Thursday, January 31, 2013



It did not rain today and everyone in Chiang Rai is happy about that.  Last night's storm was bigger than we realized.  Today was a busy one.  We cruised downtown, lunched in the country, and had dinner at the Night Bazaar with friends.

It seems that only one person, Lisa, knows this 'Zany Day' song.  Here's another verse to get you going.  Sing along:
"The radio is blastin', someone's knocking at the door.  I'm lookin' at my girlfriend, she's passed out on the floor.  I seen so many things I ain't never seen before.  Don't know what it is, I don't wanna see no more.  __ __ __ __ __ __, __ __ __ __ __ __.  That ain't the way to have fun, no, that ain't the way to have fun, son."  Hint:  The title can be 3 or 6 words.  At any rate, the singer was given instructions not to attend. 

This morning we went out to survey the damage from the storm.  While we were at Central Plaza there was a big wind that came through and briefly knocked out the power, blew lots of leaves around, and sent our Bohenia tree crashing to the ground.  It's amazing how big a tall tree can look when it's on the ground at eye level.  Daku was very curious about this new addition to his yard.  In the photo he is starting to check it out.  Eventually, he walked all the way  through the branches, like a tunnel.

                               Daku in the tree

Mid-morning we went into town to go to the art supply store.  The store is on a street with parking on one side only.  This makes it very difficult sometimes and today was one of those times.  We ended up trying what seemed to be a parking lot that is only visible if you know which driveway to enter.  Through a short alleyway we entered a large piece of land that was almost full of cars.  One of the growing problems in town is parking.  Walking down the main street past gold shops, shoe stores and banks we noticed a vendor who had set up a 'shop' on the sidewalk.  He sells cheap phones and does minor repairs.  At the art store we found the things we needed and Lisa told the owner that we had received an email from his son who is studying in Manchester, England.  He seemed pleased that we were in contact.  

We had a lunch date with our friends Caty and Kobchai at their home in the country.  Their place is about 25 minutes out of town, through some beautiful countryside.  We've been to the house before, but it was night time.  Today we got a complete tour and then sat down to a feast that Kobchai had prepared.  We had two kinds of chicken and steamed fish plus some of Lisa's mashed potatoes.  They are expecting twin girls sometime in May so some of the conversation was centered around the excitement of dealing with two little people.  

This evening we met Poui and her mother, Ampai at Sawadee Restaurant in the Night Bazaar for dinner.  Poui was one of the first friends we made in the Night Bazaar when we first arrived.  She had a shop where she sold hand-made earrings and soaps.  She's been living in Australia with her husband Jimmy and is here on business.  It was a great reunion and we got to hear about her life there, and their plans to return to Thailand.  

It's been a very full day and tomorrow we have an open calendar.  Who knows what will happen?

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"There is nothing stronger than gentleness."
~Hans Suyin

Wednesday, January 30, 2013



Chiang Rai seems to be back in the rainy season, only it's cold rain.  There was plenty of adventure during the day time, plus dinner with friends in the evening.

The 'Easy Monday' tune was "Rain" by The Beatles.  Our 'Zany Day' song is from a band whose name has origins in Australia.  Hmm.  "Want some whiskey in your water, sugar in your tea.  What's all these crazy questions they askin' me?  This is the craziest party there could ever be, don't turn on the lights, 'cause I don't want to see.  __ __ __ __ __ __, __ __ __ __ __ __.  That ain't the way to have fun, no."  Clue:  Sometimes it's good to listen to a parental unit.

There is a company on the highway that we have passed for years.  It appeared to be the place to buy things like store furnishings and mannequins.  We went there today to buy a rack to hold the T-shirts with Lisa's designs.  The place had racks and shelving of every description.  On the second floor we found the perfect unit but before they would accept payment, they wanted to make sure we could get it in the car.  Three staff members came out and managed to get it in the car.  That's what I call service.  We delivered it to Natty's restaurant where the shirts will go on display.

After lunch I took Tatt to the bus station south of town.  He has to take entrance exams at a university near Bangkok that is his first choice.  They will test him in four subjects and then he will return to Chiang Rai.  At one point we were sitting behind a pick-up truck that was dirty.  Tatt chuckled and I asked him what was funny.  He told me that the Thai writing on the back of the truck basically said 'Wash me'.  I told him that the same thing happens in America.  It's a universal prank and we both laughed.  

Last night Boot went out with Rudy.  This morning she called to say she was sick.  There are things that she does around here that we are aware of but never have to deal with.  Today the sewer trap from the kitchen began to overflow.  Normally, Boot cleans it out.  I guess you know who had to tackle the problem today.  Armed with rubber gloves and a shovel I took a deep breath, moved the concrete cover and began to try to shovel the nasty slime.  Kwang helped me and we removed a bunch of stuff.  The level went down a bit, but I think we need the pumping truck to come again.  The adventure continues.

The rain returned in the late afternoon.  While we were getting ready for dinner the thunder came.  BamBam followed us around after that.  We had a dinner date at Central Plaza with our good friends Sutheera and Nukoon.  We figured BamBam would find a place to hide and Daku would be OK.  When we returned, both dogs were very happy to see us.  The rain has stopped and the dogs are happy to hang out.  One thing we didn't realize was that there was a wind storm as well.  When I took Daku out I discovered that our beautiful Bohenia tree had been blown down.  Ouch.

I will close with a photo from our Sunday experience at the Dog Expo.  This is a rack of costumes for dogs.  What?

Time for Wacky Wednesday.


"Occasionally in life there are those moments
of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained
by those symbols called words.
Their meanings can only be articulated
by the inaudible language of the heart."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013



With a sky that looked like rain, I had an early morning excursion across town, and then an afternoon massage.  All done before the storm.

This week the 'Easy Monday' song is a bit of a weather forecast.  I understand there has been a change in some areas.  If you had water falling from the sky, then you should have no problem with this song.  Go ahead, sing it.
"__, I don't mind.  Shine, the weather's fine.  Can you hear me that when it rains it shines, it's just a state of mind.  Can you hear me, can you hear me?"  Hint:  Please, really?

