Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Light


Hi,

Nothing new on the weather front, except for a brief, light shower this afternoon.  Everyone seems to be waiting for the rain.  The field next to us was given a rough plough, and now they wait for rain before preparations for planting.

'Easy Monday' seems to have eluded most of you.  Maybe the chorus of the song will help you remember:
"And I think it's gonna be a long, long time 'til touch down brings me 'round again to find, I'm not the man they think I am at home.  Oh no, no, no, I'm a __ __, __ __, burning out his fuse up here alone."  Clue: The singer reminds me of Liberace on steroids, very flamboyant costuming on stage.  How does a space ship get into space?

Yesterday, while lounging in the pool, it was explained to us how Thai culture incorporates things from other cultures and makes them their own.  There are aspects of religious life that are not only Buddhist, but Hindu as well.  Another area where this is seen is food.  As Bob pointed out, carrots are not native to Thailand, yet they are part of many dishes.  The dish called 'Chicken Sate' is actually a Malaysian dish.  Noni said 'We took it and made it better, now it's ours'.  And so it goes in Southeast Asia where cultures and traditions wander across borders, moving freely with families and travelers.  

We had a rather quiet day today.  Lots of phone calls, Skype, and running from the heat.  Our afternoon swim date didn't happen, but we had a gentle swim before the shower came.  There are forecasts of rain in the near future, but that depends on the wind.  Today looked like we'd get a good rain but it all got blown out.  Oh well.

Since Daku was a young boy (he thinks he's a boy) he has meditated.  It's the only word that can aptly describe what he does.  He takes a toy, preferably cloth, and lies on his stomach with the toy between his front paws and just stares.  Here is a recent photo of him doing his thing.


Tomorrow is Labor Day in Thailand.  Many businesses will be closed.  There will be plenty of things open and life will not stop unless you need money from the bank, want to buy some stock, or need your air/con repaired.  We'll see just how widespread it is when we go out.

Have a Happy Tuesday.

                 Peace,
                            Danny

"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark;
the real tragedy of life is when adults are afraid of the light."
~Plato

Monday, April 29, 2013

See


Hi,

Hotter than hot is the only way to describe the weekend weather in Chiang Rai.  We're talking about 104 F.  Air/con and afternoon swims are where we find relief.  Sunday was adventure day and the beginning of what looks like 'Couples Week'.

The 'Old School Friday' song was "Tobacco Road" made famous by The Nashville Teens, who were from England.  Many, many covers of this tune through the years.  'Easy Monday' should be a snap if you like to boldly go, blah blah blah.
"She packed my bags last night, pre-flight.  Zero hour, nine a.m.  And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then.  I miss the Earth so much, I miss my wife.  It's lonely out in space on such a timeless flight..."  Hint:  The title is in 2 words and it could be called a 'job description'.

Sunday morning we took the dogs to a spot that Gary and Jago told us about.  It was down by the river, next to the River House Hotel and had green grass and trees.  We had never taken both dogs in the car together before.  They were a little anxious, but finally settled down.  When we got there we kept them on their leashes since the hotel was setting up an outdoor eating area on the lawn.  The dogs wanted to take off.  They don't get out much and this was too big a temptation.  Such a big yard.  It might have gone better if we had taken treats.  That always helps them focus.  'Food?  I'll act right.'  The hotel is ending it's garden food service so we won't have a chance to go back.  We'll have to find another spot to let the dogs run around. 


Sunday evening we met Stephan and Claire for dinner at Le Meridien Resort.  We dined at Flavola, an Italian restaurant that finally has a menu we can enjoy.  It was fun getting to know them better, learning things about Australia, and enjoying the flow of conversation.  They told us about a documentary made in 1979 about Thailand and The King.  We found it on Youtube when we got home and got a whole new perspective about this country we call home.  It's called "The Soul of a Nation" and it's in two parts.  As we were leaving the hotel Claire mentioned things we have to discuss in future dinners.  Looks like we have new friends.

