Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Funnies


Hi.

We had a cloudy, warm day with pockets of rain east of the city.  The airport offered a challenging adventure this morning, we lunched in town, and attended an open house that was really a garden party.

The 'Zany Day' song was "Drive My Car" by The Beatles.  That means it's time for 'Old School Friday'.  This one is pretty easy so I'm going to give you a lyric from deep into the song.  "Rich relations give, crust of bread and such.  You can help yourself but don't take too much.  Mama may have, Papa may have, but __ __ __ __ that's got his own, that's got his own."  

The first thing I must tell you is: it's very quiet here.  It's 8:45pm and there is no music from across the river, there are no bombs going off and there is hardly any traffic on our road.  Loy Krathong is over.  On our way home this evening I did notice that there were some remaining 'campers', but it didn't look like a party.  The whole area was dark.  

Since we don't have to go to Bangkok on Monday it meant that we had plane tickets that needed 'adjusting'.  The only way to deal with this is to go to the airport.  To get the flights we needed we had to book on two different airlines.  Our first stop at the airport was the Nok Air window.  We were able to change my ticket to February 22 when I'll be going to my Recovery convention in Pattaya.  The return ticket meant a stroll over to the Air Asia window and that's when things got weird.  First there was one window open and we were in line.  It was taking a long time but then another window opened.  Someone was standing near it and just stepped up, instead of letting the 'next in line' move up.  Then both windows had long dramas.  It took us almost an hour to get served.  With a deep sigh, we are grateful we don't have to go to the big city and pack up the exhibit.

As we were leaving the airport lobby we noticed a Toyota van being driven through the door.  It had been on display.  When we got outside we saw a brand new pick-up truck lining up to squeeze into the lobby area. 

 



When we first moved to Chiang Rai we lived at the Wongcome Hotel for one month.  In that time we had a chance to sample the restaurants in the downtown area.  One of our favorite spots was a little place behind the hotel called 
'Siam Corner'.  The big attraction was chicken burgers.  Today we returned for lunch and it was as good as the first time.  The owner and his wife are very devoted to The King and have lots of photos and articles about his life covering the walls of their restaurant.  Next Wednesday, December 5, is The King's birthday.  

As I was driving home from New Life today I drove under a banner announcing the Chiang Rai Food Festival.  I totally forget that it happens this time of year.  It's a busy time up here in the north.  I also noticed lots of lantern remnants up and down the roads.  

Tonight we went to the Mantrini Boutique Hotel for what was billed as an open house.  It was all held outside in the driveway and the newly created garden area.  There were booths containing vendors of traditional and organically grown products, clothing, and crafts.  There was a corner where kids could learn to make iPhone covers with artwork on them, and a man drawing caricatures in charcoal.  In the garden area there was a stage, and chairs, benches and hay bales.  We visited with all of the members of the host family, and watched a group of young men in traditional attire play traditional tunes.  I'm pretty sure the electric bass and the cajon are not traditional, but the audience didn't seem to mind.  

Speaking of tradition, Atom told us that she is changing her formal first name.  There are certain names and vowel types that correspond with the day of birth.  If you are born on a Monday there are certain names that you should have.  That's a very loose explanation, but you get the idea.  And here you thought you could just make up a name and it would be OK.  That is saved for the 'play name'.  

Tomorrow morning we will go to Central Plaza when it first opens and do our visa check-in at the temporary immigration  tables.  This will be much easier that the last time when we were renewing our visas.  After a few mall necessities we will go up the highway a bit for the opening of the remodeled 'Tile store'.  This is the place where we spent hours going through tile selections for various parts of the house.  The same family that owns the Mantrini owns the 'new' store so we'll see them again.  From the road it looks great. 

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.       Oh, there's 'Funnies'.

                  Peace,
                             Danny 


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Care


Hi,

The celebration of Loy Krathong continues, with lanterns floating into the sky and a variety of explosions keeping us on edge.  

Congrats to all those who knew the 'Zany Day' tune right away.  The last verse should help you if you didn't get it:
"I told that girl I can start right away.  And she said, 'Listen baby I got something to say.  I got no car and it's breaking my heart.  But I've found a driver and that's a start'.  Baby you can __ __ __....."  Hint:  I think it should be obvious by now.

Last night, after our visit to the river, the rain finally stopped and things just picked up where they left off.  The lanterns, the fireworks, and the noise.  The full moon got a chance to shine through the clouds from time to time and the party didn't end until midnight.  There were still occasional bursts of noise at odd hours, like 4am.  

This morning we had 3 lantern carcasses in our yard.  It's so sad, they begin as white crisp paper and end up as gray, soggy messes.  They are soggy because the morning dew soaks right through the rice paper.  Of course, the ground was quite wet from the rain and that didn't help.  Some end up in trees, others on roof-tops.  In Chiang Mai they had to close the airport because of the mass of lanterns floating over the city.  Here in Chiang Rai, Thai Airways changed the flight path of their one evening flight to avoid the lanterns.   I didn't take this photo, but it's probably from Chiang Mai.  Pretty intense example of what happens.


We went by Bliss Studio to pick up a photo from Chalit and had a cool visit.  He mentioned that we might have trouble parking near the coffee shop we were going to next.  There was something happening and the area was busy.  When we got there one of the parades was being lined up and we had to detour.  We ended up at Doi Chaang, had coffee and a visit with our friend Kwan.  On the way home we encountered another parade that was about to start just beyond the Clock Tower.  Another detour and quickly home before we found another parade.  Some of the floats were amazing looking, but we couldn't get close enough for photos.  

We have a busy weekend coming up and we found out today that we can check one thing off of our list.  As curator of Lisa's exhibit, Khun Jaffee is going to go to Bangkok and take down the show and pack it up.  We were going to fly down on Monday, undo the show and fly back on the same day.  It was not something we were looking forward to doing.  Now we can breathe easy.   

I'll leave you with a sign that we saw while driving around town.  Many artists make up names for themselves, but this one is special.  It's all in the spelling, and it had us laughing for blocks.  Somebody has been studying Western ways.


Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                   Peace,
                              Danny

"Seek opportunities to show you care.  The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.
~John R. Wooden

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Waiting


Hi,

Today is Loy Krathong.  Tonight was the night to float the krathongs on the river.  Sometimes things happen.  Read on.

The 'Easy Monday' song was "19th Nervous Breakdown" by The Rolling Stones.  That means it must be time for another chapter of 'Zany Day' song.  "Asked that girl what she wanted to be.  She said baby, 'Can't you see?  I wanna be famous, a star on the screen.  But you can do something in between.  Baby you can __ __ __, yes I'm gonna be a star.  Baby you can __ __ __ and maybe I'll love you."  Hint:  This should be easier than last week.  Four lads singing about being used, in a manner of speaking. 

This morning the sky was partly cloudy and the air was cool.  One could feel the energy in the air as the celebration of Loy Krathong drew closer.  This would be the night of the full moon, the big night when lanterns would soar and the small banana-leaf offerings would float down the river with candles burning.  We ran some errands after my massage and noticed groups around town working on their floats for tomorrow's parade.  

Our friend Atom came over mid-afternoon and we hung out talking for over an hour.  We hadn't seen her in a long time so we had lots to catch up on, including the festivities.  Friday we will go to her family's boutique hotel, The Mantrini, for an open house.  While Atom was visiting, Boot came in with three Krathongs for us to take to the river.  Her friend Kwang made them.  Atom explained that when she was in school it was a annual project in the classroom.  The three that Kwang made are very creative, each made with different types of leaves. 

 
By dinner time it was starting to sprinkle.  It stopped and we figured we would have a chance to go down to the river with Tatt.  After dinner it started raining hard and we thought we'd have to call it off.  We knew that Tatt wanted to go to the river so we kept listening for a break in the rain.  Finally it stopped and we all rushed to get ready.  We walked down our road to a smaller road that leads to the river.  Just as we were starting to light the candles and incense it began to rain.  At first it was a few drops, then it was a small downpour.  We managed to get things lit, laughing all the time.  All of our krathongs ended up crashing or sinking due to the swirling current by the boat dock.  Next year we will find a better location.  By the time we got home we were soaking wet, but happy we did it.  It's probably one of the craziest things we've done.  Amazing Thailand.

Time for a Wacky Wednesday.

                         Peace,
                                    Danny

"We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
~Unknown

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nothing


Hi,

It was a beautiful day to be busy in Chiang Rai.  We covered a shopping circuit this morning and hung out in town in the afternoon.  I spent the evening at the Farm Festival and just got home.

I really expected more response from our 'Easy Monday' tune.  Oh well, you can always jump in when you remember:
"You were still in school when you had that fool who really messed your mind.  And after that you turned your back on treating people kind.  On our first trip I tried so hard to rearrange your mind.  But after while I realized you were disarranging mine.  You better stop, look around, here it comes...."

So much to tell you, but so little time.  This morning we went to Makro, and then down to Bus Station street where we made two stops.  The most significant being the guitar store.  I needed to get a new set of strings for my guitar, and also a soft case.  I've finally been drawn out of my little (huge) shell and I'm going to play on Sunday at a gathering of artists doing a project.  Khun Somluk, the committee chair, told Lisa to 'have Danny bring his guitar'.   This has been building and now the door has opened. 

This afternoon we were out in the street again.  We went back to the guitar store to exchange the case for a larger one.   This time I took my guitar.  When they saw it they said 'Jumbo', which cracked me up because it's not really that big, but they sell a lot of medium and small size acoustics here.  Our final stop was at NorThai for a look around without the crowd.  It was the first time we'd been back since the opening night and it was nice to be able to really take in some of the things on display.  We hung out with Kay, the co-owner, and had a nice talk about how things are going and what will happen in the near future.  We saw the menu and we will probably stop by for a light meal this weekend.

The Farm Festival has been on my mind since I saw the first poster on the street.  Tonight I went with my friend Em.  We had a good time on the way, listening to my CD and talking about music.  The sun was just going down when we arrived and we couldn't help focusing on the giant hot-air balloon that was giving people rides in the evening sky.  It went up about four stories and gave them a view of the valley and the tea plantation.  I don't know what they saw when it got dark.  I guess the festival grounds were enough.  The theme of the whole thing was pretty nicely presented, with barn type facades for all the vending booths and a big barn background for the stage.  One curious note was the row of three teepees on one side of the grounds.  There was lots of food, much of it BBQ or roasted and plenty of Singha beer since they were the major sponsors.  Em and I drank water and walked around checking everything out. We ran into two other Chiang Rai artists and their wives, and that became our base of operation.  

We basically went for the music, but the music was just OK.  The opening act was a duet and they were good, but an hour was too long.  Then there was almost an hour of waiting for the main act.  They were billed as 'Smile Buffalo' and I don't know why.  I think it was a label presenting it's solo artists under the guise of 'guest artists' with a 'house band'.  A couple of the singers and their respective songs were quite good.  Em and I talked about the music and how it made us feel.  We had fun and it's the first time I've done something like this.  He wants me to help him with some songs he's written so we'll be getting together on a more regular basis.  

Here's a photo of the Farm Festival for you to get an idea of the vibe.  I'll post more as the week goes on.

                     Farm Festival on the Hill

Have a Happy Tuesday.

                    Peace,
                               Danny

"As for me, all I know is that I know nothing."
~Socrates

Monday, November 26, 2012

Future


Hi,

This weekend marked the beginning of a double festival week.  We are surrounded by music, explosions, and a 'dressed up' Chiang Rai.

The 'Old School Friday' tune was "Ain't To Proud To Beg" by The Temptations.  It's time for another episode of 
'Easy Monday'.  "You're the kind of person you meet at certain dismal dull affairs.  Center of a crowd, talking much too loud, running up and down the stairs.  Well, it seems to me that you have seen too much in too few many years.  And though you've tried you just can't hide.  Your eyes are edged with tears.  You better stop, look around here it comes, here it comes, here it comes.  Here it comes your __ __ __."  Hint:  This is by a band that's still gigging after 50 years.  There's another number in the title.

