Monday, October 27, 2008

News from The Long Lost Moo

Guess where we went this morning?
I'm going to try and attach the picture [editor note: photo to come later], but the large smoking volcano behind us is Mt. Merapi, one of the world's most dangerous and active volcanoes! Yay! We went there with Carolus, The Geologist's adviser's student from 10 years ago---who's now a professor at the second largest university in Jogakarta. The last eruption was in 2006, and so we're standing on the reminants of the pyroclastic flow (the 'avalanche' of super heated ash, and gas and rocks and boulders). Jojakarta was originally built several centuries ago by the first sultan here in a way that it has never been in direct danger of the volcano. The Geologist asked Carolus if it smoked all the time, and he said "Yes.If it is smoking, we are happy." I take that to mean that a lack of smoking volcano indicates something is wrong and going to happen? The Rock, the mining engineer will now fill in with suitable knowledge. I will pester The Geologist later.

Ah, you should see this place. It's crazy. They drive better here than in Ambon or Saumlaki or even Kisar. Ambon driving is enough to give me anxiety attacks. Drivers honk to keep you from walking in front of their cars, but they like to wait until they're right behind or next to you. Then it's like playing live human Frogger to cross the street---not here though, so don't worry---since there's no such thing as pedestrian right-of-way, and no one exactly uses their headlights after dark. It's fantastic! They also drive on the left side of the road, so I have to remember to not look the wrong way. And to think I used to make fun of my British trainer [editor note: trainer as in, missionary trainer].

So, here, the average price for a whole pineapple is only 5,000 rupiahs---or 5 cents. It's amazing. We had to go buy shirts for church last Sunday and, a tshirt I bought was 2,900 rhp ($3) at full price. CRAZY! It's good quality too. KFC is the big restaurant here. They have several within a few city blocks of each other, and each seats 100+. They're much larger than the typical American KFC, and there's no mashed potatoes---just rice and french fries. The average person orders the rice though. They also have a lychee fruit float, and ooh tasty.

We're doing great. We have lots of stories for when we come back. Right now we're being hosted by the university, and Carolus put us up in a 'homestay' hotel--which is a bed and breakfast/grandma home typehotel in a large old Dutch house in the middlish north part of
Djojakarta. The only really lasting influence of the Dutch here is in the architecture. No one speaks it anymore. Only Muluku, the eastern province we were in, sympathized really with the Dutch, and nearly all of the Indonesians in the Netherlands are from those islands. The
Church isn't there yet, but the majority of the people are Protestant, and are ready for the gospel.
Ok, I best be off. We're going to see the basement rock for the island in the morning along with one of the largest of the Buddist temples here. Or it's Hindu. This city has a complex history. I recommend reading about it. Forgive my mixed spellings of Djojakarta. They spell it at least 3 different ways for various purposes. It's the 'Boston' of Indonesia with 100 universities.
We're coming back on the 4th.
I have been writing now for 30 minutes, and The Geologist has shut himself up in the wardrobe. He says "no." as in no I haven't. He needs attention. So I'm off. --Moo

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cards in the Camper

A few nights ago my friend Em pulled out her family’s card games (they were tucked inside an old, metal Sesame Street lunch box) and we headed out to her dad’s camper. If you haven’t been in a camper in a while (I hadn’t) they’re pretty nice. This one has a full size bed, a fridge (not full size), oven (more like the little Princess Play Oven for kids), stove, bathroom (the whole bathroom is the shower!) and a sweet stereo system. We explored every nook and cranny and ended up fighting over who would get to move in there first. Imagine: no space, so you have to live with just the essentials. Imagine: trailer park life (so much blog fodder!). Imagine: you live in a camper (your coolness factor jumps 10 points or more instantly). Imagine: the bathroom, the WHOLE bathroom, converts into a shower, so cleaning is a SNAP! AND Imagine: your bed is not just in the dining room, it IS the dining room.

