Sunday, August 29, 2021

All Set

 Started out this morning by moving a few things over to the new house next door, clothes and such-like, but as it turned out, this was the extent of my efforts, for once the Nengah and her husband arrived, the job was out of my hands. From that time forward, whenever I tried to pick something up, they would immediately stop me short. "Jangan, Om! Duduk saja!" Translation: Stop! Sit! 

And so I did.

All settled in now and feeling quite at home--not surprisingly so, as this place is simply the mirror image of the other.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Poor World

 Coming up now on this week's end date for lockdown. The 31st, I think. How long has it been now? I've forgotten. 

Well, I guess it don't really make much difference to me. Most of the places I go aren't really following the protocol anyway. It's supposed to be that you can eat/drink coffee/or whatever only outdoors and only for 30 minutes before being required to pack up your shit and go, but that, for the most part, is not how it is in practice. My usual spots in Sanur continue service indoors and outdoors and you can stay as long as you wish. In western type establishments, such as Starbucks, the rules will sometimes be in effect, sometimes not, depending on whether the manager happens to be working that day. 

On the other hand, many of the beaches are actually closed, some being guarded by the local Balinese police, while some seem to be open. All, however, are rather deserted, many establishments closed, and so not very attractive venues these days. Mostly, I've been sticking to the in-town establishments in Sanur or to the Starbucks in Renon. 

Supposedly, non-essential shops at the malls are supposed to be closed, and I've found this to be sometimes the case, sometimes not. 

In any case, a general reopening of Bali seems very far away indeed as COVID/Delta continues to roar through the island, and through the archipelago, making the whole place rather pointedly unattractive, even if it were to open. 

Poor Bali. Poor Indonesia. Poor world. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Relocation Relocated

 Turns out that my big move (to the house next door) did not take place on Sunday as I had expected but has been delayed a week until this coming Sunday. Oh well, no matter, no hurry. I've collected a stacks of books that have been cluttering up my bookcase, half in Indonesian, half in English, and put them in the driveway to be taken for free, but it appears, as yet anyway, that people around here don't read. Books? What? To read? Why? They may just end up living in the driveway from here forth until eventually carried off by the weather or the bugs. 

As I was on my usual evening walk the other night, I happened to chat with a neighbor who revealed to me that the dog who had birthed the seven puppies of recent, now reduced to four by disease, has again become pregnant. Good Lord. Last thing we need around here is another herd of puppies. My own boarding room, as it is, is full. There is no room in the inn. God knows why she didn't get this dog spayed (although I could tell Him, actually, that it is very likely because she doesn't have the money to spend on such an operation). So why have the dog in the first place? Again, God knows. 

In the meantime, the lockdown in Bali, not surprisingly, has been extended yet another week till the end of August. They really may as well just say 'till hell freezes over' and leave it at that. Louis tells me that the Pfizer vaccine has now arrived in Jakarta, so that's a step toward getting vaccinated myself. But who knows how long it will take to trickle over the sea from Java to Bali? Anyway, I'll wait, as there is no other option. 

Friday, August 20, 2021

August 20, 2021

 As expected, lockdown in Bali was extended another week, now set to end on August 23rd, given the government's claim that they had seen positive results. The Sanur Weekly disagrees with this assessment, and I am inclined to believe them. The numbers continue to look terrible--too terrible, actually, to report with honesty. 

In the meantime, in the US, people are complaining that they might be "forced" to get a vaccination. Here in Bali, I wish they would force me to get one. Instead, they won't allow it. 

One of Bali's oldest hotels, located in Sanur, the Grand Bali Beach Hotel, has now become mostly a COVID isolation facility for asymptomatic COVID patients and those with mild symptoms. There are, after all, no other customers. 

Parasada Hindu Dharma Indonesia, the country's leading Hindu authority, has urged families of deceased COVID-19 patients in Bali to forgo traditional funeral rites for their loves ones after most morgues on the island reported being over capacity.

It is reported that police and port authority officers in Gilimanuk, Bali's gateway to Java, have been fleecing arrivals, claiming that their vaccination papers are not acceptable and demanding Rp. 50.000 to get through. It appears that bus drivers as well are also paying a fee to police in order to bring their passengers through uninspected. 

