The S*** Hits the Van

“This vehicle is not moving!  Look at the traffic backed up behind us!”  It was my turn behind the wheel of our 1973 orange VW camper as our family of four made its way from Heidelberg, Germany to Italy on a camping vacation. I was convinced the engine had malfunctioned on the steep Austrian alpine pass. It was mid-summer, the snow had finally melted, and the steep highway just recently opened to travelers.

In the back seat the girls – one toddler and one just past toddlerhood – were beginning to ask “Are we there yet?”  We had spent a restless night camped out in a park in southern Germany.  My Starter Husband had pulled another panic attack (read previous blog post) in the evening and not knowing whether or not to look for the nearest “Krankenhaus” (hospital) I hadn’t slept well.  Nobody had.  Van-full of cranky people, fueled by orange peanut butter crackers and boxed juice.  This two-week vacation was not off to a happy start.

The VW was not broken, just suffering an overburdened engine straining to cross the Alps. Practically coasting down the other side, we were relieved to finally arrive in Italy and a campground near Pisa.  With the top of the camper popped up and a small tent attached to the side of the van, we made ourselves at home.  Bedtime came and I gathered up girls, towels and toiletries for the trek to the communal shower and toilet building.  We had a small porta-potty in the van for emergencies when on the road, but bath time meant a flashlight hike to the not-that-great-smelling cinder block building.

The entrance had a ledge to step over.  Since I was burdened like a pack horse I never saw the step, tumbled to the ground and heard a faint snap from my foot.  “NO!  This can’t be real,” I thought.  For a few days I ignored the pain and laced my sneakers up tighter for support.  Seeing me limp, the German doctor camped next to us pronounced that the foot was “kaput.”  An astute observation as I hobbled around chasing kids.

We weren’t far from the US military base near Pisa so we drove to their medical facility where a tech did an xray and assured me there was no break and wrapped the foot in Ace bandages.

The vacation (and the pain) continued as we traveled to Venice.  At our final stop at a beach campground on the Venetian Lido we were awakened one night by the camp manager.  We had a phone call in the office.  What the . . . ?  Our best friends and neighbors back in Heidelberg had our itinerary but we never expected them to track us down.  They let us know that my mother-in-law had died.

Early the next morning we literally folded our tent and unpopped the pop top and decided to drive straight through to grab a military transport plane back to the States (Leaving the girls with Rosemary and Danny for what turned out to be a pretty long time. We still owe them a return babysitting gig 40 years later.)

Once again we found ourselves on a beastly hot June day creeping across the Alps going north.  Bathroom emergencies happened.  Several times.  Did I mention it was hot?  Since this porta-potty had no “max capacity” fill line we didn’t keep track.  One final poop did it.  The pot exploded inside the van sending a shower of unmentionable sewage into the air.   From one person’s point of view this was unimaginably hysterical.  From the other person’s view point it was a sign of gross household mismanagement.  If you know me, you know which was my reaction.  This camping vacation was our last.  (After an xray in a Florida hospital I was diagnosed with a broken foot.)

Frohliche Weihnacten

It was a bleak day in the military transport terminal at Dover AFB in New Jersey, 1974.  Christmas Eve Eveand sniveling toddlers, anxious wives, and nervous Army recruits were jammed together as close as marbles in a bag in the cold green-walled and dirty linoleum floored boarding area.  We were waiting for the delayed overnight flight to Frankfurt, Germany and a new Dept of Army civilian employee posting in Kaiserslautern.

Our nine month old was at the far limit of her tolerance for the car seat. The (starter) Husband was anxiously pacing and looked as if he was in pain.  Then he told me he WAS in pain and was going to go to the emergency room on base.  Maybe he was having a heart attack at 28 years old!  “Stay here,” he said, “and board the plane if it gets to that point.”  Oh, that struck terror in my heart!  Fly to Germany with a toddler and no knowledge of the language – by myself?! 

Of course, the time came to queue up and no sign of The Husband.  People with empty hands helped carry the kid, the baggage, the coats, the scarves ,and mittens for three travelers.  This was not a luxury plane, but some sort of military charter and there was little room for comfort in our 5 across row.  In a state of panic, tears flowing, hands shaking, I felt both relieved and angry when he boarded just before door closing.  Having suffered an anxiety attack he was blissfully high on Xanax and immediately fell asleep for the next 8 hours.  

