Improbable Phrases

Who says that?

On the List

As a child, we would go camping as a family and my mother had a printed 3 column list that she would set out and we would cross things off as we added them to the car/camper, or if we decided that we would not be taking the item. I remember there being one word in ALL CAPS at the top of each column, but I can’t remember what the three words were.

Yesterday we had a 2+ hour meeting to discuss all primary students’ scores and since I only teach upper primary, I had a lot of free time during the lower primary discussions. So I made my own packing list. 3 columns, as the Lord intended, but different types of items. We didn’t take Indonesian rupiah on trips to Mohican State Park.


Who has horrible printing handwriting? Me! Pick me! Also, I wrote on that page upside down. That right there is the work of a college graduate and a teacher.

I puzzled out which of the three bags I’m taking that things have to be in. And since some things need to be spread across all three bags I have a system of doing the largest bag first and then taking the remaining items down the line. Basically the purse gets the stuff that no one else wants. Poor baby.

The bummer of it is that I could have taken the list home last night and be done today, but I accidentally left it on my desk. So tonight, this is what I’ll be up to. Obviously, some of these things I’m still using until Saturday night, but the vast majority will be put in order this evening. Basically, I hate the act of packing so much that I spent an hour to take all the thinking out of it so that all I’m really doing is following directions. We’ll see if it works. If it does, I might make my own printed 3 column list.


All the Nothing I Know About Cosmetics.

In the past two days I have been introduced to eyeliner, courtesy of Hannah. I wear glasses, and so I feel as though my eyes need a little extra to really be seen. I have tried mascara, with little luck. It seemed to be a two step process:

  1. Stab self in eyelid
  2. Glue all lashes together

So I gave up on it. Eyeliner, on the other hand, I learned to use within minutes. I have a self sharpening pencil from Revlon that cost $5. It makes a great visual difference with very little work on my part.

Photo on 2014-03-24 at 17.10


Better luck next time, mascara.

5 Things Make a Post

I don’t have enough on any one of these things to devote a whole post, so it’s a conglomeration of 5 different things that I am recommending to you.

Thing 1: On io9 this week, a Canadian artist named Pascal Blanché was featured. I love the style of his work. I am especially impressed with this drawing, called Danu.


Source here.

The blue, cream, and orange color combination is lovely. The robotic look of the two figures has a rusty, old fashioned feel to it that I really like. The contrast in size between the tiny figure, which is set on a platform connected to the larger figure, is interesting in comparison to the sheer size of the other bald figure. I’m not sure what is happening here, but the strong and defiant stance of the littler figure against the placid expression of the large figure makes the scene seem sweet. It looks something like a meeting between parent and child, or maker and creation.

Thing 2: The story Found by Alex Dally MacFarlane, as read by Kate Baker for Clarkesworld Magazine. Source here. You can read the text on the page, or click on the speaker icon to have it read to you.

I subscribe to the Clarkesworld Magazine podcast specifically for gems like this story. The protagonist’s family raises and sells spices, and so the protagonist’s worldview is filtered through the lens of spices. She associates the places she visits with spices, she describes things she does or things that she sees in terms of the spices they remind her of. It’s a really lovely literary trick.

In addition to being a story about spices, it is also a story of unlikely hope. If you have 45 minutes, I really recommend it.

Thing 3:  This comedy about the lives of the people in a writer’s group who are trying to each get published looks like a lot of fun.

“You put a dog on the front cover instead of a lion!”

Thing 4: I am unable to make this because of a lack of access to some of the ingredients, like blue cheese, but it looks amazing. Plus, how ingenious is that blog name? So cute

Screen shot 2014-02-27 at 5.47.32 PM

Source here.

If you make this, let me know how it turns out.

Thing 5: This song by The Sea The Sea is amazing. I got a free download of it on NoiseTrade and I love it.

It’s called Love We Are We Love. The intricate way in which the lyrics mesh between the two voices is so lovely.

“Love what have we done? Was it a hammer or a fist? Feathers or a kiss?”

You can buy the whole album from their website or on iTunes. I absolutely recommend it. I plan on buying it this week.



By Any and All Names

When I was in college, I spent a summer in the Dominican Republic. I was introduced to a fruit I had never seen before. I loved it. It was made into juice, mostly, and its flavor was distinct and lovely, provided enough sugar was added. Like you would for lemons in lemonade.

In the Dominican Republic they called it chinola. Armed only with that word, I went back to the US to see if I could find it. No luck. My thought was that some cans of vegetables were bilingual, maybe I could find the fruit that way. I discovered later that year that chinola was what Dominicans called it. One of my classmates told me that in Mexico it was maracuyá. But I couldn’t find any under that name either.

The fruit:


Source here.

One day, as I was standing in the juice aisle at Kroger, I found a picture of it on a container marked “Passion Fruit Cocktail.” For $2.80, I figured it was a minimal investment, even if it was wrong. It turned out to be the exact fruit I had loved. I bought it every time I went to the grocery store until they stopped carrying it. For a while I bought a Snapple Passion Fruit something or another that had peach in it. It was okay, but the passion fruit flavor was a little hidden by the other stuff in it.

