Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Funnies


Today was another odds and ends day, hiding from the smog.  Did the usual: morning in the street, afternoon at home.  Now we begin our gigantic weekend of social events with tonight's wine/sprite-tasting at Le Meridien Resort.

The 'Zany Day' song was "Ode To Billy Joe" by Bobbie Gentry.  As for what was thrown from the bridge, it's still a mystery.  It's no mystery that the next song is an 'Old School Friday' tune, from a singer who doesn't want to be a distant lover.  "I try to put my arms around you, all because I wanna (I wanna) hold you tight.  But every time I reach for you baby, try to kiss you you just jump clean out of sight.  Whoa, I got news for you, baby now I've made plans for two.  I guess I'm just a __ __ __ __ got my mind made up to love you."  Hint:  The title is the singer's description of himself.  

Yesterday, while we were at Art Bridge, I took this photo of the area that will be a restaurant.  It looks out over a bend in the river and has a very peaceful vibe.  When it's done you'll get an updated view.

     River Dining Coming Soon

There are two things that have been happening in and around the Big Brown House that I must share.  The 'Night Blooming Jasmine' have started doing their thing and it makes you want to just sit outside in the moonlight and breathe deeply.  If the air wasn't so bad it might happen.  The second thing happens in the morning.  At 6:30am we hear music from the temple.  Sometimes it's chants set to modern production, sometimes it's just the monks.  Other days it sounds like folk music, but it's always a nice presence when I take the dogs out.  

After a couple of stops this morning, we have finally arrived at our weekend wardrobes for the big events on Saturday.  The wine-tasting this evening is a simple matter of casual-chic, but tomorrow's Art Bridge opening suggests Lana style attire.  That was the thing that was driving us to find 'happiness'.  One just doesn't put on square clothes to attend a hip event.  (555)  I think we'll look Lana enough, with a little style.  The fashion show in the evening is not as fussy, but you still have to dress like you know what you're doing (555).  It's fun having these little challenges from time to time.  Makes life interesting.  I'll be sure to take lots of photos, and have some taken of us.

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


Thursday, March 28, 2013



Today was a day like yesterday and probably tomorrow, hot and smoggy.  We went out in the morning and stayed in all afternoon.  

Some of you remember this mystery thriller, 'Zany Day' song.  Here is part of the verse that caused all the speculation:  "..That nice young preacher, Brother Taylor, dropped by today, said he'd be pleased to have dinner on Sunday.  Oh, by the way, he said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge and she and __ __ was throwing somethin' off the Tallahatchie Bridge."  Hint:  The two blanks are a name, but not the complete title.  What did they throw off the bridge?

This morning we left the house with a list of places to go.  Our first stop was our insurance company.  While we were there we had an interesting conversation with our agent, who runs the office.  He told us the company is going to close the Chiang Rai office in about a month, and move him to Chiang Mai.  We will still have a local claims agent, but everything else will be 'e-commerce'.  He didn't seem too happy about it, but it's business.  He seemed to really want to talk about it and we got more of the human side of him.  

Early mornings at Big C are always pleasant, and today we had no trouble finding things.  The main attraction of our morning adventure was a visit to Art Bridge to see how things were going.  With the opening on Saturday, we wanted to get a feel for what to expect, and to see if all the art had been hung.  Walking through a muddy maze of workers, bricks and boards, we finally arrived in the main gallery.  Most of the art has been hung, and to say that it was overwhelming would be an understatement.  I don't know what the membership count is at this time, but it's a lot, and each member artist can have a work represented in the gallery.  It will take several days to really appreciate the beauty, artistry and craftsmanship that is being presented.  There are so many styles, and approaches that my mind became overloaded with questions.  How did he do that?  Where did she get that idea?  There were many that just required nothing more than stillness.  It's thrilling to see this project come this far, and realize what it means for the artists, the community, and art in general.  It is now bigger than any of us.  Below is one angle of the gallery, just to show you a small portion of the art.

Back on the highway, we went to the Ban Du main post office.  Our postal code is in Ban Du, even though we're closer to the Chiang Rai branch.  We had to pick up mail and send mail, which seemed very formal compared to the postal coffee shop we usually go to.  

Right before dinner I stepped outside and took a photo of the sun.  This is what our hazy sunshine looked like at 5:40pm on our Thursday.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"A wise person has something to say,
a fool has to say something."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013



Life in Chiang Rai is going to be different for us during the next few weeks.  We will be staying inside more than usual, and the dogs will probably go crazy and get fat from lack of exercise.  This is due to the bad air that we are trying to avoid.  Today we braved the main market and bought some air-filter masks for Boot and Kwang.

Congrats to all of you who remembered The Lovin' Spoonful's "Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?".  See if you know this 'Zany Day' song:  "It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day.  I was out choppin' cotton and my brother was balin' hay.  And at dinner time we stopped, and we walked back to the house to eat.  And mama hollered out the back door, 'y'all remember to wipe your feet.'  And then she said she got some news this mornin' from Choctaw Ridge.  Today __ __ MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge."  Clue:  This song has a four word title, it's a very long story song that has mystery, gossip and lots of speculation.  I suppose the bridge is a real giveaway.

You can tell when things have gone from bad to worse when various agencies start dropping their denial and issuing warnings about the air quality.  This is the case in Thailand.  We though it was a Northern problem, but it's bad all over, except the beach areas south of Bangkok.  We have learned a lot during this crazy time.  Burning corn fields yields more particulates than rice, and it seems that there's a lot of that going on.  This time last year we left town.  This year there's just too much going on to leave, so we'll do the next best thing:  Stay home, turn up the air filter, and wait for rain.