The Yi Peng Festival is often called the Festival of Lights.  It's a Lanna (Northern Thai) tradition that relates to the second month of the Lanna calendar and is about making merit.  It has, over time, ended up coinciding with Loy Krathong, which is about giving thanks to the river and asking for forgiveness.  So basically we have lanterns floating into the night sky as part of Yi Peng, and banana leaf boats with candles and incense floating down the river.  Wednesday will be the big night with all of that happening at the same time.  It's very magical to see.  The lanterns have been sighted already, and of course, the fireworks have been  going on for weeks.  

Friday night they started the carnival celebration across the river from us.  The merry-go-round and the loud music were the signs that it had started.  During the day there was traditional music coming from the village.  Boot and Kwang wanted to know if we were going down to the river on Wednesday.  We told them we'd do it from this side, meaning we'd go to the boat dock and not deal with the crowds in the park.  The very first year we were here we were taken to the festival by our friends Pui and Third.  Our friend Kristy was visiting and it was a little party within the big party.  As it got later the crowd got thicker and firecrackers started going off right next to us.  Time to leave.  Now we participate, but in a more controlled manner.  It's easier on so many levels.  

Around town we have been seeing nice, colorful touches to the local ambience.  There is a stretch of crosstown road that we use a lot.  The other day there were crews working on the trees.  We came back the next day and took this photo of one of the trees that was decorated with orchids.  Amazing Thailand.

                             An 'Orchid Tree'

Tomorrow evening I'm going to the Farm Festival on The Hill with our artist friend Em.  He also plays guitar and we've been bonding.  We have no idea who will be performing, we're just going to see some top bands do their thing.  Time to get out my 'dirt walking shoes'.  

Have a Great Week.

                     Peace,
                                Danny

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of dreams."
~Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Funnies


Hi,

Winter seems to have taken a vacation and left summer to babysit.  Today was a scorcher.  It's the first day in weeks where hot weather was a topic of conversation around town.

Well, the 'Zany Day' song was "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha" by Napoleon XIV.  'Old School Friday':
"I know you wanna leave me, but I refuse to let you go.  If I have to beg, plead for your sympathy I don't mind 'cause you mean that much to me.  __ __ __ __ __, sweet darlin', please don't leave me girl, don't you go...."  Hint: This should be easy.  I'm so tempted to give you clues, but let's just say the singer has lost all his dignity.  By a Motor-town monster group.

This morning I took the dogs out alone.  They took this opportunity to take advantage of me.  Today was 'We do what we want' day.  I would throw the red ball for BamBam and the orange ball for Daku.  BamBam always runs for the ball and brings it back for a treat.  Today she would get the ball and plop down and chew.  Daku would walk to the ball, pick it up and then find a spot to lie down and chew.  When he wasn't chewing the ball he was chewing the grass.  He would only respond when I started walking toward him.  He's such a tease.  We all got some exercise, even if most of it was walking briskly.

Our Bohenia tree began life as a cutting from our friend Jaffee.  After two years of growing and being shaped it is a beautiful flowering tree.


I went into town later in the morning to pick up a few things.  Progress had been made on the stage in the middle of the street, and some of the booths had more decorations.  Driving home, through the main business district, I was struck by a scene that I am still not used to seeing.  The mosquito abatement man was pumping a dense cloud of insecticide into the storm drains while the street and sidewalk were full of people.  As Mr. Tuvak from Vulcan would say, "Logic dictates that this is not the best time for such actions".  What a nice way to greet the tourist.  Hmm, simply amazing.

This afternoon I went out to New Life.  Before we started our session I had an interesting conversation with a man from England about dealing with the various forms of measurement around the world.  In England he said things are mixed and one never knows which one to use.  They use 'stones' as a measure of weight (14 pounds = 1 stone), but other things are metric.  Time is something that is less of a challenge than it used to be, but sometimes I have to think about anything after 12noon.  (555)  You know, what time is it?  It's 13:45.  Oh.  My 24 hour clock always needs winding, or something.  

We found out from Tatt that he was accepted to Mae Farluang University, which is just north of Chiang Rai.  He's still waiting to hear from two more universities.  

It looks like we will be staying home tomorrow instead of partying.  The hostess recently announced that she is expecting twins and we don't want to take a cold to their house.  Some day we will have a stove with an oven and we will cook turkey.  Notice how I said 'we'?  I'm a pretty good baster and I mash a mean potato.  When we bought our kitchen appliances we were directed to get a table-top gas burner.  That was all that was needed to cook Thai food.  This may be true, but that doesn't take into account things like cookies and turkey.  The master wish list has an oven and a clothes dryer right up near the top.  

We are very grateful for everything that we do have, and it really is a wonderful life.  

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.      Stay tuned for some funny stuff.

                        Peace,
                                   Danny


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Feel


Hi,

To all my American friends, wherever you are, Happy Thanksgiving.  Over here in Thailand we seem to need an excuse to have turkey.  It's a rare item and not on any menus that I know of, so today we celebrate.  (555)

Only one person has responded to the 'Zany Day' song.  Christopher knew it, what about you?  Here's a telling verse:
"I cooked your food, I cleaned your house, and this is how you pay me back for all my kind, unselfish, loving deeds, Hah?  Well you just wait, they'll find you yet and when they do they'll put you in the ASPCA you mangey mutt!"  And 
__ __ __ __ __ __, __ __."  Hint:  Zany nuttiness about what happened when someone ran off.  Hmm.

This morning I made two runs to the Healthy Market to get potatoes.  We were making Lisa's famous mashed potatoes made with coconut milk for dinner at Gary's.  The first stall I went to had smallish spuds and it wasn't quite enough so I went for more.  Lisa did the seasoning, I did the mashing and we both did some sampling.  They were delicious with chicken gravy.  We decided we should watch a little Stargate, take a nap and eat more potatoes.  She coined the term 'House Potatoes'. 

