Saturday, January 14, 2012

Finally Feel Settled

In such a big school it takes a lot longer to feel like you are settle in, but I have arrived at that point. My teaching job as a 6th grade science teacher is an excellent adventure with lots of sought after challenges and successes. There is still a steep learning curve, but not anything like last year! This is the best teaching post I have ever had in a long career of excellent teaching posts. So grateful for the opportunity to be in Indonesia and teach at JIS.

 My apartment too, I've settled in and finally its decorated. It is my first experience decorating from scratch and I like it for now. I look forward to my second opportunity to create a home environment. Tomorrow I'll post a few photos of my apartment. You can compare them to the earlier posts last year and decide for yourself how well I did. My daughters think it needs more color. I agree.

Oh, and I forgot to say that being an international teacher is only for the hardy and resilient.  Teaching in developing countries is not for the faint of heart. Check out the CDC Indonesia (Center for Disease Control) and the USGS for some highlights. My biggest problem has been many types of bites while I've been sleeping, but after the owner closed up the vents, screened the windows, and the school brought in an exterminator, I feel that I won the bite battle. There are lots of blood suckers here!

Monday, June 6, 2011


Blackberries, cookies and banana bread, YouTube singles, and spin the bottle - a 6th grade party makes, explained the most nurturing 6th grader I've ever met.

Spin the bottle? The first and last time I played that, it was at a 6th grade party on Long Island, NY in a dark basement. Now it was to be played in school in broad daylight!

When my homeroom proposed this element I was skeptical, but open, as the Class Nurturer thought it was a great idea, too. I soon joined in, as hugs were exchanged for kisses, a lighted room for a dark room, a pair of scissors for a bottle and raucous laughter in place of silent sustained reading. As the bell rang, one student exclaimed to me, "that was the best 19 minutes of SSR, we have ever had. Thanks!"

As I watched this quirky class eagerly hug each other or me, in turn, without arguing or insults, I realized how far we had come as a community. And I am grateful.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Night and Day and Billy Joel

One hundred eighty days seems more like 5 years. Plucking myself out of the safe, easy and familiar and dropping down in Indonesia; the Wild West of the East is probably the most challenging and radical adventure that I have ever been on. My alert level has been code red for a long time. Finally I am starting to see patterns, am developing routines, friendships, favorite places, realizing success teaching 6th grade. Emerging gradually from night to day. I am sure that the neuron connections in my brain must have doubled. So much learning going on simultaneously. And of course, you must know, that I love it.

One of the best parts is being alone after busy days with 40 of the most endearing sixth graders. After a 10 hour day at school, I can't wait to sprint up the 10 flights of stairs (preparing for NH and NC hills) to my 2 bedroom apartment. Expansive views. Comfortably furnished. Free of clutter. Immaculately clean. Simply decorated, (finally by me), with treasures found in my wanderings. Best of all. Quiet.... or dancing! I've had so many opportunities in the stillness to pray, ponder, study Christian Science, weep with joy and sadness, dance to tunes much beloved and new and sassy. For the first time in my life, I am actually fulfilling New Year Resolutions: taking stock, breaking bad habits, going to bed early, waking up early, eating the unorthodox meals that I want to eat without .....anyone ......commenting......

The other best part, of course, is being connected to friends and family in the States, and visits from Elizabeth and Alyson...and some of their college friends! Such a lifeline for me. Thank you everyone for sharing in this adventure by keeping in touch. It keeps me tethered and makes me realize how blessed I am.

Well, and what is with "Billy Joel"? I listen to his albums a lot, here.  Growing up on Long Island, thirty miles from Manhattan,  I always felt that there was something missing there.. I left the area in 1972 and never looked back; trying hard ever since to disguise my NY accent. Inevitably someone would notice a slip-up. Saying"wooawk and tooawk in New Yooawk" instead of walk and talk and New York. Usually another New Yorker. Well, Billy Joel, and his music makes me realize how much of a New Yorker I actually am and how much I miss the people there. His song entitled, "A New York State of Mind" gets me every time. The accents, wild gestulation, ethnic neighborhoods, argumentativeness, the frankness, loud laughter, Kosher and  Italian food, the storytelling and a unique sense of humor that I rarely meet up with anywhere else. And I have also missed the ocean.

