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March 2009 Blog Archives

A Crispy Skinned, Tender Suckled Morsel of Bali

Indonesia has always been an amazing, exotic faraway place for me. After unpacking boxes of carved Balinese crafts at various import stores during the college years, I know that SE Asian art is amazing. But I never dreamed I would see them being made in person.

Everyone keeps asking me - why Bali? And then immediately after - where's Bali?  Well, it's one pearl in a string of islands that make up Indonesia, just north of Australia and south of the equator. It stays about 86 degrees Fahrenheit all year round and is one of those affordable places if you can suffer through twenty hours of travel time from the west coast. Bali itself is covered with two volcanoes and has everything from elephants and monkeys to snorkeling and surfing. It costs about 40 cents for ten pieces of sate (satay) and a buck for a local beer.

Ubud is a remarkable town in the middle of the island of Bali. For more than a century, it has been the island's preeminent centre for fine arts, dance and music. While it once was a haven for scruffy backpackers, cosmic seekers, artists and bohemians, Ubud is now a hot spot for literati, glitterati, art collectors and connoisseurs. Covered in scenic rice paddies and monkeys, for two nights in Ubud, we'll be staying here at Honeymoon Guesthouse. Hopefully there will be time for a cooking class which the hotel offers.

Then we're off to Amed in the southeast corner of the island to stay with Rob, Scott and Wayan along the dry, desolate corn-growing coast at Apa Kabar Villas:

On the ocean, away from tourists, and hopefully to eat something like this:

Now, these aren't my photos. And I'm sure there will be a million other amazing things to share, stories both good and bad, great people, amazing animals, and crazy culture shock. But I did want to answer why Bali? So, there you go!

DIY Ukulele

I can't say how it sounds - but i love that you can make you own from this easy kit.

The ukulele (Hawaiian for "jumping flea") is the famous four-string mini guitar that came to the islands via the Portuguese. It has recently enjoyed a renaissance as another generation has discovered that the ukulele is fun to play. The body comes assembled, just add the neck and strings. Assembly requires simple tools, sandpaper, glue and a few hours of time. When complete, the ukulele is a standard soprano size; body measures 10”; overall length is 21”.

For only $43 (not including shipping) you can purchase it at SpoonSisters

On of my favorite hapa haole era old-timers, Bill Tapia just turned 100 and still plays.


Incidentally, if you are in the Portland/Vancover area, Kaloku Holt teaches Ukulele classes every Sunday. Contact him at kaloku@kaleinani.con for more information.

The Simplicity of Good Natured Charley Harper

Nothing irks me more than overly styled, photoshopped, shiny, over the top tech-y design. I guess that's why I never read Fanstasy and Sci-Fi books - I couldn't stand the cover art!

A lover of period art, illustrator's and designers from the 50s and 60s like Miroslav Sasek and Saul Bass remind me of how simplicity in good design can win my heart everytime. In a style called "minimal realism", Charley Harper captures the essence of his subjects with the fewest possible visual elements. It took a view into the bedroom of one my favorite bloggers to remind me how timeless his art is.

Charley was born in West Virginia in 1922. He graduated from, and taught art at, the Art Academy of Cincinnati where he met wife, Edie, also an artist. The two married in 1947 after graduating. In the 1950's Harper gained acclaim as a commercial illustrator with "The Golden Book of Biology" and "Betty Crocker’s Dinner for Two cookbook."

When once asked to describe his art style, Harper replied, "When I look at a wildlife or nature subject, I don’t see the feathers in the wings, I just count the wings. I see exciting shapes, color combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behavior and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures. I regard the picture as an ecosystem in which all the elements are interrelated, interdependent, perfectly balanced, without trimming or unutilized parts; and herein lies the lure of painting; in a world of chaos, the picture is one small rectangle in which the artist can create an ordered universe."

For about 50 dollars, you too can own his art. He also has an ABC book and a numbers book for babies. Genius!


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