There were lots of guests already at Gary and Baan's when we arrived.  We knew a few of them and met new people.  The men were sitting at the dining table and the women were in another area of the patio.  All of the men were expats from England, America, and Sweden.  The women were all Thai.  Lisa sat with the men since there was a conversation that was understandable.  There was some history relating to the American event called Thanksgiving, and the fact that there are similar celebrations around the world relating to harvests, and seasons.  The turkey was delicious, as were the string beans and mashed potatoes.  We were done eating when more guests arrived with corn and other things.  That was the afternoon party.  There was also an evening dinner but one was enough today.

We actually spent most of our time talking with a man we met at Gary's another time.  His name is Joakim and he's from Sweden.  He and his wife operate a coffee house/spa that we go to sometimes.  One of our conversations centered around a bicycle that I photographed in front of his place.  I knew it was his because he is a collector of things with two wheels.  He explained that in England, in the late 1800s, the streets of London were very narrow.  There was a strong network of fire hydrants, but it was often difficult for firetrucks to use them.  Sometimes hoses were carried by hand to the hydrants.  Then came the bicycle that you see in the photo.  It was made by the same company that later built BSA motorcycles.  The one Joakim has is a copy he bought in Bangkok.  What?  He told me there are two originals left and they're in California.  The first ones were black, which probably looked really cool.

                           Fire Hose Bike

I forgot to mention that Jago was at the party.  It was the first time we had been to 'his house' since we've known him.  He was so excited to see us, especially Lisa.  Once he got over his excitement they let him stay out of his cage and he relaxed in the conversation area with the women.  Such a boy.  

Before going home, we stopped by Natty's family's restaurant to look at the new shirts that came in and discuss the project.  Some of the elephant shirts have sold already.  Lisa is working on new designs and Natty is setting up a display with her jewelry and the T-shirts.  It's all getting very exciting.  

There is a Chinese community center down the street from the restaurant and every year about this time, they have a big fundraising auction.  Right in the middle of the street, there is a stage, complete with giant music speakers and lights.  On either side of the street there are booths going up for food vendors and games.  It's like a street carnival.  Saturday or Sunday night, or both, the street will be closed and a whole range of items will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.  Natty pointed out several large inlaid carvings on the walls that she has purchased over the years.  

Tomorrow will be a routine kind of day and the Saturday we will go to another afternoon Thanksgiving dinner.  More turkey, yea.  

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                  Peace,
                             Danny

"When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling
inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and
says, yes, this is how I ought to feel."
~Harold Kushner

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Learning


Hi,

The forecast yesterday called for 'small rain' on one site.  Today we got partly cloudy/partly sunny depending on your view of the glass.  I stayed close to home today since Lisa has a cold.  This evening Boot made some chicken broth and that was soothing.  

The 'Easy Monday' song that so many of you knew was "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours" by Stevie Wonder.  OK, time to get wild with the 'Zany Day' song of the week.  This one is a novelty record, recorded by an old French ruler.
"Remember when you ran away and I got on my knees and begged you not to leave because I'd go berserk?  Well!  You left me anyhow and then the days got worse and worse and now you see, I've gone completely out of my mind.  And,
__ __ __ __ __ __, __ __, to the funny farm where life is beautiful all the time...."  Clue: If you ever listened to Dr. Demento on the radio then you'll remember this song.  The long title is a description of something that's happening to the singer.

This morning I had my weekly massage.  After it was over I met another client of Joy's who is Thai, lives in America and is visiting Thailand.  That was an interesting conversation.  She is here to avoid the winter in Boston.  Makes sense to me.  

This time of year is turning out to be a big festival/party time in the north.  We've been invited to an 'American Thanksgiving' on Thursday, a 'Two Days After...' party on Saturday, and a Christmas Party on December 8.  Then there is the Farm Festival starting this weekend, and Loy Krathong at the end of the month.  The fireworks are getting more intense even though Loy Krathong is a week away.  Various organizations and temples are making floats for the obligatory parade and decorations are starting to appear around town.  There will be another set of floats and a parade for the beginning of the Flower Festival later in December.  I guess Chiang Rai has a lot to offer during the High Season.  

The land behind our house has been used as a neglected corn field on several occasions.  People would come and plant seeds, water a few times and then just leave it alone.  The crop would grow, turn brown and they'd come and pick some of the corn.  We've been told that is for animal feed.  Seems like you'd want a full harvest regardless of the use.  Now the land is being farmed by the family who used to be where the proposed housing project is located.  They are very dedicated, working every day.  There seem to be two types of plants growing and we remain curious.  Here is a photo taken this morning from our bedroom balcony.

                A Small Farm of Unknown Veggies

It's time for Wacky Wednesday.

                   Peace,
                              Danny

"The good thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you."
~B.B. King

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Start


Hi,

Today was a rather laid-back day at the Big Brown House.  The rainy season is over and winter is really trying to show up.  The overnight and early morning temps are quite cool, but that all changes with the rising sun.  

I got a lot of correct responses to the 'Easy Monday' song.  If you're still struggling, here's another verse:
"Then that time I went and said goodbye, now I'm back and not ashamed to cry.  Oo baby, here I am, __, __, __, __ __.  I've done a lot of foolish things that I really didn't mean.  Hey, hey, yea, yea didn't I, of baby __, __, __, __ __."
Clue: Something was delivered and it wasn't a letter.

It was nice to have a day to just relax.  We had a day that looked like it might rain, but what fell from the sky hardly qualified as rain.  Normally, the cool air inspired the dogs to run like crazy.  This morning they were on an independence kick.  Daku would run for the ball and then just change direction, stick his nose in the air and follow a scent.  Sometimes he'd get the ball and just plop down on the grass.  I think he learned that one from BamBam.  She loves to run, but doesn't always return.  They did get some exercise, but at times they were very frustrating.

