Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Here's what 4:30am sounds like around here (this video was actually taken during Ramadan so it is slightly louder than usual, but not too much)...wait, before you watch it (although it's really more of a listen than a watch since the video is mostly just our window...there isn't much to see in the dark of early, early morning anyway), see if you can hear the following on the video:

- Call to can hear one main Mosque, but there are lots of others in the background

- Roosters...and don't think they only crow at this early hour, they seriously go all day and sometimes throughout the night, grrr.

- A lizard calling to his's sort of a kissing sound, they especially love to make it during the evening and night, and apparently in the early morning.

Okay, here's the video...

Did you hear the sounds?

You may be wondering how we sleep through the early morning noises...the answer, we don't!  Or at least we didn't until we got an awesome super-loud fan, which improved our sleep quality considerably.  Seriously, that fan is one of the best purchases we have made in Indonesia!

Thought you might enjoy another brief peek into our world here.

Hope your day (or night) is excellent!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Reluctant Team Player

I'm a little late with my 5 minute Friday post this week...I've been busy helping my husband celebrate his 33rd birthday, yay!  The prompt for this week is...


I've never been much of a "joiner".  My childhood was marked by memberships and subsequent drop-outs in various clubs and sports teams.  Most of the time I wanted to be home curled up with a book rather than out being a part of this or that event...I'm still the same way today.  Being part of a team was always a concept I liked, but the reality is, being raised by two introverted, slightly non-conformist parents, I didn't want to be defined by what I was involved in, or (horror of horrors), have repeated time commitments!  My nature is to stick with my family and small circle of friends, joining the crowd (no matter which crowd) always makes me feel a little, well, trapped.

Given this background it has been very interesting to become a part of a pretty small team of expats on a little island in Indonesia.  Considering the locals often mix me up with the other Westerners on our team, and I'm constantly defined by those I spend time with, it pretty much goes against how I have conducted myself in life thus far.  It's been an excellent, if somewhat uncomfortable, experience of learning to depend on new friends, letting go of the need to be separate, and extending myself even when I would rather stay in a place that feels cozy.

Although I certainly wouldn't now put myself in the "joiner" category, as I prepare to leave this team and re-enter the all-hail-the-individual culture of the U.S. I want to continue to be a part of different teams, even if the thought makes me feel a little squeamish!

Some of the ladies on my overseas team

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Silver Lining...Sort Of

As some of you may know, our house was broken into a little over a month ago, which was, of course, an unpleasant experience.  Following the break-in the local police came to our house along with various other people, including several photographers.  I think there were about 30 men standing around our yard asking me questions in Indonesian that I was not doing a good job of understanding or answering in my state of stress.  Anyway, I assumed the photographers were part of the police investigation…and then this newspaper article made its way into Chris’s mailbox at work a couple weeks ago…

Yes, that’s an ever-so attractive (ugh) photo of me looking like I’m about to get sick (I felt like I was going to at the time), and Sadie, the poor dog that the robbers poisoned.  The headline of the article roughly translates to:  “Hostility toward a pilot’s house, the thief poisoned the dog”.  It is clear that the dog poisoning was a main focus of the article, although there are a couple of very intelligent quotes from yours truly that appeared to be lifted directly from the police report we filed including,

“They gave the dog poison, but she didn’t die, just threw-up”


“While someone was in our house my husband was flying and I was out eating.” 

My favorite is the quote at the end of the article, which I clearly did not intend to be published in the newspaper…

“We had money in a drawer, but they didn’t take it, they just stole my laptop.”

Great, let’s advertise in the paper that we have drawers full of money in our house (we don’t, well, not much money anyway) so any other interested thieves can start planning their next visit.

The best part about this article is that it appeared on the front page of the paper, the FRONT PAGE!  This gives you some insight into just how small the island we live on is, and how Westerners are viewed here (borderline celebrity status at times).

So there you have it, Sadie and I were front page news on the island of Tarakan, and I clearly came off as both attractive and eloquent (bahahaha, far from it)…I can now say I had my proverbial 15 minutes (or 1 day) of fame.  Likely this will be the only time I make the front page of any paper (hopefully, unless it’s for something a lot more fun than this), so I have to smile a little about that silver lining to an otherwise not-so-great experience.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Elastagirl Checks In

It's Five Minute Friday again, and the prompt is...


Ooo-ooo-ooo, sometimes I feel like I have been so stretched in the last 3 years that you might as well call me Elastagirl!  

