Thursday, February 28, 2013



Today we went into town for half of the day.  We hung out at Bliss, searched for a light, and ended up at Central Plaza.

I suppose I should have called this the 'Zany Day' Easy Wednesday song since so many got it.  Some of you are still a little confused so this should clear that up:  "As we live a life of ease, every one of us has all we need.  Sky of blue and sea of green, in our __ __.  We all live in a __ __, __ __, __ __,  (repeat until you're sick of it)  Hint:  Four lads from across the pond who made two movies and a cartoon.  

This morning we spent some time at Bliss Studios looking at our photos from 'the shoot'.  There was a little down time while Chalit did a portrait of someone from Chiang Rai United.  We watched his brother Nu do his thing in a program called Lightroom.  It was very cool the way he arranged the proofs into a display.  We also needed Chalit to call the body shop and inquire about the parts for our car.  Nothing has happened so far, which means we will need the rental car for weeks more.  At one point Nu looked at me, laughed and said, 'This is Thailand'.  

Our next project was a search for bedside table lamps.  There is a store that we have passed many times that seemed like a good place to start.  Lighting stores can sometimes be wonderlands.  This place had tons of ceiling lamps, floor lamps and an assortment of table lamps.  They had the usual stuff, but there were some very artistic standouts.  Too bad we weren't there as decorators with an unlimited budget.  I could have gone crazy.  Now we have some reference points for further shopping.  

A little further down the road and we were at our next destination:  Central Plaza.  We decided to lunch there and then pick up a few things.  As we were finishing our lunch the assistant manager came to the table and showed Lisa his art work on a Samsung Note.  At first we thought they were photos of his drawings but he actually did them on the device.  They were figure drawings and portraits and it looked like ink and watercolor.  You never know what talents people have.  We have known him for years and just discovered he is an artist.  

This evening we went outside to see the Space Station, but we must have been late or the direction changed.  The email from NASA told us an approximate time and direction.  Oh well, it will be back again.  

Today's photo is a good example of getting the most from 2 wheels.  This motorbike is covered with snacks and makes regular rounds to workers who can't take the time to go for treats when they're on a break.  You name it, she's probably got it, somewhere.

                                Snack Bike

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"Friendship is like a bank account;
you cannot continue to draw on
it without making a deposit."
~Nicole Beale

Wednesday, February 27, 2013



Today was mildly busy.  A drive to Makro, two Skype calls to different parts of the world, a massage, and a 'home-cooked' dinner.

The 'Easy Monday' song was "Stormy Monday", first recorded by T-Bone Walker in 1947.  There have been numerous recordings of this blues.  Big thanks to Barry for the background info.  Now it's time for a 'Zany Day' song.  Hmm, we're going deep on this one:  "In the town where I was born, lived a man who sailed the sea.  And he told us of his life in the land of submarines.  So we sailed on to the sun till we found the sea of green.  And we lived beneath the waves in our __ __."   Hint:  You might find lots of meanings for the lyrics, but the author said it's a children's song.  At any rate, there is water and some kind of special vessel.  

This morning we went to Makro, which is nothing special, but the sights along the way were interesting.  There is a road we take that used to be nothing but rice fields on one side.  Then someone built a large house that stood all by itself.  Now there are restaurants filling in the landscape.  One of the structures looks like an art piece and I'll try to get a photo when it's closer to completion.  

We had a nice Skype talk with Bruce and Danielle, sorting out last minute things about their Thailand trip.  It took me back to our first adventure in Thailand in 2001.  The second call happened while I was at my massage.  As Khun Joy was unknotting my body after my weekend travel, Lisa was visiting with Louise, Jesper and Rasmus who live in Denmark.  Since their stay with us last year we have kept in touch.  Lisa managed to capture some screen images of the little family.  Rasmus is 4 months old and getting bigger, as babies do.

            Jesper, Louise and Rasmus

Boot was off today, which meant we had to feed ourselves.  She did leave ingredients for lunch, but dinner was up to us.  Chef Lisa prepared a fish dinner that was quite tasty.  What makes it even more impressive is that she cooked two kinds of fish.  Salmon is on my list of things that don't like me, so I get to eat a local fish.  The dogs were sure that the smell of fish was for them and they hovered like wild beasts.  The funny thing is, Wednesday is 'tuna day' so they did get fish.  I'm sure they found that better tasting than the big leaves on the front yard.  

Due to the warmer temp last night, the pool is up to 75 F, which means we may subject ourselves to the cold water any day now.  It looks so inviting in the heat of the day.  

Time for Wacky Wednesday.


"Your worst enemy cannot 
harm you as much as 
your own unguarded thoughts."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013



Hot days, cool nights, loud birds, oh my.  Sometimes it's a jungle out there.  

A few of you were very quick to answer the 'Easy Monday' song.  That warms my heart.  Here's a continuation of the lyrics.  "The eagle flies on Friday now, Saturday I'll go out to play.  Oh, the eagle flies on Friday, Saturday I'll go out to play.  Sunday I'll go to church, and I fall on my knees and pray...."  Clue:  If you were paying attention you noticed that one day of the week was not typed on Monday.  Hmm.  This song has been recorded by most blues singers and some singers who should not be allowed to sing the blues.  If you don't know the original recorded version, just give me the oldest one you can think of (555).

Lately, the nights have been cool enough, as opposed to cold, that we can leave the windows open and have fresh air.  Some mornings the sounds from the birds preempts the alarm.  There is one in particular that has a distinctive, loud call that cannot be avoided.  They are everywhere.  On Monday, music from the temple almost beat the bird on the volume scale.  They were celebrating  Makha Bucha Day, which commemorates a special day in the life of Buddha.  It is celebrated all over the world and at some Thai temples there is a candle ceremony.  Everyone walks clockwise around the temple three times holding a lighted candle, flowers and incense.  It is a national holiday.

This morning I had an international 'text chat' with my friend Bruce.  He told us about Apple's imessage program and I managed to activate it on my phone.  It's very cool because now I can send messages to anyone with an iPhone or iPad, etc. if they have imessage activated.  So, now you know and if you have the capability, we can text for free across the ocean.  