It's been a long time since I had to go across town early in the morning.  It was car service day and I had an 8am appointment.  Just as I rounded the corner by the hospital I realized I had passed the point of no return.  The morning traffic had backed up and I had a wait in store.  Whoever presses the button to change the lights doesn't have a grasp on keeping the traffic moving.  I made a detour where I could and looped around the library, onto the bridge road, under the bridge and back around to where I wanted to go.  

My wait at Toyota was 2 and a half hours.  I spent the time in the lounge, playing Solitaire and watching Thai TV.  There is a morning show that is like The View.  The opening segment was on the dangers of drinking too much alcohol.
Even without understanding what they were saying, the graphics and photos told the story.  There is a real problem here with consumption.  I found it interesting that it was the lead item on a show that is usually about everything else.
After that there was a short program by a cooking lady who made blueberry pudding and spoke in English the whole time.  Hmm.

This afternoon I had a massage from Khun Joy.  On my way home it started looking dark in places, but not like rain would really come.  There have been forecasts of rain, but the various weather sites never seem to agree on where or when.  One website says 'rain nearby'.  What does that mean, exactly?  Nearby where?  Just as we went down for dinner we got our answer: nearby us.  It turned out to be quite a downpour, which is a good thing.  There was an article in the paper yesterday about how the government has declared the northern provinces, including Chiang Rai, as drought areas.  Apparently, all the rain we had during the 'rainy season' was not as much as the year before.  Many farmers are not planting because they don't have enough water to sustain a crop.  I guess the small farmers, like the people behind us, are lucky.  It would be nice to get a rain like today on a weekly basis. 

Today's photo is from the big parade.  This is one of the more elaborate floats featuring a statue of King Mengrai.

                               I Love a Parade

Have a Happy Tuesday.


"Flatter me, and I may not believe you.
Criticize me, and I may not like you.
Ignore me, and I may not forgive you.
Encourage me, and I may not forget you."
~William Arthur

Monday, January 28, 2013



There was lots of excitement around Chiang Rai this weekend.  We had a big parade, and a mall full of dogs.  What could be better?

The 'Old School Friday' song was "There Goes My Baby" by The Drifters.  I know a few of you that should have remembered that one.  Here's an 'Easy Monday' tune that should have you saying: 'Too easy'.  So tell me the song:
"If the __ comes, they run and hide their heads.  They might as well be dead, if the __ comes.  When the sun shines they slip into the shade, and sip their lemonade.  When the sun shines, when the sun shines."  Hint:  So easy, it's a weather song (555)

Saturday morning we set out to run some errands.  Our first stop was going to be near the Clock Tower, but before we could get there we were confronted with a detour.  Up ahead I saw a float and I knew the reason.  We called our friend Natty to tell her we'd be a little late.  As it turns out, we never got there.  The entire street and surrounding area was consumed with the parade.  We were able to cross the route and go the fruit market.  On our way home we traveled on the opposite side of the street from the parade.  This gave us a chance to see most of the units and take some photos.  The whole thing was in honor of King Mengrai, the founder of the Province.  There were lots of walking groups and many of them were representing the various Hill Tribes of the north.  There were floats with statues of King Mengrai, and about three marching bands as well as a traditional drum crew.  The first band was playing 'La Bamba'.  Amazing Thailand.

On Sunday morning our mission was to go to Central Plaza for the first time since we returned to Thailand.  As we entered the main level I saw a sign that read: 'Dog Toilet' with an arrow pointing down the escalator.  Hmm.  A few steps further and we saw a giant exhibit with cages, tables and tents and it was all about dogs.  There was one section with a big crowd around puppies of various breeds.  We were immediately drawn to the Golden Retriever pups.  We fought back the urge to take one home (555).  The Husky pups were very cute and there were some tiny little dogs that I wasn't sure about.  Then there were vendors with racks of clothes, costumes and toys.  People had been encouraged to bring their dogs, though I don't know why.  It was more than weird to see little dogs on leashes in the mall.  Once we regained our focus we moved on, only to encounter another exhibit of three very large dogs on display in big cages.  There was a Great Dane that must have been over 3 feet at his shoulder, a Central Asian Shepard, and a Caucasian Shepard.  They were all huge but the Caucasian Shepard had a really sweet face and he became our favorite.  While we were having coffee upstairs, we could look down and watch the whole thing.  They took the big dogs out of their cages so people could take photos and pet them.  

I guess we're getting better since we're running the streets again.  This morning we went to Makro in the rush hour traffic and then had coffee at Doi Chaang.  This afternoon we had lunch with our friend Pat (Atom).  We hadn't seen her in over a month.  

Tomorrow I get to hang out at Toyota while the car gets serviced.  This will give me a chance to watch the morning shows and see how much I understand.  

Have a Great Week.


"Our greatest strength lies not in how much we differ from each other
but in how much - how very much - we are the same."
~Eknath Easwaran

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Funnies


Our busy day yesterday led to a rest day behind the walls today.  The weather is getting warmer and that may lead to possible swimming in a few weeks.  I will be ready for that when the time comes.

The 'Zany Day' song was "Lola" by The Kinks.  What happened out there?  I expected more responses.  Oh well, if you're still awake it's time for 'Old School Friday'.  "__ __ __ __, movin' on down the line.  Wonder where, wonder where, wonder where she is bound?  I broke her heart and made her cry.  Now I'm alone, so all alone.  What can I do, what can I do?  __ __ __ __, __ __ __ __ ..."  Clue: This R&B hit is from a legendary group.  It's what one says as their loved one walks away.  Oh yeah, 1959 if you're keeping score.  

This morning our bedroom was scheduled for cleaning, but we were camping out in it so we moved the 'party' to the guest room.   The dogs joined us and we all hung out downstairs and it was very cozy.

       Daku (left) and BamBam in Meditation

Making an appointment for service on our car usually involves going to the dealership and setting it up.  Even if the language barrier persists, we seem to be able to work it out.  Today I tried to do it on the phone.  The first guy I got on the line was like a wall, 'no English' and that was that.  I found another number and got someone who left the phone and found an English speaking person.  I explained to her what I wanted, she took my number and said she'd call back.  I got a call from her later and we set up an appointment for next week.  It might be easier to just stop by next time.