At a popular beach on the island of Nusa Penida, two domestic tourists were dragged out to sea while swimming. Luckily, both were rescued. I can testify that this sort of thing happens very quickly. It seems like you're safe, right up until you're not. My stepson and his friend very nearly got washed out to sea while swimming down in Kuta. They were rescued by two strong young lifeguards, who were in the water and swimming before us old folks even reached the surf.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Movin Day

 On Sunday, I will be moving--but only as far as the place next door to my present place. This, originally, was because Louis was going to build a house behind the duplex here and add one half of the duplex to that new house. Now she's not so sure, but will move me anyway as apparently one wall in my present dwelling is in need of major repair (having a persistent leak when raining). 

So anyway, this shouldn't be too much of a challenge, given that there's not really much to be moved. The place next door is exactly the same as mine, just in reverse. The good news is that maybe these flea bitten dogs will not be able to find me. Though that does seem unlikely. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Also Afghanistan

 The Afghanistan conflict has now captured the full attention and "expertise" of millions of Americans who previously knew nothing about it and never took the trouble to know anything about it. Currently they are trying to find the place on a map. Somewhere near Mexico, right? Must be, because I've read a number of Facebook comments about Afghan terrorists pouring across the Mexican border. My goodness, that happened fast! 


 Logic. Horse before the cart. 

I've been hearing for the last two days how terribly President Biden has handled the withdraw from Afghanistan. He should have been getting people out much earlier, they say. 

Well sure, I guess--if he had known that the Afghan army was scheduled to suddenly collapse on August 15th (or whatever day it was). I do not believe, however, that any such memo got widely distributed. 

And then there's this: How is it that we could have begun an early withdrawal of thousands of allies and civilians without telegraphing to everyone else that we really had no expectation whatsoever that the Afghan army, which we had said since the Trump administration was ready to stand on its own, would in fact stand on its own?

Do you see the fail in logic? It's all cart before horse stuff. It's all a mixture of superfluous hindsight and a belief in some sort of magical foresight. 

I do not personally think that our leadership truly believed that the Afghan army could ultimately win against the Taliban. I do think, however, that they believed the army would last a whole lot longer than two days. Who didn't? They believed they would have ample time to conduct an orderly retreat. I mean, where in history has there ever been a greater, swifter collapse than that of this 300,000 man army in Afghanistan? 

That said, however, retreats are rarely pretty affairs. They rarely go well. One might even say that they never go well. Do people look for someone to blame? I suppose they do. Those who are already inclined to dislike President Biden will naturally hurry forth to blame him. For my own part, I am more inclined to blame an army we had invested in and armed for the last twenty years, and a government rotten to the core with corruption and cowardice. 

Saturday, August 14, 2021


 I met a girl today by the name of Pipit. I already know a girl named Wiwik. The funny thing is that the t and the k are not pronounced. So you have Pee-Pee and Wee-Wee. 

There has been some kind of holiday going on here for the last couple days. I don't know what it is. There's always a holiday going on, it seems. This one seems pretty popular though, featuring a whole lot of people riding motorbikes, dressed in ceremonial type clothing, carrying baskets of flowers and fruits and who knows what all. For the convenience of the celebrants, the main road through Sanur was closed and I had to find a rather circuitous back road path back to the main highway. 

It does seem now that four of the seven sick dogs will survive. For the time being. It's a dangerous world for these little fellows, but for now they are out of the woods. (I occasionally miscounted in previous posts, as there were originally seven puppies, not six. Three brown, two brown and white, one grayish female and one black. The  black puppy's name was Nero and, strangely, he never did like hanging out with the rest of the pack, so he was easy to forget). 

Jagger, who is rumored to be my dog, is now the healthiest, most robust of the four remaining. The female, Dixie, is also very energetic, but thin. Well, maybe she's watching her figure. The other two, Otis and Loki, are lagging behind a bit at about 70 percent recovered. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

August 12, 2021

 This week's Sanur Weekly is pretty much all bad news. 

