So Very Hard to Go

(Homage to Tower of Power!).

Can’t believe it’s May already. There’s been a lot of diverse things going on around here. Most of it welcomed, but not all. On the positive side, we just had our third and fourth round of visitors. Seemed their arrival was always months off in the distance, and now they’re back home. There’s something in there that feels like the Doppler effect applied to our lives. Things come at us slowly, from off in the distance, then pass right through, and move quickly and firmly behind us.

April was full. After nearly a year of searching, I finally found a tennis court, and a group of players to join in with. To stoke my search, Jennifer bought me a racket back in September. It made its debut at the impressive Maya resort, a sprawling, lush, and elegant luxury complex, with a lone, beautiful tennis court. I was happy to motor-scoot to it early that first morning, but security guards needing to search all visitors, and the sight of this sprawling, westernized resort gave me pause, and brought up the complexities of western influences, security concerns, financial trade-offs, and my place in all of it. That said, I joined 3 other regular players for 2 hours of doubles, (and again a few days later, and other players since) and was really happy for it -though I was quite rusty.

But in our first set, I injured a big toe. The nail caught on the inside of the hiking shoes I was wearing. It seemed mostly fine (but a bit loose) until 10 days later, when I awoke to a painful and infected toe. The nail needed to come off. Four letters describe that experience: ouch. But in between my moaning to my doctor, we realized we knew each other. She is related to -and lives in the same compound as- our property owner / manager Kuntia, whom we see often. And in fact just a few days earlier, Jennifer and I and neighbor Ruth were the lone bules to be invited to the blessing of one of Kuntia’s properties. About 15 of his family members were there, along with a high priest, and my new doctor Made, to perform an elaborate and beautiful ceremony aimed at pleasing the gods and to ask their protection  of this property. Dr Made enjoyed seeing my recent photos and videos of her and the others, circling the grounds in a line while banging bamboo sticks.

This particular property is the oldest dwelling in Penestanan. Its a complex of 4 unique homes, including a Gaudi-esque tower that draws attention. Kuntia has dropped a ton of time and money into it starting about a year ago. His hope is to lease it out soon for 20-25 years. It’s a fabulous and unique complex, with a lot of artsy and beautiful perks and touches. I’ve been making a flyer for him to post around town, giving me an excuse to use Photoshop.

In Early April, my sister Kathy, and friends Laurelyn and Nancy came to visit. They stayed about 3 weeks, and by their departure had all had a marvelous time. But their visit started out under less than ideal circumstances. Nancy’s luggage was lost, though it arrived a day or 2 later. And, she left her iPad behind at the restaurant we all went to on our very first night, never to see it again. Plus, their arrival to Ubud was typically underwhelming: it’s not the immediate paradise one expects at first glance. The traffic, the loud and constant motorbikes, all the boutiques! But they hired a fabulous, knowledgeable driver for the first several days, who took them to many diverse places near and far, and began to show them the magic of Bali. In particular, they were impressed and moved by a couple of different body healers, some local people that Wayan introduced them to, and the beautiful Bali countryside. Jennifer and I were happy to have them here. We worked out a nice balance of group time together, solo time together, and space to ourselves. We met often for dinner, went on walks, and saw some sights. And on a couple of occasions, I took them on long rides out of town on the back of the motorbike, which is always a great experience. They packed a lot into their time here. Nancy went home before Kathy and Laurelyn. We threw a party for the “Girlz” at our place on her last night, and invited other friends over to help celebrate their arrival and departure. Goodbyes are hard. We were touched by their willingness to come all this way just to see us and to understand our lives here.

A week after they left, my old college roommate Mike came to visit for the weekend from Singapore, where he and his wife Tami and daughter Meghan have been living for almost a year. They’d all come to visit us together early on, but this time it was just Mike. We packed a lot into that weekend, including a visit to the mask and puppet museum in the village of Mas. The exhibit -and the Balinese buildings that are used to display the art- impressed us all. And, since the museum is not easily found, we also loved the winding motorbike search that took us through some interesting villages before we found our way.

But the over-arching time-consuming activity since March has been cats and kittens. Our beloved Jingga needed 2 surgeries in late March. The second one has kept him in the hospital ever since (6 weeks) and will keep him there for several more months. Yes, months (this could have larger ramifications that I’ll address in a future post). Poor, poor guy. Wears a cone around his neck 24/7 -except while I’m visiting. A smallish wound and abscess that we discovered in March led to the discovery of an unrelated large tumor in his stomach (turned out to be benign), and the subsequent removal of a large swath of his stomach cavity lining. Only time -and constant care- will allow his skin to grow back, but a full recovery is expected. But also, he sustained a large, awful, significant wound to his back a week after surgery. It appears to have been caused by accidental negligence: a scalding water bottle, or perhaps an abrasive plaster cast that he wore at first. We are not at all happy about this of course, but we can also see a team of dedicated cat lovers -and the only cat facility in Bali. I’ve been volunteering at this facility for many months, to visit with the many cats. Now I do so more often, and visit Jingga every other day. He’s getting better, but this used up 5 lives, and will be a loooong, sloooow recovery.

But wait, there’s more! Back at home, Jingga’s BFF Manix missed him greatly at first -and might still. But in early April, that same cat clinic had an outbreak of the cat flu, and put out an urgent call for temporary fosterers. We took in 5 newbie kittens! One soon needed to be euthenized however, and another needed more specialized care at the clinic, leaving us with 3. Of course we adore all 3 -and Manix has especially fallen for the runt. Tending to them has been a significant task,  but we’ve enjoyed having them around and seeing them thrive -they are kittens after all: adorable and fun creatures. But soon we will attempt to find them permanent homes.

Like with family and friends, it’ll be hard to see them go.



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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Matt Colonell
    May 11, 2014 @ 15:52:32

    Great post, Matt! And great pictures. Glad you enjoyed all your guests.


  2. Laura Bresler
    May 13, 2014 @ 07:09:09

    It sounds like a rich full life. I enjoy your writing. We are getting ready to leave William in the care of wonderful house and cat sitters who’ve been here before. We’re going to Sicily and Rome for a month. I walk a fabulous little dog twice a week. We would love to get one, but don’t know how William would like that. Maybe foster a senior dog from Muttsville?


  3. ozzcar2013
    May 13, 2014 @ 14:08:50

    Wow Laura, Sicily and Rome! Abodanza! Have you been before? Avoid anyone named Scarface. Group hug.


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