We live in an age where technology is evolving at a rate much faster than it did in our childhoods.  Can you imagine being a child in this era?  The exposure to things as magical as computers, smart phones, and various tablets is a long way from the days of searching the encyclopedia.  Even animals are getting to experience the wonders of modern technology.  Check out this article about Gorillas and iPads

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.    Time for a 'Funny'


Thursday, January 24, 2013



A warm day included morning dog drama, a trip to town, chance meetings with friends, and night photos of pretty lights.

"Well we drank champagne and danced all night under electric candlelight.  She picked me up and sat me on her knee and said 'Dear boy won't you come home with me?'  Well I'm not the world's most passionate guy, but when I looked in her eyes, well, I almost fell for my __.  _-_-_-_ __ (repeat dashes)  Hint:  They partied all day and all of the night, and into the waterloo sunset.  Hmm.  

This morning BamBam was downstairs when Lisa opened the gate for Kwang.  The neighbor's dog, Black, followed her in a bold move.  He usually just stands by the open gate but today he decided to look around.  BamBam began barking and upstairs, Daku who never barks, jumped up, got agitated and started barking.  In some uncanny, dog talking way, he knew what was happening.  Lisa sent Black home and our dogs finally settled down.  

Since we were both feeling better, we ventured into town to run some errands.  After a visit to the bank we went to the pharmacy warehouse.  While I was parking, our friend Eddy walked by and we talked for awhile.  We hadn't seen him since his party before we went to America.  With the busy traffic on the boulevard right next to us we discussed the best ways to get around town during certain times of day.  We both agreed that after 4pm it's time to stay inside until the rush hour is over.  Actually, it's all a matter of 'compared to what?'.  One can still cross town in a reasonable amount of time, it just feels slow.

Coming out of the fog and into the sunshine is a wonderful thing.  It was good to get out in the world today.  Of course, it helps that the temps are coming up.  The idea of going out in the cold when you're sick is not very inviting.  This evening we went down to Clock Tower street to finally take photos of the holiday light display.  Here are a couple that let you see the temporary 'wonderland' look. 


Watching the sports channels again is very interesting.  I learn things from the commercials for other shows.  For instance, did you know there is an ASEAN Basketball League?  There are teams with names like The Slammers and The Dragons, and their rosters are made up of big international players.  When I say big I mean very large, NBA type players jumping above the rim and everything else.  And did you know that in Europe they race the cab portion of delivery trucks on road-race tracks.  Very strange indeed, but kinda cool.  That's our sports update for the week, expect that there will be more tennis to watch (555)

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen
and thinking what nobody has thought."
~Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi

Wednesday, January 23, 2013



Chiang Rai had another beautiful day, though I didn't get to experience it.  I spent most of the day in bed.  Things are getting better, and that's what counts.

The 'Easy Monday' song that so many of you knew was "Respect" as sung by Aretha Franklin, written by Otis Redding.  Once again, it's time for our 'Zany Day' song.  "I met her in a club down in old Soho, where you drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry-cola.  C-o-l-a cola.. She walked up to me and she asked me to dance, I asked her her name and in a dark brown voice she said __..."  Hint:  Some might say this tune is kinda 'kinky' (555).  It came from across the pond and it's a zany love story.  The title is a name.

This morning I was lying on the bed, moaning and groaning while watching the Australian Open when all of a sudden the picture was gone.  A notice appeared on the screen that was all too familiar.  Something about the socket not being properly connected, blah blah blah.  This happened last week and was supposed to have been fixed.  We had Boot call the service tech to set up a visit.  As usual, they arrived a little before the appointed time.  This time there were four guys in the truck.  Not sure what the point was, but maybe they were trainees.  On today's visit they finally focused on the dish itself.  That seemed to do the trick, we hope.  We missed a match we wanted to see, but they replay the whole day at night.  Hmm, tennis junkie.

There was an interesting revelation about BamBam today.  The pool guys were working and she kept barking at them.  She's known them for a long time and it seemed odd.  It turns out that she only likes one of them.  I guess we'll just have to put up with her barking from time to time.

Our friends at The Sold Project took the kids to Anantara Resort Elephant Camp for an outing.  For many of the children it was the first time they had ever seen an elephant.  They got the childrens' version of mahout training and had a fun day.  Today's photo was taken while they were helping the mahouts bathe the elephants before training.

                                     Splish Splash

When we were at Big C earlier this week I noticed a display of decorations for Chinese New Year.  It doesn't happen until February 10, but all the goodies are out now.  It won't be long before we'll start hearing fireworks going off (make that explosions).   

We'd been wondering if we would get a chance to see the Super Bowl, and then I started seeing commercials for it during the tennis matches.  The only thing about watching it here in Thailand is that we won't get to see the commercials, and that's a big part of the fun.  Oh well, the game should be good.

Time for more remedies, more tennis and a good nights sleep.  

Hey, it's Wacky Wednesday.

"Natural beauty comes in all colors,
strength in many forms.
When we learn to honor the differences
and appreciate the mix, we're in harmony."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013



It was a rather slow day on the compound.  Enjoyed the mid-day sun and made a new friend in the afternoon.

Well, a few of you knew the answer to the 'Easy Monday' song.  I know you know this one.  Here's a bit more:
"Ooo, your kisses, sweeter than honey.  And guess what?  So is my money.  All I want you to do for me is give it to me when you get home, yeah baby.  __ (spelled out) find out what it means to me.  __ (spelled out) take care, TCB..."

Today was another 'sick day'.  I refuse to give you details, but let's just say if I could replace the front of my head I would.  Letting this thing run it's course seems to be the only option now.  Concentration can be tricky when you're uncomfortable, but I manage small bursts.  