As we drove across the Pink Bridge this morning we saw more evidence of the coming of Songkran.  People and dogs playing in the river, more campers, and more thatch houses.  Now there is a little dock so people can take longtail boats to the shore for the celebrations.  In the market there are displays of colorful Hawaiian shirts and squirt guns.  I still find it fascinating that flower shirts from Hawaii are so popular in Thailand, once a year.  There are some great shirts that are locally produced, but the bulk have a very island flavor.  Hmm, and they even call them 'Songkran shirts'.  

There is a tree in the circle part of our driveway that has had some dormant orchids hanging for a long time.  Suddenly, this year they bloomed.  As if from nowhere, there was a burst of color.  Just had to share it with you.

                    Tiny Yellow Orchids

It's time for Wacky Wednesday.


"Apathy is the glove into which
evil slips it's hand."
~Bodie Thoene

Tuesday, March 26, 2013



Chiang Rai, and most of Thailand, had another hazy, smokey, nasty day.  The conversation and news coverage have reached epic proportions.  We stay inside as much as possible.  Today we had two power outages, which didn't help at all.   Meanwhile, the locals have started camping by the river in anticipation of the Songkran Festival.

I got several correct answers for our 'Easy Monday' tune.  This song has one of the longest titles with nine words.
"Sometime you really dig a girl the moment you kiss her, and then you get distracted by her older sister.  When in walks her father and takes you in line and says, 'Better go home, son, and make up your mind.'  Then you bet you better finally decide, and say yes to one and let the other one ride... __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __?"  Clue:  During the summer in the city they believed in magic, that's why she was so nice.  Now there's a problem in deciding who is nicer.  Maybe it's all a daydream.

This morning when I returned to the house, I pressed the button on the gate remote and nothing happened.  I was about to call Boot when she opened the gate manually.  The power was out so the gate is just an ordinary, big gate.  It's not hard to roll it open, but it means getting out of the car, blah, blah, blah.   The power was 'gone', as Boot would say, for over an hour.  In the hot, hazy weather it's very quiet when the power is gone.  The usual background sounds disappear and the magic of silence fills the air.  

This afternoon, the power went out again.  We decided to go to Central Plaza for a little relief.  Then the phone rang and it was the iService Center asking me to bring my laptop for testing of the battery for their records.  It was to take about 20 minutes.  That sounded perfect.  Off to the mall for some fresher air and coolness.  Since school is out in our area, the traffic was light.  We dropped off the laptop and browsed a bit and went back to the center.  It was going to be another 20 minutes.  The 20 minutes is clearly the time it takes from when they begin the process, not how long we had to wait.  The young man at the counter needed a little more English, but he had the nodding head/smiling thing down.  We saw our friends Nukoon and Sutheera and that was a nice surprise.  It helped pass the time and diffuse the tension.  A stop at the 'record store' and we had used up another 20 minutes.  We finally got the laptop back, after a lot of insisting that we had to go.

The Songkran Festival begins, officially, on 13 April (which is the way dates are related here).  As a point of interest, the use of 'th' and 'rd' after a number is not used.  One refers to a date as simply 13 or number 13.  So, even though Songkran doesn't start until 13 April, the river bank looks like it will begin tomorrow.  Thatch huts, dining tables with umbrellas, and truck-campers are already staking claim to parts of the shoreline.  It's going to be a long vacation for some folks.  The water throwing will probably begin early and go for a week.  Oh boy, not.  More on that as it gets closer.  

There is a place we pass almost everyday, but have never checked out.  It looks kinda cool, interesting, different, and hip so I took a photo today to share with you.  It's called 'Tattoo's Cafe' and from what I can figure, they do ink and Henna tattoos, serve soft/hard drinks and food, and maybe have video games.  It looks tiny from the street, but it goes way back on the property.  I must investigate and give a full report.  (555)

Have a Happy Tuesday.


"Be careful what you pretend to be because 
you are what you pretend to be."
~Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Monday, March 25, 2013



Back from a mellow weekend.   Two trips to Central Plaza, a picnic sighting, and doggie adventures are on the menu today.

The 'Old School Friday' tune was "Wonderful World" by Sam Cooke.  Time for an 'Easy Monday' offering:
"__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __?  Pick up on one and leave the other behind.  It's not often easy, and not often kind.  
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __?  Hint: The song is asking a musical question about decision-making.  Part of the band's name is a table utensil.  Hmm.

Saturday morning the dogs got a brief workout since the air is not so good.  They seem happy as long as they get to go out and there is a ball involved.  BamBam runs and rests, Daku runs a little and is happy to catch the ball on a high bounce.  It doesn't mean that they're not full of energy when they come inside, but they do calm down.  Dogs might have better sense than some people I see on the street, jogging or riding their racing bikes in this air.  Hmm.

                         Daku in Flight

Chiang Rai now has an iService Center for Apple products at Central Plaza.  It's something that had to come eventually.  My laptop is in need of a new battery and we started the ordering process.  The most important thing about having the center in town is that they don't have to send the computer away for repairs.  I got a call in the afternoon requesting my serial number and they gave me the cost.  I took them a deposit and now I am waiting for the battery to come.  

On my return trip to Central Plaza  I saw a family sitting in the bed of their pick-up, having a picnic.  They had a bucket of KFC, items from other shops and some Thai food and were having a grand time.  It was what one might call a 'compromise', eating at the mall, but not eating 'in' the mall.

Today the process of hanging art began at Art Bridge.  All of the members will have one piece on display for the opening.  This will be quite an event in itself, having such a variety of work from so many artists in one place.  I can hardly wait.

And finally, our Godson August turned 13 this weekend.  It seems like such a short time ago that Mr. August was counting the plugs in our house, asking questions about everything that plugged into anything and making us smile.  Now he's DJ August, and the tech specialist at his house.  Amazing.

Have a Great Week.


"When we lose the right to be different,
we lose the privilege to be free."
~Charles Evans Hughes

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Funnies


Today we made two trips across the Pink Bridge into town, got water from the well, and went shoppin' for clothes.

