Thursday, August 16, 2007

rockin' morning

What a way to start the day: I just felt another quake at 8:20 after having been woken by one at 4:15 a.m. This latest was in fact the fourth or so to occur this morning but they've been centered in Chiba, a nearby prefecture, so Tokyo's not feeling them all. The one at 4:15 had a magnitude of 5.3 and this recent one 5. Looking at the meteorological agency's site, I see Chiba's been having smaller quakes for a few days. I'm going to get dressed now. I just wish I could bring Grace to work with me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

cyber scribbles

G-dog's new fav snack: Well, two weeks ago I would've said the moulted sticky skin shed by the instar (nymphal) cicada as they were emerging in droves from the ground in the park next door. But now this I'm-the-grossest-little-thing-on-the-block inu has moved on to the huge (and crunchy) Japanese cicadas themselves as they drop from tree boughs at the end of their short lives. As I shriek at the sight of the wings hanging out of her mouth, she's off to find another before I can rein her in. Of course she's much cuter playing with her new toy, an unexpected gift from a sweet colleague.

Most interesting flick recently viewed: a documentary done by Sydney Pollack about his pal, architect Frank Gehry. I fell in awe of Gehry's work after visiting the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. Now that I've seen the film, I'd really love to see more of his mind boggling buildings. Pick it up if you see it at the video store, you won't be bored.

My new toy: A Lomography Fisheye camera that I settled for after having coveted the much more expensive Holga for awhile. This (modeled on a toy) camera, bought two days ago and still untried, will hopefully produce some fun and funky shots while Baby (my Canon G7) is in the shop. Baby got injured in Bali and now shows fog in the middle of most photos. I must hook up the scanner again though cuz Fishy is 35mm, not digital.

Tomorrow I will try my Fishy on: Hanabi (fireworks) to celebrate Obon. The embassy is holding a shindig on the fourth floor patio again this year. It was the first social event we attended after arriving here last summer.

Working days to go before I'm part-time again: twelve. But I may be trading in my expiring contract for 2-3 mornings a week volunteering at the United Nations University's Media Studio.

Weeks to go before Aran leaves me & G behind: about 10. In late October he's off to Spain to visit his padres. They finally called him on all the delayed promises.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

three-a-day season

Rainy season officially ended on Wednesday and I can tell you this, three-showers-a-day weather has arrived. And yesterday we realized that our dawg is definitely not a hot weather dog and hence we shouldn't play ball with her in the park in blazing midday sunshine (UV index 7) when the temperature is 30 C + 5 more degrees of humidity. We felt horrible when she needed to lie down and concentrate on her panting half way through the 10 minute walk back afterwards. She recovered quickly in the airconditioning at home, lying on the cool kitchen tiles.

Whilst speaking of Grace-chan, I will segue into some Bali dish (finally!). During our trip, little furry-face had her own personal dogsitter who stayed with her at our house. I think she was spoiled by a lot of companionship because the first week after we returned and we went back to work (I'm still working full-time with the two part-time jobs), she caused a little bit of trouble every day for several days; chewing this, breaking that, etc. But by now her separation anxiety seems to have resolved itself again.

As for our trip, I really should've blogged about it when it was fresher and especially not at 9 p.m. on a Sunday night after a busy weekend (I'm sleepy!). But I will just color a quick overview.

I had not originally been interested in visiting Bali. Aran and I have a List of the places we want to see while we're in this end of the globe and frankly Bali wasn't on it. However, when we were about to start planning our July vacation, we discovered that the weather in our first choice destination (Thailand) was extremely bad at that particular time. We want to see Northern Thailand (Chang Mai, the golden triangle, etc.) and this without mudslides and floods. So Bali came up when we looked at a climate map to see where it wasn't rainy/typhoon season.

Then I started reading about Bali and I became more and more excited. The country is full of beautiful ancient (Hindu) temples and palaces, lush vegetation thanks to many tall volcanoes and mountains. And that's aside from beautiful beaches, some infamous and 'happening', others peaceful. I also read about the art (woodcarving, painting, batik, etc.), music and dance. PLUS everyone everywhere raved about the friendliness of the Balinese.

Well it's all true and then some. Aran and I were both so happily surprised and enthralled by everything. Hindu since around the 1st century AD, the Balinese live and breathe their religion. Theirs is a Hinduism interwoven with a focus on local and ancestral spirits. Several times a day most Balinese pray and make offerings (often mini trays made of palm leaves laden with food and/or flowers) at their family temple. The traditional Balinese house is actually a compound where an extended family lives. This family property is surrounded by a (beautiful, ornate) wall, inside of which are several small buildings (kitchen, dormitories, etc.), including a wall-less common/gathering area, and most importantly, the family's temple.

Aside from these daily gestures of devotion, the village temple is also regularly visited by colorfully sarong-clad villagers, due to the frequency of all sorts of village celebrations. We were fortunate to see a village in the midst of a cremation ceremony (see my photos of it). And this is not to mention other temples, either that of local rice fields or the large ancient ones associated with key geographic sites.

The beauty of Balinese Hinduism is that it's vivid and dramatic, full of music, dance and color. It also produces very kind and community-oriented people who are proud and well-informed and happy to share info about their culture, religion, lives. And despite having to work very hard to feed their families, are still genuinely warm to tourists.

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