We slept through a bunch of tennis after lunch.  At 4pm we met Boot's boyfriend Rudy for the first time.  I tried to maintain some semblance of wellness while he was here.  I almost felt like a father interviewing his daughter's new beau to see if he was suitable.  That's funny since he's only five years younger than me.  It turns out that he's quite a guy.  He's basically from Holland, but has lived in Thailand for 15 years.  We connected on several things and had lots to talk about.  The four of us are going to go out to hear some live music after Lisa and I get well.  There is a place in Chiang Rai called the India Bar, which is a hangout more than a bar.  There is a singer/guitar player who plays the blues and they say is very entertaining.  

The last few nights, and this afternoon, we have been hearing drumming from somewhere behind our house.  I think it's a block to the north and there are hand-drums playing syncopated rhythms that sometimes land in very cool grooves.  Tonight there are other instruments playing but we mostly hear drums.  

One of the bad things about having this terrible cold right after returning is that we have to wait to connect with all our friends.  Hopefully, by the weekend things will be back to normal.  In the meantime, enjoy these orchids from our garden.

Have a Happy Tuesday.


"What we see depends mainly on what we look for."
~John Lubbock

Monday, January 21, 2013



The weekend weather in Chiang Rai was the same as it's been all week, hot days and cold nights.  This has kept us in at night for reasons you will soon learn.

The 'Old School Friday' tune was "Silhouettes", originally recorded by The Rays.  Other recordings take it out of the 'Old School' category (555).  This 'Easy Monday' song should be a snap for everyone:  "What you want?  Baby, I got it.  What you need?  You know I got it.  All I'm askin' is for a little __ when you come home (just a little bit) ..."  
Hint:  Made famous by the 'Queen of Soul', this song became an anthem of sorts.  Everybody wants this (the title).

Just as I was feeling all special because I hadn't caught the cold that Lisa brought back from America, I got smacked in the face.  Needless to say, the weekend was not fun.  I should have picked up some stock in Kleenex when I had the chance (Ha).  We ran some necessary errands, but most of the time was spent watching the Australian Open and drifting in and out.  

Sunday morning we went to the Healthy Market for vegetables and fruit.  At one of the entrances there is a little stand where a guy makes jewelry.  On our way in we heard "Life In the Fast Lane" and on our way out he was playing "House of the Rising Sun".  I love the way music travels around the world and turns up in the most unlikely places.  

Because of the chilly evenings and the current condition of me, I haven't taken a photo of the downtown lights yet.  I did manage to get a shot of the late afternoon sky at just the right moment.  

                                     Pink Clouds

This morning we bravely went out early to Makro.  From there we stopped and had coffee while waiting for Big C to open.  Walking into Big C right at the start of the day was a little eerie.  Most of the downstairs vendors were still closed and upstairs, where the main store is, some cart operators were just taking the covers off of their displays.  The aisles were practically empty, which is pretty cool.  

On the way home we stopped for bread.  I stayed in the car, but Lisa got a complete history of Jonathan from one of the women at Work@Home.  She pulled out a scrapbook with photos of Jonathan as a puppy and even had a pic of his father.  Made me think that maybe we should have taken some family photos of Daku's parents when we got him.  

Have a Great Week.


"The best and most beautiful things
in the world cannot be seen nor touched...
but are felt in the heart."
~Helen Keller

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Funnies


We had another postcard day here in Chiang Rai.  The temperature range went from long-sleeved shirt and light jacket in the morning to shorts and no shirt in the afternoon.   

That pesky 'Zany Day' song was "Flight 505" by The Rolling Stones.  Now we visit some R&B for 'Old School Friday'.
"Took a walk and passed your house (late last night).  All the shades were pulled and drawn (way down tight).  From within, a dim light cast two __ on the shade.  Oh, what a lovely couple they made."  Clue: The song has a very interesting ending.

This morning we went into town.  We had coffee at Doi Chaang while the car was being washed.  It's a great arrangement with the two businesses next to each other.  We made a couple of stops in our clean car and got home before the mid-day traffic.  

This afternoon I saw a herd of little goats on my way to New Life Foundation.  They were wandering around on the side of the road, trying to eat the leaves of a young tree.  The bold ones would stand on their hind legs to nibble what they could.  I also saw changes in the landscape, with more land being prepared for building.  

This evening I drove down Clock Tower street to see the lights.  The holiday decorations are beautiful and Monday I will have a photo to share with you.  Today's photo is the flower garden at Suvarnabhumi (Suwarnabum) airport in Bangkok.  It features a variety of flowers with an emphasis on orchids.

Tonight we have both dogs with us.  BamBam usually stays at Boot's after dinner, but tonight she has a date so Bam is hanging with us.  While Daku is laid back and mellow, BamBam is always ready to bark at the slightest noise outside.  With the window and curtains open, anything is fair game.  The solution is to close the curtains.  Out of sight....

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.    And now for some 'Funnies' to make you go: 'Hmm.'


A few examples of why it might be difficult to grasp the English Language:

The bandage was wound around the wound.

The farm was used to produce produce.

The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

We must polish the Polish furniture.

He could lead if he would get the lead out.

Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

I did not object to the object.

Thursday, January 17, 2013



The weather in Chiang Rai has started warming up.  Oh, the joy of walking around in my yard without a shirt.  The mornings and evenings are still cool, but the daytime more than makes up for it.  Music from the temple filled the morning air, along with a reading of donors and their contributions.  Ah, Thailand.

Now I know there are some R&R lovers out there, but I still haven't heard anything on our 'Zany Day' song.  Hmm.
"Well, I confirmed my reservation, then I hopped a cab.  No idea of my destination, and feeling pretty bad.  With my suitcase in my hand, in my head, my new life.  So then I told the airline girl, 'Well, get me on __ __ __, get me on __ __ __."  Hint:  What could I say without giving it away.  The first and last blanks are the title.  Yeah, like that helped.

We've been rather consumed with the early rounds of The Australian Open.  The disc recorder hasn't seen this much action since the Formula One season.  There is a new rule that we think should be in place: Opponents in a given match should not be allowed to wear the same outfit.  It was virtually impossible to tell the players apart in one match today so we moved on to another.  

