Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Another Photo Day

Well, it was a typical summer vacation day.....slept-in until 9:00, took a shower, and turned on the TV. There was an old Yankee game on TV (from a couple of days ago), so I watched the Yanks lose to Baltimore 4-2, and saw Barry Bonds hit his 754th homerun. The game was over at about 11:00. Tika made me a delicious steak sandwich, and I moved from the couch to my computer with my big bowl of fruit.

I then spent most of the day working on my galleries on pbase.com. These are the banners that I made above. I am pretty happy with them. You can see the real deal by clicking "my pbase galleries" link to the right, and then go to the appropriate gallery. I have new gallery called, "window of light" which features some of my favorite photos. I wanted to experiment with a different format.

I also bought a ticket to Singapore. I will be leaving on Thursday, and I will have a colonoscopy done on Friday, and then return to Jakarta on Saturday. Yuck.

Not much else new.....later.

oh, by the way, if you click on any photo above, you can see a larger version...

Monday, July 30, 2007

Only a Week Left of Vacation

Not a bad day as far as productivity is concerned...

I was able to get to the embassy to pick up my mail which is always a threat to my insanity. Driving in Jakarta can really test your ability to not jump out of your car and strangle people. I made it up and back with maybe only 5 cuss words spoken....not bad.

Tika's sister left today with Tasha. Luckily, I was not there to see the tears...although Tika said she didn't cry. However, I heard that Tasha wasn't so lucky....Kayla was asleep, and we weren't sure how she would react when finding out Tasha wasn't here to play. She seems to be ok as she had fun playing with the Styrofoam from the packages (that's her in the photo above playing). It was great having Tika's sister and Tasha around. Tika's Mom is still here, and will stay a bit longer.

The wood situation in the house has complicated more. My deal in Papua fell through as I could not get the paper work to show it was legal wood. Can't do that....so, we have passed our needs off to my brother-in-law in central java who will look into getting a good deal for us. We are going to use teak for all the windows and doors, and a wood called, Sono for our floors. The Sono has lots of beautiful grain, but is a very dark wood. We figure with all our windows and light, it will be ok to have dark floors....it is a harder wood than teak, and cheaper...the latter I like.

New from home has Mom and Dad with a new car. Check my Dad's blog out by clicking on the link to the right, and you can see a photo of his new car. They seem very pleased....it does sound like a very cool car.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Spent the Day Doing WHAT??

Ok, I spent the entire day today working on this banner above, and trying to figure out how to place it in one of my galleries on pbase. I was pulling my hair out (well, ok, your are right, I have no hair) trying to do it, and in the end it was really easy. I felt so stupid afterwards....thanks to the forums, I was able to find the solution. Good thing I am still on vacation and have the time to do these kind of silly things.

In the meantime, the girls keep coming into my office with balls in their bellies pretending to be pregnant....too cute.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


The Javanese tradition is to have a "Selamatan" for your house just before the roof goes up. They hang bananas and a coconut on the second floor, and bury some kind of pot in the floor. They say a bunch of prayers, and then eat food. The process cleans the house, gives you good luck, and gets rid of any evil spirits. The ceremony took place in what will be our master bedroom.

Tika, Tika's Mom, sister and sister-in-law have been cooking for the past three days to feed the 43 workers at our house and others that were there to perform the ceremony. It was pretty cool. Tom and Butch were able to join us for the festivities.

Afterwards, we chose what kind of wood we wanted for the floors, windows and doors, and also had to decide on tile for the pool and fish ponds. We are going with blue and white tiles for the pool, and a greenish tile for the fish ponds. The tile should be installed in three weeks.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Kayla and Tasha

Talk about a different little girl....during our vacation, Kayla was very clingy, and always wanting to follow us around everywhere we went...

