Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Farewell to Brunswick

Yesterday evening at dusk while we were eating dinner in the nahs, we heard a bang on the road and the scream of a dog.

We saw Brunswick slide under the guardrail and down to the bank of the pond.

Because of the underbrush, we couldn’t get to him, but we could see him wagging his tail.

This morning he was floating in the pond.

Born in May, 2006 Brunswick was named for his resemblance to a bowling ball. He quickly grew to be a very large dog.

Despite his size, he was remarkably dim-witted. His eyes were too close to each other, so he even looked like a simpleton.

When in the clutches of enthusiasm, he would bend his body into a U shape and flail his tail about, hitting himself in the face.

Also, when he was excited (pretty much all the time) he would emit a groan sounding similar to a heavy man settling into a leather easy chair.

RIP Brunswick.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Last night was the 2006 Holiday Arts Celebration at the College of Micronesia. Here is the program cover and some photos of the event. Posted by Picasa

The back of the stage was decorated by the art classes. Posted by Picasa

The audience gathering for the evening's performance. The art instructor, Koisimy Rudolph, displayed some of the student's artwork which you can see a bit of on the right of this photo. If you look closely you can even see me in the red shirt bending down by the piano to pick up my music. Posted by Picasa

The concert was held in the Practice Gym. It began with the choir standing around the edges of the gym singing the African-American Spiritual "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning." Posted by Picasa

This shot (and several others) are kind of blurry, but I love that the woman sitting on the left has a hand towel over her shoulder. You see people wearing towels on their heads or shoulders so often out here. In fact, I think one of the men in the choir has a towel over his shoulder too, despite my attempts to discourage it.  Posted by Picasa

The College students performed songs such as Vivaldi's "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," "I Saw Three Ships," "Gesu Bambino," "The Three Drovers," "Baby, It's Cold Outside," "Gaudeamus Hodie" and several other selections. Posted by Picasa

And action shot of the performance. Susan Kihling is the flute player to the left of me. She played on Bach's "Sleepers Wake" and Handel's "For Unto Us a Child Is Born." She's an amazing performer - especially since she had a baby 11 days ago! Posted by Picasa

The poetry class read an original poem between songs. In this picture you see Georgie Ladore reading "Sapw Canoe Goes to Mwand" with part of my choir in the background. The woman in green sitting close to the camera is Iris Falcom, the former first lady of the country and wonderful supporter of the arts. Posted by Picasa

This is me talking to Joseph J. Urusemal, the President of the Federated States of Micronesia. He came to the concert! Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 27, 2006

Here are some photos from last weekend when I kayaked through the mangrove channel. Posted by Picasa

Looking up at a mangrove tree. Posted by Picasa

These mangrove roots must have been reaching fifty feet from their branch to the water. Posted by Picasa

Sokehs Ridge as seen from the mangrove channel. Posted by Picasa

A tangle of mangrove roots emerging from the murky water. Posted by Picasa

Odd & Ends

It’s been such a long time since I’ve written. Here is what happened since my last entry.

On Wednesday night/Thursday morning (November 22-23) we had a huge wind storm. The waves from the ocean were spraying my house and the roar of the wind sounded like it was going to take the roof off. Fortunately, the only harm was to the patio furniture which blew out of the nahs, across the yard and into the pond. Did you know that patio furniture sinks? What a pain in the neck.

Thursday was Thanksgiving in the USA, but the FSM doesn’t celebrate it. I taught classes all day and in the evening there was a big potluck at Steve and Uta’s house. It was a blast, and extremely international, too: Canadians, Micronesians, Australians, Americans. Great food and a wonderful evening.

Saturday evening was Quiz Night. We were the returning champions from last year’s Quiz Night, but only Rohaizad and I remained from last year’s team. This year our team included Simon Ellis, Jonathan Gourlay, Rachel Hollingsworth, Helen Lanctot and Rohaizad and I. We were unstoppable and once again came away with victory! We were also the most obnoxious table.