The first article concerns the development of a plan to require all people entering a mall or restaurant to provide proof of COVID vaccination. Bali is expected to be one of the first regions to be included in the trials. Now this would all be fine with me if I had been or even could be vaccinated, but as it stands, there is no vaccination for me in sight due to MS and to the lack of vaccines other than astrazeneka. So I can't help but feel kind of bummed at the prospect of being stuck in my house day and night forever. 

In the meantime, shutdown has been extended once again, until August 16th this time (at which point it will probably be extended further, given the ineffectiveness thus far of the shutdowns having any measurable effect. 

As any reopening of Bali appears very far away indeed, Australians are looking for new paradises for their vacations and seem to have hit upon Saipan as a pleasant location. Saipan, a US territory, is expected to have all of its inhabitants vaccinated in the near future. 

The bleak picture is made bleaker yet in recent announcement from the Bank of Indonesia urging businesses and business people in Bali to stop relying on the tourism industry, as it is not expected to recover any time soon. 

The one piece of good news is that three different motorbike licences will soon be required, according to what sort of bike one drives. This will make driving the annoying loud motorbikes more expensive (and hopefully, from where I stand, discourage their use). 

The Airport Hilton and the Hard Rock Hotel have suspended all operations for "at least three months". There's no one there, you see? 

In Denpasar, a Circle K convenience store has been robbed for the second time in four weeks. The break-in occurred while the store was closed. The thief stole 62 packs of cigarettes. It is assumed that he is "probably a pretty heavy smoker". 

And that wraps it up for this week. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Where Were We?

 So now, where were we with the plague-ridden dogs? 

Ah yes, they had all gone to the hospital to get infusion. Three came home that same night and three stayed, rejoining the pack the night after. 

All the dogs remained ill, of course, but four grew more ill yet. Jagger stayed at my house and refused to eat or drink. He began to eat just a tiny bit yesterday and otherwise just slept. 

I was surprised therefore this morning hungrily devoured half a can of dog food and drank some water as well. He then headed out the gate to see what was going on and soon returned with Dixie, who was also full of energy. 

One of the dogs, a little black one whose name I have forgotten, died, making the death toll now three of seven. Two are in very poor condition and have been isolated in cages. 

It was thought by some that I ought to isolate Jagger at my house, which I reluctantly attempted to do; however I must report that Jagger soon proved himself to be a first rate escape artist. No cell can hold him. Although the space between the bottom of my gate and the street is not at all wide, and certainly does not appear wide enough to allow a dog to get under, he nevertheless managed to do so. I addressed this issue by placing heavy objects in front of the spaces, but he still managed to squeeze through and slither away. So I finally gave up. Whatever. 

In summation, although two of the dogs appear to be on the mend, they are certainly not out of the woods, and two would appear to be near their end.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

No Vaccine for the Wicked

 Oh, btw, I finally talked to my neurologist about getting a COVID vaccination (the tardiness being my fault, not his) and he tells me that, indeed, I cannot presently get vaccinated as astrazeneca, which is being used in Indonesia, is not approved in the presence of MS or other immunocompromised conditions and moderna and pfizer are not yet available. So that solves that quandary for the time being, although it is still a mystery as to how Immigration will handle this as it pertains to my foreign resident permit. 

The Continuing Saga of the Six Sick Puppies

 Continuing the saga of the six little dogs, I found them in worse shape when I awoke this morning. Jagger had spent the night in my house and had vomited three times, and although he seemed bright-eyed in the morning, he was still not interested in eating anything. 

Soon, three of the six remaining dogs showed up at my door. The female dog, Dixie, was listless and refusing food. One of the little brown dogs, Loki, straightaway left a puddle of blood and feces on the floor and appeared to be in bad shape indeed, wobbly and confused. Otis showed up briefly, and seemed steady but listless.  The other two dogs I saw not at all. 

So I communicated all these things to Louis, who was on her way over anyway, and and it was decided, after a conference with concerned neighbors and by phone with a clinic, that all of the dogs needed to go to the hospital. , 

All of them, of course, have parvovirus, a common and quite deadly virus that afflicts puppies (what we tend to call 'distemper'). They were loaded into a neighbor's van and trundled off to the hospital with Louis and a couple of the neighbors. I myself was feeling ill, so stayed at home. 