We were met in the Frankfurt terminal by Benno, a German co-worker who spoke excellent English and drove us to the Visiting Officers’ Quarters on base.  At a service plaza on the autobahn we stopped to get coffee.  I took the baby with me into the Ladies Room where I discovered pay toilets.  I had no German coins and was too embarrassed to ask for help.  Looking around to make sure we were alone, I slithered under the door and yanked the baby through the opening.  I don’t even want to think about the condition of the floor we were mopping with our bodies.

I began to calm as we sped along the highway.  Baby finally slept. Snow covered the ground just enough to decorate the pine trees and roof tops.  Little villages, looking so different from our home town, reminded me of the miniature towns set up along a model railroad train track. Tiled roofs, candles in the windows. I was exhausted, sad at being away from family on Christmas, and apprehensive about this new life beginning in a foreign country.  

To my surprise, when we arrived at our temporary housing we found our rooms softly lighted and a small tree decorated with handmade ornaments and paper chains.  Other families in the same situation welcomed us and fed us, and best of all, took the baby for a few hours so we could settle in.  Christmas Eve was peaceful and calm and after all the chaos was a time to reflect on the moment and the adventure ahead of us.

Am I Really Creative?

The subject of creativity came up in a talk with a friend the other day.  The friend is surrounded by a creativity halo.  She oozes inventiveness. Not only does she express her creativity through her art, but her clothes and her home highlight her love of creative adventure.

I thought more about the subject later and began comparing my creativity with hers.  I have always thought, and continue to think, of myself as a creative person.  Each of us expresses it in a way unique to our personality.  I would describe myself as a “constrained creative” person. Show me a Pinterest idea and I can replicate it.  Put a coloring book in front of me and I create through the colors I choose, the shading I add, and how I choose to fill in the blank space.  Can I ink those fantastical ocean creatures?  Sketch a simple scene?  Nope, but working on a coloring page of art someone else drew is satisfying and fills my need to create – even within the frame of someone else’s creative work.  I appreciate their gift and I appreciate that they have given me a platform to express myself.

fish coloring

In my “studio” is a very large work table originally purchased for laying out and cutting fabric to make quilts.  For years this was my way of expressing my creativity.  Was it all original?  Not from the standpoint of design.  There are thousands of books out there with detailed quilt designs and instructions.  As a matter of fact, I get satisfaction out of exact cutting and measuring according to a plan devised by another quilter.  I get pleasure from precision cutting and piecing, but mostly what pleases me is choosing and putting together fabrics.  A quilt shop stacked with bulging bolts of fabric can give me heart palpitations.  When I get frustrated or tired of a project I listen to the echo of Libby whispering in my ear, “There is no prize for finishing that!”  Actually, there may be. Photo below.

steff wedding quilt

For years I kept a giant closet stacked floor to ceiling with fabric – yardage chunks, leftover 2” squares, “orphan” blocks I’d made and abandoned.  I spent hours sorting fabric.  Sometimes into piles of the same color family. Sometimes by the print (plaid, geometric, whimsical).  Sometimes by ugly. Being creative doesn’t always mean a finished product is produced.  But the time spent in that space freed my mind to wander, think about potential projects, and just get away from whatever anxiety I was currently suffering.

Many years ago I was inspired to recreate in fabric a Chinese painting I’d bought on a trip to China.  I tried to reproduce in fabric and beads what I saw on the paper.  Then I gave the original painting to my daughter and was able to keep my representation of it as a souvenir.

china quilt

Currently that work table is scattered with the tools for other trips into creative areas that caught my interest.  Scattered with tools from impulsive trips to Sam Flax.  For a while, it was watercolor painting that attracted me.  Another friend is one of those creators who is not afraid to try anything.  She was in a watercolor phase and it looked fun.  And I tried it for a month or so.  The process was rewarding when I had Pam by my side to tell me exactly how to proceed.  On my own, I was frustrated by my inability to paint on paper what I saw in my head or in a photograph.  I was just as happy mixing colors and laying them down on paper with no attempt to paint a picture.  So….the watercolors are in a lovely handcrafted tote bag, made by another creative friend, waiting for another day to be used in whatever creative mood I’m in.

work table

Hand lettering and calligraphy supplies – they are on the table, too.  Years ago I worked as a professional calligrapher.  The exactness required, the proper thick and thin lines, and controlling the ink just so made me happy.  I didn’t come up with my own inspirational phrases and often even the layout was “borrowed” from another designer.  But it was the process that I loved.