Well, since being home with her cousin Tasha in the house, Kayla could care less about Mommy and Daddy....they have been giggling, running around, playing with make-up, dancing, singing, crying sometimes, pushing their dolls around, you name it....so nice, to not have to worry about leaving the house without Kayla....the good times will end on Sunday, though, when Tasha goes home.....I am not looking forward to Sunday.....maybe I should play golf.....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Ok, how cool is this?? I read on Scott Kelby's site of this site that will take a photo of yourself and turn it into a Simpson's style photo. I guess you can tell I have a lot of free time on my hands today....this took me some time to do....but it is pretty cool.

Checking on the House

It has been a month since we last checked on the house....and a great deal of work was done. It is really starting to look like a house now, and we are very pleased with the progress....

If you click on any photo below, you can see a larger version of the photo.....

The above photo is of the master bedroom (bottom floor), and my office on the top floor. The steel beams for the roof are being built on top...

Above is the view of the house from the back yard. Again, the master bedroom on the bottom floor, and the office above. Just left of the master bedroom is the outdoor portion of our bathroom.
This view is from the back of the pool. You can see Kayla's bathroom with the vertical windows. Just right of that is Kayla's bedroom...then the covered terrace, and then the large open living room overlooking the pool. The structure for the roof has been put up over the living room.

Tika's mom and sister are here for the "Selamatan" ceremony that will take place on Thursday. They are busy cooking for 60 people. It is a Javanese tradition to perform a "selamatan" on the house when the roof goes up....gives the house good luck and gets rid of any evil spirits...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Flying Back to Jakarta

We left Boston at 8:30 in the morning, and drove to NY City. It took only about 4 hours. Traffic was not bad considering it was a Saturday, and the Yankees had a double header. The radio was saying that there were traffic delays most everywhere, but we must have been lucky to avoid the jams.

The big story was returning the car seat to Pam. We bought a box (well, two boxes) while in Connecticut, and took the box and car seat to the post office in Connecticut to have it weighed and priced. They put a price sticker on the box, and the plan was to mail it when in NY. Well, the tricky part was finding a post office near Kennedy Airport. We parked the car at the airport, carried the seat and box to the terminal only to find out that the post office in the terminal only accepted letters. So, back to the car. It cost us 6 bucks to park....argggggh....then we plugged "post office" into the nav system, and it took us to a non-existing post office in a not-so-nice part of town. So, we tried another entry in the nav system, and it took us to another post office. Closed. Hours of operation on a Saturday were from 9:00 - 2:30.....arggggh.....so our only other option was to take the car to Hertz and see if they would mail it for us.

While backing out of the parking spot of the post office, I backed into a yellow post putting a nice dent with yellow markings on the bumper.....argggggh.......you can imagine the bad words spoken at that moment.

Back to the airport. We parked the car, searched for abandoned carts in the parking lot (they cost money in the states), loaded up our heaps of luggage, and carried them to the terminal. I dropped the girls off in the terminal with the bags while I returned the rental car.

Parking was only 3 dollars if you were there for less than 30 minutes. It jumped to 6 bucks after 30 minutes to an hour. I was in line to pay for parking at the 25 minute mark. Some idiot in front of me with diplomat plates had some kind of problem paying.....I had to wait 10 minutes for him to finally move away. When I got to the booth to pay, the attendant told me I owed 6 bucks. I argued that I had to wait for the guy in front of me for 10 minutes which put me over the 30 minute mark....I won the argument, and was only charged 3 bucks. One point for me.

When I returned the rental car, I didn't say anything about the little mishap in the post office parking lot. The guy walked around the car, and I waited in anticipation of the feared words....but, the guy said nothing. Asked me how the car was, and then printed my receipt. One more point for me.

I then asked the guy about the car seat. He was Pakistani or something, and didn't speak English very well. I told him the story of the car seat, and asked nicely if Hertz could mail the package. He mumbled something, and put the box to the side.....I am not sure if that box will ever make it out of the Hertz parking lot, but Pam, I tried....hopefully, you will get the seat in the mail.