Today we went by Art Bridge to see the progress being made on the restaurant/coffee shop.  The gift shop is beautiful and we enjoyed having the gallery all to ourselves.  There is supposed to be a food 'testing' on Wednesday.  We may go to see what we can eat.  (555)

This evening Bob and Noni came over for dinner and swimming.  They brought a feast of Thai dishes.  Bob is leaving for Australia for 6 months to work on a film crew.  We talked about his experience with special effects and model-making.  Art was one of the main topics of conversation, along with dogs, weather and life in general.  Bob is from Canada but he and Noni have lived in India as well as Thailand for many years.  After dinner we all got in the pool to cool off and talk more.  After they left we let the dogs out to play in 'their' yard.

Tomorrow we're having an afternoon swim with Kwan and David.  He is from Scotland and her family owns Doi Chaang Coffee.  They're planning on opening a coffee shop in Edinburgh.  There is a Thai community, but no Thai coffee.  Sounds like quite an adventure.

Have a Great Week.

                 Peace,
                            Danny

"We don't see things as they are,
we see them as we are."
~Anais Nin 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Funnies


Hi,

It was clear, sunny and hot in Chiang Rai today.  We're 'scheduled' for rain on Tuesday, maybe, but we won't hold our breath.  

The 'Zany Day' song was "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" by The Beatles.  Yeah, you knew that.  I guess that means it's time for 'Old School Friday', and it began as a semi-autobiagraphical folk/blues song but became a Rock hit by a band from across the pond, and then a soulful hit back in the USA.  "'Cause I was born in a dump, my mama died and my daddy got drunk.  He left me here to die or grow, in the middle of __ __."  Hint:  The title is often used to describe a level of living conditions. 

This morning we went to the big market in search of material for a tablecloth.  There is one shop we like because the owner speaks very good English and has an outgoing personality.  We found what we were looking for and browsed as we walked toward the exit.  Friday's in the market are always busy and today was no exception.  The aisle where uniforms and shoes are sold was full of families getting school clothes for the coming session.  

Driving around town can be an adventure.  Today there were a few times when it seemed like many things were going on at the same time and they were all heading toward us.  Between Samlors going slow, pedestrians in the middle of the street, motorbikes going the wrong way, cars forcing themselves into the lane, and people turning corners without looking keeps  one's attention focused.  It also sharpens the peripheral vision.

We made a quick stop at Bliss Studio to pick up a book Chalit got for me to read and then dropped the material at Khun Orn's.  Morning in the street is plenty for the day.  We have definitely established a pattern of taking care of business in the mornings and spending the afternoons behind the walls.  

On Monday, when Susan and Noy came to lunch, they brought us a big bag of their lettuce.  Here's a photo of part of their farm, with the different varieties.


Progress has been made on the well project.  Today we found out that the old pump is not strong enough so it has to be replaced.  There are two pumps involved: One to bring the water up from below, and another to send it into the yard.  The one that goes to the yard has to have sufficient force to water the gardens and wash things down.  We're still learning, but it's getting better.  At least I don't have to go out and pump by hand.

It's been a busy, productive week.  We have a mellow weekend coming.  Sunday we've been invited to dinner at Le Meridien.  That will be fun, dining by the river and getting to know some new friends better.

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.   It's time for the 'Funnies'.

                         Peace,
                                    Danny


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dream


Hi,

There was another bit of rain late last night.  Today was clear and beautiful.  It started off cool but soon became another typical day.  We spent the evening at the mall.  

It would seem that you're not feeling very zany this week.  Only three of you knew the 'Zany Day' song.  Here's more:
"She said she'd always been a dancer.  She worked at 15 clubs a day.  And though she thought I knew the answer, well I knew what I could not say.... Didn't anybody tell her?  Didn't anybody see?...."  Hint:  Four Lads from Liverpool present a crazy drama.  Not many groups could pull off this title and get away with it.  