That 'Zany Day' song was "Midnight At The Oasis" by Maria Muldaur.  Time for some 'Old School Friday':
"Don't know much about history, don't know much biology.  Don't know much about a science book, don't know much about the French I took.  But I do know that I love you, and I know that if you love me too, what a __ __ this would be."
Hint:  You probably remember this song but not the title.  Two words describing something. 

It looks like it's going to be a few weeks before we get a good 'sky washing' so we just have to keep an eye on the sky and duck when the smoke gets bad.  The common conversation all week has been about the bad air.  In Thai it translates as 'Air not good'.  We stopped by Doi Chaang for coffee after errands this morning and that was the first thing mentioned by our friends behind the counter.  With all the news coverage about it, this could be the year that the change begins.  

Work began again on the new water system.  Khun Mahn and an assistant spent the afternoon working on the well and by late afternoon the tank was full.  Now they just have to connect the pipes to the existing yard faucets and we'll be watering for free.  There is also the matter of the sprinklers in the front lawn.  I like that he seems to be careful about his work because I have no idea what to do if something should suddenly spring a leak.  I know how to turn things off, which is something in itself.  

This evening we went to the Night Bazaar to begin our wardrobe preparation for next weekend.  The invitation to the opening of Art Bridge suggests that we wear 'Lanna clothing'.  This is the traditional Northern style and is usually simple material with tops with no collars, and a rather primitive, square fit.  We wore such outfits for the dedication of our house, and I have some variations on the theme.  Tonight we found material for a 'variation' to be made for Lisa.  Style is one thing, comfort is quite another.  On the same day, in the evening, we're attending a fashion show that also has a dress code.  Much simpler to comply with this one, something gold will do.  Scarves are our choice.  

This weekend is easy.  Hit the home store, the mall, and spend the rest of the day at home.  This is another Formula One weekend so you know what that means.  

While looking through my photos of the parade for the temple in Ban Mai, I found this shot of the 'band' of local traditional players.  Notice the bass player on the left side of the photo.  Not a Lanna instrument, but it gave a nice feel to the percussion.  Also, note the rolling amp next to him.  Sweet.

           New meaning to the term 'Hot Pink'

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.    Prepare to laugh.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Two Things


This morning the Chiang Rai sky was strangely overcast.  It stayed like that all day, which kept the temps down to a comfortable level.  This afternoon we visited the trade expo.  

This week's 'Zany Day' tune was remembered by a few of you.  Here's a little more from this 'concept' song:
"You don't have to answer, there's no need to speak.  I'll be your belly dancer, prancer, and you can be my sheik..."
Hint:  Clearly, this song doesn't take place in the city, imagine a stand of palm trees, desert breeze, and a cozy tent.  Hmm.

Today was one of those slow days.  We went into town and did a few things, but nothing exciting.  Well, there was the thrill of negotiating a major intersection where the traffic lights were out.  Luckily we were making a left turn (think right in the west), so it was easy to sneak by, but those trying to go through had a little more trouble.  It was one of those moments when a policeman with white gloves directing traffic would have calmed things down. 

Lisa went to lunch with our friend Sutheera, and I had a solo lunch at home.  While at lunch, Lisa learned that there are ordinances against burning, and there has been a big publicity campaign informing the public, but there is no enforcement.  This seems to be a pattern for a lot of things.  Once again, the realization that this is an evolving nation comes to the front of my mind.  Change takes time and some change takes a lot of work.  I will suspend the urge to go on another rant.  Life goes on and we deal with it.  

This afternoon we went to the Trade expo near our house.  We invited Tatt to go with us.  He needed to get out of the house and socialize a bit.  He's been camping out in his room watching old Thai movies on his phone.  A teenager on vacation.  Boot and Kwang also went and the five of us walked up and down the aisles, looking at some of the same products we see at all of these affairs.  There was a booth selling special mops and Boot was very excited about how it worked so we got one.  Floors are a very big deal here and ours get mopped every day, even though we don't sit or eat on the floor, it's the way things are done.  There were a couple of tables with yard tools that were interesting.  Next to the various kinds of rakes and brooms was a display of cutting tools.  Giant knives with a variety of blade shapes.  These machete type tools are used for all kinds of things and people learn how to handle them at a young age.  At 5pm there was to be a big rice sale.  One bag per person, and they were lining up at 4:30.  From the sound of things, there will be music tonight and tomorrow it ends.

The photo for today is from the housewarming we went to on Sunday.  It's a center piece created by the designers of the interior of the house.  Nothing like a bunch of Thai orchids to dress up a table.

                                 A Few Orchids

As a final note, there was a new weather designation today:  'Stray thunder storms'.  What?  I guess they can predict when the storms wander from the herd.  (555)

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"There are two things over which you have complete dominion, authority, and control: 
your mind and your mouth."
~African Proverb

Wednesday, March 20, 2013



Today was one of those 'Get things done' days.  We covered everything from plumbing parts to photo stops, water pumps to fake floor, and still had time to play with the dogs.  Whew.

The 'Easy Monday' song was "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane.  Oh well, here's another stumper for ya.  A 'Zany Day' mind-twister challenge:  "__ __ __ __, send your camel to bed.  Shadows paintin' our faces, traces of romance in our heads.  Heaven's holdin' a half-moon, shinin' just for us.  Let's slip off to a sand dune, real soon, and kick up a little dust."  Hint:  The title has to do with a specific time and place.

This morning, on our way to Makro, we saw one of those sights that just has to be captured for posterity.  I've been telling you about how the rice fields are being filled in for building purposes.  While this particular plot of ground is settling and waiting to be sold, the neighbors took advantage of the sunshine it provided. 