The whole text thing was part of the preparation for a visit by Bruce and Danielle.  They're coming next week and will stay with us for about a week.  Time to become a tourist again and see some of the local sights we've missed.  

Our current house guest left for Bangkok again today.  Tatt has been up and down the highway quite a bit lately.  He was accepted at Mahidol University in Bangkok and they want him back on campus this week.  He has final exams for high school coming up and then graduation.  

The dogs get 'play time' twice a day.  We've come to the conclusion that Daku is an afternoon guy.  He doesn't like to run in the morning, unless it's really cold.  In the afternoon he seems to enjoy running, even if it's hot, which is not good for him.  But what does he know?  He's a dog.  BamBam will run and chase the ball any time you throw it.  She just loves to run.  

While on the subject of dogs, yesterday I had an under-the-table lunch partner in Tata, a German Shepard.  She is four years old and has a very sweet face.  Tata snuggled against my feet during most of the meal. 


Have a Happy Tuesday.


"Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the
good we might win, by fearing to attempt."
~William Shakespeare

Monday, February 25, 2013



I'm back from my weekend on the Gulf.  It's good to be home.  It's also good to have fast (for Thailand) consistent internet.

The 'Old School Friday' song was "Not Fade Away", originally recorded by Buddy Holly and The Crickets back in 1957.  Now that's what I call Old School.  Some of you may know the version recorded by The Rolling Stones.  It's time for 'Easy Monday' and one I think you know:  "They called it __ __, but Tuesday is just as bad.  Oh, they called it __ __, but Tuesday, Tuesday is just as bad.  Oh, Wednesday is worse, and Thursday oh so sad...."  Hint:  It's a blues, days of the week are involved and someone is very unhappy.  You know what to do, send me the answer.   

I had a very productive, interesting, stimulating, fun time in Pattaya.  The event was well attended and I made friends with people from all over the world.  It took me eight hours to get home.  I did manage to avoid the city bus this time.  It seems that transportation has not been completely worked out since the reopening of Don Muang Airport as the center for domestic flights.  There is a company based in Bangkok called Bell Travel.  They run a bus service to Pattaya from the international airport, but no service to Don Muang.  I had do the same basic bus ride, but with an easier connection.  On the last leg of the journey on the airport shuttle, the driver missed his exit from the freeway.  He hit the brakes and came to a stop, the assistant got out and waved off traffic while he backed up.  When she got back on the bus they both laughed.  This is how things like this are dealt with.  It defuses embarrassment and shame.  I'm just glad the sun hadn't set.

When I checked in with Air Asia for my flight to Chiang Rai, I was told that it would be delayed about 20 minutes.  It was a little longer and some passengers got a little grumpy.  At the house, the dogs greeted me as if I'd been gone for a month.  It's so nice to be missed.  

Today we drove north to Mae Chan for lunch with our friends Noy and Susan.  This time we didn't get lost and we found their 'farm' without a problem.  They have expanded their hydroponic lettuce operation and now grow tomatoes.  Susan prepared a gourmet lunch that began with homemade pumpkin soup.  Then we had a salad made with the various lettuce they grow.  The main course was baked game hen with rosemary and lemon, and carrots and corn.  It was all so good we couldn't stop eating.  For dessert we had a homemade chocolate cake made without butter or milk.  She made everything so I could enjoy the entire meal.  Oh, there was also raspberry and chocolate syrup for the cake.  Two of their four dogs hung out with us during lunch.  We learned many things during our visit.  We also shared some common tales of Thailand and had some good laughs.  After about 4 hours, it was time to head home before the traffic.

I will leave you with an image I captured at Don Muang Airport.  I don't eat at this place, but I couldn't resist returning the Wai from Ronald.  (555)

                                    Wai Not?

Have a Great Week.


"Happiness is like a butterfly.
The more you chase it, the more it will elude you.
But if you turn your attention to other things,
it comes softly and sits on your shoulder."

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Funnies


I'm writing to you from Pattaya, Thailand.  Pattaya is south of Bangkok and on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand.  The journey here was long and interesting.  

The 'Zany Day' song was "We Gotta Get You A Woman" by Todd Rundgren.   That just leaves us with one more bit of musical business for this week:  'Old School Friday'.  "I'm gonna tell you how it's gonna be, you're gonna give your love to me.  I'm gonna love you night and day.  Well, love is love and __ __ __, well, love is love and __ __ __."  Hint:  The singers group was named after an insect that keeps one awake at night, chirping.

My trip to Pattaya began at Maefarluang Chiang Rai International Airport.  I gave you the whole name because it is actually becoming an international airport, with flights to China several times a week.  Anyway, my flight left around 10am, though I had to be there at 8:45 to check in at the desk.  After an hour in the air we landed at Don Mueng Airport in Bangkok.  There is no direct shuttle bus to Pattaya like there is at the 'Big' airport.  I had to take a local bus to the main bus terminal and then get a bus to Pattaya.  Total travel time on the buses was about 2 hours and 30 minutes.  That does not include the time at the main terminal searching for the departure dock for my bus.  When I went back to the ticket window for better directions the woman told me to follow the people who just bought tickets.  Hmm.  It worked and I found my bus.  I grabbed a seat and then learned that each seat had a number and I was in someone else's seat.  Oh.  

In Pattaya I had to take a pick-up taxi to the hotel.  I'm so glad I don't have to drive in this town.  The streets are crazy, with lots of tourists and expats zipping around on motorbikes, along with the rest of the cars and trucks.  There is a large expat population here so the 'look' is much different from Chiang Rai.  It always looks like High Season with all the non-Thai faces.  

I'm staying at the event hotel and it's the nicest we've been to in six years.  It's on a hill, overlooking the Gulf and there is no city traffic.  This means that the grounds are relatively quiet and the view is spectacular.  Here's what it looked like in the late afternoon.

        The Gulf of Thailand from the 6th Floor

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.   The 'Funnies' relate to my efforts to send this message.


Thursday, February 21, 2013



This was the day that looked like rain, but turned out to be a scorcher.  There are some forecasts that call for "small" rain, but we can't rely on a message like that.  