Today the work continued on the well project.  I have concluded that the digging portion of the show is over, since the work today was all about plumbing and electricity.  Tomorrow we will get an update through various translators.  I have a few more challenges for Khun Mahn when he's done getting the water out of the ground.

Clouds appeared in the afternoon and then a strong breeze came through.  There was a possibility that it could bring more rain, even though it was quite hot outside.  There's only one thing to do when faced with these circumstances:  Go swimming before the storm.  Just as we were getting out of the water, it looked like the wind was blowing the storm away.  

Boot wasn't feeling well so we decided to go to Central Plaza for dinner.  We indulged an urge and had junk food.  Oh my.  After dinner we dove into the main aisle with an agenda.  For weeks we have been trying to locate compressed air for cleaning dust from the computers and other small spaces.  We looked up the words and did the mime thing but no one seemed to either understand or know where we could find it.  I figured Power Buy would be our last resort.  We went to the Apple Store and they made a call to the Service Center who directed us to... wait for it:  Power Buy.  When we got there we ended up with three young women trying to help.  The last one spoke a bit of English and we figured it out, with a big cheer from everyone.  We got 2 cans of air, which sounds weird.  

We have this routine on the second-floor of the mall, where Lisa goes to B2S for art supplies and I go to Boomerang Music to play them the latest song I've recorded from the radio onto my phone.  As I turned toward Boomerang I spotted our friend Pat (formerly known as Atom).  We talked for a minute and then she and Lisa talked while I went music hunting.  The problem with hearing songs on the radio is that most of them are new or pre-releases and are not in the stores yet.  I'm going to take some postcards ready for mailing and give them to the owner and have her send me a note when one of 'my songs' arrives.  It's frustrating not knowing when they come into the store.  I'll bet if we were in Bangkok or Chiang Mai some of the tunes are on the shelf already.  Oh, life in the country.  (555)  We also saw more friends in Top's Market on the lower level.  Our friend Andrew and mutual friend Lynette and her little boy Henry were talking when we entered.  We ended up having a fun time visiting and 'meeting' Henry.  We've seen photos of him since he was born, but had never met him.  He's a toddler now and quite a little person.  

Today's photo is a truck we saw on the Super Highway on our way to the mall.  I'd say he's 'A Little Bit Country'.

                                A Cowboy Trucker

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                  Peace,
                             Danny

"The only place where your dream becomes impossible
is in your own thinking."
~Robert H. Schuller

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Courage


Hi,

The top story in the news today:  Rain in Chiang Rai.  Yes, it finally happened this afternoon.  We got a healthy downpour that has us smiling.  It was also a day for things getting fixed and serviced.

The 'Easy Monday' song was "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix.  It's 'Zany Day' time once again.  Here's one you might know:
"__ __ __ __ __ __ __, protected by a silver spoon, but now she sucks her thumb and wanders by the banks of her own lagoon.  Didn't anybody tell her?  Didn't anybody see?  Sunday's on the phone to Monday, Tuesday's on the phone to me."
Hint:  The title, in seven words, describes an unconventional method of entering the premises.

This morning, as I was leaving for my massage, workers began arriving for the 'well project'.  This has been on hold partly due to Songkran, but also because Khun Mahn had to find someone who could drill deeper.  The first level of water that they found was not going to be enough.  I should probably look for a copy of 'Well Digging for Dummies' so I can keep up with all this.  Anyway, three men played in the mud while Khun Mahn fixed some screens that kept jumping off their tracks.  The pool guys came and did their thing, and the whole place was like a circus.   Below is a shot of the well digging crew.