There are signs all over town announcing the Chiang Rai Farm Festival.  It begins on Saturday and goes until Wednesday of next week.  It's being held at the Singha (pronounced Sing) tea plantation just outside of town.  There is a hill on the property and that's where the festivities will take place.  There will be a big mountain bike race, DJs, rock groups, and local Thai music.  It goes without saying that there will be lots of food and drink.  I'm hoping to get there at least once to see some music.  Unfortunately, we will miss the Chiang Rai Flower Festival again this year.  It always begins just after we leave for America and closes before we return.

The gardens are blooming like crazy.  There are flowers in the trees, and sweet smells all around the yard.  I think that's what distracts Daku.  I guess it's time to get out there with the camera and snap a few pics.

Today's photo offering is a continuation of our NorThai experience on Saturday night.  Boutique shopping on the 2nd floor, and live music in the 3rd level art gallery.

               Hats, Jewelry, Lamps and Clothes

            String Ensemble from the Youth Orchestra

In one month we will be flying back to America for our winter visit.  This has been the longest gap between visits so far.  It will have been seven months and for us it seems like a very long time.  The perspective changes when I think about people we know that go away for years at a time.  Anyway, it won't be long until I'm commenting on how different things are and how polite the driving has been. (555)

Have a Happy Tuesday,

                Peace,
                           Danny

"Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go;
they merely determine where you start."
~Nido Qubein

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wind


Hi,

This weekend was filled with artistic activities.  Two openings with lots of friends, music, art, and laughter.  What could be better?

The 'Old School Friday' tune was The Temptations singing "The Way You Do The Things You Do".  It's nice that so many of you remembered it.  Keep your memory hats on as we move to 'Easy Monday'.  "Like a fool I went and stayed too long, now I'm wondering if your love's still strong.  Oo baby, here I am, __, __, __, __ __."  Hint:  This is an easy one with a 'postal' reference.

Saturday evening was the grand opening of NorThai (for Northern Thailand).  There was a large turn-out from the expat and Thai communities for this debut of a very unique operation.  When we entered, we were greeted by young people offering us food and drink.  They were all wearing one of the signature T-shirts with the NorThai logo.  We browsed the merchandise that included shirts, calendars, and custom-made soaps.  When we went up to the second level we noticed some new additions.  There were two leather couches for hanging out, lit by some very artistic lamps.  We also checked out the hand-made products for sale by local artisans.  On the third level we discovered where the music was coming from.  It was a string ensemble from the Chiang Rai Youth Orchestra.  They played all evening and it added a nice touch.  This level is the art gallery and the exhibit consisted of three prominent Chiang Rai artists.  On the fourth level we enjoyed the art works of our host, Martin Doyle.  His work is all done using wood instead of canvas.  NorThai is to be a community center for creative activities, a place for sharing information, and a spot to have coffee, a meal, or hang out.  Here is a photo of the front of the building the night of the opening.  (The white space is actually a lighted sign the washed out in the photo)

                                   NorThai

On Sunday we went to 9 Art Gallery for the opening of a new exhibit featuring 5 artists.  There were some very fresh ideas presented in the work of some of the artists.  Everything from wire sculptures of celebrities to new work that looked like an ancient antique canvas.  The whole community is buzzing about the Art Bridge Project and the coming events to promote it.  On December 2 we will take part in a bamboo lamp making evening.  The evening of December 7  there will be a musical fundraiser.  The building where the project will call 'home' is being renovated and the opening will be early next year.  

In between those two events life went on as usual.  This morning we went into town, dropped the car for an overdue washing, and walked some errands (as opposed to 'ran some errands').  The 'High Season' is in full effect in Chiang Rai.  There are tour vans and busses all over town.  We're happy for the local merchants who are benefiting from the additional attention.  

Have a Great Week.

               Peace,
                          Danny 

"Most people never run far enough on their first wind,
to find out if they've got a second.
Give your dreams all you've got and
you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you."
~William James

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Funnies


Hi,

I can tell that the weather is changing because the sky was clear and it wasn't a sweltering day.  Hmm, could winter really be coming?  We ran errands in the morning and Mari returned from her mini-retreat.  

The 'Zany Day' song was "Get Off My Cloud" by The Rolling Stones.  Here's an 'Old School Friday' tune to figure out:
"You got a smile so bright, you know you could have been a candle.  I'm holding you so tight, you know you could have been a handle.  The way you swept me off my feet, you know you could have been a broom.  The way you smell so sweet, you know you could have been some perfume.  Well, you could have been anything that you wanted to and I can tell, 
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __."  Hint:  A clever bit from the rhyming dictionary.  Hmm, I'm tempted to take mine off the shelf.   One of the longer titles for an R&B song.

This morning was the second day in a row that we drove to Makro to buy chicken, but there was no chicken.  That meant driving into town to the Healthy Market and going to the chicken lady.  There were other errands as well, but that's life.  During our morning drive we came upon an interesting scene.  A motorbike with a kitchen sidecar was towing a kitchen trailer.  

                               Rolling Kitchens

This afternoon I drove out to New Life, had a good session with the residents and brought Mari back with me.  She really enjoyed her stay and accomplished everything she set out to do.  Lots of meditation and yoga, plus some relaxing time.  Tomorrow morning we'll take her to the airport.  She will go to Bangkok and then on to India for almost a month. That's what I call an adventure.

Saturday night will be the grand opening of NorThai, the 4 story shophouse restaurant, gift shop, art gallery.  We're very excited about this, not only because we know the owners and have watched it evolve, but because it's a new concept for Chiang Rai.  It will be a gathering place, a support central for creative causes, and a wonderful place to shop for gifts.  Photos next week.

Don't forget, the Formula One Grand Prix of Austin this weekend.  My friend Linda tells me that all of the rental cars in Austin are booked.  That should tell you something.  Zoom.

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.          Time for the 'Funnies'.

               Peace,
                          Danny


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gratitude


Hi,

Morning low clouds made for perfect weather for a doggie play-date.  We searched the town for a special gift, and we have two invitations for Thanksgiving dinners next week.  