                           Hung out to dry

After a light dose of Makro we went into town.  Our floor repairs were still waiting so we went to the source.  It's nice to know the boss sometimes, because later in the afternoon the workers showed up, brought the laminate and finished the job.  

Out in the yard we now have the big blue water tank sitting on the concrete slab, with a motor and a bunch of tubing going in different directions.  It looks quite impressive, but I'm waiting to see the well water flowing out before I celebrate.  

At the government building by the Pink Bridge near our house, there is a giant expo of some sort.  Boot went to it today and said they have many things to see.  We're going to go with her tomorrow evening and check it out.  It's sponsored by the Department of Internal Trade, which apparently promotes business within Thailand.  More will be learned, I'm sure.  

The water in the pool is nearing a 'sane' temperature for swimming.  While this might seem like cause for excitement, we hold our breath, literally, since exercising outside depends on the air quality.  This is the ultimate solution to the problem of temperature and good air:  Build a clear enclosure that allows sunlight, with an air filtration system.  Who has a big bag of money lying around for a worthwhile experiment?  (555)

It's time for Wacky Wednesday.


"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes
but in having new eyes."
~Marcel Proust

Tuesday, March 19, 2013



We've reached that time of year when the sky is cloudless, and the air is hot with a tint of smoke.  

Sometimes even 'Easy Monday' can take two days to sink in.  A few knew, but a lot forgot.  Here's a bit more:
"When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go.  And you've just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving slow.  Go ask Alice, I think she'll know.... Remember what the doormouse said: 'Feed your head, feed your head'."  Clue:  This tune was recorded by a band named for an old-fashion flying machine, and later a modern flying thing.  If you can figure out who Alice is, then you're half way there.  

This is also the time of year when various seeds begin their airborne migrations.  We can tell when we start to see what look like cotton-balls floating through the air, and on the surface of the pool.  There are baby birds all over and at times it sounds like we're living in an aviary.  This frustrates BamBam because she thinks it's her job to make sure that no birds are in the yard.  (555)  Daku likes to play 'Hunter' and slowly stalk the birds.  They look at him and take off just as he decides to lunge.  He's more successful with flies.

There is a news article that is being posted in several Thai papers and in Facebook that I would like to bring to your attention.  I have mentioned The Sold Project many times through the years, and this article gives a good overview of why it exists and some of the results.  Just click, read and remember that the problem is not just happening in Southeast Asia, but all over the world.

I posted a photo of our banana tree a few months ago.  Then I showed you the first cluster of babies.  The whole thing has shed it's covering and if they all ripen, I'll be setting up a table on the road and selling bananas.  

                             Wanna Banana?

This morning we went to an 'Everything Store' and it occurred to me that one of the things to see in Thailand is a store like this.  Some day I will take a few photos just to give you an idea of the variety of goods that are sold.  We got a tub for Daku to cool his feet, a bucket, and some steel wool.  Could have picked up a rake, a machete, and some socks but didn't feel like it.  (555)  

Have a Happy Tuesday.


"If we bestow a gift or favor and expect a return for it,
it is not a gift but a trade."

Monday, March 18, 2013



The Chiang Rai weather was perfect for all of the activities we had scheduled.  There was an art meeting, a house warming, a baby shower and a car race.

'Old School Friday' was "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry.  Here's an 'Easy Monday' that should make you smile:
"One pill makes  you larger, and one pill makes you small.  And the ones that mother gives you don't do anything at all.  Go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall..."  Hint:  The title is two words and the song has a very slick vocal.  

Saturday afternoon we went to the Art Bridge building for a meeting.  The renovation is progressing and we were able to get a feeling of the gallery sizes and the shape of the restaurant.  Based on the turnout, it's clear that the energy and enthusiasm for this artist collective has not faded at all.  We got a financial update, info on the gift shop, the grand opening, and there was discussion on the direction of the art classes.  Whew.  We had a Thai artist sitting with us, translating the meeting.  The sitting part was on the floor, Northern Style, which became a bit of a chore after a while, but we hung in there. The construction will be basically finished by March 30 when we have the dedication and opening, but there will still be a lot of work before it's done.  

Sunday was a very busy day for us.  We went to the house warming for our friend Khun Supaluk.  She and her husband own the art supply store and she is a patron of Lisa's art.  Her son Pete is a good friend who recently moved from Bangkok to Manchester, England for school.  The house was incredible.  It turns out that she used two designers that we know and they did an amazing, artistic job of making her home look like a show piece.  There were little touches everywhere we looked, like indirect lighting behind the headboard in the bedroom, a modern western kitchen inside and a modern Thai kitchen outside.  The entire house was on one level, with balanced doors, and lots of light.  After a tour of the house we enjoyed a buffet lunch in the yard.  While we ate, a Country/Western trio sang American songs.  In Thai Buddhist homes there is an alter.  The design and presentation of Supaluk's alter is a work of art in itself.

Our friends Caty and Kobchai are having twin girls in May and she had a baby shower at NorThai in the afternoon.  These things can be tricky, but Caty wanted a 'non-traditional' shower, which meant no games, and guys were welcome.  We had a fun time since we knew some of the guests.  We met an Australian woman who is married to an American and they are living in Chiang Rai.  It's a small town, but you can still not know someone for months without the right paths crossing.   We spent part of the evening watching the Formula One race from Australia.

Today I noticed a woman arranging some baked goods in front of her shop.  She had a smile on her face that I have seen before and it always moves me.  It was as if it was an expression of inner happiness.  Just something I wanted to pass along.

Our water project is progressing and today they made a concrete slab for the tank and pump.  The tank was delivered and it's a giant blue thing.  We're going to have it painted dark brown.  Blue just isn't part of our color scheme in the yard. (555)  

Have a Great Week.