The flight to Jakarta was long, but Kayla was incredible. Not a single complaint, no crying, no bad moods....she sat in her seat quietly the entire 20 or so hours it took to get home. She is an unbelievably good traveler. I was very happy and proud of her.

Our movies didn't work on the plane, and I complained about that as that is one of the best things about flying Singapore Air....the choice of movies. They gave each of us (Kayla, Tika and me) a $75 gift certificate to purchase anything from their on-board duty free catalog. I bought a Braun shaver, and a 4-gig USB drive, and Tika bought some perfume.....not a bad deal.....the movies started to work later in the flight, but the flight attendants said we could keep the gifts anyway......good airline.

Friday, July 20, 2007


I must say that I was very impressed with Boston. Maybe it was the weather, but we had a terrific day.

It didn't start off too well, however. I didn't really know where to stay, and I had heard and been told that parking in the city was near impossible. The advice given was to get a hotel outside of the city, and then take the commuter train into the city. So, I booked a hotel near Salem which ended up being too far from the city (about 30 miles). We found the commuter train, but had to wait in a pretty ugly train stop for about an hour waiting for the train. Tika was not impressed.

When the train arrived, it took us to the North Station which was about a block away from Faneuil Hall Marketplace where we spent most of the day. The weather was another beautiful Northeastern day....just perfect. I couldn't take enough photos of the city buildings with the wild cloud formations in the sky (see above).

I had called our friend Chris McCarthy to see if he could show us around his hometown, but he was out of town in New Hampshire visiting his parents....too bad we couldn't hook up. Chris, we loved Boston.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Newport Rhode Island

We left Connecticut at a reasonable hour, took a couple more photos, and then headed up north to Newport, Rhode Island. Newport is one of my favorite places...lots of ocean, rocky shore lines, sail boats, great pubs and eating places, good people watching, and of course the famous Newport Mansions.

We only had time to visit one mansion....the Vanderbuilt's "summer cottage" called "The Breakers". It is the most famous of the mansions, and it is spectacular. Tika was in awe. Kayla wasn't feeling too well (see photo above), but still had a great time running around the large grass area.

The weather was foggy when we toured the mansion, but later, it was gorgeous....blue skies, puffy white clouds, 74 degrees, low humidity and breezy. Man, sure miss that kind of weather when in Indonesia.

While Tika was trying on clothes in one of the stores, I struck up a conversation with the guy sitting next to me waiting for his wife while she tried on clothes. Turns out he is an NFO (Naval Flight Officer) stationed in Newport. We talked flying for awhile, and then he asked me what I was doing in Indonesia. He seemed fascinated with my stories of JIS and living overseas. His wife then came out, and they left the store.....a few minutes later, his wife comes running back into the store to talk to me about teaching overseas (obviously, her husband was telling her what I had said). She is a teacher, and he is getting out of the Navy and thinking about teaching. So we exchanged email addresses, and they are very serious about getting overseas. Then the guy who owned the store piped into our conversation. He is an Indian guy born in Thailand. He had been living in Newport the past 23 years with his Thai wife. He said that he really wanted to spend half the year in Thailand, and half the year in Newport....now that would be the life.

Anyway, the store owner told us about a local Italian place, and we had dinner there. It was really good, and a perfect way to end our stay in Newport.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Graham's Gamble

One gigantic change to the area are the two new casinos, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods. They popped up on the Indian reservations a few years after I left Connecticut. The casinos rival any casino in Vegas....they are both incredible. Since we had Kayla with us, we were only able to try the slot machines as one of us stepped into the casino while the other held Kayla just outside a few feet away. We lost 40 bucks in less than 5 minutes. So much for being lucky....it is no wonder this casino was reported to rake in over a BILLION dollars in one month on the slot machines alone. Wow.

