Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Inspectors Have Returned

Jeepneys of the week:

We saw these spiffy roadsters on our drive to Bogo today. We'll probably feature some trikes in the near future since they're also a common form of public transportation on the island.

Plant of the week:

Chlorophytum comasum, a.k.a. the common spider plant.
Think about every tropical plant you've ever tried to grow and put it out in the landscape. Actually, this guy lives in our bathroom, thriving under fluorescent lights. Studies have shown that spider plant is quite effective in cleaning indoor air by absorbing chemicals including formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, and carbon monoxide in homes or offices. As you can see, the blooms are a miniature treasure.

When we arrived in Cebu last March and settled into our apartment, we became aware of an unexpected bonus to living above the mission office: free inspectors. These are individuals, zealous in the business of home inspection. Every morning in those early months we arose wondering what the inspectors had found. Were we neat and tidy? Were we diligent in wiping away every last crumb? They never said much one way or the other, but sent us resounding messages of success or failure. If we succeeded in our duty they left quietly. If we failed they called in their associates to assist them in home inspection. Without so much as a word we knew what the inspectors thought of our home maintenance.

I think we've gotten better at home keeping, which seems ironic after 30 years of practicing in Boise. But as I said, the inspectors were powerful without uttering a word.

We got so good at our tidy-business that the inspectors were called elsewhere; other homes that needed their services much more than ours.

Or did they leave because of their fear of the thugs in our neighborhood? I’m sure we’d hear the warfare in the night if we didn’t sleep with ear plugs and the air conditioner running. Warfare or not, even the thugs were tidy; no trace of anything unusual in the morning.

Recently though,--hmmm. Could it be the condition of our dear neighbor’s apartment which brought the inspectors back to the neighborhood? Our beloved neighbors have been sort of busy and distracted lately.

Inspectors are single-minded in their work. They don’t make an appointment, they just show up, usually at an odd time when you have your guard down. Their relentlessness begins immediately; no polite knocking or waiting patiently for you to make order. Your focus shifts from whatever you were previously doing to appeasing the inspectors. If you’re lucky they won’t bring their entire inspection force immediately, but give you time to repent and reorganize.

Sigh. Where are those thugs when you need them? They are usually persistent in their own right. On vacation? Napping? One can only hope they get word about the return of the inspectors and return themselves.

In case you’ve got a knot in the pit of your stomach thinking we really live in a dangerous, horrible place, we’re talking about ants and geckos. The locals have mixed reviews on these two characters; some shrug their shoulders at the ants and accept them as a normal part of life. Others cheer for the geckos who eat the ants but leave gecko poops. C’mon now. How big can a gecko poop really be? We favor the thugs, poop and all. (Compostable? Their food source is very clean.) At least the geckos are shy and retiring and wouldn’t dream of inspecting a batch of newly-baked cookies that need to cool before being put away. The ant’s though—grrr. We wonder if our restless nights have something to do with tiny squeals we almost hear (remember the ear plugs) while warfare is taking place in our kitchen.

It’s an uncommonly beautiful Saturday and we are on our way to Bogo. For being a tropical paradise, most days aren’t drop-dead beautiful like today. It’s warm but not blistering hot, the sky is bright blue and there are big, puffy ocean clouds giving us something interesting to look at in case the road traffic isn’t interesting enough.

Kevin is very good at this drive. Think of the last time you played a driving video game. That’s what he does for 3 hours at a time on these drives to Bogo. We just passed a funeral procession (2nd one today—sometimes they proceed down the middle of the road, sometimes to the right) and you would have been proud of his quick reflexes swerving around a road sign in the middle of the street while avoiding the funeral procession on the right. Sometimes he’s having so much video driving fun that I can’t bare it and just go to sleep…

We enjoyed a vigorous walk this morning with Eduardo, who we will properly introduce you to in the near future, came home to our “tidy” apartment (no ants that we could see), cleaned, breakfasted, and now this stimulating drive out of the city. It wasn’t bad getting beyond Mandaue today. We’re on deck for piano class at 4:00, branch choir practice at 5:00, then dinner with Ron and Eva, who we will also introduce you to in the near future.

Kevin is remarkably steady in how he responds to the busyness of our life here. I, on the other hand, get weary. Sometimes I just need to lie quietly and read a book for a few hours. Conversely, he keeps going like the energizer bunny. I guess we’re a good combination because he can take up my slack when I’m weary, and I'm sure I do something worthwhile for him.

We are almost to Las Flores and have decided to stop in and say hello to Ian and Virgie and get Janice to make us a sandwich for the road. The ocean is a good match for the sky today; pleasing to say the least. We will enjoy it from the car so that we don't create anxious hurry in getting to our piano class on time.

This is the little hotel we stay at in Bogo. The rooms are cozy but clean, and it's a quiet night's sleep even though we are in a double bed instead of a queen or king.

Sunday afternoon--We've returned, having taught and socialized and worshipped and taught some more. The piano classes are good because the students want to learn. How can you be unhappy with students who are happy to be with you? The two-week span between lessons is a little troubling to me; I like the idea of a weekly lesson, and preferably one-on-one. We do what we can, right?

Kevin is proving a very capable piano class assistant. He has studied the course I teach from and knows enough to take the students through their paces on note recognition. If we team teach we can divide the class and have them rotate through both our sections, giving them almost individual attention. I really believe in private piano lessons, and the success of my Cebu students proves the point. We'll do all we can for these Bogo & Polambato students in the very limited time we have.

Kevin studying his flashcards before the Bogo class.

Today we are both in good form and grateful for the labors of the day. We hope you are too. Our dear friends Lex and Karen Cranney are in the middle of their own life chapter at the moment. Just send your faith heavenward for them, as Lex (85) just had new heart valves installed and there are interesting twists in that recovery process. Our completely selfish thoughts are, “not yet, Lord. Lex is still so young and full of life.”

Our love and blessings and THANKS for your prayers and cheery emails. They mean a lot to us, and we enjoy sending you a personal hello back as time permits. Have a great week.

Kevin & Ann in Cebu