"Leroy, boy, you're my friend.  You say how and I'll say when.  Come and meet me down the street.  Take a seat, it's my treat, you may not ever get this chance again.  That empty feeling's just about to end... __ __ __ __ __ __, and when we're through with you, we'll get me one too."  Clue:  They have to go find something, or rather someone.

This morning we remembered why we go to Makro early in the morning.  There are no long lines.  It was close to lunch time when we arrived today and the place was busy.  The line we ended up in was actually pretty quick, it just looked intimidating.  It was weird to walk out and not see our car.  Luckily, we parked in an odd spot today and we didn't get lost.  The rental is white and our car is black.  Lots of room for confusion.

On the way home I noticed lots of policemen standing around in front of businesses, on street corners and sitting on walls.  Later, I saw them again as I drove out to New Life.  Something was going on and I was curious.  Hmm.

The drive to New Life was a little strange at one point.  As I approached the intersection where I was hit last week I planned to make sure that the coast was clear before I went through.  The light was green and cars were in front of me so I worried for nothing.  I am driving very cautiously these days.

This afternoon we went to Doi Chaang Coffee.  They had strawberries in a display cooler.  We talked to Kwan and discovered that they are grown without pesticides at a special farm.  We have avoided them up until now because most farmers spray them heavily and it goes right through the thin skin.  We bought a pack and they are delicious.  They also have a new ice cream station in the coffee shop.  We have put in a request for coconut ice cream and I think it may happen.  Yum.

As we made our way home from Doi Chaang, traffic came to a stop on a street that never stops.  It's a 'T' intersection where you just go when there is an opening, which can sometimes be a challenge.  We sat for about 5 minutes and realized that it must be for some kind of caravan of dignitaries.  This happens in Chiang Rai when 'important' people want to move seamlessly from point A to point B.  I could see enough to tell that a Highway Police car went by, then another followed by a police van and then a long procession of silver sedans.  Some kind of delegation was moving from the airport to an unknown location.  That was why the police were lining the street in Ban Mai earlier in the day.  Hmm, and what nefarious deeds were being done while the police sat around?  Doesn't matter I guess.  

There is always something out of the ordinary to see on the streets.  Here is a photo of a man transporting a very large load with his motorbike.  He is actually supporting the load with his left shoulder.  Amazing.

                Large Load Coming Through

Time for me to pack my bags for a weekend in Pattaya.  I'm going to a Recovery convention.  People are coming from all around the world and it should be a very exciting time.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"The most important thing I have learned over the years is
the difference between taking one's work seriously and
taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative, and the
second disastrous."
~Margaret Fontey

Wednesday, February 20, 2013



Today I had an automobile adventure, a massage, and a different kind of dog play.  Oh, and it's very hot.

Our 'Easy Monday' song was apparently not so easy.  Only a few of you answered.  The song was "Handy Man", originally recorded by Jimmy Jones in 1959.  He co-wrote the song with Otis Blackwell.  Most of you know the James Taylor recording from 1977.  Now you know.  For the 'Zany Day' song, consider these lyrics:  "Leroy, boy, is that you?  I thought your post-hangin' days were through, sunk-in eyes and full of sighs.  Tell no lies, you get wise, I tell you now we're gonna pull you through, there's only one thing left that we can do.  __ __ __ __ __ __, it's like nothin' else to make you feel sure you're alive...."  Clue:  A guy helping his friend get a 'relationship'.

This morning we began researching the rental car market here in Chiang Rai.  An on-line search brought an assortment of websites, some in Thai and some with bits of English.  One company offered: " hire prices cheap and economical destination.  Rent a car to drive itself."  I'm not sure how that works but it made us laugh.  We finally found a place with a good rate since we need it for close to a month.  We had to call our friend Chalit to help with negotiations since English on the other end was not so good.  After arriving at a price, they told us they could deliver the car to us.  The office is about 30 minutes out of town so we agreed to meet at the government building not far from us.  The rendezvous worked out but as we were looking at the contract, it appeared that they wanted the full amount in advance.  More phone calls back and forth between Chalit, the office, and the driver.  Eventually, we drove away in a fairly new Honda 'City'.  Our car will probably go into the shop next week and it feels more secure driving a car that is 'sound'.  

This afternoon I had my first massage since the accident.  Khun Joy found many places that were tight, which was to be expected.  I endured the treatment and left feeling relaxed and refreshed.  

While we were out paying a bill I noticed a window on the other side of the street.  It's funny how some things go unnoticed when you're driving.  I pass this building almost every day but never noticed all the faces looking out, as if they were pleading for help.  

Now that the heat has arrived in Chiang Rai we have to alter our exercise program with the dogs.  If the mornings are cool enough we can let them run as much as possible.  When the mornings are hot it means an easy workout.  The afternoon poses the same problem.  Today we took them out without the balls.  Lisa managed to get a game going where they ran around the house on their own.  The air was cool enough that they didn't get overheated.  Ah, the joys of 'winter'?

It's time for Wacky Wednesday.


"Impart as much as you can of your spiritual being to those who are on the road with you, 
and accept as something precious what comes back to you from them."
~Albert Schweitzer

Tuesday, February 19, 2013



Today was a mellow day at The Big Brown House.  There was a massage, and a 'run' for essentials.  The rest of the day was spent staying cool and being creative.

There has only been one response to the 'Easy Monday' song.  Bravo to Ricardo for remembering this classic:
"I'm not the kind to use a pencil or rule, I'm handy with love and I'm no fool.  I fix broken hearts, I know that I truly can.  If your broken heart needs repair, then I'm the man to see.  I whisper sweet things, you tell all your friends.  They'll come runnin' to me.  Here is the main thing I want to say...."  Hint:  The title is 2 words. 

This morning when we took the dogs out to play, they got fixated on the front gate.  They both would run for their ball and then change course and plop down, looking under the gate.  Sometimes the neighbor dog will come and they just stare at each other.  Today there was nothing on the other side.  It made for a very distracted play time.

Tuesdays are Lisa massage days.  After I picked her up we went to the vets for dog supplies.  I stayed in the car to keep away from the 'cat vibes' that I encounter in the waiting room.  As I sat there, I saw a big gray cat in a cage leaving the office and it made me glad that I didn't go in.  

