Sunday, June 24, 2012


Dearest Friends,

I believe I mentioned that there were three families who traveled together to Perth that year. The first day or two, we tried traveling in a pack, but it was a bit problematic. Have you ever tried to choose one restaurant that would please twelve people? Not easy! Especially if there are several picky eaters involved. One day, when we were talking about going to a little theme park we'd heard about, and there was a good chance we might get rained on while there, one family used that as an excuse to split off and go their separate way. Too bad, really. They ended up missing one of the best days ever.

The park may not have had near as much to offer as, say, Disney World, but what they did have was a whole lot of fun. And, thanks to the gloomy weather, we practically had the park to ourselves. No waiting in lines!

I think Austin and Kevin could have ridden this one luge-like slide over and over again, all day long.

Oh wait, come to think of it, they pretty much did!

We never got more than a few brief sprinkles, and the only mishap of the day was when we let the two older kids go ride this little monorail on their own. Somehow they ended up being in separate cars, and if I remember correctly, Lex missed getting out out the right stop. She was a bit unnerved by having to find her way back to us on foot, and mama was a bit unnerved by the fact that Christopher had shown up, but she hadn't! Alas, all's well that ends well. The park was so small, she found her way back to us in no time.

Even the daddies had fun!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


December 1, 1993

Dear Mom & Dad,

Well, Merry Christmas Holidays. Becky officially has begun the Christmas season. The tree went up last weekend and the lights are out in front. Unfortunately, all the wooden yard decorations she had made have been eaten up by termites (Inserted by Author: writhing heaps of disgusting maggot-like creatures, possibly Formosa termites?). Santa was half gone, as were the candy canes. Owel.

I'll mention to my boss about the problems you've been having calling in. Apparently several other people have reported similar incidents. In the future, you might try giving the phone extension number in both English and Indonesian:

Phone Number 1246
Phone Nomor Satu (saw-too), Dua (doo-ah), Empat (im-pot), Enam (e's are short, like in "pet")

Maybe this will help.

What has Mike got to be upset about, with Geoffrey shaving his head? As I recall, Mike doesn't have any hair up there either, right? I take it Geoffrey's school  has some liberal dress codes. A lot of schools won't allow students in class with "disruptive" styles of dress, including hair styles. I guess he's just flexing his wings a bit.

Panning for Gold!
I think everyone enjoyed Australia. It was nice. In some ways, they are a few years behind the States in things. Apparently many products, such as electrical items and so forth, are tightly controlled. One store owner told me that you can't import electronic items, like games, into the country yourself. Everything has to come through a government-controlled import agency, which controls pricing. Sounds fairly bureaucratic to me. The Perth landscape is not too unlike west Texas, fairly sandy and not a lot of vegetation. The people seemed real friendly and pleasant. The funny thing was that while we were there, they started opening stores on Friday night for shopping. Up until now it was like the States back in the 50's, with stores only open late on Thursday evenings. The rest of the time they closed around 5:30 or 6:00. I don't think much was open on Sundays, as a rule. The restaurant owners are upset about the Friday night openings, thinking it will decrease the Friday night food trade. 

On the catalogs, you might try sending some via the book surface rate. Just stuff as many as you can into the standard mailer for that rate. It will take a while to get here, but that's ok. Any letters regarding upgrades or offers, though, go ahead and send regular mail.

Was her name Mimsy? Can't remember.
Alexis brought home a baby kitten the other day. So I guess we have another animal around the house. The goldfish haven't fared too well. Austin has lost several, plus his tank leaks, and when we returned from Australia, one of Alexis' three had died. I think the cat will be easier to take care of.

Well, UT cost me another case of beer to Dan Reeh this year. I sure wish they'd be able to beat A&M for once. Saw the ending of the Dallas/Miami game on the news. Looked like the snow was pretty deep. That must have been some game.

Not much else to tell now. I'll see if Becky wants to add anything before finding someone who is heading out to mail this for us.  Take care.

Your Son,

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Dearest Friends,

While in Perth we visited a petting zoo unlike any we had ever seen before. The kids were in hog heaven (or should I say koala heaven?). Mom and Dad were pretty giddy too!

A lovely park ranger gives the kids a peak at Little Roo!

I believe that was a wombat in my hubby's arms, if I remember correctly

Monday, June 11, 2012


Dearest Friends,

Shortly after arriving in Perth, we discovered that we'd got there just in time for the Fremantle Festival -- Australia's longest running festival (2012 will be its 107th year!). The festival is named for Fremantle Harbour, "port of Perth", and the Fremantle area is a tourist mecca known for its art, culture, cafes and of course, shopping -- just what we had come for!

What a great way to begin our Aussie adventure!

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Is she excited, or what?
Dearest Friends,

Our last year in Indonesia, we decided to use the kids' fall break to join two other families on a trip to Australia. We figured, in all likelihood, we'd never be this close to it again. The kids were ecstatic, not just because we were going to Australia, but because we were going with their best buddies, Chris, Kevin, and Austin H. Austin's little sister Katie would be there as well, but she was only four or five, so she didn't count as far as the big kids were concerned. Besides, she was a girl.