Tonight is the College of Micronesia Christmas Concert, so I have to get things ready.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

"Variety" Show

On Saturday evening I walked with Helen and Rohaizad to the basketball court on Sokehs Island for the community variety show.

I was expecting to be disappointed by people singing pop songs to a Casio beat, but I was unprepared for just HOW disappointed I was going to be.

It was a great set-up. The place was brightly lit and there were tents set up selling pop corn, sandwiches, soda and sakau. The stage was made of two tents with bed sheets serving as curtains. It was surrounded by Christmas lights. Very festive.

Everyone was there! Old people who had to be helped along, young people who stared at us (we were the only foreigners there) and every age in-between.

The first act was a group of young people dancing to a CD of hip-hop music.

The second act was a group of young people dancing to a CD of Bollywood music.

The third act was a group of young people dancing to a CD of Tahitian music.

That took an hour, which is when we left.

It made me so sad to see these young people – the torch-bearers of Micronesian culture – disregard it in favor of alien cultures.

It was ironic that they chose hip-hop, Bollywood and Tahitian music, because those are three examples of old musical traditions which have adapted and evolved in order to stay relevant in the contemporary world.

Such an evolution is not occurring in Micronesian music. Some folks occasionally try to preserve it, but I’ve seen no attempt to make it contemporary.

I thought that singing to a Casio beat was the most culturally depressing thing out here, but at least the folks were still singing. With this new “dance” craze, they have disregarded all sense of creativity.

It makes me think that my time here could be better spent in trying to rectify this situation in some small way.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The James Thurber Maid School

I gave Serlinda, my maid, some extra money yesterday for her birthday.

She responded with a full page note explaining that her birthday isn't until next week.

Within the note was this cryptic sentence:

"Also, Dan could you pay another bush for the toilet powl."

So, with respect to her request, I've been offering money to shrubs, but none of them have offered me powls of any kind.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Travel-Book Writer

Writing a travel book always seemed like a pretty cool job to me - all the traveling adventures.

My friend, Jessica Chapman, was hired to update a travel book on Micronesia (I forgot the publisher; some name with the word "moon" in it, I think).

She just returned, so we had her over to our nahs for pizza on Tuesday night.

Now I realize that travel book writing is not that glamorous. It is mostly checking out prices at hotels, restaurants and tours.

Being a tourist and not having an agenda sounds much more appealing, although you don't get your trip paid for.

******* new topic *******

While we were eating pizza, we saw a strange glowing in the water of Sokehs Bay about thirty feet from where we were sitting.

At first we thought it was moonlight, but it kept moving around. Eventually we realized that there was a diver with a flashlight down there. Weird.

Last night I went to watch the French sailors play soccer against the Pohnpei team. I only stayed for fifteen minutes because it started to rain. This is the French team. Posted by Picasa

The French sailors mingle with the Pohnpei soccer team. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Little Bit of Floating Paris

Last night I went to a cocktail party on the French Naval ship which is visiting Pohnpei for three days.

I was a guest of Matthew Olmstead. On the roster to get aboard I was listed as Mrs. Olmstead and no one even thought twice about it.

Monday night isn't the best evening to spend an evening drinking French wine and champagne, but who could (or would want to) resist.

It was a beautifully starry evening, standing on deck surrounded by wonderful wine, delicious food and French sailors.

Monday, November 06, 2006

On Hallowe'en I grew out a handlebar moustache and muttonchop sideburns and wore my hornrimmed glasses for a 1970's look. I hated it, as you can tell. Posted by Picasa

Last night, Rohaizad and I were sitting on the patio watching the moon rise across Sokehs Bay. It was a bright as a sunrise, so we took some photos. Posted by Picasa

Yes, that is the moon. Posted by Picasa

Moon through the fronds. Posted by Picasa

All of these photos are looking toward Kolonia. It is hard to believe that the largest city in the nation is located in the darkness over there. Posted by Picasa

You can see a little bit of our neighbors' house and boat on the right. Posted by Picasa

Moon with patio chair. Posted by Picasa