The current 'Zany Day' song has lots of friends.  Looks like another easy one.  Here's the second verse, just for fun:
"The telephone is ringing I say, 'Hi, it's me who is it there on the line?'  A voice says, 'Hi, hello, how are you?'  Well I guess I'm doin' fine.  He says it's three a.m., there's too much noise, don't you people ever wanna go to bed?  Just 'cause you feel so good, do you have to drive me out of my head?  I said, Hey! You! __ __ __ __ (x2)..."  Hint:  Somebody wants to be left alone.

When Gary and Jago arrived this morning I could tell that he was ready to play.  He knows our street and the gate.  Just as he was getting off of the motorbike Daku came racing around the corner of the house.  His buddy was here.  They did a little dance and then tore out into the yard, hardly able to contain themselves.  They would run, wear themselves out, take breaks and then start all over.  BamBam still has her initial attack behavior and must be on a leash for the first few minutes.  After that she's just happy to be running around chasing the ball.  Jago runs after her, trying to get her to play but she still ignores him.  While they played, Gary and I sat on the porch and talked.  We had a great time discussing expats who come to Thailand and create new identities.  

We had to go back to Makro this morning, but since it was later than usual, they were out of chicken.  That meant a run to the Healthy Market.  On the way we stopped at Big C and Sinthanee.  We've been scouring the local shops looking for a specific electronic gift for some friends and it has been a real hunt.  We finally decided to try again after lunch.

After a good meal and some rest we were ready to hit the streets again.  We had to go to Bus Station street to visit the health food store so we started on the block with the electronic supply stores.  One store was full of all the LEDs that we see on the cars, trucks and bikes.  They had remotes, home phones and all the tiny little things that make bigger things work.  When we asked about our product the woman went on and on in Thai, explaining something.  Finally she gave us a phone number to call.  Hmm.  Down the street we asked again and this time the owner of the store wrote down the name of the shop we should go to.  We went to our friend Chalit's studio and he took us the short distance to a shop that was filled with what we wanted.  He asked the right questions and we got the perfect gift, with a discount.

Time now for a Random Chiang Rai photo.  Our visual interlude is the Clock Tower during the nightly light show.


The holiday of Loy Krathong will be celebrated on the 28th of November, but the fireworks have been going on for two weeks.  They seem to be building in intensity each night.  It's mostly things that make a lot of noise when you least expect it.  Not cool, but something that I've adjusted to for the most part.  BamBam responds as if it were thunder.  
As we get closer to the date we'll revisit the celebration and it's meanings.  For now, cover your ears.

Next Thursday we will be going to Gary and Baan's house for an American Thanksgiving.  This has even more meaning when one considers the fact that Gary is English and Baan is Thai.  They have an American friend who is hosting the party at their house.  They always have great gatherings and we're looking forward to turkey.  

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving we're going to another dinner that will be pot-luck.  This one will be full of Americans and other nationalities.  We had dinner with the same crew last year and it was fabulous.  Our friends Caty and Kobchai are hosting this one.  It will also be a reunion for a lot of folks who have been away and have returned.

Sporting alert:  This weekend will be the inaugural Formula One GP at the new Austin, Texas racing complex.  You really should check it out.  We'll be watching a recording since it will air in the early morning here.  

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                      Peace,
                                 Danny

"As we express our gratitude,
we must never forget that the highest appreciation
is not to utter words, but to live by them."
~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Nothing


Hi,

Today was a cloudy Wednesday.  All day it kept looking like it might rain, then the sun would shine, then more clouds.  Under all of that I had a massage, we had a long visit from the pool guys, and a Big C run.  Pretty mellow day. 

The 'Easy Monday' song was "A Hard Day's Night" by The Beatles.  Cool movie too.  On to our 'Zany Day' song.  I certainly hope you remember this one:  "I live in an apartment on the ninety-ninth floor on my block.  And I sit at home looking out the window, imagining the world has stopped.  Then in flies a guy who's all dressed up like a union jack and says I've won five pounds if I have his kind of detergent pack.  I said, 'Hey! You! __ __ __ __ (repeat 2 times) Don't hang around 'cause two's a crowd..."  Hint:  It came from across the pond, and it refers to something in the sky.  Hmm.

This morning we did the usual dog exercising.  We have discovered that Daku responds differently when I throw the ball than when Lisa does it.  He runs harder and seems to want to from the moment he knows it's his turn.  As soon as BamBam brings the ball back, Daku starts pulling.  It has made it easier to ensure that he's getting his morning workout.  Tomorrow Daku has a play-date with Jago.  

We have been doing a lot of walking this week.  Some of it has been over irregular terrain and, not being a hiker, I have felt the effort afterwards.  Today I decided to let Khun Joy just give me a massage and not point out anything specific.  It turns out I didn't have to.  She found everything that was tight and gave it a little 'attention'.  Came home feeling like mush but not too sore.

The pool guys were at the house when I returned, and they seemed to be involved in a big project behind the waterfall.  Later, Boot told us that they were cleaning out the surge tank.  It's a big concrete tank under ground and it sends water to the filter.  There has been an accumulation of leaves and flowers and they shouldn't be there.  The cold water in the pool looks good and it's time to be brave and squeeze into the wetsuits for a swim.

The large shopping stores are best visited early in the day, for easy parking and plenty of stock.  Our trip to Big C today was late morning and it was decidedly more crowded than we're used to.  We got some of what we went for and managed to get home close to lunch time.  During our travels we determined that today had been designated 'Stupid Driving Day'.  From one side of town to the other, and back, we encountered tons of stupid driving.  Bad decisions, lack of decision, and of course the classic: 'Leap before you Look'.  We stayed in for the rest of the day.

This afternoon we had a really cool Skype call with our friends Louise and Jesper, in Denmark.  Some of you may remember that they stayed with us last year.  They just had a baby boy who decided to arrive early.  His name is Rasmus and he and his parents are all living at the hospital until he can go home.  It was great to talk with them and hear about the baby.  All of their posts on Facebook are in Danish so we miss the conversations.  