Now I am trying a less formal method of lettering called “modern calligraphy.”  It’s funny how the training from my days of precision lettering hamper my style.  It is difficult for me to develop a loose, casual method of hand writing. But, oh, I love the practice.  I love grabbing a pen and a lined sheet of paper and practicing forming the letters over and over in a march across the page.  Is this creativity?  For me, it is, because it allows my mind to wander and it takes me out of myself for a bit.

So am I creative?  I still choose to think of myself as a creative person even though I don’t fit a standard definition of a creator (gifted, ingenious, innovative, inventive, productive, prolific, visionary). I have a need to express myself in creative arts.  I allow myself the time to “waste” hours lettering, knitting, sewing, and writing because it is a real need for me.  Take away my toys and I will wither.  I’ll be boring.  I’ll be sad.

Let’s just say:  you be creative your way and I’ll be creative my way.  I may envy a particular skill you have, but I know I can adapt that to suit my creative needs.  And I thank you for your inspiration.

+Write about Cabbage

“Write about cabbage” was the prompt for the writing assignment.  Though the word cabbage conjured up images of food, the subject didn’t “speak” to me. How about cabbage roses instead?  Specifically, the faded pink cabbage rose wallpaper in the room I called mine at my grandparents’ house – a red brick two-story built in 1918.  I suspect this was the original wallpaper.  Maybe it faded over time as the sun on the south side of the house streamed through the one large window.  A window covered by the old-fashioned roll-up shade at bedtime, but during the day the dotted Swiss sheer curtains were the only protection for the cabbage roses.

Remembering that room makes me feel the love that my grandparents surrounded me with when I spent time there. Something about a white chenille bedspread – with the chenille pattern running in horizontal waves across its width – brings back a sense of comfort.

Because my father was serving in the Army Air Corps at the end of WWII he was stationed far away when I was born.  My mother and I lived with the Galt grandparents during all his deployments.  I was born two blocks up from 40 Parker Street in a full-on snow storm. My mother and grandfather walked those blocks to Carlisle Memorial because the roads were impassable.

(Photo below:  40 Parker Street, Carlisle, PA ca.1930.  My mother Mary Galt and her brother John.)

40 parker.jpg

I was born during the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945.  While Carlisle Memorial was producing a small number of babies, the Battle of the Bulge killed over 19,000 Americans on the Western Front.  It turned out to be the second most lethal American battle and was the last major German campaign on the European front.  The “baby boom” came in the 1946-55 years when men returned from WWII.

My room – the cabbage rose room – was across the hall from the bathroom with the white porcelain claw-footed bathtub. I remember happy times as I splashed water onto the white hexagonal tiled floor and was never reprimanded by Marty, the chief bath-giver to me and my cousins.

Marty and her husband lived in the attic of 40 Parker.  This space was re-done to accommodate this middle-aged couple who had come on hard times and needed a place to live and needed employment.  They lived there in exchange for work they did around the house.  It was a special treat to be invited up the steps to make cookies with Marty.

Marty tended my mother during her post-partum days.  That was after she had already spent the usual (for that time) ten days in the hospital recovering from a normal childbirth.  Marty was as necessary to running that household as the regular delivery of coal in the winter.

When I was four or so Marty taught me how to roll bandages for the troops.  Strips torn from soft old sheets were destined to wrap wounds of soldiers injured in battle.

Cabbage rose wallpaper seems to have gone out of fashion by the time my grandparents built a new modern house in the early 1950’s.  Occasionally I’ll see a photo of a “retro” bedroom with that distinctive look and remember the comfort of that old house and “my” room.

The Party’s Over (Almost)

Steff and I had been excitedly anticipating our visit to the Night Market in Siem Reap. Especially the foot massage place with free drag show.

We had spent the afternoon with Mr Mot and his tuk tuk #17. We asked him to take us to shops that sold items made in Cambodia. Most of the silk in the markets is from China and we wanted the locally made silk items we saw being made by hand. We had purchased some at the workshop but needed scarves.

Mr Mot took us to a local shop run by a young man and his dad. Lovely shop with luscious silk work. I fell in love with a wall hanging that will go on the dining room wall. Embroidered silk.

