar for this ceremony - just a grass basket with flowers and stuff. Ketut's son Kadek officiates, as Ketut says, he's the mangku for the ceremony, the priest. Not priest caste but worked for us. Where's Katrinka? She's looking for my phone for photos. We call our Kadek's already got it. Ketut's playing Bali sacred music off his iPhone amplified some by a tiny speaker. We offer incense and flower petals, remaining seated on the floor, Only Kadek Mangku stands and does stuff at the altar. There's a small yellow coconut. He sprinkles us with with coconut water and the new room we're sitting by - it's wide French doors opened. Next he pours a little in our hands we sip three times then the fourth on the face. We sit a while. Kadek is taking photos with our phones. That's it. Our new room is now purified and welcomed. (More tomorrow on why I didn't get to the goals of the day. It's not even noon yet.) 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Hacked Message Response

From an exchange I had today with a person who was hacked. I thought so because of the strange message I got from them. I wrote the following to them: 

It's harmless as long as you don't believe them. Sometimes I write them and say I have so much money I don't know what to do with it and I'd like to give you a lot right away but in person. If they say they're in an airport and send it to so and so I say what a coincidence. I'm in the same airport and am carrying more than $10,000 and if I give them the excess, I won't have to declare it. Then I get sad because they don't write back.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Da Da!

 Yesterday Kardino and his floating crew worked their last day, completing the new family room ahead of schedule and under budget. The bed (which he'd made over three years ago) was moved from the old small guest room (now my studio) to the new room and we slept there last night, breaking it in. Up to now, the upstairs has been mainly used by me. My clothes are there and office and work stuff and I record there. Her stuff is all in our bedroom. When family isn't here visiting, it will be Katrinka's studio which I'll only enter with permission. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Monday, April 19, 2021

There are Confucians and Pagans here too

We have a constantly morphing mixed scene here. A petri dish of world religions. Hindu housekeep and driver, Muslim carpenter and electrician, Christian bringing the coconuts, Moneyya the Theravadan monk, Katrinka and I nouveau Mahayana Zennies, Eliot a Jewish Muslim honoring both traditions, Reuben a committed atheist delivering organic produce from his farm, Plenty of none-of-the-aboves. As Kardino Muslim carpenter says, "God doesn't care." 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Back to Our Bedroom Day

Having had a bath in five weeks. Sounds like something a foul smelling person would say but I've had showers, usually two, sometimes three in a day. But we've got our bedroom back now. Bed's made and ready and just as soon as this is posted gonna go in there, turn on the hot water for our nice size Japanese soaking tub, do the dishes, and dive in. Then it's back to our bed. Been a long time. Yay. Or is it yeah?

Friday, April 16, 2021

Family/Katrinka's Studio Construction -- winding down.


Furniture went back into our bedroom today and upstairs will be ready tomorrow. So much going on though, lots of it noisy, with last minute stuff, that Katrinka took Bandi to the beach, we conferred on placement of stuff, she went through some other stuff in boxes and went back to Alice's to get a way from the noise. Kardino is finishing up quicker than he estimated. That's rare to see. And we've thrown a bunch of changes and extras his way too. He doesn't care. They're so concentrated and uncomplicated. No drama. Bandi brings all the drama. Kardino is a pro dog Muslim Mudik the electrician is a dog keep away from me Muslim but he's gotten used to Bandi and doesn't seem to care anymore. They're cleaning all the ceiling fan blades now. Grinding rust off them, painting them, making them look new. We've got nine ceiling fans, three bathroom fans, two wall fans, and three standing fans. They're dust collectors. But worse than that - they get so grungy and rusty in a rather short time. All but one are new three and a half years ago.

Peing Day

 In other news, today is, according to housekeeper Kadek, Galungan Peing, two days after Galungan. I asked her what's the meaning. She said she didn't know. That's the third day's name. She said there are no more special names till Kuningan. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Sweet Galungan

 Komang delivered some coconut sugar today. I asked him what do you call the days between Galungan which was yesterday and Kuningan which is in nine days. He said that today is Galungan Manis. Manis means sweet. He said that yesterday is for going to the temple and making offerings but today's for the road, for visiting with relatives and celebrating - the victory of good over evil I guess. That's as far as we got in the Galungan discussion for then it veered off into forgotten tangents.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Today is Galungan

Every 210 days we have Galungan and ten days later there's Kuningan and that whole time has a great significance for the Hindus here. Homes and businesses sport Penjor, a tall, bending, decorated bamboo pole, Ketut Artana, driver we've known since we arrived and husband of our beloved housekeeper Kadek, just put a note on a penjor and Galungan video I put on Facebook earlier. He reminded me it's the victory of darma over adarma - or like good over evil. It's the custom to give extra money to those who work for you so Kadek, gardener Made, and driver Nyoman received that but not the Muslims finishing up the guest room construction here. It's not their trip. Yeah Muslims! And Vincent who brings and prepares coconuts twice a week is a Christian so none for him. Yeah Christians!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021