It's time for another Random Bangkok Photo.  This one was taken on the ticket platform of the SkyTrain.  When you need to handle your legal affairs you can do it on the run.  (or is it rail?)

                       Full Service Law Office

Those clouds that hung around all day decided to let go this evening.  We've had another nice dose of water that should last until the weekend.  

It's time for Wacky Wednesday.

                    Peace,
                               Danny

"Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
~Shakespeare

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Enemy


Hi,

This morning we had a little rain storm.  I think it caught a lot of people by surprise, judging by what they were wearing on their motorbikes.  The weather was great for our afternoon trip to New Life Foundation.  Tonight we baked cookies.  Yea.

So far only two people have named the 'Easy Monday' song.  Here's the bridge, the part with the cowbell.  So easy:
"When I'm home everything seems to be right.  When I'm home feeling  you holding me tight, tight, yeah.  It's been 
__ __ __ __, and I've been working like a dog...."  Clue:  I don't know why you don't remember this.  It's not hard at all.  

We managed to get the dogs out for their exercise just in time.  I had returned from taking Lisa to her massage when I heard a familiar sound.  It was the rain and it was coming down heavy.  We're happy for the rain, especially when we don't have to do things in it.  

When we were at Doy Din Dang pottery last week we bought some small plates.  Lisa asked Boot to use them for our meals.  The idea was to force her to give us smaller portions.  So far it's working, but it hasn't prevented her from cooking the same amounts as before.  Today she cooked a lunch that was big enough for five people.  We had enough left over for Lisa and me to have a nice dinner.  The plan is working and the plates are beautiful.  (Photo later)

This afternoon we took Mari out to New Life Foundation for her three day stay.  Lisa had never been there so we all took the tour when we got there.  It is a very peaceful place and I can see how it could be very refreshing.  There is an early morning yoga, a silent, 'mindful' breakfast, afternoon meditation and yoga, swimming and working in the gardens.  Anyway, I will bring Mari back with me after my Friday session and she leaves for India on Saturday.

Closer to home, there is an evening restaurant that has fascinated me for some time.  In the day time the space is part of a parking lot.  When the sun goes down it becomes a popular eatery.  I finally got photos showing day and night.



Everything that you see in the bottom photo has to be set up every time they open for business.  They used to bring potted bushes to make a border on the front.  Someday we'll have to stop and check out the menu.  If it weren't for eating next to the busy traffic, it might be fun.

Have a Happy Tuesday.

                 Peace,
                            Danny

"When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you."
~African Proverb

Monday, November 12, 2012

Destiny


Hi,

We've been having perfect weather for traveling around our town as tourists.  It's been a busy weekend, hitting various points of interest, showing Mari where we live.  

The 'Old School Friday' song was "Try A Little Tenderness" by Otis Redding.  'Easy Monday' should be a snap:
"It's been __ __ __ __, and I'd been working like a dog.  It's been __ __ __ __, I should be sleeping like a log.  But when I get home to you I find the things that you do will make me feel alright."  Hint: One is shorter and one is longer since the time change on the west coast.  Hmm, what's he talking about?

Saturday morning we took Mari to the downtown market.  We strolled down the main aisles and ducked into some of the less traveled alleys as well.  There is always something new to see, with each turn.  During our travels we spotted a woman selling lanterns and we bought four.  We thought it would be a fun to do while Mari was here.  

Lisa and Mari went to lunch with our friend Sutheera.   In the evening we met Chalit and Amber at Sawadee restaurant in the Night Bazaar and had a great dinner.  After dinner we decided to go up to 'Walking Street', which was two blocks away.  We braved the crush of humanity and actually did some gift shopping.  Mari found some gifts to take home and we got started on our holiday shopping list.  We hadn't been to Walking Street in months.  It's nice when company comes, it gets us out of the house (555).

Sunday morning Lisa and I went to Makro early and stocked up on essentials.  We took the food home, picked up Mari and drove up the highway to Ban Dam.  This is a huge art installation created by Thawan Duchanee, a National Artist who is a Chiang Rai local.  He has created buildings with unique roof-lines, stone gardens, and things that are hard to describe.  There is a lake on the property and there are two black swans and two white ones.  We also saw three horses grazing.  To see what we saw click the link:  http://thawan-duchanee.com/index-eng.htm


Our next stop was the mixed Hill Tribe Village a little farther north.  I have been there many times and this time things looked a little depressed.  I'm not sure what has happened, but it didn't have the same energy as in the past.  It was still neat to see some of the costumes and walk through the forest from village to village.  

In the evening we decided to launch our 'lanterns' into the night sky.  This is done by lighting a ring shaped material at the base of the lantern that burns slowly.  As the heat from the fire rises into the paper lantern, it becomes lighter-than-air and takes off. Tatt joined us and we went out on the front lawn to play.  We had the small size lanterns and once they lifted off, we could watch their entire flight.  We laughed a lot and had fun. 

                            We have 'Lift-off'

Earlier in the day Tatt and Boot went to his school for 'Parents Day'.  Tatt is still the top student at his school and tested in the top 8% nationally.  I guess all those hours studying in his room are paying off.  

Today we went to the Hill Tribe Museum and learned a lot about our friends and neighbors.  When you come to town it will be on the list of places to go.  The museum is very involved in the fair treatment and representation of the Hill Tribe people.  

This afternoon we went to Le Meridien to take in the ambience.  We ended up having drinks by the river.  I had the best mango drink ever.  While we were sitting, watching the river flow, I noticed a bunch of little-boy monks across from us.  All we could see were their orange robes and then we'd see a little fire, and then a loud 'pop'.  They were playing with fireworks, just being boys.

Have a Great Week.

               Peace,
                          Danny

"To grow, you must be willing to let your present and future,
be totally unlike your past.
Your history is not your destiny."
~Alan Cohen

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Funnies


Hi,

The morning sky was crystal clear, but by evening there was a light shower.  We spent the morning on tour, Daku got a bath. and we went out for dinner.