Random transition: have you heard that couples who do new things together have the same hormones going off in their brains as when they first met and fell in love? (if you haven't, then see this article from the New York Times, "Reinventing Date Night for Long-Married Couples" by Tara Parker-Pope, Feb. 12, 2008). I would call them New Love Hormones. What this means, is that no matter how old you are and no matter how long you’ve been married to the same person, you can still have that Newly In Love feeling (or, if not that, then at least the same hormones that you had when you felt that Newly In Love feeling). All it takes are new experiences. For example: you could move from a regular house into a camper. That would be a new experience. Or, maybe you try out a restaurant you’ve never been to before. Or, you let your spouse give you a ride through the parking lot in a shopping cart. Or, you visit a new town together. Or, you explore the town you already live in—there’s a lot more to see than you may think. (Such as the fence made out of bowling pins and other “found” items. Have you seen that one?).

I used to have a list of things I’d never done but wanted to do (it ranged from vacationing in India to trying eggs Benedict). Making that list was quite enjoyable and doing things on it was even better. When I was feeling stuck in a rut, I would check my list and inevitably, there was something new for me to do. (which is why, eventually, I had to get away from things like vacationing in India and focus on things that I could do in the city I already live in. Such as going to the top of the tallest building in town. Or visiting the quirky little museum downtown. Or riding a bus to the way south side. Or learning to knit. Or making homemade marshmallows. Or growing my own basil for pesto.)

I’ve decided that article about how to keep long term couples feeling Newly In Love works wonders for everyone (in love or not). Because, isn’t the world a more exciting place when you’re trying new things no matter who is trying them with you? And along with that thrill of doing something new, there’s something amazingly creative about thinking of all the things you have left to do in this life—talk about adding a little spice to your life. Imagine what it does to your perspective! Suddenly, the tire that just blew out is one more thing you’ve never done before, so you start to get a kick out of the fact that you are now stranded on the side of a road. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll think about waving at the passersby because, hey! You’ve never done that before.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Enthusiasm for All Things Ridiculous

Confession: I like cheesy, teen girl romances. They have to be of a certain caliber (no Sweet Valley High or something proclaimed as part of a romance series, heaven forbid I be associated with something low class like that). But a stand alone romance once in a while is an enjoyable thing. Somehow I missed this one when it was published. Thank you Bridget for recommending it. Ladies, if you want something frivolous...try it out (Guys, don't bother. Trust me on this one.) Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman.

I also have a habit of liking songs that have the same flavor or feel as that kind of cheesy novel. You could read the book while listening to these songs and you would believe that they had been written as a joint venture. My two current favorites: Crush by David Archuleta and Better in Time by Leona Lewis. Thank you to You Tube for making them available for my listening pleasure. (I can't vouch for the quality of the music videos, I'm just listening. Over and over and over again. I figure, wear the song out and then I won't even want to buy it.)

Since I have the predisposition to like embarrassing stuff like this I might as well ask for your favorites...maybe I'm missing out on something good just because I haven't asked! So let me know other books and music...that is, if you don't mind exposing your enthusiasm for such things.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Call from Indonesia

AN EXCERPT from an EMAIL FROM MY DAD: Out ot the fitful slumber of the elderly a call came @ 0505 from Moo somewhere in the Maluku islands on the Northwest coast of Australia. The Geologist was busy cranking the phone for power and it came in loud and clear.

They are on a small island measuring coral reefs that are now dry land. They are staying in a small hotel and the food is great. They have gekos in their room and they chirp at night. The stars are close enough to grab and they are very excited to be there. They have taught the local kids to place Uno and other card games. Mu is working on learning some of the language...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Add Two More to the List