Traffic and parking have become the subject of conversation around town.  Today was no exception when we went to the bakery.  I don't know where all the 'extra' cars have come from, but the last two times we have stopped for bread I've had to park in a 'non parking' spot like a driveway or in front of the bus stop.  The bus stop doesn't really have a bus that stops so people park there for short times.  I guess there used to be a city bus that made scheduled pick-ups there but now they seem to be servicing another part of town.  

After lunch we had a visit from a friend who missed the party, but wanted to bring a gift.  She is a Russian expat who teaches at the Montessori school near our house.  It struck me again today, that we have friends from many parts of the world.  I think I'm going to start asking each of them how they ended up in Chiang Rai.  The stories should be fascinating.  

In the late afternoon we took a walk around the yard with the dogs.  It was too hot for them to run, so we just did garden appreciation.  Daku saw something move in the plant life around the pool and decided to investigate.  He would push his nose into the undergrowth, wait, then move it again.  A few times his head would jerk back as it startled and the he'd dive back in.  It was either a lizard or a frog.  If it had been a frog there could have been serious problems so we got him distracted.  He'd try to sneak back, but eventually he gave up.

We both spent time with our respective crafts, with Lisa working on her latest cast acrylic print and me reworking a couple of my songs.  It was a good day.

Today's photo is from the shoe department at Big C.  I was blown away at the sight of so many tiny little shoes and sandals.

                  Waiting for Tiny Little Feet

Have a Happy Tuesday.


"I am learning to be patient and compassionate with myself
as I gain the courage to be true to myself."
~Shakti Gawain

Monday, February 18, 2013



Chiang Rai is officially into the 'Hot Season'.  The highlight of the weekend was the party on Sunday.  Today we took the car to the garage for a photo shoot.  

The 'Old School Friday' tune was:  "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" by Neil Sedaka.  Oh well, it's time for 'Easy Monday' and I'm sure you remember this one:  "Hey girls, gather 'round.  Listen to what I'm putting down.  Hey baby, Im your __ __."  Hint:  Everyone needs one around the house (555).  Extra Cool Points if you can tell me the original writer/artist.  

Saturday I got reacquainted with our pick-up truck.  We forgot how comfortable the seats are and how efficient the air/con is.  It didn't take long to get back in the groove of shifting, but I began to really miss the Vios when it comes to steering.  The main thing was that we were mobile.  The plan was to wait until Monday to take the hurt car to the garage, so it just sat over the weekend.  We ran a few errands for the party and worked around the house.

On our travels from Makro we had to wait in a line on the highway to make a U-turn.  That's when we noticed this interesting banner hanging over the bicycle shop.

Sunday was the big day around here.  There was last minute shopping, and odds and ends but by party time we were ready.  Guests began arriving exactly at 5pm.  Within 30 minutes the house was buzzing with people.  We ended up with 33 adults and 6 children, mostly here at the same time.  Most guest stayed for most of the party.  The crowd was representative of all our friends.  There were expats from several countries, and members of the art community.  Within those two groups there were two mothers-to-be, teachers, journalists, photographers, and musicians.  Our friends from 9 Art Gallery brought a young man who plays guitar and he provided background music for the whole party.  We have heard him at openings and it was nice having live music by the pool.  At one point I walked outside and there were 4 little boys in the pool, having a great time.  Three of them were swimming in their clothes and didn't mind a bit.  Later one of the adults, who loves to swim, joined the water crowd.  People brought food and drink and presents, which I really didn't expect.  It was the biggest party yet and many of our guests connected with others for form new friendships and discover common connections.  Today we are tired, but smiling as we reflect.

This morning we took the car to the garage.  The man told us it would take about one month to fix it.  Then he called our insurance agent to have him explain what we already knew.  Our agent called back and told us to take the car home and said they would call when all the parts came in.  That makes a lot of sense, since we will probably have to rent a vehicle in order to get around.  They cut off the mirror that was just hanging, and sent us on our way.  Our policy does not provide for a 'loaner' so we're on our own, but we have lots of resources.  The adventure continues.

Tatt came back from Rayong today, went to school straight from the bus and then to our house.  He was a little tense, waiting for the results of the testing he had done at Mihodol University.  It's his first choice and the results were to be posted after 5pm.  After dinner he came upstairs with a big smile on his face and announced that he passed the testing.  Tomorrow, after school he will get back on the bus and go back to Bangkok for interviews on Wednesday.  Next week he starts final exams at his high school.  He is an amazing young man, focused and determined.  

Have a Great Week.


"Life is playing a violin solo in public
and learning the instrument as one goes on."
~Samuel Butler

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Funnies


It was another hot day in Chiang Rai.  We hung around the house for most of the day.  Party prep has begun and we visited the police station for a final time.  

The 'Zany Day' song was "Subterranean Homesick Blues" by Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman).  Now you know.  It's time for an easy 'Old School Friday' and I think this fills the bill:  "Don't take your love away from me.  Don't you leave my heart in misery.  If you go then I'll be blue, 'cause __ __ __ __ __ __."  Hint:  This guy laughed in the rain, but in this song he's begging her to stay.  I think he has a hard time with separation.

Images of yesterday's traffic incident keep replaying in my head.  Even though I know that it's over and the injuries were not serious, there is a video loop that is taking it's time fading to black.  It's just going to take time, diversion, and staying in the present as much as possible.  Whew.  We had an afternoon appointment with the woman who drove the motorbike and the investigating officer, so that left the morning to drift in and out about what might happen.  Our police friend called the station and then called me to say there was 'no problem'.  That lightened the load.

A great deal of the party will be on the rear patio and we needed to clean the terrazzo so it looked nice.  Boot and Kwang said they would do it.  After lunch Kwang came with her daughter and the three of them applied special cleaner and scrubbed with long-handle brushes.  

After dressing 'politely' for the appointment at the police station, we got in the hurt little car and drove over for the meeting.  It was a little bizarre to walk in and sit next to the woman who ran into me the day before.  She was in pain, but brave.  We sat for a long time while our insurance rep made phone calls and spoke with the police.  Finally, they told us that she admitted fault, that our insurance would fix the car, and that we would agree not to ask her for money.  At one point the insurance guy said something about my having a good heart.  They fined her 400 Baht ($14.50) and told her that our company would come to her for money to fix the car.  She has no money.  I don't know what happens after this, and it's none of my business.  We'll take the car to the shop on Monday.  There was an odd sense of paranoia as I drove home from the station.  I'm sure it will pass, but it was weird. 