This afternoon Mahn put some sort of magnets in the upstairs screens so they stay closed tight.  The guy is great for fixing things and we're hoping to keep in contact for a long time.  Just after the well guys arrived for another round of drilling, it started to sprinkle.  Then it turned into a real downpour.  Fortunately, the wind was calm so there were no dramas.  The yards got a good soaking, the trees got washed, and fires were extinguished.  It also cooled the air and that was a great relief.  After it stopped we took the dogs out and they had a good play.  

It's time for Wacky Wednesday.

                    Peace,
                               Danny

"From caring comes courage."
~Lao Tzu

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Harmony


Hi,

Here in Chiang Rai the weather tease is in full effect.  Three hours to the south they got rain.  Northeast of us they got rain.  We get breezes, patchy clouds and heat.  We had a good day anyway.  There were productive errands, a wonderful lunch with friends, and an evening swim.

Ahh, 'Easy Monday' lives again.  It's nice to hear from so many of you.  If you missed it the first time around, try this:
"__ __ all around, don't know if I'm goin' up or down.  Am I happy or in misery?  Whatever it is that girl put a spell on me."  Hint:  Now really, you want me to tell you the color? 

This morning we left the house with a list of things to do.  We actually got everything done in the time Lisa had predicted.  Our trip from Makro to the bank via the Super Highway was a lot smoother than a few days ago.  No long traffic lines, which was a relief.  From the back we made a stop at Khun Orn's shop.  She is a seamstress and is very good at alterations.  I have a bag that was given to me on my birthday, but the shoulder strap was much too long.  Orn fixed it while we waited and I used it on our next stop at the market.  

We have a favorite street where we park for our trips into the maze of the market.  Today there was no parking so we used the main downtown street.  We entered the market through a narrow alleyway that we don't usually take and I remembered why in an instant.  It was the meat cutting section and most unpleasant.  The key was to keep the eyes to the front, hold the breath and just keep moving.  We were there to pick up some desserts for our lunch with Susan and Noy.  We went to our two 'providers' and got three different Thai treats that Susan had never sampled.  It's interesting to note that the gold shop was very busy.  We don't know why, but there was a large crowd doing business.

Our lunch date with Susan and Noy was a lot of fun.  We always learn things we didn't know, and they both have their own sense of humor that keeps things light.  Today we learned about accident insurance, and the value of joining the 'clubs' that the local airlines offer.  They have four dogs so there were lots of dog stories to share.  Our dogs behaved very politely after an extended greeting.  It takes a few minutes to absorb the scents of that many dogs, or so we're told.
They brought us a big bag of their seven kinds of hydroponic lettuce.  That's always a treat.  

There was a recent article in the Bangkok Post about how pawn shops were doing a brisk business after Songkran.  It seems that people travel to see family, or go on vacations and over-spend.  As a result, they have to pawn some valuables in order to get home.  Hmm.

At Art Bridge there was another interesting piece installed on the outside apron.  More info on this as soon as I get it.


Have a Happy Tuesday.

                  Peace,
                             Danny

"You don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note."
~Doug Floyd

Monday, April 22, 2013

Amazed


Hi,

The Songkran hangover seems to be over and things are returning to normal.  We're still having hot, humid days with occasional clouds.  There was also a thunderstorm with no rain.  What? 

Just when my faith in human memory was almost gone, two friends remembered the 'Old School Friday' song.  The song was "The Way You Look Tonight" as sung by The Jaguars.  Congrats to Lisa and Cindi for knowing the tune and Christopher for figuring out it was The Jaguars.  Let's see how we do with 'Easy Monday':  "__ __ all in my brain.  Lately things just don't seem the same.  Actin' funny, but I don't know why.  'Scuse me while I kiss the sky..."  Clue:  There's a color involved and it's not rain.  (555)

Saturday morning we went to Makro and got the evaporative cooler machine.  When we got it home we set it up with a little help from Boot.  The whole manual was in Thai.  Most of it's pretty simple, there are icons that explain each function.  We now have a way to cool our eating area without trying to push the air/con from another room.  The other nice thing about it is the large filter on the back that cleans the air that it pushes out.  Great, considering our air these days.