"Great acts are made up of small deeds."
~Lao Tzu 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Funnies


A very hot day turned out to be one filled with yes, no, maybe and lots of little dramas.  The players include a well, and an injured stray dog.  It all ended well (pardon the pun) as far as we can tell.

I can't believe I got you with our 'Zany Day' song.  It was Dolly Parton singing "9 to 5".  Moving right along, it's time for another dose of 'Old School Friday'.  "Deep down Louisiana close to New Orleans, way back up in the woods among the evergreens, there stood a log cabin made of earth and wood, where lived a country boy named __ __ __.  Who never ever learned to read or write so well, but he could play a guitar just like ringin' a bell."  Hint:  The title is a name, it's sung by a legend, and you should know this.

Dogs have a sense about certain things.  Our dogs live behind a wall, protected from the world, but when they hear other dogs they respond.  BamBam and Daku are both very sensitive to other dogs in trouble.  Today something happened outside the wall, in front of the house that was not clear to us, but it caused both dogs to keep running back to the front gate in an agitated manner.  It turns out that a dog was injured and was across the street.  At first, we didn't think anything was wrong because he was lying by the road, his head up looking very dignified.  Lisa took him some water and we called the vet to see if they could come and get him.  It was going to be hours.  In the early afternoon, after canvasing the neighborhood to see if anyone knew the dog, we decided to take him to the vet.  When we went to get him he was gone.  Someone must have come and taken him because he could not have left on his own.  

The men showed up to dig the well today.  We left the house before they began.  When we returned from grocery shopping there were four men, an engine driven drill, and a bunch of mud in our yard.  I couldn't figure out how all the stuff connected to drill a well, but it looked impressive.  When we got back from the dog drama they were in the back corner of the yard, trying a previous well.  They told us the new well didn't have enough water, and neither did the old one.  They went deeper on the new well and I guess they hit 'pay water'.  We will have lots of water after all, and tomorrow they will come and install the concrete slab for the water tank and pump.  The adventure continues.

Whenever we go to Makro, the airport, or anyplace north of town, we drive through the village of Ban Mai.  There is a large temple that has been going through a major remodel for several years.  Today when we passed there were crowds of people in the street, security guards directing traffic, a parade, and truck loads of costumed Hill Tribes, all coming for the celebration of the re-opening.  In the smaller villages there is usually just one temple and it is a hub for the community.  We managed to capture part of the crowd as they entered the temple grounds.

Don't forget to set your timers for the Formula One Australian Gran Prix this weekend.  Zoom. 

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


Thursday, March 14, 2013



Today was a good day in Chiang Rai.  Many things got done, and we had a visit with a good friend.  Our social calendar is getting busy with lots of coming events.

I'm surprised that only two people knew the 'Zany Day' song.  Hmm, maybe the chorus will jar your memories:
"Workin' __ __ __, what a way to make a livin'.  Barely gettin' by, it's all takin' and no givin'.  They just use your mind and they never give you credit.  It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it..."  Clue:  It has to do with working hours, which should be pretty clear.  Now all you have to do is know when to punch in.  (555)

This morning, while we were exercising the dogs, Boot called out that the yard people were at the gate.  They were not scheduled to come today, but I looked over the wall and saw the women in the back of the pick-up truck looking at me.  Hmm, we took the dogs inside and let the workers take over the yard.  It seems that when a crew can be assembled, they get to work.  We know the lawns need cutting when the dogs start 'grazing' on the long grass.  We just thought we'd get some notice.  It looks great now, just in time for new sprinklers.

We went into town and ran some errands later in the morning.  It struck me today that we can often park in one spot and take care of many things in a two block radius.  That's the beauty of living in a relatively small town.  Nothing is too far.   One of the stops was at the Post Office/Coffee Bar.  I sent some documents to Bangkok and it cost $.16.  At first I thought they made a mistake, but that was all it cost.  Hmm, nice.

Our good friend Pat came over for lunch and we hung out and talked for hours.  We always learn something about family dynamics 'Thai Style', and the nature of things in Chiang Rai.  Today we had an interesting discussion on the creative process and the element of pain.  Hmm, deep stuff.

We're back to being a one car household since we returned the rental car.  Actually, it just sat in the driveway after we got our car back.  I'm still getting used to how casual some transactions are dealt with.  We met the same young man who brought the car to the government building, he walked around the vehicle, checked the gas gauge, handed me our deposit and that was it.  No paper work at all.  It was almost the same at the body shop.  Work done, money paid, bye-bye.

This evening I met with a friend at Doi Chaang.  He lives south of Bangkok on one of the islands.  We spent an hour talking and it was a great way to finish the day.

This weekend is the beginning of the 2013 Formula One season.  Oh joy.  Sunday we've been invited to a house warming party and a baby shower.  

Today's photo is a little Hill Tribe wheel toy.  Kids pull each other around and sometimes brave small hills with them.

                        Hill Tribe Skateboard

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"The secret to mastery in any field is to forever be a student."
~Martin Palmer

Wednesday, March 13, 2013



Well, the weather pattern is holding but the air quality is not.  Work starts on a new water system and we reconnect with a friend.

The 'Easy Monday' song was a snap for almost everyone this week.  "Hotel California" by The Eagles is also a favorite here in Thailand.  Hmm.  Here's another easy tune for you on 'Zany Day'.  This song was also a movie.  Sing along:
"Tumble outta bed, and stumble to the kitchen.  Pour myself a cup of ambition, yawnin', stretchin', try to come to life. Jump in the shower and the blood starts pumpin', out on the streets the traffic starts jumpin' with folks like me on the job from __ __ __."  Clue:  If you work at home you may not want to sing along.  (555)  Title is three words or....