Finally, it is OK for me to say, "I am a New Yorker."

And my next breakthrough? To be able to say, understandingly, "I am love."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Java Lava Coastal Hike Photos

Starting point: well prepared hiker!
School boys checking out 35 Java Lava members

Home sweet home

Taking photos has a downside; I am last!

At last the ocean. Do I see Krakatau in distance

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Java Lava Coastal and Volcano Hike Weekend

The Java Lava group hikes and backpack trips are a lot of fun. Friendly, fit, professional people, of all ages-many in the STEM fields- enjoy the challenge of hiking up and down volcanoes.  And to make sure that you have the energy to talk the night away after a long 8 hour climb up there are the guides and porters who keep us on the right trail and lighten our load. And what is the biggest thrill? Well, of course, the possibility that you might witness an eruption that lights up the sky all night.

On this particular hike, we stayed in one of the Java Lava members resort hotel called the Ocean Queen Resort in West Java. Unlike Bali, this area is not full of a lot of tourists; Indonesians, expats and adventurers...yet!

Middle School "Simply the Best" Celebration

Its Jan 8th and we are all back from vacation to near and far flung locations. One week trying to keep up with all the happy demands that working here entails and the MS Principal feels its time to celebrate our successes. He calls us all "Simply the Best".

This "Simply the Best" celebration is at the Principal's house. The event is catered and include all the essential ingredients of a great gathering. Here are some pictures of my colleagues whose hearts are singing, I'm satisfied.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Snake Incident-A Bali finale

Farmers are very athletic. Wayan, my Bali host, asked one of the farmers, who was taking a rest from plowing the rice paddy (a stones throw from her house), if he would climb up a coconut tree outside my balcony and cut off some large palm leaves that were hitting the roof. He got a bamboo ladder to go 2/3rds of the way up and then shimmied up the rest with his scythe. All famers have one tuck into the back of their pants, blade out.  How was he going to chop off a huge palm frond once he got to the top of the ladder? When he shimmied up, to reach the frond, how could he hold on to the palm tree trunk and cut off the huge frond at the same time? It would be awhile until I found out.

Near the top trunk, the farmer became very agitated and Wayan and a farmer friend on the ground came to see what was the matter. They quickly got the ladder back in place and he rocketed down. Then he came into the house and up the stairs with a bamboo pole onto my deck and started to poke around in the coconut treetop he just descended. Besides the coconut that fell, there were two snakes that came down! One was over 9 feet long (3 m) and the other over four feet long (1 1/3 m).
Wayan started to hold her head and look away as the farmer on the ground banged the snake with another bamboo pole in a very ineffectual way. I asked Wayan if they were poisonous and she said no, but she didn’t know for sure. I felt terrible for the snake. They eat rats and mice that live in coconut trees! She explained that Balinese people kill snakes that they happen upon.

They dug a hole and put the snakes inside after they stopped moving. They must have known that they were still alive because a tail would twitch now and then, but they tried to ignore that. Then they put some banana leaves over them and would have put soil on top to smother them or perhaps allow them to escape? Unfortunately, the big snake crawled out of the hole and got another ineffectual beating. The small snake was dead. They had a hoe that could have chopped off its head. It seemed that they preferred to not directly kill the snakes, if possible.

Finally, it was safe for the farmer to climb to the top of the tree and I got my questions answered concerning how he would get the leverage to cut down the frond. As you can see in the photo, he laid on top of the fronds first and then cut the frond.

I watched the snake burial ground later for evidence of an escape, but there was sadly, none.Does anyone know what kind of a snake they were? Were they poisonous?