Friday, January 14, 2011


I really appreciate all the lovely comments you left -- here on the blog, on facebook, and via email -- concerning the Miss Becky Goes Abroad preview that I shared with you. To tell you the truth, I too felt somewhat bereft when it ended, and have found a surprising lack of motivation to move forward, if I can't share it with you as I go along.

I don't know why I'm surprised, though, as it should have been obvious from the start. First of all, I've never been any good whatsoever at keeping exciting stuff under wraps. Just call me Blabbermouth. My exercise habits should have been the next clue. I've never been able to stick with any program unless I had someone holding me accountable. I need to know that my friends will be ticked if I don't haul my ass out of bed and meet them on the corner for our morning walk. I need someone taking attendance, and someone to keep me company while I sweat.

I guess what I'm saying is, I need you in order to write. I write letters, not books. I'm a pen-pal, not an author. It has always been about letter-writing for me: letters to John when he went overseas; letters home to the parents, to let them know I was OK; letters to friends, before there was email; Christmas letters; letters to family when we went back overseas with the kids, and wanted them to be a part of the kids' lives; letters to John when we were in counseling, trying to improve our communication skills; monthly letters to older friends and relatives, who never got on board with email...and you see, the thing about letters is, there needs to be someone on the other end -- someone you are writing to, and who, hopefully, will feel compelled to write back!

Soooo, if Miss Becky is ever to share the rest of her tale with us, I guess she will need your assistance, which is why John is going to help me set up another blog this weekend -- one that will be open to all who are interested.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I can breathe again!


Have you ever wondered about tea towels? I've seen them in stores all my life, but never really "got" them, ere now. I mean, they just didn't seem as thick and sturdy as a good dish towel should be, so I figured they were mostly ornamental, and had no true purpose.

Lately, however, I've taken to fixing myself an entire pot of tea each morning, instead of my usual single cup with breakfast. If I slip my hand-knitted tea cozy over the pot, it stays warm longer, and I can continue sipping as I write. The only problem is that each time I pour a cup, some of the tea drizzles down the spout, getting all over my cute little cozy and the kitchen counter. I'm embarrassed to tell you that it took all of this time before I finally had my eureka moment and thought "Aha! Tea towels! Now I keep a small cloth handy, to hold beneath the spout as I pour. Doh!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Is it just me, or does anyone else get a serious urge to purge this time of year? It seems to be a very seasonal thing with me. In fall I enter into a nesting phase, where I have the urge to cozy up the place for winter. I pull out lap throws to drape over chairs, bring in plants from outside, force bulbs, display holiday nicknacks, set out tea- and cocoa-making paraphernalia, etc. Then there are all the new gifts that have come into the house for birthdays and Christmas, which must be displayed. For a while it all feels very cozy and comforting, but then one day, it doesn't. One morning, about the same time every year, I wake up, look around me, and think "Ack! Too much stuff! Can't. Stand. All. This. Clutter!

That day was today.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


As for that soft bed and hot shower I was pining for? Well, our first night was spent in John’s bachelor quarters at the Pula Rita motel in Merak. He’d been housed in a thatched-roof bungalow with no hot water, and the bed was a goat’s hair mattress on the floor. After an icy-quick shower I climbed into bed, only to discover we had roommates. Various lizards were hanging upside down from the rafters -- some tiny and chameleon-like, others not so tiny. Periodically one would suddenly release those suction cups on its itty-bitty toes, and take a kamikaze plunge to the floor below, or onto our bed. I was probably in the middle of telling John I’d never be able to sleep like this, when exhaustion overtook me. Next thing I knew he was kissing me goodbye and heading off to work.

Before long though, he was back to say “We’re moving!” Though the houses, school and doctor -- which B&R had promised all those coming over on married status -- had yet to materialize, they had managed to lease a few units at Anyer Beach, a small resort that was a popular getaway spot for people from Jakarta. Fortunately for us, one unit had just become available. Not only would we have hot water and a proper bed, our bungalow faced right onto the beach, and on a clear day you could see the volcano Krakatoa in the distance, with smoke coming out its peak!

The next morning, before leaving for work, John said, “Oh, by the way. Housekeeping will come by periodically with fresh towels, and they’ll pick up any clothes we have that need laundering.” “Hold on a minute, Buster! Are you telling me I won't really be doing our laundry in the river?” He just grinned. “What about shopping in that outdoor market?” Again with that grin! “It’s actually a fun place to go exploring," he replied, "as long as you avoid the stinkier parts -- which is fairly easy to do since a van comes here once a week to take all the ladies to a nice little grocery store in Cilegon. They have a few cuts of frozen meat, some canned goods and such.” “Arrgh! How could you mislead my like that, leaving me to fret and suffer all this time?”