Historically, this time of year has been known for the burning of rice fields in preparation for new planting.  The ash from the old crop was said to enhance the new one.  Most of this is based on misinformation, and everyone just accepted it.  Now it seems that the addition of trash burning has escalated it to a new form of pollution.  There are good days and bad, and it's not just in Chiang Rai.  It has been one of my pet peeves for some time now.  What is interesting is that people talk about it, complain about it, but feel powerless to do anything about it.  There is a solution waiting to be found, I just know it.  If all the folks who talk about it stormed city hall, well, who knows what might happen?  Until then heads will stay buried in the sand, waiting for the air to clear.  There, rant over.

Our new, favorite 'mechanic/fixer' guy, Khun Mahn, came over today with the final plans for our second water system. We have been using 'city water' for the house and the yards, but there is a well in the back yard that will now be used for watering the yard.  This water, after the cost of the system, is free.  We will also have a sprinkler system in the front lawn and that will make it much easier to keep it green all year.  

This morning we had a nice visit with our friend Johan.  He's the guy who 'rescued' our pool years ago and keeps it nice.  His 'pool guys' come like clockwork but we haven't seen him in a long time.  We always have interesting conversations about Thailand, travel, and today, the changing face of Chiang Rai.  

The photo for today is another in my continuing exploration of the many modes of transportation here.  This one is cute and a little scary, but worth sharing.

Time for Wacky Wednesday.


"The greater danger for most of us
lies not in setting our aim too high,
and falling short; but in setting our aim too low
and achieving our mark."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013



Today was a mellow Tuesday here in Chiang Rai.  The big adventure was the drive across town.  Hmm, it's the simple things.

Since so many of you knew the 'Easy Monday' song, I'm going to leave you with the last verse, which is my favorite:
"Last thing I remember, I was running for the door.  I had to find the passage back to the place I was before.  'Relax', said the night man, 'We are programmed to receive.  You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave'...  Welcome to the __ __, such a lovely place..."  Hint:  The bird of the group name is plural.  Thanks Eileen.  Also, you can read what you like into the lyrics.  

This morning was very cold.  It didn't take long for it to turn into a very hot day.  Soon it will be warm nights and hot days and swimming will once again be a regular thing.  Knowing how the pool feels, I can just imagine how cold the water must be in the river, yet the fishing people just walked right in and didn't seem to be cold.  Maybe the excitement and adrenaline kept them warm.

We drove across town to Sahapaiboon Home Center.  We went to pick up some moulding for our laminate flooring.  The woman who was helping us remembered us from when we were building our house.  We didn't remember her at first, but she knew about us.  She asked many questions, which is the Thai way, and we managed to answer most of them.  There were two types of backings so we left with nothing, except a new friend in the land of home furnishings.  As we walked to the rear of the store we passed model kitchens, bathrooms and more accessories than we could imagine.  Oh, what a fun place.

This week we return to our regular appointments with Khun Joy for massage.  It's a lot different than what we experienced at Arisara last week.  The whole thing seemed rather tame compared to Joy's 'therapeutic touch'.  After all the walking and standing of last week, I'm sure that Joy will find plenty to work on (555).

While it's nice to have our car back, although we have to deal with it smelling like a paint shop inside.  We may have to break down and get an air-freshener.  Hmm, there must have been a way to avoid that from happening but it's too late now.

Today's photo is from the Hill Tribe village.  As I walked up a small hill I could hear the faint sounds of a simple melody repeating over and over.  It was a woman from the Longneck Karen tribe playing a homemade four-string guitar.  She was just sitting there, entertaining herself.  It was a very peaceful scene.

Have a Happy Tuesday.


"A friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself."
~Jim Morrison

Monday, March 11, 2013



The travelers have left, but the memory lingers on.  We brought our car home from the shop today and it's beautiful.  

The 'Old School Friday' song was "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", as made famous by Marvin Gaye.  It was recorded and released by Gladys Knight and The Pips as well.  I won't give you the whole story, but it was a regular Motown soap opera.  It's time for 'Easy Monday' and a song I just know you remember:  "On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air.  Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light.  My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim, I had to stop for the night..."  Clue:  Title is in two words, it's a place, and it's by a group named after a bird.  It doesn't get any easier.

Saturday was the last day for exploring with Bruce and Danielle and we made the most of it.  When we left the house to go to the Hill Tribe village we got a bonus adventure.  Down the street from our house there is a canal that comes from the river.  We noticed lots of cars and motorbikes along the side of the road.  When we slowed down to see what was happening we saw at least 100 people in the water with various kinds of nets, catching fish.  It was the strangest thing we've ever seen in our little neighborhood.  Men and women, fully clothed, some dragging nets, others throwing the traditional weighted nets while others had big inverted basket devices.  Most of the fish were about 6 or 7 inches and one woman was selling them on the spot.  She had one very large fish that drew lots of attention.  People were driving away on their motorbikes, in their wet clothes holding the day's catch in their laps. 

             A small portion of the crowd

             Fish for sale fresh from the water

We tore ourselves away from the fishing derby and drove out to the Mixed Hill Tribe village.  It's called 'Mixed' because there are about 6 tribes on a large plot of land and they each maintain their traditional style of living.  Some of the more interesting highlights were the needlework of the Yao Tribe and the weaving done by the Long-Neck Karen.  The Karen are the tribe whose women have brass coils around their necks.  They add a coil every year and the weight of the brass compresses the clavicle, giving the impression that they have longer necks.  This trip, I also noticed several of the teenagers listening to music and texting from smartphones.  Hmm.

About two minutes up the road from the Hill Tribes is the Doy Din Dang ceramic compound.  The peaceful, wooded oasis made us feel like we'd traveled a long way.  We had coffee, walked the grounds and had a short visit with Tamako, the wife of the artist.  This was the first stop on what turned out to be 'Art Day'.

Lunch time on the highway can be problematic.  Where to eat?  We ended up in a hip little place in the community that supports Rajabhat University.  It took a bit of doing, but the food was quite good. 