When I moved to Indonesia in 2012, I noticed that they had one other of the fruits I’d learned about while summering in the Caribbean: guanábana. So maybe they have passion fruit too, I thought. I found it at a few restaurants in Jakarta, but only mixed with mango and so much sugar it didn’t really taste like fruit juice at all: just Kool-Aid. And oddly, listed as passion fruit, which made me wonder if it was import only, since they didn’t have a Bahasa word for it. I was sad that they didn’t seem to have passion fruit juice, but then South Africa came to the rescue. A company called Dewlands exports juice, including passion fruit. Victory!

When I went to Yogya and Sumatra for Christmas, they had fresh passion fruit juice and I discovered that it is grown in Indonesia and I learned the Bahasa Indonesia word for it: markisa. At lunch this week, I discovered that the canteen sells a bottled drink called Frestea that comes in a markisa flavor. I’ve had it twice this week. It’s pretty good, but mixed with a black tea, so the passion fruit flavor isn’t as strong. I’m excited to have found my favorite fruit again.

The tea

markisa teh

Source here .

A sampling of names from around the globe, according to Wikipedia:
maracujá in Brazil
lilikoi in Hawaii
parcha in Puerto Rico
granadilla in South Africa
saowarot or เสาวรส in Thailand
machu bey-darch in Cambodia
estococa in Costa Rica

Words I Know

A very partial list:

Nilai: score.

This is an ESSENTIAL word for school meetings. Useful for discussions of when scores are due, whether scores should be rounded up, whether or not scores are going to be taken on a monthly test, etc.

Mata pelajaran: school subject

I listen OBSESSIVELY for the phrase “mata pelajaran Bahasa Inggris” because that’s me. I know that whatever follows is going to apply to my classes. It might be a change to the schedule of tests, projects, etc. I don’t always know what change is being made, but at least I know that there’s something that I need to ask about afterwards.

Berapa si?: How much is that?

Works not only to get the price of an item but occasionally useful to jumpstart the checkout process along with the phrase…

Sudah aja.: That’s all.

I don’t need anything else, just these. It would be great if you stopped trying to sell me that shirt in 3 different colors. Thank you.

Bisa pergi tol.: We can take the toll road.

This is sometimes the quickest way to get somewhere. It costs up to a buck twenty to take the toll, but I figure that in the end it saves at least a buck because on the toll the traffic moves. Usually.

Ga mau bawang.: I don’t want onions.

This makes it possible for me to order things at restaurants. Yay me! I will not eat onions. Gross.

Merah, jingga, kuning, hijau, biru, ungu, hitam, putih: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white

I finally learned all my colors! Well, except brown. Man, I just noticed that when I looked at this list. Now I hafta learn brown. So close.

5 Minutes

I am often intimidated by people who have “life lists,” people who have these massive and elaborate plans to do these amazing things before they die. I lack that kind of forethought. I’m not sure that it’s a moral failing of any kind, I often do fun things because I haven’t taken the time to over-think it. But, at the same time, there’s something about having a list of amazing things that makes me feel like I should have my life together. I should…plan to visit ancient Japanese shrines! Or something.

What I am trying to compile instead is a 5 minute list. It isn’t the sort of thing where I know what I’m going to do in the next 5 minutes, but rather, if I have 5 minutes free, this is how I would like to spend it.

  1. Have a Tim Tam, and really sit and enjoy it. These are the best Australian cookies.
  2. Dance and sing along with SJ Parker’s “We Are Shangri-La.”
  3. Read a poem.
  4. Draw or paint.
  5. Make pudding. But not the solid kind.
  6. Read part or all of a short story.
  7. Watch something short and mindless on YouTube.
  8. Play a card game, like Castles in Spain.
  9. Write half of a blog post.
  10.  ….Buff my nails?

I felt like the list should have 10 things, but I ran out of logical things. It’s a work in progress.

None of these are world-changing, but they give me the opportunity to more or less recharge, which can be life-changing. For hopefully more than 5 minutes.

Cheese, Peanut Butter, Ham & Tortillas: A Lament

All of these items are purchase-able in Indonesia. But they don’t taste right, are very expensive and aren’t always in stock.

Cheese: By and large, the cheese comes from Australia. What we get from them is uniformly cream colored and basically unflavored. There’s one brand that has a product they call “Extra Tasty.” Not cheddar, or colby, but “Extra Tasty.” It’s fine, and it’s what I usually buy, but I am a little disappointed with it. It’s moderately tasty. I guess.

Peanut Butter: I’ve only ever seen Morin brand creamy peanut butter. It says it’s Indonesia’s number one brand, and that might be true, but I find it to be really far too sugary. It’s creepily smooth and a little thin. It doesn’t seem like real peanut butter at all.

Ham: It’s a Muslim country, so it’s hard to get ham. It costs a bunch and the quality is pretty poor. The grocery store we go to only stocks one brand of sliced ham and I’ve tried a couple of the types in their line. They all taste the same, and have this bitter aftertaste. I don’t know why.

Tortillas: Oh, tortillas, they are elusive. Sometimes you can get them and sometimes you don’t see them for months. I’ve found that they can be up to $7 for a 12-count package. They only have white flour tortillas, but that’s what I’m used to anyway.

I miss the American version of all of these items. I really do.

I read: A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan (It’s set in a Jane Austen-like place, but the main character is a scientist who focuses on dragons and sparklings.)
Calling On Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (Book 3 of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. I have loved these books since I was in elementary school and have read each of them at least 10 times. Except this one, which I read almost once a year. It’s the best.)