I nabbed a copy of River Secrets by Shannon Hale from the library on Thursday night. It's classic Shannon Hale: lyrical prose, humor, characters overcoming inadequacies…I love her characters. The key thing that sets this book apart from her others is the main character. He's had some appearances in The Goose Girl and Enna Burning. (the fact that a male is the main character should alert you that this is different from her other books). Razo, the funny, fiercely loyal companion from those books takes center stage in River Secrets. Razo is awesome (and Hale says he is her favorite character. It sounds like that's been true since he first cropped up in her writing). I didn't realize that he was so great until this book, though, because his other appearances have been relatively minor. He has a killer sense of humor, he's frank with his insecurities, and he reminds me so much of one of my brother it's almost scary. This brother misses the obvious sometimes, but he more than makes up for that in his amazing abilities to connect with people, to remember people's names, to care about them, to make people laugh and feel at ease. Just like my brother, Razo does all of those things. Since this brother is serving a mission in Mexico right now and I only get an email from him once a week, I miss him a lot. Reading this book was like reviewing all of my favorite things about my brother. It was fabulous.
Razo is short for his age, gets beat up by his older brothers, is mocked by other soldiers because he isn't good a sword play or grappling or looking imposing—all the things soldiers are supposed to be good at. It turns out he does have some amazing skills though…he just needed a chance to discover them. In the meantime, Razo is racing the clock to discover who is burning bodies in an attempt to incite a war between two countries. Hale manages to pull in some the elements of modern (real) life: people who feel so strongly about their beliefs they are willing to hurt others to make a point. That kind of anger, the kind where you are willing to break the law when it isn't on your side, the kind where you are willing to hurt the people who think differently than you just because they think differently, is scary. It's scary because it's unpredictable. It's unpredictable because those people see themselves as above the rules. They decide what is right and wrong and punish their opponents accordingly—not by the schoolyard rules of challenging you to your face, telling you to meet in the parking lot after school, but sneaky, run in an murder
someone in a crowded street while screaming propaganda kind of rules. There's a little romance thrown in too. Would it be a Shannon Hale novel without that? (you'll have to ask her. As a sort of related aside, she does have this great blog, where she reveals how trying it is to be a writer, and tells you real life things about herself. Check it out.)

The other book I read this weekend is The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison. It would be more appropriately titled, The Prince and the Hound. But I guess they were trying to secure female readers, while precluding a lot of guys with the girly title and the girly picture on the front cover. (guys, you could probably enjoy this too. Don't let the cover and the title fool you). It's a pseudo retelling of a famous fairy tale. If the back cover hadn't told me that, I wouldn't have recognized it (well, maybe I would have, but seriously! Why give away something like that when it's cooler for the reader to figure it out themselves????!!!!) Don't read the back
cover or a summary and instead figure it out for yourself. Anyway, it's a fantasy novel. The main character is a prince. In fact, the princess doesn't get all that much time in the book, that's the NEXT book. (Thank you Stephanie Meyer for reviving what Orson Scott Card started when he wrote Ender's Game from another character's perspective. Now, I guess it's The Thing to do.) Like I said, it's a book guys could enjoy because it's not all princessy. Actually, the princess is sort of an odd girl anyway, so she's not frilly and girly at all. But I digress. The prince has animal magic, something that people in his country highly prejudiced against (so much so that they
burn people at the stake for it). So he keeps it hidden. He's bound and contained by the duties of being a prince and the fear that his gift will be discovered. When he consents to marry the princess from a neighboring enemy country, he's doing it out of duty. But he meets her and is smitten. Now, don't expect a goopy, lovey, chic flick romance kind of story. True, it's a romance, but it's not following the traditional pattern (except that there are two people who you want to be in love). The characters are emotionally scarred so they approach love a lot differently than traditional fairy tale romances. And they are both preoccupied by other pressing matters—like running countries and the horrors of prejudice against people who are different. It was a pleasure to read, but not in a comfortable, predictable way.--Lu

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hobo or Javelina?

My two beautiful little peppers (yellow "sweet" peppers) were picked by an unknown hand (mouth?) last week. The only veggies I can call my own and now they're gone.
P.S. they taste pretty nasty. So I don't think they were worth stealing. Unless it was a javelina. They probly don't care about how sweet the peppers are).