Friday, August 31, 2012

palm sugar

Lontar palms provide a staple fuel for the villager,s and August is peak flow of the sweet sap.  It is drunk fresh by humans and pigs every morning and afternoon, and the remainder is boiled down to a thick syrup for storage over the wet season. The gula air is the consistency of honey and is mixed with water to make a natural cordial, free from artificial colourings and flavourings. We recommend it drizzled over vegan pancakes or spooned into ginger and lemongrass tea.  If the syrup is boiled for a further hour it hardens to toffee, and the molten goodness is poured into circular moulds made from strips of lontar leaf.  The cooled "biscuits" are called gula lemping and can be crushed to a delicious dark palm sugar, far superior to processed white death. I have an intimate knowledge of the tapping process - as good as one can while remaining safely on the ground - but had not seen a gula lemping pour until our recent outing to the interior.  Simple, sustainable & organic. Long may it last. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

getting younger

Aquaman has chalked up another year of waves and commitment to the simple life. We celebrated with a divine breakfast at Colin & Linda's, after the weekly market run.  With an ocean view from the dining pavilion, we dined on frozen banana, date and cacao "mousse" with coconut cream and almonds,  papaya smoothie and a strong coffee that had us buzzing for hours. The perfect fuel for a surf; and being the good wife I had arranged for clean, head high sets all afternoon. 

Happy birthday dear Tommy, selamat hari ulang tahun. x

parked up

Back in the garage at the end of another hard day's work. 
Mick's commuter vehicle takes poll position in the pool.


Thankful for the time, 
for the place, 
for the love. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

island outings

While the McParents were here we took the opportunity to team up with our friends, Colin and Linda, and scout the back roads to the bays and beaches beyond our own.  The mid morning point of each outing was marked with a thermos of tea and a vegan treat beneath a shady tree. One can not explore new frontiers and gather priceless driftwood treasures on water alone. 

Vehicles are a novelty in these parts, and the roads are a killer on a scooter, so the offer of a bounce around in the back of Colin and Linda's ute is always welcome.  Plenty of fresh air, free solarium and unimpaired views. However a 4WD she isn't, and the wheels aren't much bigger than a lawnmower.  Despite our best efforts at road maintenance, three failed attempts to mount the final hill saw us backtrack home. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

bike bike

An afternoon cycle trip around the village with the family, trying out the newly tarred road before it collapses into ruin.  Sunset is the time of peak soccer action in dusty fields along the coast and the odd coconut palm in the middle of the pitch is no distraction - it makes up extra numbers in the defence line.  Seaweed (agar agar) harvest is in full scale production at this time of year, and the drying racks are groaning under the weight of the daily haul. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

camp oven bread

I never thought I would see the day when a camp oven arrived in our midst - I certainly wasn't going to haul a cast iron beast over in my luggage - but our neighbour Gerry had a spare ten kilograms in his allocation and visions of roast chicken in the coals.  I come from a long lineage of bush cooks, able to turn out a three course gastronomic event in the desert; and while I have witnessed, sampled and assisted many camp oven cook ups, until now, I was never alone with the coals. The in-laws were missing their daily slice of Yallingup woodfired sourdough, and I thought I might win friends and influence people with a hot loaf of olive and basil focaccia to accompany the daily salad. It had been over a month since my last intoxicating dough moment in Italy, and boy, was this good.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

art society

The Art Society has recently held its third gathering, and it is anything but an ordinary meeting. Bring your own project, afternoon tea provided.  If you dress to match the colour of your paint you get extra creativity points. The society has a founding band of two, with a guest appearance this week from Mumma Aquaman; a most talented and experienced quilter, seen here hand sewing painfully small triangles into dainty squares.  A local friend was most puzzled as to why anyone would cut up brand new fabric, only to sew it back together again. Fair call I say. I am screen printing new bolster covers, using a mini screen from textile artist Louise Snook, and Linda is drawing coral.  Dad is wandering around the outside, afraid to get too close to secret women's business.  

I began this quilt two years ago and on the odd cold night I have been using it in its half finished state, much to the disgust of my mother-in-law.  She couldn't bare going home without seeing it completed to her exacting standards, and I was more than happy to hand it over. In the absence of an iron, dad was roped in to "finger press" the seams flat before the wadding and backing fabric were pinned on.  I would have skipped over that part, such is the nature of my casual craft.  Thanks mum. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

false start

Remember that beautiful semen minyak layer the boys poured over the slab last week?
It didn't stick.

Aquaman had a lovely time chipping it off, and in the process he created enough texture on the slab for a second attempt. 

cultural highlights

Tom's parents (aka Mr & Mrs Aquaman) are here for two weeks, and being fit, sprightly young folk, each morning and evening they tear themselves away form their exclusive beachside accommodation and survey the village. You might think it is all about glistening waves and silhouetted coconut palms, but for the villagers, real beauty is a satellite dish or padded lounge. Pot plant fever has taken hold, adding colour and quaintness to bare front yards. One industrious lady has decided to put her collection up for sale, and thus become our first "florist." I wonder if I can take a cutting from the rare cool drink tree?

Friday, August 10, 2012

dad's little helpers

Like the goats and pigs, the village kids are free-range, roaming around with their friends and siblings, unconfined and safe, with a neighbourly eye never far away.  When the building team were here last week, the kids often called in for a visit, a play in the sand, and if it was market day, a special treat from Mrs Sally, the tea lady.  These are the first generation to grow up with foreigners living nearby, and it is lovely to see them develop each season and gain confidence with the strange white folk in funny houses. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

the new pad

As Aquaman is incredibly busy chasing waves and designing a resort, he contracted our usual building team of brothers to pour the the pad for our toilet and boardroom. There are no building standards here, and water proofing a slab is unheard of. They make them rough and ready, filled with rocks and a weak concrete mix to stretch the expensive cement further. Ours is a hybrid between an Aussie "raft slab" and a local rock footing, mixed by hand and poured one bucket at a time. They don't screed the slab, but trowel it in with string line guides as they go along. It doesn't make for a very neat job, so the final surface is a watery slurry of grey cement and water (semem minyak  : cement oil). It is poured on and troweled lightly, one cup at a time. They continue to smooth it as it dries, progressing to a paintbrush, and a final polish using the paper cement bag.  We are going to seal it with savon noir, a French soap made from the hulls of black olives. Once only reserved for villagers that couldn't afford tiles, the semen minyak technique is being adopted by upmarket villas and restaurants in Bali as trendy "industrial chic".  Remember, you saw it first in our toilet. 

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