On the recommendation of friends who had been there before, we were able to rent little bungalow-like rooms that could each sleep an entire family, and which had living areas and kitchenettes. Yes, they were a far cry from the Singapore Hyatt, and no, the drapes didn't actually match the bedspreads, which could be disturbing to some, but hey, they were right on the water. Besides, we didn't plan to waste too much time in them!

First order of the day was to rent some boogie boards.

That's where we discovered that all those rumors you hear about the flies in Australia are absolutely true! Second order of the day was to find hats with bobble corks on them.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


25th November, 1993

Dear Folks,

Just have time for a quick note since I want to hand this off to someone who is leaving for the states in the morning. Mom, would you please share yours with the Dallas gang and pass the photos around? Seems like I've been gone most of November, and although I really enjoyed Bukit Tinggi and Perth, it's awfully good to be home -- especially since I can officially start decorating for Christmas tomorrow! Bukit Tinggi was so fascinating. Believe it or not, it's actually quite clean up there! And cool, too, since it's up in the hills. Each little village has its own special craft, so we visited one where they all weave beautiful cloth with gold threads, another where they are all silver smiths, another where they craft brass irons and musical instruments, etc. The flowers were unbelievable. Every house, no matter how poor, had gorgeous gardens and window boxes. The most unusual thing about it was that the Minangkebau people are a matrilineal society. Everything, including the family name, is passed from mother to daughter, and the men don't own a thing! Brilliant, no? I'm not sure how they reconcile that with being Muslim, though. Our area of Indonesia is the antithesis of everything we saw in W. Sumatra. It is the most fanatically Muslim area in all of Indonesia, and for some reason, that seems to discourage beauty and creativity. (Note: all photos here are from W. Sumatra. Perth photos will follow.)

One of the underground tunnels left by the Japanese in WWII
When I returned from the trip on Saturday evening, John was pretty frazzled. The kids from the Medan school were up here for an exchange week-end, and they had assigned four little Malaysian girls to stay at our house! Luckily, we still had our temporary cook then, because they all had to have special diets. I was only home for six days before we headed off to Australia. Perth was wonderful, but one week in Australia just isn't nearly enough! I'm afraid we concentrated on all the typical touristy things, including a good bit of time at K-Mart and Target! While I was there, though, I did pick up a book about home-stays in eastern Australia. It includes everything from B&Bs to sheep stations in the outback. I just hope we get a chance to go back some day.

I'm really sorry that everyone has had such a hard time getting through on the phone. I'm afraid there's nothing we can do about it though. Mom, thanks so much for getting that book for me to instruct Alexis on communion with. We will start after Christmas. How much do I owe you for the book and postage? Is Dad's knee any better? We nearly died laughing at one of your answers on my "Christmas Memories" questionnaire. Modie's special Christmas dishes were dates and prune whip? Well, no wonder Dad had to teach himself to cook at such an early age!

Theda, how was your Thanksgiving with Betty, and the trip to Roswell? Hope you had a good time. Has Taz tried to pull down the Christmas tree yet?

Laura and Ruth got pulled on stage to participate in a cultural performance we attended. The native dancers are all barefoot. Wonder how often they get their toes stomped by clumsy tourists?
Prisi, how was Steve's wedding? Did everyone wear black and orange? When you described Megan's first visit home from college, it reminded me of a Donna Reed episode I once saw, where Shelly Fabares did exactly the same thing!

Guess that's all for now. We're about out of Kool-Aid here, and I couldn't find any in Singapore, so if anyone would stick one little package of the pre-sweetened variety (any flavor) in their next letter, we would be eternally grateful!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


To market, to market...
Dearest Friends,

Here is what I love most about blogging: it allows you to enjoy one adventure over and over again, each time with new eyes! Take this trip to W. Sumatra. Tucked into the pile of photos I have from this trip were many of a large lake -- a lake I don't much recall.

I remember this photo. This was one of the more "rustic" hotels we stayed in on this trip, and, hard as that was to believe, I remember everyone charging into our room wanting to see it, because it was so much more luxurious than the others! Perhaps we got the bridal suite? That, however, is just about all I remember of this leg of the journey -- nothing about the lake, not even its name. So, I had to do some research. I am now fairly certain this must be Lake Maninjau, the largest in the area.

Drying Fish
In the process, I discovered a lot of stuff which probably went in one ear and out the other of my forty-year-old self (who knew less than nothing about permaculture or local food systems) but which just delights my fifty-eight-year-old self no end! I read about how the lake not only provides hydroelectric power to the area, but is also an entire food system in and of itself! They practice aquaculture in the lake, using floating net cages. There are rice fields on the lower swampy areas. Then there are forest-like tree gardens on the slopes above, where they grow fruit (durian, jackfruit, rambutan, etc.), spices (cinnamon, coffee, nutmeg, cardamum) and timber.

The School Bus

Is that awesome, or what?