Ban Dam (Black House) was our next stop.  This is a giant installation created by Tawan Duchanee, one of the senior members of the Chiang Rai art community and a National Artist.  There was an exhibition in the big hall, plus all of the houses and displays he has built over the years.  In a little dome structure we experienced some very 'other-worldly' acoustics.  At different spots in the room the voice sounded like it was amplified and doctored.  We met a very friendly Thai man and his family while playing with the sound.  

There were more things we wanted to show our guests, but we still had an evening ahead of us so we just relaxed for a while.  Saturday night we went to 9 Art Gallery for the opening of an exhibit that featured paintings by a young artist who was showing a series on Phikanet (Thai version of the Hindu Deity Ganesha).  It was also an opportunity for Bruce and Danielle to meet many of the friends we had mentioned so often in various conversations.  

Five days can go by really fast when you're busy having fun and seeing the sights.  Bruce and Danielle were great guests, with a ton of energy and an eagerness to see everything.  Sunday morning I took them to the bus station for their trip to Chiang Mai.  They will also go to Cambodia and China before returning to America.  Their visit left us with a bunch of wonderful memories and new insights on this place we call home.

Sunday we collapsed and just hung out all day.  Today we were at it again.  The sewer project is finished, we got our teeth cleaned, picked up the little black car, and made plans to tap the well in the back yard so we can water the gardens for free.  Whoa, it's only Monday.

Have a Great Week.


"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.
It's about learning to dance in the rain."

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Funnies


We had another morning rain and then the day was perfect.  The tour of Chiang Rai continued with a visit to a temple complex, lunch at a golf course, a trip to a lake and hanging out at our favorite coffee spot.

It looks like the 'Zany Day' song was a rousing success.  So many of you remembered "Car Wash" by Rose Royce.   Don't forget to check out the zany movie if you get a chance.  It is now time for 'Old School Friday'.  This one is sure to bring back memories:  Ooh, I bet you're wondering how I knew, about your plans to make me blue, with some other guy that you knew before.  Between the two of us guys you know I love you more... Don't you know that __ __ __ __ __ __, not much longer would you be my baby."  Hint:  This song was a hit by two artists from the same label.  The key word in the title refers to the rumor mill.  It's also a section of highway in California.  Hmm, just gave it away.

Our key destination for the day was Wat Rong Khun, which is 17 kilometers south of Chiang Rai.  Bruce and Danielle had investigated the temple on the internet and were excited about going.  They were not disappointed.  When we got there it was crawling with tourists, but not too crowded to see everything.  The sun was hot but there were beautiful clouds that provided some nice backdrops for all of the photo ops this amazing place offers.  Sometimes we'd be walking down a path and realize that Bruce wasn't with us.  He would be snapping away with his camera, seeing things that missed our focus.  Midway through our visit we sat and had cold drinks and then continued to the Gallery of Masterworks.  It was a very full morning.  The photo below is the only gold structure at the complex.  Everything else is white.  This building houses some ornate rest-rooms on the first floor.

The lunch plan was to go to Santiburi Golf Course which is southeast of town.  The setting is peaceful and serene and our lunches were all good.  We sat looking out over one of the 'greens' enjoying the colorful trees and a light breeze.  When we left and headed to the main road I remembered that it was in the same direction as the lake I had visited with my friend Em a few weeks ago.  I was pretty sure I knew the way so we began another adventure.

We found the lake and stood on the shore just taking it all in, with the sounds of karaoke singing in the background.  It was not the best music for what we were seeing, but it didn't matter.  We saw a motorboat pulling a wakeboarder and that provided a moment of entertainment.  One of the cool things about this side trip was seeing the rural side of the area off the 'beaten path'.  

After dinner at home Bruce showed us some things we didn't know about our iPhones, and we discussed deep subjects like backing up, syncing and geo-tagging.  We learned a lot and have much more to investigate.  

No one gets to visit us without a trip to Doi Chaang Coffee.  We went back into town and, since it was so late, had tea and decaf.  The ambience of the place is worth the visit.  As we were leaving we saw Khun Noot and her son and daughters and introduced them to Bruce and Danielle.  

Tomorrow is their last day in Chiang Rai and it will be packed with more excursions out of town plus an art show opening and Walking Street.  

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.    And now, the 'Funnies'.


Thursday, March 7, 2013



A little morning rain did not stop the show today.  We had another busy, fun day in town and up north at the Golden Triangle.  We capped it off with a mellow massage and fire in the sky.

So, a bunch of you knew the 'Zany Day' song.   Here's the second verse just in case you need a little help:
"Come some of the work gets kinda hard.  This ain't no place to be if you planned on bein' a star.  Let me tell you it's always cool, and the boss don't mind sometimes if you act a fool, at the __ __.  Talking about the __ __, yeah...."
Hint:  The artist's name is comprised of a flower and an expensive luxury car.  Hmm.

This morning we took Bruce and Danielle to the downtown market (Talat) to get the 'flavor' of Thai shopping.  We didn't see everything, but we sampled some treats, and cruised the gold and earring shops.  There were many photo ops, including a temple and fresh vegetables on the street.  

After picking up their tickets for the Sunday trip to Chiang Mai, we headed north to The Golden Triangle.  The countryside looked great after the morning showers.  Traffic was light and we arrived just in time for lunch.  We made a note to stop at the ruins in Chiang Saen for photos.  We had a great lunch at a little place we like and then began being real tourists.  We took photos of the MaeKong River, various views of Laos across the river, and the giant golden Buddha.  In the middle of taking photos a group of people who had just arrived from Burma asked to pose with Bruce and Danielle.  It appeared to be a family outing and they were very animated.  We all had fun and every time we saw them later, we got a big smile.  There was some light shopping and then we drove up a hill to the look-out point where you can see both Burma and Laos.