We spent a long time deciding on scarves. John was getting antsy and the dad finally urged him to sit down and have some (very strong!) coffee.

Next we visited a hot dirty workshop where disabled people were carving wood pieces to sell. Many were deaf and some maimed by landmines.

Continuing our journey under gray threatening clouds (June 1 is beginning of monsoon season so we were testing our luck) we shopped at a small market that was filled with treasures. After realizing the “boys” were hovering over us, we send them off to have a beer so we could continue unsupervised.

Needed a cool down after that exertion!

Dinner was Cambodian food at a restaurant recommended by Mr Mot. Good choice. Maybe he gets a kickback from all the places he took us. He only charged $18 for six hours.

So now the boys are done. D.O.N.E. we sent them back to the hotel with Mr M and Steff and I remained at the lively Night Market. We wandered a round trying to find the massage/drag show combo, but when we finally located the shop with bright pink chairs it was closed! Bummer.

Mr Mot wasn’t due to pick us up for an hour so we retired to the Red Piano bar on Pub Street. Soon the sky opened up with a monsoon-like rain (go figure). After beers we skedaddled to our meeting spot and got zipped into the tuk tuk for a spectacular ride home. Hundreds of motorbikes, tuk tuks, small cars, bicycles and thick clots of pedestrians dodging the deepening rain puddles.

Today we were up at 4:30 to catch our ride to the airport for our flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. By the time we figured out how to get to our airport hotel it was mid-afternoon.

Short nap and then grabbed a train to downtown KL.

Scenery shot from train window:

Our destination? Yet another market! But we grabbed the golden ring with this one. We found a tiny little shop when a husband and wife team designed motifs for batik on cotton. For a small amount we could purchase one of their designs and paint it right there in the little shop. It was so much fun.! We. Od have stayed hours and done many more. Steff’s lotus flower is just stunning.

Finally we rounded out the guys and found a great Chinese place for dinner. Spring rolls were the absolute best I’ve ever tasted!

Hopped the train back to the airport hotel in time for the call to prayer. There’s an arrow on our ceiling pointing to the direction of Mecca.

I leave you with a shot of fresh food seen in the market stalls. I could barely stand to look at it. The name creeped me out.

Now it’s time for sleep on our last night of this adventure. Tomorrow night we fly to Singapore, 5 hr layover, flight to Manchester,UK 12 hours 💤, then Manchester to Houston, Houston to Atlanta, Atlanta to ORL. home will look mighty sweet in the wee small hours of Wed.

Earned My Adventure Badge

Yesterday. A day I will never forget — for a lot of reasons. From the quiet wonder of sunrise over an ancient temple to climbing over fallen rocks and big blocks of stone from the 11 the century to the brutal heat and humidity of a vast even older temple in mid afternoon. And sharing all this with my kid. Seeing her joy in being here makes my heart so happy. 😅

We were awake a 0400 to prepare for 0440 pick up by Mr. Vantha. The hotel set out 4 boxed breakfasts to go, along with coffee. We opted to view sunset from stone steps across a small lake from the temple. Much less crowded and quiet.

Then, while about a hundred million Chinese tourists crossed the floating bridge to get in, we repaired to a table that the guide, Mr Borey, found for us nearby. The breakfast box for each of us contained 4 pastries, 2 hard boiled eggs, an apple and a banana, and assorted jellies.

The bananas here are very small but the flavor cannot be compared to what we get at our grocery stores. The fruit has a much deeper, sweeter flavor. I’m not crazy about bananas but these are a treat!

To see AngkorWat opened my eyes to the accomplishments of people so many centuries ago. I can’t imagine how many Slavens lives were lost in the construction of these massive buildings. Some have an interior structure of lava stone blocks (lighter), faced by heavy limestone blocks. This culture also figured out the vaulted ceiling.

The elaborate and detailed stone carving decorations on the wall must have taken such a long time to craft. And in this heat!!

This one below appears shinier than the others because tourists (Chinese. The Cambodians like to blame everything on the Chinese tourists.) have touched and rubbed their hands in this woman’s body.

The Buddha statues were once Hindu but by dressing them in bright”clothes” they become Buddha– depends on who’s in charge in a particular era. Now totally Buddhist.

If you wish a blessing there are monks, young and old, here to provide.

Or you can simply take time by yourself to reflect.