This afternoon we had a strange thing happen.  Three helicopters flew over the house.  We have heard choppers from the army fly over every now and then, but these were smaller, like from a police unit.  My guess is that they were flying from the border to somewhere in Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai.  There has been a lot of activity at the area around the border with Burma having to do with drug smugglers.  At least we don't have them hovering over the house with search lights and loudspeakers.  

Daku should get an award for 'Most Cooperative Dog Wearing a Cone'.  He's so easy going about the whole thing.  Most of the time he avoids bumping into us and when it has to come off and then back on, he sticks his head out as if to help.  He has figured out how to go up the stairs without catching it, and lifts it out of the way when going through the bushes outside.  When he wakes up in the middle of the night and paces around he doesn't bump his cone into anything.   If only he'd stop pacing.

I saw the Space Station again, streaking across the sky.  It was a few mornings ago, while it was still dark outside.  I looked up to admire the star-filled sky and saw a bright light moving quickly.  I knew what it was and was again reminded about just how amazing that is.  To think that 6 people were up there going 17,000 miles per hour while working, eating and sleeping makes moving about on the ground a trivial thing.  Traveling around the earth every 90 minutes makes our flight from America to Thailand seem like a covered wagon journey.  

I visited with our friend Chalit and his brother at Bliss Studios today.  He was telling me that at the mall there was a Japanese credit card company doing a promotion.  It would appear that Chiang Rai is no longer a sleepy little town in the north, but a potential 'consumer center' and the coming ASEAN agreement is part of the motivation.  It's probably not going to be big news anywhere in the world but here, but it seems like a big thing.

We don't get out into the wild these days, but here is a photo from the archives.  It was taken at Lamnam Kok National Park.  This is one of the 'baby falls'.  The park's major attraction is Khun Kon Falls.  It's a long hike the we don't intend to make (555).

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"Do not withhold your gift from others.
Do not make the mistake of
thinking that you have no gift to give.
Everyone has a gift.
But don't compare your gift to the gifts of others,
or you may not value it sufficiently."
~Paul Ferrini

Wednesday, January 16, 2013



Life seems to be normalizing here in Chiang Rai.  A massage and two store runs had me out on the town.  Three weeks away and I noticed more changes.

The 'Easy Monday' song was "A Day In the Life" by The Beatles.  We turn now to our 'Zany Day' song and a bit of Rock  & Roll:  "Well, I was happy here at home I got everything I need.  Happy bein' on my own, just living the life I lead.  Well, suddenly it dawned on me that this was not my life, so I just phoned the airline girl and said, "Get me on __ __ __, get me on __ __ __."  Clue: This could be called a travel song.  The title is only two words technically, but the lyric has three.  If you know it, you'll understand.  It's by a band that just celebrated 50 years as an institution (555).

It's a good thing I had a few days to unwind before my first massage with Joy.  I was anticipating a difficult time with lots of tight, painful areas, but it wasn't so bad.  From my massage I went to the 'Healthy Market' for some fresh fish and chicken.  It was nice that several vendors wished me 'Happy New Year' in Thai.

Traveling across town to Big C, I noticed some new store fronts and enhanced floral arrangements beside the road.  Many small businesses spring up, stay open for a few months, and then disappear.  Sometimes it's the wrong location and sometimes it's from lack of planning.  Maybe that's why there are so many 'movable businesses'.  They can keep trying different locations until they find the one that clicks.  There are some food and coffee vendors that have three different locations where they set up shop during the course of a day.  Hmm.  Could this be an international wave of the future?

At Big C things were bustling in the mid-afternoon.  I was fortunate to find a parking place and a short check-out line.  The whole thing was quite painless.  When leaving Big C it's necessary to merge onto the Super Highway, cross all the lanes and then get in the U-Turn lane to go north.  I got a big surprise when I got across the highway and into the U-Turn lane.  It had been extended way past the original turn.  This was done so the long lines to Central Plaza don't hold up a lane of traffic on the highway.  Back in town, as I passed the Clock Tower I saw the framework for what might be an arched canopy.  On the framework there were white 'tube lights' so I'm imagining that at night they create a glittery scene on either side of the clock.  I'll have to venture out and take some photos.

Today's photo is another T-shirt design from Lisa's collection.  We don't have monkey's here in Chiang Rai, but farther south they are in abundance.  And no, they are not blue, but they are cute and will steal your stuff if you're not careful.

It's time for Wacky Wednesday.


"Opportunities multiply as they are seized;
they die when neglected.
Life is a long line of opportunities."
~John Wicker

Tuesday, January 15, 2013



We had a beautiful day in Chiang Rai.  The pattern is cold mornings, warm days, cool evenings.  Quite a change from cold all the time in Southern California.  We went to the people hospital and the animal hospital.  What a day.

Are you there?  I'm shocked that no one has written with the title and artist for this song.  
"I saw a film today, oh boy.  The English army had just won the war.  A crowd of people turned away, but I just had to look, having read the book.  I'd love to turn you on...."  Clue: About a 24 hour segment of time.

This morning we went to Overbrook Hospital for the second of three tetanus shots.  The place was very busy but our nurse friend Pay helped us get things going.  After a long wait at the pharmacy we got our little packets with the medicine and syringe, then went to the treatment room to get stuck.  We saw Pay on the way out and she told us the hospital started a whole new computer system on the first of the year.  There are still some bugs, but it will be much more efficient when it's complete.  

Now it was time to deal with the animal part of the story.  We went home and got Daku for his visit to Dr. Arnon's.  When we walked in there was a large lab that caught Daku's attention.  He was ready to visit, but that wouldn't have worked since they were both wearing cones on their heads.  The rest of the waiting room had tiny little dogs sitting on their owner's laps.  Our patient did well in the treatment room.  While we were waiting for his meds a woman came in with a wooden carrier and it was hard to tell what was inside.  Then there was a clucking sound.  She had a rooster in the box.  That was definitely a first.

While we were at the vet's, a technician from True TV came and fixed our dish box.  It was just in time since the Australian Open has begun.  