I hear people say they're afraid to take the AstraZeneca vaccine because of the brain clot issue. Let's see now. In one study, 80 showed signs of blood clots out of 25 million. That's a one in 312,500 chance. But of course there would have been the unreported so let's cut that in half and some more and say one in 100,00 chance of developing blood clots. But the chance of dying from Covid is measured in the number per hundred in older people and per thousand in younger ones. I'm 76 and one New York study had as high as 14 out of 100 cases kicking the bucket in my age group - a thousand times more likely to die from it in the 70s than the 20s. So not getting vaccinated because of the chance of a brain clot didn't work when we ran the numbers. And that's just dying. There are a lot of possible bad outcomes from Covid that vie with brain clots and are much more likely to happen. Then there's the high rate of those vaccinated with AZ who still get Covid 19. Not an argument against getting it as it's highly effective in blocking serious illness or death. Mild cases. All sounds pretty morbid. Actually Katrinka and I have not worried about any of that. We're pretty fit and thought if we got it we'd still be okay and we've led fairly dangerous lives Covid-wise. But we're very happy with the way the numbers read now. And we're very happy that almost everyone we're around has been vaccinated. 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Prayer and Nonsense

Checking up on the exact spelling of the Indonesian word generally used for Muslim prayer here---it's sembahyang. I hear it but I haven't seen it. I'll call Mudik for an electrical or plumbing problem and he'll say he'll be over after sembahyang. I should ask him about the five times a day thing. In Dubai in the hostel where  Clay and I stayed, all staff would go to the neighboring mosque periodically, leaving the hotel staffless for twenty minutes or so. But I've not seen Muslims quit work or even shopping to pray or noticed it anywhere in Indonesia or elsewhere. I see mushola, prayer rooms, in airports and other places but I don't notice them being used much. In checking for the spelling and thus the correct pronunciation of the word, I first wrote sembayan which came up as nonsense in Malay. Indonesian is based on Malay. I have no idea about the etymological relationship between those words, but I do see prayer as nonsense and all spiritual practice as nonsense--not nonsense as a bad thing, nonsense as transcendent, lifting the anchor that ties us to the world we can understand with rational thought.

Friday, April 9, 2021


Puasa means fasting in Indonesian. I suppose it's related to the Indonesian puas which means satisfied. Ramadan begins on Monday and that means puasa for thirty days. Not only no food but no water from 6am to 6pm. There will be a Muslim crew here. We'll not put a thermos out with hot water. Will take away the coffee and sugar. I'll ask Kardino, the contractor, if we should remove the water from the outside table too. I told him they should do a modified puasa and drink some water. Nope. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Vaccinations left and right

How great. All our expat friends have gotten the first shot. Now Nyoman who drives us around a lot in his old bemo (like a VW bus with open side) has received the first shot. And two days ago it seemed there was no more in Bali till the next shipment arrived. So he and Kadek our housekeeper and Mudik, Tofiq, and Rahim the electrician/plumbers. And Friday contractor Kardino and his clan are planning on getting it. So they're taking off Friday through Sunday. Things will get quiet here and Katrinka can come home for three days. But our most frequent visitor, monk Moneyya, is anti-vax. Ugh.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Easter in Bali

Like Xmas, Easter week brings a national holiday in Indonesia except it's not Easter Sunday. It's Good Friday. So people get the benefits of that but whatever special is happening is happening in churches. Lots of local people at the beach on Saturday. Lots of kites. Not tons crowded in like in Florida but families or groups of friends sitting here and there. Guys working on the project at our place are Muslims and worked straight through till Saturday at five pm as usual. Islam has a lot of respect for Jesus but not the Jesus holy days.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Vaccine Availability Abroad

 On CNN today I see Frustrated expats leaving Europe to get Covid shots.


This country offers free vaccine shots to foreigners


Katrinka and I just got our first Covid shots here in Bali and they were free. Thanks Indonesia! In this last week a lot of expats and locals we know got shots and it continues. 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Swimming with Bogart

 I get to the beach once or twice a week, usually with Katrinka. We walk there and I go right in and swim and she walks way down and back and goes in for a while. We try to go when the water's high enough, within a few hours of high tide, within two is best, but often the opportunity arises beyond optimum tide time. And then I can usually swim anyway. We're inside the reef and the depth is fairly constant all the way to the reef after gradually deepening from the shoreline. But there are some areas that are deeper of course and that's where I head when it's low, frequently backstroking till I get to a place where I can do the Aussie crawl. It really is like a crawl with me cause my left arm won't lift high  A few days ago we went there and it really was low. Too low. The only place I could swim, the level  was down so that I was swimming in pretty heavy seaweed. But I wanted to get some movement going so I back stroked along in it which was good exercise because the seaweed was an impediment. After a while it got exhausting and was a little creepy so I headed in to shore. Had to walk the last hundred feet or so cause it was so shallow. I was itching all over, like if I'd been in fresh cut grass without much clothes' on.  And there was all this seaweed slime on me, black and gooey. It didn't really wipe off. Had to pick each one off . I started looking at it more carefully and I noticed it was moving just a little and that the pieces moved a little in the water and then I realized I was covered in little black slimy worms. So I picked them all off but they kept appearing on my legs and torso coming off my swim wear. If there aren't many people around which is normal in Covid time, I swim in dark briefs , like some minimal European male swim shorts. Katrinka came up and checked my back and they kept coming for a while but finally stopped. All the while I was thinking of Bogey in African Queen.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Easy Going

Mellow day. Mild reaction to first shot. Perfect for working from bed with frequent get-ups to deal with construction going on, food and drink, sending flowers to Katrinka and our own almond cashew mink and some mixed fruit. Back to bed. So far so good.