In the afternoon, with help from our friend Chalit, we connected with the cookie guy.  It turns out that he is from Chicago and the little coffee shop/bakery isn't even open yet.  We went by in the afternoon and picked up the cookies that I liked and some brownies that are also quite good.  We'll still make cookies at home, but it was nice to meet another expat and have a source for brownies.

Sunday, while we were at the Heathy Market, our friend Johan called and explained more about the pool mechanics.  When we got home I followed his advice and got the filter running.  We swam in the afternoon in very pleasant water.  

Chalit came over for coffee this morning and in the course of many topics, I asked him about the parade we saw at the beginning of Songkran.  He said it has to do with people taking materials to the temple for building.  Even if there isn't a building project, the materials represent a renewed commitment to the foundation of the temple.  Bamboo poles and sand are the usual gifts.  This is a tradition that is not practiced a lot in the more metropolitan areas.  I guess that explains the parade of trucks going out of town.  The longer we stay here the more we learn.

This evening we took Boot and her boyfriend Rudy to dinner to celebrate Boot's birthday.  We had a very nice time at Sawadee Restaurant in the Night Bazaar.  After dinner they brought out the cake we gave them.  They also played a birthday song over the sound system.  It was a big surprise for Boot and she really enjoyed it. 

Today's photo is a wooden sculpture installed in front of Art Bridge.  We don't know much about it yet, but it's a definite departure from traditional works.

 
The weather forecasts are predicting higher percentages of possibilities, so maybe, there might be some rain in the near future.  Is that vague enough for you?

Have a Great Week.

                     Peace,
                                Danny

"Sometimes, we just need to be amazed by the small things."
~Angela Pacheco

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Funnies


Hi,

Out in the streets again today and the topic of conversation was the heat.  Our travels took us from Makro in the morning to the Night Bazaar this evening.  The pool is 'closed' and a local vendor gets a nickname.

Our 'Zany Day' song was "Lady Marmalade" by LaBelle.  Since so many of you got it, here's a real 'Old School Friday' challenge.  The R&B recording of this song was performed by what is referred to as one of the first interracial vocal groups in America.  The song won an Oscar in 1936, and this cover came about 20 years later.  "Some day, when I'm awfully low, when the world is cold, I will feel the glow just thinking of you and __ __ __ __ __."  Hint:  The group was named for a car/jungle cat.  

This morning, on our way to Makro, we stopped to gaze at a beautiful rice field.  We made another stop at Art Bridge to check out some of the new sculptures installed on the outside of the building.  At Makro we saw the latest in fan design: The cooling fan with ionic charge.  It has a water tank on the back so it's like an evaporative cooler.  Since we haven't heard from 'Fan Guy' and it's still in pieces at his shop, we plan to get this new device tomorrow.  It will be nice for our downstairs eating area.  

Here is the reason we stopped at the rice field.  There were several of these characters standing in the water amidst the rice.


We're not sure what caused it, but we experienced one of the worst traffic jams we can recall driving south on the Super Highway this morning.  The sheer volume of vehicles and the short duration 'green light time' created a real mess.  Once we passed the light in question it was smooth sailing.  We need a politician or high-level policeman to get caught in this mess and then it will get fixed.  (555)  It did give us a chance to notice the businesses along the side of the road.  Hmm, was that the plan?

There is something wrong with our pool system and the filter pump is not coming on and that means the chlorinator is not working.  As a result, we have old water and that's not good.  With Songkran vacations we will not get a 'Doctor visit' until Monday.  Some would say we could always go and swim in the river.  No, the river is brown and very shallow these days.  In fact, we saw a dog standing in the middle and the water was not even up to his stomach.  That's shallow.  I don't hear as many of the Long-Tailed boats and that means a loss of income for some operators.  I'm really seeing the interconnectedness of it all.  We need rain for so many reasons.