For the weekend we will drive our pick-up truck that has been with our friend Jaffee.  There are many errands to run for the party so I'll be 'stick-shifting' my way around town.  That should be interesting in itself.  

This evening we heard a bunch of voices coming from across the street.  I looked out and saw two truck-loads of young men unloading drums and costumes.  It was time for the annual house-blessing celebration for Chinese New Year that our neighbor hosts.  There were drums pounding, lions dancing, and firecrackers popping.  BamBam ran for cover and we closed the windows and just tuned it out.  

Across the river there is a big concert happening.  Chiang Rai sure knows how to party.  Here's a photo from the Flower Market on Valentine's morning.  There was so much traffic they brought in police to direct cars.  Roses in Thailand are the highest priced in the world this year.  Hmm. 

                Flowers and Candy Bouquets

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


The Burglar

A burglar broke into a house one night. He shined his flashlight around, looking for valuables when a voice in the dark said, 'Jesus knows you're here.'
He nearly jumped out of his skin, clicked his flashlight off, and froze. When he heard nothing more, he shook his head and continued.
Just as he pulled the stereo out so he could disconnect the wires, clear as a bell he heard 'Jesus is watching you.'
Startled, he shined his light around frantically, looking for the source of the voice. Finally, in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot.
'Did you say that?' he hissed at the parrot.
'Yes', the parrot confessed, then squawked, 'I'm just trying to warn you that he's watching you.'
The burglar relaxed. 'Warn me, huh? Who in the world are you?'
'Moses,' replied the bird.
'Moses?' the burglar laughed. 'What kind of people would name a bird Moses?'
The kind of people who would name a Rottweiler Jesus.'

Thursday, February 14, 2013



This has been a busy, crazy day.  Things got fixed, things got broken, and visitors arrived.  The adventure continues.
Well, three people knew the 'Zany Day' song on the first pass.  Here are excerpts from the last verse.  They might help:  "...Twenty years of schoolin' and they put you on the day shift.  Look out kid, they keep it all hid, better jump down a manhole, light yourself a candle...  Don't wanna be a bum, you better chew gum, the pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."  Hint:  The artist's real initials are R.Z.  He considers himself a poet, and he knew a tambourine man.  This song title deals with what lies beneath the earth.  Hmm.

The day began with a visit from a 'mechanic' who was called to help us deal with a leak on the water pump for the house.  It wasn't a big problem and he fixed it for free.  We called him back to see if he could work on the kitchen sewer that kept flooding.  He and a helper were able to solve that problem as well.  

About the time the mechanic arrived, Boot's brother and his girlfriend pulled up in a Tuk-Tuk.  They traveled up from Rayong by bus.  The last time we saw him was several years ago when he was a monk.  He looked so different in street clothes and with hair, but I recognized him.  They will be staying in Boot's apartment for a few days, I guess.  

I had to go to the market for chicken and on my way, I stopped by Bliss Studios to pick up some organic coffee that Chalit got for us.  He was in the middle of a photo shoot with Chiang Rai United (Football Club) players.  There were two guys on their way into 'the room' and neither of them was Thai.  This seems to be the case with all the major teams.  There are local players, but there are also imported players.  I think they were speaking German.  I'll have to ask questions later.   Today's photo is from the session I did with Chalit last week.

Thursday is my new day to go to New Life Foundation.  Today I was on my way when my car got hit by two women on a motorbike.  They ran a red light at a high rate of speed and took me by surprise.  I wasn't hurt at all, the women didn't seem to be seriously hurt, the car needs major help, but is drivable (to the shop).  A taxi driver was the first on the scene and he called the rescue guys.  They came roaring up in a pick-up truck with a cab on the back.  They performed first-aid on one of the women and then an ambulance took her to the hospital.  The police came, took lots of pictures and interviewed me.  I lucked out in that the main officer spoke very good English.  After a rep from the insurance company came, I was told to follow him to the police station.  Hmm.  We met with the officer who told me that when the women are released from the hospital, we will meet at the station and discuss the accident.  What?  We have a high-level policeman friend who wants to meet us at the station and I think it's a good idea.  It's all very surreal right now.  What really blew me away was the two women, sitting in the street, waiing me.  I guess they knew they were wrong and this was a way of showing it.  

Life goes on and Sunday we'll be having a birthday party here at the house.  It will be a gathering of old friends and new and should be fun.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life
that no one can sincerely try to help another
without helping themselves."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, February 13, 2013



Today was a fairly mellow day.  The weather is hot with a chance of rain 'nearby'.  There is thunder in the background and BamBam is staying close.

'Easy Monday' was a snap:  "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by The Rolling Stones.  Time to get busy with our 'Zany Day' song:
"Johnny's in the basement mixing up the medicine, I'm on the pavement thinking 'bout the government.  The man in the trench coat badge out, laid off, says he's got a bad cough, wants to get paid off.  Look out kid, it's somethin' you did..."   Clue:  This song has a title with 3 words that are not sung in the song.  I still can't tell you what it's about, but I like it.

We are definitely moving toward the 'Hot' season.  The days are scorchers and the nights are warming up.  The pool has reached 73 F and there's a chance we may break out the wetsuits.  There is still the possibility of rain tonight.  Everything in the yard could use the water, especially the lawns.

Our upstairs air/con gets a lot of use, even in the winter since we use it when there is burning going on outside.  Our friend at Sinthanee, where we bought it, is still surprised that we have them come every three months to service it.  If we don't, there is a tube that clogs and water drips inside.  For a nominal fee, three guys come and take it apart, clean everything, and test it.  Today was the day.  Now we're ready for the heat.

The 'Healthy Market' was our sole destination today.  Fresh vegetables and fruit and a few laughs with some of the vendors is always nice in the morning.  A woman with a stall next to the fruit stand has decided that we are friends. Last week we watched a show on traditional tattooing. Today when she saw me she pointed at her TV and laughed as if  when I come by I should check out her TV.  Now I have something else to look forward to when we go shopping.  