To reach the highest part of Angkor Wat there a very steep steps to climb. Now normally John is not allowed on a ladder (my rule) but an exception was made because this ladder (they called them steps. Ha!) John was determined to climb. Mr Borey said he would stay below with me. While we were waiting there he told me he does this 4 or 5 times a week in high season so was happy to have an excuse to sit this one out.

See the brightly colored shirts? That’s my people.

So relieved to see John come down!

Now our shirts are soaked. Really soaked. A few more pix to take though.

On the way out Steff and Phil were physically accosted by Chinese tourists to be in photos with them. They are both so distinctively tall that it was quite the attraction. They literally had to tear themselves away because more and more would try to pull them into their group. John and I were not in demand.

Oh, it felt so good to get into Mr Vantha’s old Lexus with AC all the way up. I sat in front t because “I ask better questions!” Lucky me. I just keep firing them off to earn that sacred spot in front of the AC vent!

Next stop Ta Prohm where, we were told over and over, “Tomb Raiders” was filmed. A lot of mention of Angelina Jolie, but I’m not sure of the connection.

This was my very favorite spot of the day. Jungle-y with twisty vines and roots coming from above and below. Piles of tumbled down stone blocks to climb over. And trees that have grown right over the ancient buildings for centuries.

Look at these small stone carvings that look like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or maybe they are ancient emojis.

Actually, before they eroded we think they were closed lotus flowers – a symbol of purity.

Moving along (speaking of moving along, here’s a billboard shot by Stephanie)

One last temple to see. Scheduled for two hours. I was dropping, as was John. And it wasn’t even noon yet. We convinced Mr Borey to do a shortened version. Even so, my Fitbit goal for the day was long past and I was in overtime.

This temple was a city for a king. Quite spread out. And, of course, many steps to climb.

It’s all so old! And such a wonder when you think about the engineering of these structures and the labor to make them. At this city we found a wall was in the process of being chiseled for decoration, then suddenly stopped. The king died so it appears the laborers tossed their chisels over their shoulders mid-carving and left the job!

Sort of like me in this photo.

We returned to the luxury of our hotel and headed for the shower!

Steff and I scheduled 3 pm pedicures and foot massages. A whole new pedicure experience as you see below. Yes we got the giggles. Position similar to pelvic exam. If there had been a speculum in sight I was ready to flee. See pedi lady laughing?

Naps followed. Then once again to Haven restaurant for dinner. It is so good and comfy and cheap!

We were taken there in Tuk Tuk #17 driven by Mr Mot (“moot”) who insisted on waiting for us. On the way back to the hotel in a re-creation of Mr Toad’s Wild Ride at night with thousands of motorscooters and no apparent traffic rules, Mr Mot #17 offered to drive us around today.

So he’s picking us up at 2 pm and we have him until 8 pm for a total of $18. He’ll take us shopping and to our foot-massage-with-drag-show experience.

Tomorrow we have an early flight to Kuala Lumpur where we spend the night before our evening flight on Monday back home.

My view right now from my balcony.

Happy day!

Being Pampered in Siem Reap

We arrived at the Sofitel Angkor Wat mid afternoon. When Budi heard where we were staying he said, “Oh, they open the doors for you.” He’s right. Just as we approach a door someone appears out of the woodwork to open it for us have to say I like that!!

Somehow we again got an upgraded room. The grounds at this place are something out of the French Colonial era, as are the buildings. The staff throw in a little French at every opportunity. Here are some photos from the grounds.

Steff researched restaurants and found Haven. It was established by a Swiss couple to help Cambodian youth who come from rural areas and from orphanages, in their late teens/early 20’s to learn to work in the restaurant industry. They are trained for 16 months and then go to permanent job. The food is locally grown and prepared fresh.

We got there via a $4 tuk tuk

Ride through the city.

The meals were very flavorful, each ingredient standing out yet blending in. I had Cognac Marinated Pork Ribs. Yum!

This morning our driver, Mr Sophal, picked us up at

8:30 and we drove out of town a ways. Such very poor villages. So much plastic waste piled high. Naked kids running here and there. Extremely skinny white cows wandering free. I paved roads. Minimal toilets. Here’s a smattering of what we saw in our drive.

Driving on a dirt road for about 15 minutes brought is to a muddy canal with lots of primitive boats.

Here’s our cute boat man.