From 30 years of living in Michigan no further than an hour and a half from my family to getting married, moving to Florida for 4 months to raising support to go overseas involving regularly speaking in front of churches, going out to meals and staying overnight at people's homes who, as wonderful and gracious as they were to us, were mostly strangers to me, packing up as many of my earthly belongings that would fit in a crate, shipping them across the ocean, traveling across the world to live in a country I had barely heard of before I met my husband, living in the midst of cobras and palm trees and big ol' roaches and rats IN MY TOILET, learning a whole new language (sort of), joining a community of amazing people and making some lifelong friends, being stared at and getting WAY too much attention every time I leave the house, seeing what I believe, I mean what I really believe about God and myself and facing how much growing I still have to do, and, and, and...can I make this run-on sentence any betcha, but I won't!  I feel like jamming all those words together in one sentence is an illustration of how my life has felt, running on like a freight train and me breathless, holding on and trying to not just live through it, but grow too.

Now we prepare to head home to start the next phase of life, whatever that will be...yet to be determined (motherhood? wife of a commercial pilot? living in a brand new city and state? building new friendships?), I gather my limbs and head and heart, all stretched and misshapen, and realize I'm amazingly okay, I have made it this far, God hasn't left me.  I just might make it through the next whirlwind too, and the next, and the next...cause that's life right? One crazy, amazing, awful, wonderful storm after another and us stretching like super-dynamic rubber bands to keep up!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Connect

It's Friday again, time for my 5 minute Friday post-fun!

Today's topic is Connect...

When I think of connecting the first thing I think of is Skype.  Ah, Skype, close friend of many that are an ocean away from their families.  Our Internet is kind of poor (okay, kind of is an takes 10 minutes to load a 30 second YouTube video), so our connection with family and friends is often disjointed, delayed, and frequently cut off, but I can still hear and even see loved ones who I haven't seen in almost 2 years from all the way across the world.  It's amazing, really!

The power to connect across thousands of miles makes this big world seem a lot smaller, and in a way, it is.  As I live overseas I see people who look very different than me living a similar, cleaning, working, talking with friends, running errands around town, the same stuff I do here and that people I know are doing in my home country everyday.  No matter where people live and in what kind of circumstances, all of us are looking to connect, whether it's with one particular person, or many, with co-workers, family members, friends, neighbors, even pets...I think we all want to impact someone, to have someone impact us, to connect and be known.

I want to write more, but I'm going over my 5 minutes!  It's good to be able to connect with people through this blog, as silly and babbling as it often is...thanks for reading it and connecting to my little world!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Passing the Days with Pictures

While reading my friend April's very fun blog, Catching Fireflies (it's connected with her and her husband's super-nifty gift shops of the same name in Berkley, MI and Rochester, MI...if you live in the area and you haven't visited them yet, you totally should), I was inspired to join the Photo-A-Day Challenge  started by Chantelle at her blog Fat Mum Slim.  I joined Instagram (I can't believe it's taken me this long, I've been adoring other peoples' new vintage-looking pictures on Facebook for months), and I've been happily snapping away meeting the daily photo challenge.  Here's the list of photos for August:

If you want to follow my day-to-day in pictures you can check them out on Instagram under the username sessabeesd.  

Side note: I really need to tell my parents that they don't need to worry about restoring their newlywed pictures and shots of me as a baby that have faded or turned pink or yellow, because guess what, they are actually way trendy now!

As our days in Indonesia dwindle (that is such a weird word, and one of those that doesn't seem like a real word when I type it), it's good to record our simple life here in photos.  Somehow the randomness of this list of pictures captures the essence of life here for me, so I can look back and remember little things, like my messy freezer, which I took a picture of today. 

My freezer is absolutely jam-packed because I store months worth of cheese and bacon, lovingly procured on vacations to other parts of Indonesia and stowed in my carry-on...yes, a carry-on full of fat, all the precious herbs, spices. nuts, coffee, and chocolate chips from the U.S. that I freeze to keep them usable for as long as possible, homemade chicken broth, piles of meat in preparation for the end of Ramadan when there won't be much food in the stores and the market for a bit, homemade naan, tortillas, and pita bread to pull out for quick lunches, and lots of other odds and ends that I try to preserve from the heat and humidity.  Funny how just one picture represents a lot of my life here-making most stuff from scratch, carefully keeping and rationing food that isn't available on our island, stocking up for lean times.  Doing this life has certainly been an education!  It's also made me realize that I really love good food and I will go to great lengths (5 hours in the steamy kitchen) to get it!  

Okay, I've hit babbling mode now, but back to the photo-a-day challenge; if the idea of recording daily life one picture at a time intrigues you, I would recommend going for it.  I am having lots of fun with it and my bet is that you will too!

Happy snapping (pictures, not at people)!

Friday, August 3, 2012

My First 'Five Minute Friday' Post

Posts two days in a row, unbelievable, no?  

I was visiting my friend Mary's blog, Bittersweet, and saw she has been doing something that I find so neat I think I will try it myself.  Mary is participating in Five Minute Friday, a "free write flash mob" as termed by it's creator, Lisa-Jo Baker on her blog Tales from a Gypsy Mama.  