Since the kids couldn't swim today, two of the boys played with Daku.  He had a ball running around with them.  We only let him play for a little while since it was so hot.  He will definitely sleep well tonight.

After dinner we went to the Night Bazaar for a little shopping.  We hadn't been in weeks and it was good to see all our friends.  Everyone was talking about the heat, Songkran, and in some cases, vacations they just returned from.  On our way to the car we had a quick visit with 'Watch Guy' and his wife.  They were watching the tennis match we're recording and they got a kick out of that.  As we approached our neighborhood I saw a familiar motorbike/vendor go past us.  It was the guy who will, forever be known as 'Mr. Stink'.  He sells dried fish on a stick and he leaves a very heavy vapor-trail.

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.   It's time for the 'Funnies' sent to me by my brother-in-law Dan in New Zealand.

                      Peace,
                                 Danny

One lazy Sunday morning, the wife and I were quiet and thoughtful, 
sitting around the breakfast table when I said to her unexpectedly, 
"When I die, I want you to sell all my stuff, immediately."  
"Now why would you want me to do something like that?" she asked. 
 "I figure a woman as fine as yourself would eventually remarry 
and I don't want some other asshole using my stuff."  
She looked at me intently and said, 
"What makes you think I'd marry another asshole?"

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Beauty


Hi,

Today we were out and about.  Chiang Rai is returning to normal and we jumped into the current.  It was nice to be moving around with no surprise splashes on the windows.  

I guess we could call this one 'Zany Easy' since so many of you know it.  It got a second life in a musical, but the original is the bomb.  "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?  Voulez-vous coucher avec moi.  (repeat)  Creole __ __."  Hint:  What? You need a hint after that line.  

During this hot season it is essential that all the fans work properly.  This morning we had to visit 'Fan Guy' with one of our sick fans.  You know something is wrong when you tell it to go and it barely moves.  It may be time for a new one.  I have a suspicion that some products have a timer inside that causes them to just stop, forcing you to get a new one.

We left the house with a list of things to do but no particular order.  Big C was at the top of the list so we started in that direction.  'Oh, the bus station is on the way.'  We're going to Chiang Mai the first weekend in May for an art exhibit and we're taking the VIP Bus.  There were lines in the station so we continued toward 'The C'.  'Oh look, the dog supply store.'  After stocking up on treats we finally made it to Big C.  

The parking lot was a little crowded, considering it was mid-morning on a Thursday.  Then we realized a lot of people are still on vacation and this is the time to catch up on shopping.  Inside the store we just needed a few things.  One of the things we were searching for was a can of compressed air for cleaning the dust out of things like the computers.  It turns out nobody had what we wanted.  The final suggestion from everyone was 'Centrun', meaning Central Plaza.  Many schools are out right now and the back-to-school shopping is just getting started.  There is a big area at Big C devoted to uniforms for different schools.  It's quite a scene when it gets closer to the first day back, the shelves and displays look like a tornado went through.  A time to stay away.  (555)

There is an alley that we use as a short cut between the highway and Clock Tower street.  When we leave the highway and go down the alley we end up facing a very dramatic temple entrance.  Today I paused so Lisa could capture the scene for you.  Next, we'll have to see what's behind the gate.  In the distance you can see a Naga, a type of dragon.


After Big C we had just enough time to get the car washed before lunch.  We knew that it was their first day to be open after Songkran and lots of cars and trucks would need a wash.  The assumption was correct and it took about an hour.  Hanging out at Doi Chaang Coffee is a pleasant way to pass the time and beat the heat.  It's also a place where we're likely to see friends.  Today our friend John came in and while he waited for his friends we had a great visit.  He told us about his motorcycle racing accident, and how he's buying new bikes that go faster.  What?  We brought him up to speed on Art Bridge and we made plans to have lunch before he and his wife move to Bangkok.  