Driving Down Memory Lane in Connecticut

Driving today was totally in rain and fog. The worst weather day we have had all summer. We took I-95 North to my old home town of Gales Ferry, Connecticut. This time, we didn't need the navigation system. The muscle memory in my driving hands took me over the New London Bridge, down Rt. 12, and onto the familiar back roads of Gales Ferry and Ledyard. Driving down Whale Head Drive was just like it always was....I knew each and every turn like the back of my hand.

My first stop, and I still remembered how to get there, was Abbott's in Noank for a freshly cooked lobster. It was great, and the place had not changed one bit.
This is the Mystic Aquarium where I worked every summer during high school and college. This place had changed a great deal, but still one of the best aquariums around.
Of course, I had to stop by my old high school. I jumped out to get a photo....another spot frozen in time...
The last stop of the day was at our old house at 20 Maid Marion Dr. The house was empty to my surprise. The solar panels were gone from the back, but most everything else looked pretty much the same except that the house looked pretty run down. As soon as I stepped onto the back porch, memories of throwing rocks into the woods for our dog Lorie came rushing back. Then peering into the woods, I remembered the long hours of hauling the chain saw and axe back into the woods, and dragging out cord after cord of wood to keep the house warm while Dad was at sea. Of course, when Dad came home, it was our favorite(?) pastime to hike into the woods looking for "prime rib" to cut, and then taking turns in splitting wood with the axe and stacking the wood.....ah, what fun.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Yankee Stadium

Yes, the title is correct!! Yankee Stadium.....finally, I get to see the Yankees live. First time ever for me, and it was at Yankee Stadium!! Not only did we see the Yankees, but it was a great game as well.....

The plan was pretty firm. We would leave Aunt Judy's no later than 9:30. We were up in time, had breakfast, and were out of the house pretty much on time. The problem was, I had to get gas and cash. That took some time, and to make matters worse, I had to go back to Aunt Judy's twice for forgotten items. First, I forgot to drop off the CD of photos for the Fuqua family. Then, I had to go back to pick up our airline tickets that I left on the kitchen counter. Good thing Mom lent me her cell phone, or we would have been in pretty bad moods when arriving in New York with no tickets.

Anyway, we were on the highway at 11:00......way late. We didn't arrive in Stamford, Conn. until about 5:00 in the afternoon (we had an hour lunch....another long story). We arrived too late to do any of our plans in the city. However, while listening to the radio on the way up to NY, I heard that the Yankees would be in town playing a night game. A great idea popped into my head....why not go see the Yankees?? What better NY experience than that??

When we arrived at the hotel, I asked the desk clerk if he thought it possible to get tickets at such the last minute. He thought we were crazy.....but I insisted on going. So I dialed in "Yankee Stadium" in the navigation system of the rental car, and we were off to the Bronx. The game started at 7:00. We left the hotel at 6:30. We arrived at the stadium at about 7:30, paid 20 dollars to park, and then walked to the ticket booth. The cheapest tickets available were 88 dollars. What is a guy to do?? A once-in-a-lifetime event for me....without hesitation, and with a grimaced face on Tika, I handed over the credit card.

The game was tied at 1 when we arrived at our seats....it was the top of the third inning. Two drunks were sitting in our seats, and the people sitting in front of us were relieved that we took their places. I had a grin two feet long pasted on my face as we sat only 20 rows back left of home plate. Awesome seats (they should be for 88 bucks each)!!

We thought the Yanks were going to lose, but in the 10th inning, they got a couple of guys on base, and a base hit won the game. It was VERY cool to be there.
I didn't come very prepared in way of camera equipment to the game. I only brought my 18-70mm lens, not enough to get any good shots. The photo above is terribly out-of-focus, but it was the best I could do with the equipment I had....the photo is of A-rod. That is how close we were to the plate.....not bad seats, heh?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dinner at the Mckees

We are off on our road trip. The first stop is just outside of DC in Vienna, Virginia to visit Uncle Dave and Aunt Judy. We arrived at around 6:00 pm, just in time for dinner. Val and Catherine were there to join us for dinner as well as Megan.