Here 's the skinny...a prompt is provided and you are supposed to write anything you want based on that prompt for only 5 minutes, no extra time for editing and making it perfectly spell-checked and grammatically correct, just seeing what comes out in five minutes and sharing that (that's going to be hard for this perfectionist).  After you are done writing you link up to the Gypsy Mama's blog and visit whoever linked up before you to read that person's free write and encourage him or her.  

Pretty fun, huh?  

I'm going to put a button on my blog for Five Minute Friday so you can click on that and read about this link up yourselves, but first I have to figure out how to do that.  I'm trying to learn blogging on a new computer AND trying to get a bit more snazzy with my blog in the process, which is teaching me patience with myself, sort of.  Sort of as in it's teaching, but I'm not always learning!

So, here I go...

The prompt for this Friday is: Here

Here is where I need to be right now.  Even though I am pretty much wanting to be somewhere else, home to be specific.

Here is hot and sweaty, anxious and tiring, loud and smelly, but also interesting.

Always interesting and always changing me, growing me.

Here is the place I can't hide my real difficulties in fun leisure and a never-ending quest for happiness.

Here I see myself and I see just how much work needs to be done.  Here is hard, but here is so good for me in so many ways.

Here is where I have sunk my heart deep into friendships.

Here is where I have time to contemplate in the midst of the daily tasks I know I can accomplish.

Here i have a created a space for my husband and I to rest and have fun, a respite...a home from a cement-walled house in the tropics far, far from home.

Here is where I have been placed for a time.

Here is growth.

Here is a blessing.

The bright red sun setting in a hazy sky after a hot, hot Borneo day

For Laughs

As you can tell from my last post, things have been pretty heavy around here lately.  I don't know about you, but I am in serious need of something to make me giggle!  As I have been going through the multi-step process of recovering the files, pictures, and music from my now long-gone laptop I came upon a bunch of random pictures from the last month that made me smile, and I thought they might give you a chuckle too...

Chris bought a new fan at the store and this is how he carried it home on his motorcycle.  Ah, the ingenuity that is born out of life without a car!

Roti Boy...a fine Indonesian establishment.  'Roti' means bread and, as you can tell by the sign, the Roti Boy is all about buns, sweet, warm, crunchy donut-type goodies that are really quite good.  I'm not sure if the Indonesians quite understand the double entendre in their "buns to die for" slogan, but it always makes me smile.

Chris, ever the fashion-forward chap decided he had to join a couple of our fashionista friends in sporting what he very NON-affectionately refers to as the "belly belt".  Chris has been quite vocal about his confusion and dislike of this trend (he is also outspoken in his horror of skinny jeans and leggings, and the dreaded combo, jeggings), but after his frequent protests went unneeded he figured if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  Let me add that he didn't just wear his "belly belt" for a few minutes, oh no, he sported it for the entire morning.  That's commitment.

Okay, it's very possible that I am way out of what is going on with jewelry styles in the States, because, well, I haven't been living there in awhile, so two finger rings might be all the rage, but I don't know...I found this one rather binding and well, just sort of weird.  What do you think?  Hmm...

Yeah, yeah, I know it's a little strange to post a picture of a bra on here, but relax people, you've all seen one before.  I was just confused and frankly a bit grossed out by this tag...wait a minute are they actually using perspiration as an advertising tool and trying to make me believe  the presence of it will somehow improve the softness of my skin?   Hi, uncomfortable and ew.  Plus they used the word "moist".  Nobody likes that word, yuck.

A martini, a fruity girly drink, oh no my friends, it's so much more, a mocktail!  A staple of most upscale Indonesian restaurants, the mocktail is oh-so-silly, but I couldn't resist!

This cat is having a very bad day!  The dog, Sadie, that we were watching a couple weeks ago went barreling out the door one morning and chased one of the ever-present neighborhood feral cats into a tree in our yard.  Sadie was just thrilled about the whole situation, I was meanly amused because I have an ongoing grudge towards all cats in this culture due to their incessant urination and copulation in our ceiling, and the cat, well, she would have killed us both if she could.  I wondered how she would get down, but after a couple hours I checked and she was gone, and no dead cat below the tree, so she must have made it out okay.  Haven't seen her since.  Ha.

I think this picture is cute, so I put it in, even though it's not funny.  Chris and I had lunch at this little place in Balikpapan during the week of family conference and the owner took our picture after we ate.  The place is a bakery and restaurant that is decorated like a European cafe-very cute!  The ambiance was great and the food was good too. 

I hope these pictures gave you a  couple laughs (Chris rocking the belly belt, come on, it doesn't get much better than that).  Keep enjoying your summer!

P.S. I'm trying out a brand new program to compose my blog posts, so if things are a little weird in this post that's the reason.  I mean that's the reason for weird technical stuff, the weird writing is just you know, me.