The elusive, mystery bakery that made the delicious cookies was finally located today, but the're still closed.  There was construction going on so I'm still waiting.  Oh well.  

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                  Peace,
                             Danny

"Everything has it's beauty, 
but not everyone sees it."
~Confucius

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Virtue


Hi,

The temperature in Chiang Rai seems to like to hover around 100 F these days.  Afternoon winds blow clouds across the sun and tease us with the hope of rain, then drift away.  That pretty much sums up the weather this week and probably until the end of the month.  This is the driest April we've seen.  

Once again, day two brought some responses to the 'Easy Monday' song.  It was "Smooth" by Carlos Santana (& Friends).  Now it's time to get a little crazy and I've got just the tune to do it:  "Hey sister, go sister, soul sister, sister flow (repeat).  He met __ down in Old New Orleans, struttin' her stuff on the street.  She said, 'Hello, hey Joe, you wanna give it a go?' oh.  Gitchi gitchi ya ya ta ta, gitchi gitchi ya ya here.  Mocha choca lata ya ya.  Creole __ __."  Hint: Zany and Easy.  Two word title that could be considered a name, or a title.

Today was my day for a massage from Khun Joy.  When 'swimming season' begins I always get lots of comments from Joy about how tight certain muscles are.  It comes with the territory.  She exclaims and then digs in. I grit my teeth and sometimes have to stop her.  It's as if the offending muscle is an adversary that must be conquered.  (555)  There is a funny thing about going to the same person as your friends:  There is no confidentiality at all.  I hear funny anicdotes about friends, in very broken English, that make us laugh.  Nothing really private, but it's just funny that it seems OK to share stuff from client to client.  Today she was sure I would go home and go to sleep.  I didn't but I wanted to.

When I went down to make our afternoon coffee I heard the sound of a cat.  The neighbors had a cat and I figured it was coming from next door.  Then it seemed louder so I opened the carport door and there sat a tiny little kitten.  It climbed up on the step and looked at me.  "Oh my, you can't come in here."  I tried to explain that I'm allergic and we have two cat hunters, but it just looked at me the way kittens do.  Lisa put him in the yard next door but I think it came back.  Hmm.

The hot weather has brought the kids back to the pool.  Kwang came to work this afternoon with one daughter, and by the time we got out of the pool, there were three more ready to swim.  They played in the pool for about an hour.  Lisa took the dogs out and Daku played catch with a little boy, sort of.  Daku showed an interest in the Frisbee so we'll start to introduce it into his play.  That would be cool if he could catch it from a distance.  

At the beginning of Songkran I told you about a parade that passed us, headed out of town to the countryside.  We still don't know what it was about, but here is a wildly decorated farm truck to give you the flavor of it all.

              A Songkran 'Float' headed for the country

Now that Songkran is over and the rain is in the distance we can get the car washed.  Tomorrow will be a day of running around town without the fear of getting ambushed by a water mob.

It's time for Wacky Wednesday.

                    Peace,
                               Danny

"He who possess virtue in abundance 
may be compared to an infant."
~Lao Tzu

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Happiest


Hi,

Things are winding down in Chiang Rai.  The scene was much lighter today, as was the traffic.  The rain is still missing.

It looks like 'Easy Monday' wasn't so easy.  A modern song and you don't reply.  Back to the oldies next week.  
"And if you said this life ain't good enough I would give my world to lift you up.  I could change my life to better suit your mood, 'cause you're so __."  Clue:  Looks like the singer has met his black magic woman, somewhat like silk.  One word, use your imagination.

This morning I took Lisa to her massage.  The traffic was very light, since many businesses will be closed for a new more days.  Later in the morning there were only a few stray 'water trucks' roaming around.  I guess most of the revelers are played out.  This year it seems like the whole scene was a little mellower than last year.  Of course, we didn't venture onto the busiest streets at the craziest times either.  Sunday night is 'Happy Street' on Sankhong Road and this year they had a Songkran Party.  You can just imagine what that must have been like.  One whole neighborhood thoroughfare blocked off and turned into a water-tossing party zone.  Hmm.