Today's photos are from the airport in Taipei where we saw the Meinong Prosperity Paper Umbrella Craft Exhibition.  Aside from the very long title, all we know is that the umbrellas are hand painted on paper and then lacquered. 

Colorful Umbrellas from Taiwan

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, electrical poles have been installed on the property behind us, and the little farm is still going strong.  Driving through town today, we heard music coming from a village speaker on a street corner.  Can you imagine what would happen if it were your neighborhood?  They seem to play various styles, but one never knows what or when it will be.   Hmm.

Have a Happy Tuesday.


"The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing
would suffice to solve most of the world's problems."
~Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, January 14, 2013



We're back in Chiang Rai, and the dogs are quite happy about this.  When Boot greeted us she exclaimed about how cold it was.  We just laughed and said, 'Not cold'.  It was cool, but we now have a different reference point for cold.

It would appear that no one knew the 'Old School Friday' song,  except Lisa.  You should have known 'Misty' by Johnny Mathis.  Oh well, time for 'Easy Monday' and a song that will stick in your head.  "I read the news today, oh boy, about a lucky man who made the grade.  And though the news was rather sad,  well, I just had to laugh.  I saw the photograph..."  Clue:  The title is in 5 words and is not sung in the song.  Four lads and an orchestra.

The flight home was a little longer than the one that took us to America.  We don't usually fly on weekends so this was a new experience.  Flying out of LAX on a Friday night was also crazier than usual.  When we landed in Taipei it was 6:30am and the airport was bustling with activity.  As we headed for our departure gate I couldn't resist taking this picture to share with you.

One of the toughest parts of flying into major airports is the amount of walking that must be done after sitting on an airplane for so long.  When we arrived in Bangkok the walk seemed endless.  Then, when we walked up the incline to immigration we had to stand in a very long line.  There must have been several landings at the same time.  The only way to pass the time without screaming was to listen to the various languages and wonder what they were going to do in Thailand.  After our immigration check it was time to get the bags and find the bus to the 'little' airport.  A bus ride later it was a short line to the window where we had to pay for our extra weight.  We knew this was coming but it was worth it.  When we finally arrived in Chiang Rai our friend Chalit was waiting to take us home.  
Every time we cross the ocean we experience Jet Lag.  I don't think we've totally defeated it, but while on our visit it seemed a little less dramatic this time.  I've also noticed that this first day back in Thailand didn't include that overpowering urge to collapse.  I didn't wake up at 4am ready to start the day.  These are good signs that maybe sleeping on the plane has benefits.  Especially if it's timed with where you're headed.  I didn't even try to keep up with the time thing, but I know that I had some long stretches of sleep in-flight. 

Today I hit the ground running, as the saying goes.  Sleeping in might have seemed like a good idea, but there was the alarm and Daku.  I made a early run to the post office and then Makro.  Those were two things that haven't changed much in 3 weeks.  There were other things that had changed, including the completion of a restaurant, the filling in of lots of land, and the fact that Boot has a gentleman friend.  

While we were gone, Tatt's parents came to visit him.  They stayed in our guest room and had a good time.  Tatt took them to a few places in town and they went into the mountains to take warm clothes to some people in need.  We will get to meet them when they come back for his graduation.  

Daku has his first 'hot spot' in a little over a year.  It's pretty intense so we took him to the vet this morning.  When we got there I noticed some monks inside.  As I looked closer I could see that there was a ceremony going on, not a pet visit.  When Lisa got out of the car with Daku, a staff member came out and told us they were closed for the day.  I'll just say that we were a little disappointed that they didn't offer an alternate clinic.  We'll take him tomorrow and get it cleaned up.  

We found out from our friend Jaffee that Lisa's four-panel cast acrylic print about Chiang Rai is now hanging in the VIP room at our local airport.  We'll have to go back and see how it looks.  He also told us that a writer from the Thailand edition of AMEX (American Express) magazine is coming to interview her.  It's nice to return to news like that.

Have a Great Week.


"People are the way they are,
not the way I want them to be."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Funnies


Well friends, this will be the last message from America.  Since we'll be traveling over the weekend, you won't miss a beat in the continuing adventures.  (555)  It's been fun, but it's time to go.  If we didn't get to connect in person, there's always the summer.

This week's 'Zany Day' song was "Blue Suede Shoes" as made popular by Elvis Presley.  It was written and first recorded by Carl Perkins, a Rockabilly pioneer.  Now you know.  That means it's time for 'Old School Friday' and a song that shouldn't be too hard to figure out:  "Look at me, I'm as helpless as a kitten up a tree, and I feel like I'm clinging
to a cloud, I can't understand, I get __ just holding your hand."  Clue:  The title is a word attempting to describe the indescribable feeling that comes with new love.

This morning I drove out to the Malibu hills for a visit with my dear friend Blue.  The horse ranch where he lives was very quiet and serene when I arrived.  Horses were standing around, doing what horses do.  One horse watched me closely as I drove past.  I later learned that she's one of the smartest horses on the ranch.  When I got to the little gate at Blues cabin I was met by two dogs and a cat that apparently thinks it's one of the dogs.  None of them barked, but just greeted me.  Inside the artistically decorated space we sat and talked about life outside of the city.  It was so still and relaxing.  As with any time we get together, there was lots of laughter.  We have known each other since the first grade.  He took me to a little Thai restaurant in the area and we had a delicious, authentic lunch.  I could have hung out there all day, but I had to time my visit so I left before the afternoon traffic started.  The Risingstardom link at the bottom of the page belongs to Blue.  Check it out.

           The Sun Deck at The Horse Ranch

My timing of the trip back to the city was perfect, and I didn't have to 'sit' in any traffic.  I drive more in America than I do in Thailand.  I've become a small town kind of guy I guess.  I have one more road trip before we go.  Tomorrow morning I'll go and visit with my mom and set up 'Facetime' on her computer so we can have some face-to-face conversations across the vast distance.  

The cold weather of this California winter will give me a new perspective when I think it's cold in Chiang Rai.  Bundle up and stay warm.

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.  Now it's time for the 'Funnies'.