We rode through a remote floating village. The rainy season is just getting started so the boats are pretty high up now. Soon the water will rise to almost the bottom floor of these houses.

Our destination was a floating shack out on Tonle Sap Lake that served as a beer break for us.

Look at this cute baby playing with mom nearby.

The boat ride was an eye opener to the poverty and lack of services to these people.

Now back into the city and out the other side to a silk farm. To me, this was absolutely fascinating! Step by step we learned the prices and had hands on experiences. I even held a silkworm.


We walked through the whole process of making silk. No wonder it’s so expensive — unless you get machine made from China.

Stephanie got into the tying routine quickly.

Like any good artisanal workshop, this one exited through the gift shop. I may or may not have made purchases. Hmmm I did need a new eyeglass case…

Now we are pooped and hungry and so Mr S drives us back to the hotel. We went into the bar/lounge where I had a tuna sandwich and a wine flight. You know what happens after a wine flight at 3 in the afternoon. Zzzzzzzzz

Tonight we ate at the hotel and watched a Cambodian dance review. The costumes were elaborate and I don’t know how they made the quick changes. It was fun seeing one group get the giggles. I could relate to that.

The first part of the show was instruments only. Or maybe they were just tuning up. Hard to tell. You decide.


Tomorrow we meet our driver Mr Vantha at 4:40 am for a sunrise trip to the temples of Angkor Wat. The hotel is providing a box breakfast.

Here’s the thing that bothers me most. I sweat more than the average bear. It is so very hot and I can’t be outside for two minutes before my face starts melting down to my chest. Kleenex can’t keep up. I look around — no one else sweating like me. In Florida I just stay inside, but now we’re viewing great wonders and I just have to put up with it. Anyway.

Bed all turned down and calling my name. Bon sour, as they say here.

Saying Goodbye

Our last day in Bali was, purposely chill, though we both woke up earlier than we expected considering the previous night of partying!

We had our last Nasi Goreng breakfast. Stir fried rice and vegetables with a fried egg on top. Actually we’ve had Nasi Goreng for MANY meals here! It’s a safe bet. We saw a T-shirt that said “Peace, love and Nasi Goreng” that would be appropriate for us.

Lunch down the cliff a bit with John, Sue, Chris and Drew. There was Nasi Goreng and Bintang involved. And a view of about 25 surfers trying to catch big waves (25 feet?) below us.

Packing took most of the afternoon. At 4:30 we said a tearful (me) goodbye to John and Sue. The rest of us walked 15 min to the Ulu Cliff House to have drinks and dinner while the sun set. Sherly and Chris hosted a lovely dinner for John and I, Drew (who I have loved talking to),Sara and Collin, Steff and Phil. The best sunset was saved for our last night!

Don’t lean against the glass!

This must be healthy, right?

When I ordered red snapper, by golly I got the whole red snapper!

And now we are landing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to switch to a flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Another currency to figure out!

A new adventure awaits!

Bintang and a Wedding

(Written on flight from Bali to Siem Reap. Catching up on posts for several days. )

In effort to remain healthy we have not been drinking local water or brushing our teeth with it. Where I normally I would choose water to accompany a meal I now choose a local beer – Bintang. I’m not normally a beer drinker but it sure tastes good on these hot and humid days. John, too, loves him a Bintang and has the t shirt to prove it.

We gathered at the glass walled chapel just down the path from our rooms a little before 5.

We loved that John and Sue put us in the front row with them for the ceremony. Monkeys were climbing all around the chapel until a grounds keeper shooed them all away.

Traditional bouquets of mixed white flowers were attached to each row of aisle seats (for the love of God, someone is giving themselves a manicure in a nearby seat and it really stinks). The altar had three small arrangements of white flowers. The center aisle was a carpet of white rose petals that we all carefully avoided crushing on the way to our seats. Even the bridesmaids cautiously avoided them. Not so the groom and groomsmen!

John, just before the service started, whispered “I don’t think you should take any pictures.” I agreed since i wasn’t familiar with Muslim custom and didn’t know if it was appropriate.

Sherly entered in a gorgeous mermaid style ( I think) that was very difficult to walk in. We all held our breath as she maneuvered the steps. Her long veil swept up many of the aisle rose petals. I have to say I wish I had gotten a picture of the rose petals gathered under the veil. It looked so soft and delicate, like a gauzy lens.