Today's photo is an example of a gift package sold during Chinese New Year as an offering to the ancestors.  You will see a fancy dress shirt, a gold watch, an iPhone and a flower, all made of paper for burning.  There are many variations, with some containing model houses and furniture.  

I'm still reeling from all the birthday well wishes.  This has been the best birthday ever.  We're having a party on Sunday afternoon and it should be a fun time.  Many things to do but we've done it before.  (555)  

It's time for Wacky Wednesday.


"If you find it in your heart
to care for somebody else,
you will have succeeded."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013



I would like to thank all of you who wrote in with Birthday greetings.  It was a wonderful day and it's nice to hear from you.  

I got a lot of mail on this one.  It really was an 'Easy Monday' this time.  Here's a little more to consider:
"I was raised by a toothless, bearded hag.  I was schooled with a strap right across my back.  But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas.  But it's all right, I'm __ __ __ it's a gas, gas, gas."  Hint:  The title sounds like an exercise from P.E. class combined with a bright light.

It isn't every day that one celebrates 70 years.  Today began with one of my favorite things to eat: French Toast prepared by my Baby.  We had a lunch date with our dear friend Pat (Atom) and right before we left, Boot came upstairs with two slices of chocolate cake, complete with '70' candles.  We saved it for later.  (555)

Lunch was at a place we've been meaning to try called 'Destiny'.  They serve Thai and Western food.  I had a chicken burger that was very good.  The jury is still out on the rest of the menu since the other two meals left a little to be desired.  The ambience was cool and the service was good so we'll probably go back.  We always have a combination of conversations with Pat, ranging from deep to very funny.  She reminded us of another Chinese tradition that her family observed.  The ancestors of the family are included in the New Year celebration by setting a place at the table and later burning facsimiles of real things you want them to have.  They burned play money, paper clothes, and this year they included an iPhone and an iPad.  Her father joked about making sure they had a good connection for email.  This explained the constant clouds of smoke that we saw yesterday, coming from the house across the street.  

Our car has been pretty dirty since the storm last week so we decided to get it washed and have coffee at Doi Chaang.  We also had some language CDs to take to our friend David, a young man from Scotland.  We had a fun time talking about pets, the state of architecture and building in his home country, and his adventures in learning to be a barista.  

The photo of the day comes from the streets of Chiang Rai.  There are many ways to get around and this is just one of them.  Lisa labeled this one 'Precarious Ride' and I think it fits.

Boot made one of my favorite dinners for me, and we had the birthday cake for dessert.  Hanging out with young people, and getting lots of communication from Facebook friends and family has made this a very Happy Birthday indeed.

Have a Happy Tuesday.


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

Monday, February 11, 2013



I'm back from a warm weekend.  We witnessed a 'hang out', I went on a lakeside excursion, we attended a birthday party, and Chinese New Year was festive in some quarters.

In case you missed it, the 'Old School Friday' song was "Sunny" by Bobby Hebb.  The 'Easy Monday' song will also be easy (555).  "I was born in a cross-fire hurricane.  And I howled at my ma in the driving rain.  But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas.  But it's all right now, I'm __ __ __, it's a gas, gas, gas."  Clue: The title is a nick-name for the singer, from a band that is now very old.

Friday evening we went to what we now know is the 'Indian Bar' (not the 'India Bar').  Quite often the last consonant of an English word will not be pronounced and that was the case in identifying the bar.  So, it's a small place with lots of posters and carvings of Native American head-dresses, old photos of tribal dances and an array of motorcycle club stuff.  There was a young man singing in English and playing the guitar, but the volume level was such that everyone was sitting in the parking lot.  There were small tables and chairs near the door and it was clear that this was the common practice.  Two young women were holding baby rabbits, petting them, and the four of us made up the rest of the clientele.  The 'bar' is owned by a young woman from Holland.  The 'Indian Bar' in Chiang Rai, Thailand owned by a woman from Holland.  Hmm.  As the evening progressed it was clear that this would not be a repeat adventure.  Everyone was speaking Dutch, drinking beer and smoking.  Not the most comfortable situation so we called it a night after about 45 minutes.  

Saturday afternoon our artist friend Em came over.  He showed us a couple of his songs that he'd written and then he invited me to go with him to a big lake south of town.  On the way to the lake we went to his house and I got to see a bunch of his art.  The house is behind his family's home and he built it himself.  

When we got to the lake I discovered that we were at a wake-board training camp.  At first it just looked like a little cabana style bar with surf boards and photos on the walls.  There were about 10 young men on their way out and they all greeted Em with big smiles.  As we sat in a shelter by the water and a motorboat pulled one of the guys onto the lake, a man came to meet Em.  He explained that most of the group were from France and Switzerland and were here to train for the coming season of competition.  We sat for a long time, and as the sun set I realized Em was waiting for them to finish their training session.  A few of the guys came and started playing around with the guitars, 'jamming' as they called it.  We finally left around 7pm.  During the course of the afternoon I met an American who has a surfboard export business in Thailand and sells mostly to Europe and South Africa.  The wakeboard guys were testing one of his products.  A Australian expat told me his life story, and I met some kids who live by the lake and it's their playground.  

This year Chinese New Year did not seem as loud in terms of fireworks.  There were lots of signs of celebration around town and today we even saw a big crew of Lion Dancers making the round of businesses.  The tradition is to set off firecrackers at the doorway of a business to chase away the evil spirits and ensure prosperity.  The character in red, fans the smoke to chase the spirits.  They did this ritual up and down Clock Tower street.

                     Lions bring in the New Year

Today we had lunch with our friend Rachel, the American director of The Sold Project.  She's been in Thailand working with the local staff and traveling.  It was good to get updates on the program and see photos from the elephant experience the children had at Anantara.  

This evening we went to a birthday party for Gary, Jago's 'dad'.  They served turkey as the main dish so we were delighted.  There were lots of people we know so it was very comfortable.  We hadn't seen Jago in a long time and he was excited to see us.  Although we're three years apart, Gary and I have a little bond since our birthdays are a day apart.  He's on the 11th and I'm on the 12th.  Oh yeah, it's almost my birthday.  