Dog Rules for Stuff

1. If I like it, it's mine.

2. If its in my mouth, it's mine.

3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.

4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.

5. If I'm chewing something up, all the pieces are mine.

6. If its mine, it must never appear to be yours anyway.

7. If it just looks like mine, it's mine.

8. If I saw it first, it's mine.

9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it
automatically becomes mine.

10. If its broken, it's yours.

Thursday, January 10, 2013



Wednesday turned out to be a beautiful, 'warm' day.  There were coffees, lunches, and thoughts of home.

A whole bunch of you knew the 'Zany Day' song.  Here's the second verse in this song about an article of clothing:
"Well, you can knock me down, step on my face, slander my name all over the place.  Do any thing that you want to do, but uh-uh honey, lay off of my __.  Don't you step on my __ __ __.  You can do anything but lay off of my __ __ __."
Hint: Really?  Extra 'Cool Points' if you name the original writer/artist.

We actually had breakfast at home.  Although the morning was very cold, by the time we started our day in the streets, it was beginning to warm up.  We drove out to the marina and began the search for jellybeans.  Our friend Pat (Atom) likes two particular flavors of Jelly-Belly beans.  We were drawing blanks until we met up with our friend Jeanine.  She and Lisa were going to have coffee and she knew where to find them.  I went to Gelson's and found the elusive beans.  

While I hung out at the house, Lisa had lunch with friends from her former job.  I met her later for coffee with our friend Richard.  We talked about the house he is building, and also about coffee.  He knows a lot about coffee and was intrigued with the Doi Chaang Civet coffee we brought him.  

Our friend at Elite Health Foods posed an interesting question: What changes have you noticed on your visit?  I think I've covered a lot of them over the last three weeks, but the biggest would be the closures of businesses, and the increased density in terms of cars and people.  It goes without saying that many things cost more than they did seven months ago, and we won't even talk about fuel costs.  Other than that, it's all pretty much the same (555).  Or, as they say in Thailand:  'Same Same, but Different'.  Sounds a lot like Chiang Rai when I really think about it.  Hmm.

Two more days in America.  Thinking about the house and the dogs a lot.  Ready for some home-cooking and a good massage.  Picturing the Night Bazaar in my mind.  Can you tell I'm getting homesick?  Here's another T-shirt design by Lisa.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"Life is like a rainbow.
You need both the sun and the rain to make its colors appear."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013



The countdown continues with three more days in America and then off to Thailand.  There were more meals and an adventure in music stuff.

The 'Easy Monday' song was "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson.  See, it was easy.  Time for another episode of the 
'Zany Day' song.  "Well it's one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go, cat, go.  But don't you step on my __ __ __.  You can do anything but lay off of my __ __ __."  Hint: The artist who made this a giant hit didn't do it first, but that's OK.  Some people celebrated his birthday yesterday.  Hmm, this is too easy.

Our Tuesday began with another breakfast visit, this time with our friends Pam and Steve.  We've been meeting them at Dinah's on most of our visits.  There is a 'culture' at Dinahs', a sort of community of patrons who frequent the place.  Pam and Steve live close and have been going there for years.  We seem to get there twice on each visit so I guess that doesn't count, but they say they often see 'friends' there.  This morning I resisted the temptation to have another round of cinnamon French toast.  (555)

Every trip to the States provides a bit of culture shock.  The biggest example came for me today when I visited the Guitar Center on Pice Blvd.  I'm used to going into the guitar shop in Chiang Rai, which has a nice assortment of guitars and a growing list of accessories.  Walking into Guitar Center put my brain on overload.  Dazed and confused, I walked into the keyboard room where there was too much to absorb.  So many black and white keys made it hard to focus.  I was there to get some guitar parts for Chalit and I was on a mission.  From the 'key' room I wandered into the drum section.  I still hadn't seen a guitar yet so I asked a clerk and he directed me to the second floor.  Oh.  I have never seen so many guitars in one place in my life.  From the elevator I was directly in the acoustic section.  I went into a big soundproof room that was full of guitars to sample.  Once I had the info I needed I mentioned to the guy that there were a lot of guitars there.  He said I should see the 'Guitar Dome' on the other side.  The 'Dome' is a huge rotunda with a very high ceiling.  The whole thing was filled with electric guitars of every description.  I just stood there and slowly turned around.  If you're ever looking to see a mind-boggling display of musical instruments, check the place out.

This afternoon we managed to take another nap.  This is good practice for when we get home and resume our regular programming (555).  I wouldn't want to get out of practice for the after lunch siesta.

The August Chronicles:  It's been quite some time since we visited the adventures of our Musician/DJ/Tech Boy.  Lisa spent some time with him today and he showed her his equipment drawers.  He's forever inventing, changing, and otherwise exploring anything that plugs in or carries current.  In his own words, he's addicted to Mine Craft and since he got his new iPad Mini, he's been finding apps to make his laptop talk to his mini and and vice-versa.  He's not afraid of any of it and is willing to take chances, which is a wonderful thing for a 12-year-old.

It's time for a Wacky Wednesday.


"If one speaks with a cruel mind, misery follows,
as a cart follows the horse...
If one speaks or acts with a pure mind, happiness follows,
as a shadow follows its source."
~The Dhammapada, a collection of Buddhist teachings

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Keep Me Away


It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood here in Culver City.  There was breakfast in Santa Monica, lunch at the mall, and dinner at 'home'.  Oh yes, and there was football in the evening.

I'm a little surprised that more of you haven't weighed in on the 'Easy Monday' song.  I'll bet you get it after this:
"__ __ is not my lover.  She's just a girl who claims that I am the one, but the kid is not my son.  She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son."  Hint: There was a glove involved (555).

We got to experience rush hour traffic this morning.  A 9am breakfast date with a friend in Santa Monica made it necessary to join the masses on the freeway.  I promise not to complain about the Chiang Rai traffic ever again.  It actually moved pretty well considering how many cars were out there.  The thing that stands out in my mind was the courteous nature of the driving.  Hmm.  We ate at Izzie's, where there are lots of photos of Izzie with celebrities all over the walls.  A big plus for us was turkey bacon.  Yum.