John then told me about his friend, who’d only been married a short time when he got offered this position. This fellow’s pretty young wife made him come over ahead of her, to scope things out. He fell madly in love with the job, this place, and his life here, and sent glowing reports home to her. He told her it was an absolute paradise -- Heaven on earth! Sadly, she never even saw it in person. She got only as far as Singapore, then refused to budge an inch further. “So, you see, you should be thanking me for leading you to expect the worst (and by the way, you must reeeaaally love me), for now you get to be pleasantly surprised!” I don’t remember for certain, but I'm thinking I probably bopped him up-side the head at that point.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Part Two

Singapore more than made up for any discomfort on the trip over. The sights, sounds and smells of Hong Kong had been a bit over the top for a kid who’d hardly been out of Texas, but Singapore was somehow different. Singapore was exotic elegance -- a fascinating amalgamation of old world and new. This honeymoon was my first experience with luxury hotels, since Dad’s idea of a great vacation always involved fishing and cabins. It was also my first introduction to bidets. Oh, I'd read about them of course, and knew what they were for, but nowhere did it say you must be seated before turning on the spigot, not leaning with your face over the bowl!

At one point John had lived in the Singapore Hilton for a few months, so that’s where he had booked us. Now, picture this little girl from Texas walking through the front doors of this gorgeous hotel, and suddenly being surrounded by people who are saying, “Welcome back Mr. Lane! So happy to meet you at last Mrs. Lane. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to make your stay more enjoyable.” When we reached our room we found fresh flowers, fruit and champagne awaiting us. A girl could get used to that kind of treatment, though I never did. I loved everything about our stay, from afternoon tea at the Raffles Hotel to night markets on Bugis Street, and from Chinese feasts at Bamboo House to flaming dishes prepared table-side at the Harbor Grill. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and a few days later we headed off on the last leg of our journey.

We were met at the Jakarta airport by a Brown & Root driver with a well-worn VW van, and were joined by several other men who were headed out to the fabrication yard. My first impression of Jakarta (which has never been dispelled) was of wall-to-wall people and a thousand beeping horns. Though our destination was only about sixty miles away, the roads were so potted, congested, and winding that the trip took hours. Because there was no air conditioner, our fellow passengers opened the sliding doors on both sides of the van, and I held on for dear life, afraid of bouncing out. Before long, the nausea was back, and I slumped onto John’s shoulder, doing my best not to whimper. The crazy drivers and lack of doors turned out to be a blessing in the end. Since I had to concentrate just to stay in my seat (no seat belts, of course), it distracted me from the nausea, and I was able to make it all the way to the yard without embarrassing myself. That was to come later. I was fairly wrung out though, and I’m sure all I wanted in the world was a nice hot shower and a soft bed, which, in hindsight, is pret-ty dang funny.

At last we reached the fabrication yard, and were able to stumble out of the van. As I stood there, feeling more than a bit bedraggled, several grinning guys came barreling down the steps of the two-story metal office building. There was a flurry of hugs and introductions, then they gathered round expectantly, as if waiting for us to do something. Finally I noticed that a few were darting glances over their shoulders, so my eyes followed theirs. John let out a huge guffaw, but my eyes grew big as saucers and my cheeks turned bright red. “Oh no, John. You didn’t!” There, draped across the upper half of the building, was a huge sign that read “Welcome Home Becky and Fuzznuts.” You see, there were three daughters in my family, and rather than keep up with the names of every guy we went out with, Dad called all of them Fuzznuts -- as in “What’s new with Ol’ Fuzznuts?” I made the mistake of telling John his nickname once, and now, it would seem, the whole world knew! Finally I decided, well, OK, maybe it was kind of funny, and a little snort slipped out. Next thing I knew, I was bent over double, imagining how my parents were going to react when I told them of Dad's infamy...(to be continued)

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Sorry for the lack of posts this weekend. I've been in Houston helping John decide what comes to Wimberley, what goes to Goodwill, etc. The movers pack up the townhouse on the 19th! One bit of good news -- we found several boxes of old photos from that first stint overseas. Soon as I get them sorted and scan a few, you will get the rest of your Miss Becky Goes Abroad preview. I think this shot was taken in the gardens of the old Raffles Hotel in Singapore. I just adore all that British Colonial architecture!