The 'Zany Day' song you were wondering about was "The Leader of the Pack" by The Shangri Las.  Time now for another installment of 'Old School Friday'.  "Oh, she may be weary.  Them young girls they do get weary, wearing that same old shaggy dress, yeah yeah.  But when she gets weary __ __ __ __, yeah yeah."  Clue:  I think this should be Easy Friday (555)

Today we took Mari to see Wat Rong Khun.  If you come to visit we will take you too.  It's one of the sights of Chiang Rai that must be seen.  I have raved about this temple before and if you've never Googled it, do it.  There are tons of links to photographs of this unique project.  

This afternoon I drove out to New Life for another session with the residents.  Before we got started there was a conversation about the hazards of weeding a pineapple patch without gloves.  Apparently there are little sharp things on the big spear-like leaves that grow out of the top of the plant.  Now you know.  Next Tuesday Mari is going to New Life and spend three days as a guest.  She will participate in yoga and meditation sessions and experience the 'community life'.  

Tonight we went to Vivien House for dinner.  They recently moved the restaurant to the upstairs of the house and we were the first guests of the evening.  They have a big menu with lots of things that we can eat.  Tonight I had grilled chicken with orange sauce and it was yummy.  I think we may be going there more often.

For the weekend I'm leaving you with another random Bangkok photo that we couldn't resist.  While at K-Village we came upon this baby carriage with 5 little dogs, all wearing clothes.  Nothing more to be said.  

                              Buggy Dogs

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.   Stick around for the 'Funnies'.

                    Peace,
                              Danny


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Feed


Hi,

Today was a very special day.  We spent most of the morning in a forest north of town, and we got the first printings of the 'Chiang Rai T-shirts' with Lisa's art.  

It's nice to know so many of you remembered the 'Zany Day' song.  Here is the second verse as the plot thickens:
"My folks were always putting him down (down, down).  They said he came from the wrong side of town.  (Whatch mean when ya say that he came from the wrong side of town?)  They told me he was bad, but I knew he was sad.  That's why I fell for __ __ __ __ __."   Hint:  This whole thing doesn't end well.  Two wheels on a rainy night.  'Look out'.

This morning we drove north of town to Doi Din Dang Pottery.  We wanted Mari to see Khun Somluk's work and the environment he and his wife have created.  There were no other visitors when we arrived and we strolled quietly through the buildings and paths until we reached the coffee shop.  A little later Somluk appeared and we began what would be a very long visit and a guided tour of the property.  We talked about the Art Bridge Project and some of the promotional plans.  He took us into his gallery and his workshop.  At every stop we learned a little more about what he does, and who he is.  In the gift shop he explained how the colors are created.  The black color on some of the cups and plates is the result of putting red dirt on the object before it is 'fired'.  The heat brings out the iron oxide and that creates the black color.  All of the colors in his work have been created from nature, mostly from different kinds of ash.  It was mind boggling.  There is a little forest behind his work buildings and it has all grown over twenty years.  He planted a few trees and let the land revive itself.  It was a very special experience.

The contrast of going from the quiet forest to Big C was abrupt.  We did some essential shopping and then crossed the highway and went to Central Plaza for lunch.  When we arrived there was a big event going on in the center area.  It looked to be a health fair and one man was the center of attention.  We later found out he is a popular TV star.  

This evening we went into town to show Mari the Clock Tower Light Show.  It only lasts for five minutes but it's very beautiful.  From there we went to Khun Natty's family restaurant to see the samples of the T-shirts.  We finally have the right combination with digital printing on soft shirts.  It will now be a matter of getting the supply of shirts we need.  Here is one of the designs that Lisa has created.  The elephants are actually printed on a white shirt.


Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                 Peace,
                            Danny

"Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death."
~Unknown

Gettin' Funky, Thai Style 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Open


Hi,

As Chiang Rai's 'High Season' kicks into gear the weather couldn't be better.  We put on our 'tour guide' hats and began showing our visitor the local sights.

'Easy Monday' was "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield.  The group is named after a steamroller.  Now we dive into our 'Zany Day' song.  This little drama should bring back some memories.  It's zany yet serious.  
Spoken: "Is she really going out with him?  Well, there she is.  Let's ask her.  Betty, is that Jimmy's ring you're wearing?  Mm-Hmm.... By the way, where'd you meet him?  I met him at the candy store, he turned around and smiled at me, you get the picture?  (yes, we see)  That's when I fell for __ __ __ __ __."  Hint: Think: 'The Wild One' and you're on the right track.  The group name is a mythical place.

This morning I got a gentle massage and then we hung out talking with Mari.  We're learning a lot about village life in Uganda and it's fascinating.  In the early afternoon we went into town and got coffee at Doi Chaang.  It's one of those places we always take visitors because of the great ambience and the coffee.  

Our friends Martin and Kay are getting close to finishing their venture, 'NorThai'.  We stopped by after coffee to see the progress and show Mari what it will be like.  Unfortunately, she leaves the day of the grand opening.  The whole thing is quite impressive and when it's open it will be a great place to hang out, eat, enjoy art and shop.  

This evening we went to the Night Bazaar and looked around.  There are lots of 'visitors' in town and many of the vendors had new products for sale.  It seems like a long time since we'd been there, but it's only been a few weeks.  We've been out of our rhythm of every Sunday night and we missed the transition of seasons.  

When we first visited Thailand in 2001 we landed at the same airport we used on this recent trip.  It was the only airport in Bangkok.  There is a building on the highway that we hadn't seen in 11 years but I managed to get a shot of it from the taxi.  If you look closely you will see an elephant.

              The Elephant Building - Bangkok

Tomorrow we will see some sights around Chiang Rai.  It's fun to be a tourist sometimes.

Stay tuned for Wacky Wednesday.

                Peace,
                           Danny

"You can't grasp it, but you can't lose it.
It winds its own way.
When you are silent, it speaks.
When you speak, it is dumb.
There are no obstacles.
The great gate of love is wide open."
~Yung - Chia Ta - Shi