So here’s the picture taking deal: as soon as the bride entered the door her entire side started popping up to take pictures. There were three photographers on the floor in front of our seats. I figured at that point anything goes and whipped out my phone! Steff was right behind us in an aisle seat and got the best pix.

The bridesmaids all wore dresses of the same color of dusky lavender but they each chose their own style. Sherly’s sister wore a matching head scarf. Sherly’s family is Muslim and several of the female relatives wore traditional garb. The more liberal friends of Sherly (her squad) all wore gray gowns (they weren’t bridesmaids).

Guest apparel ranged from lace dresses to khaki pants or shorts for the men. The groom and groomsmen wore custom made gray suits with white open collar shirts.

The MOG and MOB had similar fabric used for their wedding finery. Sherly had them custom made.

(Hack, hack from middle seat. Oh I hope it’s not contagious!)

The ceremony was in English and Indonesian (though I think it’s called Bahasa.) Rings were exchanged, documents were signed. All the guests exited first so we could shower the bridal couple with rose petals as the came down the chapel steps.

The reception with a “live BBQ” seafood dinner was held poolside. The whole area looked magical with flowered candle rings floating in the pool, twinkly lights in the trees,market lights strung over the tables, white banners fluttering in the breeze coming off the Indian Ocean. All this and a spectacular crimson, yellow and orange sunset. Live music with excellent singers sang pop standards, Sherly’s sister sang a couple of songs for the couple. The thing I was hoping happened. The bride is an Indonesian pop singer quite well known. We’ve seen bits and pieces of her shows on YouTube, but what a treat when she sang a live song to Chris. Her voice is beautiful and her stage presence charming.

Steff and cousin Drew:

Niece Sara and fiancé Collin.

A DJ kicked in for the after party and he had our family up and dancing all night. So much fun. Sue whispered to me that she was so hot she felt like jumping in the pool. And then she and my brother John did! It was quite spectacular and everybody loved it! I wonder what trick they have in store for Sara and Collin’s October wedding!

John and Sue make a splash.

Soaking wet Sue.

We were so fortunate to be here for this joyful family gathering full of love and smiles and laughter. And an opportunity to make new friends from another culture.

Will catch again tomorrow!

Last Days in Bali

Last days in Bali

The evening before the wedding Sherry’s family hosted a home cooked dinner at the villa where they were staying. About 1.5 hours away. This was for immediate family so Steff, Phil, John and I planned a dinner outing at Jimbaran beach. That afternoon I wasn’t feeling well after a fish n chips lunch so I elected to skip that excursion. The others took off with reliable Budi.

John said that on arrival in the beach town it appeared that only shacks selling seafood, and not many of them, lined one side of the street.

Budi turned the car into a narrow dark alley and John was a little uncomfortable. We had had an “alley event” in Beijing one time and he was having flashbacks.

They reached a very crowded parking lot then walked through one of the storefronts which they now realized was the front of a dining spot on the beach. Tables crammed as far as you could see, down to edge of the water. As the tide rose tables had to be moved back. Here are photos from that adventure where they had a huge seafood dinner served family style. Quite a variety of fish and shellfish piled on the table.

While they were out I spent the evening on our bed in our villa. Very thankful I came prepared with a variety of OTC intestinal disturbance drugs! My brother calls it “Bali Belly.” The day before my niece had to take a trip to the hospital in Nusa Dua with an asthma episode and upper respiratory infection. Nephew Drew went along to translate. He is a brilliant linguist, in addition to being a writer. The hospital/clinic was in the Western people’s hotel area and, actually run by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Sara said it was very clean, efficient, with knowledgeable medical staff.

That same night as the beach dinner there were preparations going on for the new moon festival. There is a Hindu temple on the. Resort grounds. White garbed men sat cross legged on the ground in front of the Temple chanting and softly ringing bells for hours. It was a soothing sound to me as they blessed the temple in preparation for the upcoming holiday. At some point women and children in beautiful white lace tops accented with bright yellow came to the temple, too. (I asked before I took their picture. )

Oh crap. I’m writing this on an Air Asia flight to Kuala Lumpur and it suddenly got very rough. Hope my Uncle Chin’s chicken and rice meal stays put.

Between John and I sits a man with a hacking cough and a gas issue. Dear God I wish I had a mask!

Will cover wedding day in a separate post. You may have seen the gazillion pix on FB!

Back after turbulence ends.