  Burma on the left, Laos on the right.  New hats on our heads.

In Chiang Saen, Bruce got some great photos of the old wall that protected the city hundreds of years ago.  There is a protected park area where there is a temple from the 1200s.  Great care has been taken to preserve this part of the history of Northern Thailand.

On the way back to Chiang Rai we stopped at Maefarluang University to see part of the campus.  The landscaping is beautiful.  We just drove through part of it since we didn't want to be late for our massage.

Back in Chiang Rai we went to Arisara Massage for a traditional Thai massage.  It was just what we all needed, and for us it was nice to see some of the staff we know from the past.  

After dinner we went out on the front lawn and sent some lanterns into the night sky.  That's always fun and a little humbling, watching the fire build inside and then carry the paper 'balloon' into the darkness.  We kept an eye on each one until they burned out.  It was a wonderful way to end the day.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"A good idea will keep you awake during the morning,
but  a great idea will keep you awake during the night."
~Marilyn Vos Savant

Wednesday, March 6, 2013



We were a little busy today.   A trip to the mall, a hotel on the river, a light show and the Night Bazaar.  Those were some highlights.

Congrats to all of you who recognized "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris, even if you didn't like the song.  Now it's time to get a little crazy with the 'Zany Day' song.  This song was made into a movie during the 70s.  Sing along:
"You might not ever get right, but let me tell ya, it's better than diggin' a ditch.  There ain't no telling who you might meet, a movie star or maybe an Indian chief.  Workin' at the __ __, workin' at the __ __, yeah."  Hint:  It's a place that sometimes gives 'rain checks'.  

This morning, after the dogs put on an exercise show for Bruce and Danielle, we took the Vios to the shop for repairs.  When we got there the woman who greeted us didn't know the car had already been written up.  It took a call to our insurance man to set things straight.  From there we went up the bumpy airport road to Makro, then back to the house.  

We began our day of touring with a stop at Khun Natty's family restaurant.  Lisa made a design for a hotel in Chiang Mai and we found out they want to use it on T-Shirts in their shop.  Our next stop was a visit to Bliss Studio.  Chalit gave our guests a tour and Bruce shared some of his photos with Chalit.  

Central Plaza was our lunch destination.  We ate at Black Canyon and noticed that portions are shrinking.  What does it mean?  The food was good, just less than the last time.  After lunch we went to iBeat (the Apple Store), where Bruce, who works for Apple, got to see how things are done on this side of the world.  He had his picture taken with some of the staff who were quite happy to pose.  

Le Meridien was one of the places on our list of things to see so we drove there by way of our first neighborhood in Gatong village where we lived in a rental house for 9 months.  We had drinks by the river, had a fun visit with Renoud, the food manager, and then went home for some rest.

After a dinner at home we went back into town.  We hung out at NorThai and then went to the 8pm light show at the Clock Tower.  The show only lasts 5 minutes but it's still a wonderful experience.  Bruce set up a tripod and got some great shots of the Tower in different colors.  Since they hadn't absorbed all of the Night Bazaar, we went back for round two.  Tonight we went down the aisle where they sell puppies.  In addition to the dogs there were rabbits in dresses and tiny little squirrels.  What?

See, it's a Wacky Wednesday.


"... the three things we crave most in life -- happiness, freedom, and peace of mind -- are always attained by giving them to someone else."
~Peyton Conway March

Tuesday, March 5, 2013



The storm has finally left us.  We had a day without rain.  There was some blue sky in the afternoon when our guests arrived.  A good sign.

Only one person knew the 'Easy Monday' song.  There's still time to write and tell me you know the answer:
"There will be another song for me, for I will sing it.  There will be another dream for me, someone will bring it.  I will drink the wine while it is warm and never let you catch me looking at the sun.  And after all the loves of my life, after all the loves of my life... I'll be thinking of you, and wondering why."  Clue:  It's a place, an expanse of green grass and trees with a small lake, in the middle of Los Angeles.  Two words.

This morning we went into town for a few things.  While double-parked on Bus Station Street I noticed a Samlor coming down the street.  The passenger was a young Thai woman using a tablet type device.  They went by too quickly for me to get a photo, but the contrast was very interesting.  A three-wheeled taxi powered by a person carrying another person using a digital instrument.  Amazing.

Chiang Rai United Footbal Club has a new motto:  'Once you're an Orange, Always an Orange'.  The team's colors are orange, black and white.  Go team.

Through the magic of texting, Bruce let me know that their plane would be late coming to Chiang Rai.  When I arrived at the airport I got a big surprise.  The parking lot was full.  I have never seen the lot full.  After three times through the aisles I saw someone backing out of a spot.  Inside the terminal the arrival board showed three flights landing within the next hour.  We now have more airlines, more flights and that means more cars in the lot.  The place is growing up.  

Bruce and Danielle had only been in Thailand for one whole day so Mr. Lag was still lurking.  When we got to the house the dogs were very interested in meeting them.  One at a time we introduced them and everyone became fast friends.  After a tour of the house and a light snack we walked around the yard and just hung out on the patio.  During our garden appreciation I noticed that the 'pod' on the banana tree was starting to open.  We looked under one of the leaves of the pod and discovered tiny little baby bananas.  Who knew?  This photo tells the story.

                                Banana Babies

This evening we went to the Night Bazaar for dinner.  We hadn't been in a long time so it was a fun time for all of us.  We didn't try to do it all on the first night, there's just too much to absorb.  During dinner we went over a list of possible things to do while they're here.  It looks like we'll be seeing and doing a lot of cool things this week.  

Have a Happy Tuesday.


"Treat those who are good with goodness,
and also treat those who are not good with goodness.
Thus goodness is attained.

Be honest to those who are honest,
and be also honest to those who are not honest.
Thus honesty is attained."