At the hospital, the puppies received some sort of infusion. Three of them, last I heard, will return tonight, but must be kept separate in cages, while three will stay the night at the hospital, a rather dreary prognosis hanging over them at this point. If any survive, they will return tomorrow. 

As for Jagger, Dixie, and Mylo, they, if they survive five more days, will receive vaccinations. 

When Louis arrived back at my house after the experience at the hospital, she was in tears. This had all gone so very swiftly from six rambunctious puppies to six deathly ill puppies, and the hard fact of just how ill they were shook her up.

All of this is why I had said from the start that I did not want a puppy. It's just too hard to see this sort of thing happen, and here in Bali this sort of thing always happens--this or something else equally as deadly. How many dogs have I seen die while I've been here? I've completely lost count, and don't really want to think about it. 

And yet here I sit, missing little Jagger, missing his wild careening around the room, missing his sleepy eyes when he tires and settles down on his rug or fits himself in to the nest of his siblings. Such innocent things, such unsuspecting things. 

Friday, August 6, 2021

Sick Dogs

 Yesterday, all seven of the little neighborhood dogs became ill and remained ill throughout the day. One of them died. Tonight someone finally called a doctor and he came to the neighborhood to give them all injections. They were all gathered at one house, but then Jagger, who is supposedly my dog, escaped and showed up here. They came and retrieved him, as he had not yet gotten his injection, but he escaped again. This time, I took him back. Seeing the doctor, he panicked, struggled like a madman, and managed to bite me while he was getting his shot. So we shall hope that he doesn't have rabies too. All of the dogs had whatever virus dogs are bound to get, especially ones that are not taken care of. It's all about money here. Nobody has any. So they just figure Meh, they'll be okay. Louis actually had Jagger scheduled for a shot tomorrow, but the owner should have gotten all of these dogs taken care of a couple of months ago. Either that or given them out to other owners. So I don't know. Jagger actually has looked good, healthy all along. He just didn't want to eat at all today. Some of the other dogs are ... well, sick as dogs, including Jagger's lookalike, Otis. They're all good little dogs. I hope they'll be okay. 

Monday, August 2, 2021

The Night Watchman

 She stopped. The sense of something there, with her, all around her, swirling and seething with energy. How intimately the trees seized the earth. How exquisitely she was included. Patrice closed her eyes and felt a tug. Her spirit poured into the air like song.

--The Night Watchman, Louis Erdrich

Some years ago, back in the dark ages of my life, the 1980s, I carried on a brief correspondence with Louis Erdrich, author of a novel, Love Medicine, that I had by happenstance picked up and read and fallen immediately to the thrall of her words. Her sentences, her rhythm, her diction seemed to possess a unique magic, part music, part poetry, all sharp-edged blade. I heaped upon that author effusive praise, which she, being a young writer herself at that time, thoroughly appreciated. "My husband and I have read your letter to each other quite a number of times," she admitted. In a subsequent letter, she mentioned that they would be appearing at Powell's Books in Portland and that I should come say hello, but I was very shy at that time, and usually drunk, and ultimately declined. Instead, I simply continued to read her novels as they appeared--Tracks, the Beet Queen, The Bingo Palace, and so on.

It is a pleasure to read her latest, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for 2021, The Night Watchman. As with all of Erdrich's novels, we are invited back into the world of the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa Indian tribe, their age-old struggles, their wit, their self-deprecating sense of humor, their stoicism, their heroism, their existence in tension between tale and reality, this world and another, older world. And I find that Ms. Erdrich is as sharp and as genuine ever, having lost not a single step over time. 

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Lockdown Extended

 I find today that the Bali lockdown will be extended to yet another week. Boring, but far from surprising as the COVID situation here is not only not improving, but getting worse. All day long, I hear ambulance sirens, as good a statistic as any.

How very absurd it appears to folks here when they hear of vaccine reticence and mask rebellion in the US, a country that has more than enough supply of vaccine for all, and yet contains people who refuse to receive it. Oh brave new world that has such people in it. Foolish people, that is.