On your Monday (my Tuesday) I will be celebrating 7 decades in human form.  (555)  

Have a Great Week.


"My greatest success is not
what I have been able to achieve,
but that which I have been able to overcome."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Funnies


This seems to be a day for new adventures.  An afternoon photo-shoot and 'clubbing' in the evening.  Amazing.

Well, the mail poured in and it was all correct.  The 'Zany Day' tune was "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" by The Beatles.  The only thing left to complete the week is 'Old School Friday'.  I think you know this one from the 60s:
"__, yesterday my life was filled with rain.  __, you smiled at me and really eased my pain.  Now the dark days are gone, and the bright days are here, my __ one shines so sincere.  __, one so true, I love you."  Hint: It's a name.

When Chalit told us he wanted to photograph us, he gave us wardrobe instructions as well.  We were to wear black turtlenecks and he wanted me to also wear a 'P-coat'.  With the climate being what it is in Thailand, a turtleneck is the last thing one wants to wear.  We managed to improvise and get the look he wanted.  A Navy P coat is a heavy item that is also not found here.  We compromised with a black corduroy jacket with the collar turned up.  When we got to the studio, he took Lisa to 'the room' and they spent about 20 minutes taking pictures.  I hung out in the lobby with Chalit's brother Nu, talking about music and guitars.  Then it was my turn.  The actual studio is a large room with a very high (2 story) ceiling.  It was very dark since he wanted to control all the light with his various devices.  He sat me on a stool and put me in position and began adjusting the lights.  It's the first time I've had my picture taken when I was told not to smile.  He shot a series and then changed the lighting for another effect.  When we were done I went to the dressing room to change and mentioned another costume variation for another time.  He wanted to try it right then so we went back for more photos.  In the end we got to see his work since he used his digital camera.  We were very pleased with the results.  Chalit will pick the photos he wants to keep since he has an image in his mind.  In the future he wants to do another shoot with black and white film.  

Knowing that we'd be going out in the evening, we were lucky enough to get in a little nap.  Lisa worked on a new piece and I ran the dogs.  After dinner she worked with Tatt on his English.  

We have a date to meet Boot and her boyfriend Rudy at the India Bar at 9pm.  They have been asking us for weeks, but we've been getting over 'the cold' and kept putting it off.  This will be the first time we've actually gone to someplace that was a 'bar'.  We're told that it's actually a hang-out, whatever that means, and that there is good live music.  They say it's not just a drinking place.  What?  I'll fill you in on Monday.  

One more photo from the Flower Show before I go.  This is one of the orchid gardens that ran the length of the old prison wall.

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.   Now it's time for a 'Funny'


Thursday, February 7, 2013



Weather:  Same as yesterday.  The day included bug spray, a big dog, traffic, buildings and an interview.

The 'Zany Day' song only had two responses.  Maybe these lyrics will jar your memory and bring your mind back:
"Cellophane flowers of yellow and green, towering over your head.  Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes, and she's gone.  __ __ __ __ __ __, __ __ __ __ __ __, __ __ __ __ __ __, Ahh..."  Clue: Four Lads from Liverpool had everyone wondering who the woman in the title could be and if they had taken a certain hallucinogen.

Today was the day the 'Spray Man' came and he was right on time.  It's mosquito season and, as we moved things for the spraying, we had proof that it's in full force.  Clouds of the nasty little creatures flew out every time we shifted anything on the shady side of the house.  

In town, I had to park in front of a driveway so Lisa could get some bread.  This meant that I didn't get to visit with our friend Jonathan, the English Golden Retriever who 'runs the place' in the mornings.  The owner told Lisa about how the hail had shredded an awning on the back of their shop.  The hail stories keep on coming.

At the pet supply store the women who owns the place gives Lisa a present every time we go there.  The last two visits it's been a big tin can like one might store cookies.  They are promo gifts from dog food companies with cute doggie pictures on them.  We give them away, but it's a sweet gesture.

This afternoon I drove out to New Life Foundation to talk to the residents.  I got to see the progress on several building projects along the way and spotted some new ones.  I'm hoping that some of the active farmers will hold out and continue to grow rice.  It would be a shame if it all filled in with concrete.  I don't really see this happening soon since rice is one of the biggest crops grown and exported by Thailand.

Lisa had a Skype interview with an art writer, who is also an accomplished artist in his own right.  It's for American Express Magazine for Thailand.  He really 'looked' at her work before the conversation and asked some interesting questions.  It should come out in April.  That was exciting.

Tomorrow we're having photographic portraits done by our friend Chalit at his Bliss Studio.  He has a concept for each of us so this will be a new adventure for sure.  All we know is that we're to wear black.  Hmm, that shouldn't be too hard to do.  The rest is in the hands of the artist.

I will leave you with more images from the Flower Show.  The first is the pre-schoolers and the second is one of the gardens.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"Appreciation is a wonderful thing;
it makes what is excellent in others,
belong to us as well."

Wednesday, February 6, 2013



They call it winter here, but by afternoon I was wearing shorts and a tank-top.  Today's big adventure was a flower exhibit in the center of town.

The 'Easy Monday' tune was "I Can See Clearly Now".  It was originally recorded by Johnny Nash and went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.  Many years later Jimmy Cliff had a hit with the song in the Cool Runnings film.  Now you know.
It's time for another episode of 'Zany Day'.  "Picture yourself on a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies.  Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly, a girl with kaleidoscope eyes...."  Clue: Things are not what they appear to be.  Some objects...  This song had a million interpretations, and a title with 6 words.  Easy.

On our way to Makro this morning we checked out the progress on the Art Bridge building as we drove by.  More interior walls are up, but it still has a long way to go.  Inside the store it seemed like some of the staff were having a bad day.  First there was a grouchy meat guy, then a checker who tried to get away without consolidating our purchase into one cart.  Not the usual service, but that's life.  