Then we went to a pet supply store to get some things for the doggies.  It's amazing how many products are available for dogs and cats.  The store we frequent in Chiang Rai seems tiny compared to the places here.  We had no idea there was a pet hospital in PetCo.  

While Lisa was lunching in the marina, I went to the mall, had lunch and checked on guitar parts for my friend Chalit.  I have noticed, in my driving around, that there have been many changes in the area as far as businesses go.  So much to see, so little time.

Today we actually had time to take a nap, due to a cancellation.  It's the little things that count.  

This evening I turned on the football game.  C-Bass and I had fun watching the lopsided competition between Notre Dame and Alabama.  I have watched more 'Gridiron' football on this trip than ever before.  I'll miss it when we return to The Land of Smiles.

The photo for the day is the delightful Leilani and her parents in front of Thai Boom, after our lunch date Saturday.  

Have a Happy Tuesday.  Many thanks to my friend Christopher for today's quote.


"Keep me away from wisdom which does not cry, 
the philosophy which does not laugh,
and the greatness which does not 
bow before little children."
~Kahlil Gibran 

Monday, January 7, 2013



The weather in Culver City is still cold.  There was rain early Sunday morning and wind in the afternoon.  

The 'Old School Friday' tune was "Everyday People" by Sly & The Family Stone.   It's now time for 'Easy Monday'.  See if you remember this one:  "She was more like a beauty queen, from a movie screen.  I said I don't mind, but what do you mean I am the one, who will dance on the floor in the round.  She said I am the one, who will dance on the floor in the round..."  Hint:  Title is in two words, and it's a name.  

Today's photo was taken on Friday morning at an artist workshop that Joan and Bob took us to in San Francisco.  All of the artists have mental disabilities and the center offers them the opportunity to focus their talents.  Some of the work is licensed for commercial use and they have regular exhibits where the work is for sale.  The artists get 50% of the sales and some of them are becoming well known in the area.  It was quite inspiring.

Saturday we had a fun lunch with our friends Paul, Joy and Leilani.  Leilani is 3 1/2 and it was the first thing she told us when she arrived.  She was the life of the party, very outgoing and alert.  The family often eats at Thai Boom so the staff knows her and they all had a cute rapport.

In the evening I connected with a bunch of old friends out in Santa Monica.  That's one of the great things that happens when we visit; getting to visit and stay in touch.  

Sunday morning Lisa and my mom gave me a cake at one of my favorite Recovery meetings.  After the meeting we went to Thai Boom for lunch.  We've been eating there a lot.  Woody and Suni, the owners, have invited us to visit their property west of Bangkok when they return to Bangkok in the spring.  

In the evening Lisa went to dinner with a friend and later we hung out with August and C-Bass.  We watched football, and did our own versions of commentary on some of the action.  

Friday evening we will begin the long journey home to Chiang Rai, Thailand.   

Have a Great Week.


"In the confrontation between the stream and the rock,
the stream always wins-not through strength,
but through perseverance."

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Funnies


It was a beautiful day to fly, so we did.  We flew to San Francisco (SFO) to begin the Northern California segment of our 'tour'.  

That 'Zany Day' song that a few of you got was "At The Zoo" by Simon & Garfunkel.  On to 'Old School Friday'.
"Sometimes I'm right, then I can be wrong.  My own beliefs are in my songs.  A butcher, a banker, a drummer and then, makes no difference what group I'm in.   I am __ __... Different strokes for different folks, and so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby." Hint:  Every day it was a family affair.

When the shuttle bus dropped us off at the Southwest Airlines curbside check-in we encountered a long line of passengers waiting to enter the airport.  We stood in line, in the sun, for about half an hour.  Even with the cool air temp, the sun was hot and the layers of clothing began to be too much.  It was fun watching people arrive, trying to figure out where they had been and where they were going.  I saw many people who were obviously headed for the snow.  Big ski and snowboard bags were quite common.  There were also people sporting Rose Parade T-shirts and sweatshirts from Stanford being worn proudly.  Eventually we got into the terminal and went upstairs for inspection.
Even though I know it's for my own safety, it feels weird to be told to comply to a long list of requirements before entering the x-ray machine.  We breezed through with flying colors, although the zipper on Lisa's sweater apparently posed a threat.  (555)

Arriving at SFO was something we haven't done in many years.  When we got to the baggage area it seemed quiet.  We met Karen Jo outside and there was very little traffic.  She explained that it was a small airport.  You could have fooled me.  I expected to see the same scene we left at LAX but it was like a small town airport.  We have learned that the city really is small, compared to L.A., in area as well as population.  

After a coffee stop we went to see Lisa's father Joe and her stepmother Eva.  We went into his studio and marveled at his recent creations.  He keeps coming up with new approaches to his art, and it's very inspiring.  Since he has a cold, he stayed at the house while the rest of us went to dinner.  Eva, Karen Jo, Lisa and I had Chinese food at Hunan Garden, a favorite spot for the Zirker clan.  The owner knows what they like to eat and we got excellent service.  After dinner we returned to the house and hung out for a bit.  

Back in 'the city' we stopped at a Trader Joe's for some munchies and went to Karen Jo's apartment.  It's so nice to be staying at someone's home instead of a hotel, and being driven instead of following directions through a strange city.  

For Friday we have two events here in the north.  We'll have breakfast with our friends Bob and Joan, who we stayed with on our last visit, and then on to the 'Cousin Lunch' at a local Thai restaurant. 

Here is an interesting art piece that I photographed at Saladang Restaurant in Pasadena.  Nothing like a good illusion.

Saturday I will celebrate my 23rd Recovery Birthday.  Life is Good.  

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.    On with the 'Funnies' with a big thanks to Christopher.


More Wisdom from Will Rogers

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier'n puttin' it back.

Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.

The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.

When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of Algebra.

I don't know how I got over the hill without getting to the top.

If you don't learn to laugh at trouble, you won't have anything to laugh at when you're old.