We caught up with the latest news, and ate dinner in the new "board room".....a thirty foot table which lies in the new extended dining room. Uncle Dave sat at one end, and I sat at the other end.....the table was so big, we would need megaphones to carry on a conversation. Kidding, of course.

We had a nice visit, and slept in Matthew's old room on his water bed. Kayla pushed us to the sides of the bed during the night, as usual, but it was a good night's sleep. Thank you to Uncle Dave and Aunt Judy for a nice visit....too bad it was so short.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Road Trip Starts Tomorrow

Well, all good things must come to an end. This is our last day with Grand Dad and Mei Mei. It is always sad to leave, but we will always have our next meeting to look forward to. Hopefully, the next time we see my parents will be back in Jakarta when our house is finished.....we shall see.

We had a wonderful time staying in Virginia Beach....maximum golf and shopping occurred, we watched HD TV on a 61 inch TV, swam daily in Mom and Dad's new pool, took walks along the golf course at sunset, had great dinner BBQ's out on the deck, had Kayla Baptised, and of course, we had a week with family at Disney World. It has been a great summer and great visit. Thank you Mom and Dad for such a great visit!!!

I won't be making any more blog entries until we return to Jakarta as I won't have access to a computer on our road trip. We will be traveling to Aunt Judy's tomorrow in Northern Virginia, and then NY City on Tuesday, Mystic Connecticut on Wednesday, NewPort Rhode Island on Thursday, and Boston on Friday. We will then drive back to NY City on Saturday to catch our flight back to Jakarta Saturday night.....see ya later.....

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Big Toys for Little Boys

For Father's Day, all of us kids got Grand Dad a new iPhone. It arrived early this morning, and of course, Dad loved it, and played with it all day. I am jealous, and can't wait to get my own...just don't know when Indonesia will have the iPhone...it is one cool toy.

Not to be outdone by Dad....I bought myself two new golf clubs. I got the new Nike - Sumo driver, and a new 29 degree cobra hybrid. I am now ready to take on the challenges of the Virginia National Course tomorrow. Watch out Tiger.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Kayla Baptised

Kayla was baptised today.....the ceremony took only about 10 minutes, and Kayla's only request was that her hair not get wet. She looked very pretty in her new white dress and shoes that Mei Mei bought her.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Golfn' and Swimmin'

Our last week at Grand Dad's and Mei Mei's started off with a round of golf. Dad and I played Heron Ridge in the heat. It was slow moving ( a VERY slow group in front of us), and I didn't play well. Golf really is a stupid game....but I am sure things will bounce back if I buy a few new clubs. Dad shot his consistently good drives (makes me sick) for a modest 79, while I managed to hack around the course digging holes to plant trees for a modest 91... I hope to be as good as he is some day....

After golf, it was dip in the pool. Kayla is getting better in the water, and even put her face in the water today.....well barely, but it is a start. She also wanted to swing a golf club.....a Dad's dream, right? Maybe I can follow her on the LPGA tour when I retire...that would really be a Dad's dream. Ok, enough.....

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Hangin' in Virginia

I guess we are now up-to-date on the blog. We have been just hangin' out in Virginia Beach at my parent's house. It has been relaxing. I of course, have played lots of golf which has not made Tika very happy, but it is a disease that must be medicated with lots of walking and swinging of the arms. My golf game has actually been pretty good....although, I have been playing from the gold tees with my Dad and his other "senior" friends. Dad has been playing awesome golf. He has shot in the 70's the last three times we have played. I shot my best score ever the other day....an 81, with a 39 on the back nine. Again, I can't really count it because I was playing from the front tees, but still.....a good score for a tight course.

I had thought about driving up to DC to see Tiger in action in the AT&T tournament up there, but decided it would not be worth the sit in traffic and dealing with the crowds, so we have been watching it on Dad's 61 inch HD TV....wow, it is almost as good as being there.