Yesterday we did everything on our list, which meant we didn't have any more stops to make.  Then I suggested that we go see the flower show.  The park, where the exhibit is set up, was once the grounds of a prison, right in the center of town.  I suppose that could be a good crime deterrent in some ways.   Today, all that is left is a piece of the wall on one side.  The rest was an open space that has been a gathering spot for families, skate-boarders and cyclists.  Schools use it to stage parades and on Saturdays it's part of Walking Street.  Now, the whole block is a giant garden. There are huge beds of various colorful flowers, a wall of orchids, and a stage for presentations.  There was a big group of pre-schoolers visiting when we arrived.  They were very cute in their matching outfits, a little taller than the flowers.  We don't know what goes on there in the evenings, but it looks like there must be shows since rows of benches face the stage.  The whole thing will probably last until the weather gets really hot.  Misters keep the plants cool for now, but they won't be much help soon.

The hail storm was more extensive than the stories we heard.  In some parts of the province houses were damaged by golf ball sized hail-stones and families had to take refuge in local temples.  Agriculture took a big hit during the storm, which destroyed a watermelon crop, and crushed flowers and vegetables.  Our little corner of the world didn't get hit with as much devastation, but it has many people concerned about the changing climate.

Time for a Wacky Wednesday.


"Listen to the Mustn'ts, child,
Listen to the Don'ts
Listen to the Shouldn'ts
The Impossibles, the Won'ts
Listen to the Never Haves,
Then listen close to me --
Anything can happen, child,
Anything can be."
~Shel Silverstein

Tuesday, February 5, 2013



We had another one of those 'post-card' days here in Chiang Rai.  Actually, the afternoon was very hot.  People are still talking about the hail storm that was most unusual.  Today we went all over town doing things.

A few of you jumped right on the 'Easy Monday' song.  Maybe the last line of the first verse will give it away:
"... gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.  It's gonna be a bright, bright sun-shiny day."  Hint:  Too easy.

This morning we hit the streets with a list of places to go and things to get.  Our first stop was the large stationary store called 'Munich'.  When we pulled up it was closed, empty, gone.  There was a map on the front of the building so I tried to read it.  (555)  The landmarks could have been anywhere.  A school near a hospital, near a temple left me unsure as to where to go.  We continued with the list and went to the veggie/fruit market.  

On our next stop we paid a visit to our friends at 'The Tractor Store'.   Jen and two of her sons were there.  We hadn't seen them in for a long time and we had a gift for Poon-Poon, Nu's daughter.  Jen showed us some photos from the flower show and told us about the continuing show at the park.  She's going on a trip to China in a week.  

During the thunder storms BamBam always wants to be next to me or hidden away somewhere.  We stopped at one of the pet stores to find a little enclosed bed that she could use as her 'den'.  We found one, now it's up to BamBam as to whether it's suitable.  A quick call to our friend Chalit revealed the new location of Munich and we found it without any problems.  It was a good day.

As we motored around the town we saw many new buildings that are finally finished.  There are lots of shophouses and apartments.  Some of the apartment buildings look like shophouses since the first floor has a sliding metal door.  This is used as a garage instead of a business.  With parking at a premium, it makes perfect sense.

Oh, we did see the Super Bowl, on Monday morning.  I recorded it and by the time we started watching, we had enough on the disc that we could fast-forward through the black-out.  It was a good game and it was fun.  We didn't get to see any of the commercials.  We kept seeing the same ones from this region, from airlines and travel promos.  One new one really caught our attention.  An Indonesian airline handles your visa check-in while you're still in the air.  No waiting in long lines in the airport.  I wish we could have that on our flights.

The photo of the day is from the big parade a few weeks ago.  I thought you'd like to see these cool hats worn by a group of Hill Tribe men and women.

                                      Cool Hats

Have a Happy Tuesday.


"Live out of your imagination, not your history."
~Stephen Covey

Monday, February 4, 2013



The flurry of storms has finally left us.  Today we had a bright, clear day.  Over the weekend it was thunder, lightning and rain.  BamBam slept over and Tatt returned from his testing adventure.

The 'Old School Friday' song that many of you knew was "Where Did Our Love Go?" by The Supremes.  'Easy Monday' is a 'retread' so everyone can sing along.  "__ __ __ __ __ __, the rain is gone.  I can see all obstacles in my way..."  Hint:  Weather forecast.  Hey, it's 'Easy Monday'.  (555)

Saturday morning we went looking for balls for the dogs to play with.  BamBam had a favorite red ball that disappeared somewhere in the yard.  It's hard to find hard, bouncy-type balls at the pet supply stores.  Most of them are hollow, with annoying squeaky things in them.  We found one ball, a little heavier than we'd like, but BamBam likes it so for now, each dog has a ball to chase.  

The sewer pumping truck came, but the problem remains.  We have put out calls to friends who might know who to call next.  This is something I know nothing about.  When we use the kitchen sink, water seeps up from the concrete hole in the yard.  The dogs love the whole thing.  Dogs love anything that smells like food, even if it's garbage.  (555)  I've had to cover the area to keep them from eating the tiny little decorative rocks that surround the opening and smell like, well, nasty.  

Normally, the month of February only has an average of 1.3 rain days.  Don't ask me how they figure that.  So far we have surpassed that big time.  Saturday afternoon we had another big storm.  It cleared in time for Walking Street, but I'm sure it was damp out there.  Sunday evening we had a lot of lightning.  While we were eating dinner BamBam suddenly got agitated, jumped up and ran to hide in the kitchen.  She had seen a flash of lightning, knew what came next, and ran for cover.  Later, as storm got closer, we started getting lots of thunder and rain.  That's why BamBam spent the night with us.   We heard that parts of town experienced a hail storm.

When we went down to feed the dogs this morning, Tatt was coming down the hall.  We knew he was coming home today and then going to school, but we didn't expect to see him.  He got in at 5am after riding the bus for over 12 hours.  He told us he slept on the bus and was ready for school.  The dogs were very happy to see their buddy. 

This morning the yard crew came.  About 9 people showed up and finished the job in record time.  A few things were not done, but it looks so much better without all the debris from the wind and rain.  After they left I took Daku out and he did his 'ritual inspection', checking out everywhere the workers had been, their lunch area, and places that had been cut back.  

While we're still in the yard, I'd like to share a cluster of orchids that bloomed over the weekend.  

Have a Great Week.


"Forgiveness does not change the past,
but it does enlarge the future."
~Paul Boese