There are some fairly standard types of buildings here in Chiang Rai.  There are shophouses, which are two or three story rows of business dwellings joined together, there are big boxy buildings, there are houses that are either traditional Thai or Western with Thai influence, and sometimes there are extreme exceptions.  One of my current, favorite exceptions is the design of @night.  It almost looks like something from a theme park, with its glass chimney and tilted roof.


The rain tease is still going on here.  Afternoon clouds appear, we hear thunder in the distance and then the clouds are blown away.  Now the predictions are calling for rain on Monday.  In other parts of the country they've been getting rain, but we just bake and wait.  One of the ironies of Songkran this year is that many farmers have given up because of a draught, yet the streets are filled with people throwing buckets of water.  

Have a Happy Tuesday,

                 Peace,
                            Danny

"The happiest of people don't necessarily have the
best of everything, they just make the most of
everything that comes along their way."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Play It


Hi,

The Songkran weekend was very wet here in Chiang Rai.  No, we didn't get rain, but there was water everywhere.  We ventured out, saw the sights and stayed dry.  The air improved, we swam, Tatt left, and we had a dinner party. 

The 'Old School Friday' fell on deaf ears was "Born To Be Wild" by Steppenwolf.  Oh well, it's 'Easy Monday' again:
"And it's just like the ocean under the moon, well that's the same as the emotion that I get from you.  You got the kind of lovin' that can be so __, yeah.  Gimmie your heart make it real or else forget about it."  Hint: One word, not rough but...  There's also a great guitar involved.  Note: This is the chorus of the song.

Saturday morning the air felt a little better than usual.  I think we have Songkran to thank for that.  Whatever the reason, we were able to play with the dogs, and swim in the afternoon.  In between, we went to the mall and hung out.  In the evening Tatt told us that his family decided to leave a day early.  That evening he came to our room and talked for a long time.  I think he wanted to spend some time with us before they left.  His parents were very sweet and kept hugging and thanking us for taking care of their son.  They told Tatt he should have done more, but we told him that his job was being a good student.  It worked out just fine for everyone.  

Sunday morning the family packed the pick-up, wrapping everything in plastic bags to keep things dry.  We sat in the studio where Tatt stayed and listened to his mother tell us the things that he would do.  Tatt was translating what we already knew, but his mom and dad were so proud they couldn't stop talking about it.  I kept checking to make sure he didn't leave anything and realized he was going to leave the helmet we got for him.  He told me he had one in Rayong, I told him I'd never wear it and we both laughed.  He took it with him.  Once all seven of them had arranged themselves in the truck we waved a final goodbye.  The house seems bigger now.

Sunday evening we had a dinner at the house with new friends we met at Le Meridien.  It was Aussie night at the Big Brown House.  There was Stephan and Claire (he's the new General Manager) and their friends Scott and Michele.  They are all from Australia.  Boot made her Panang Currie dish and it was a big hit.  We had lots of lively conversation about life in Thailand.  Scott and Michele are considering moving here.  He's a chef and Stephan wants to put him on his team at the hotel.  The whole hotel industry world is very interesting.  After dinner we set off a couple of lanterns in the front yard, then hung out in the back.  There was no loud music from the river so the evening was fairly quiet.  

Today is the last water-tossing day of Songkran.  It's the day when statues are to be sprinkled with water, and families pay tribute to their elders in various ways.  One of the ways is the washing of hands, a simple pouring of water,  by members of the family, over the hands of the oldest members.  It's also a time to visit cemeteries and temples.  

Our dear friend Blue sent us a photo he snagged from Google Earth.  Now you know where we live (555).


We had a lazy day around the compound.  While we swam, the dogs got a special treat that Lisa made.  She took some chicken broth, added some treats and then froze two 'squares', one for each dog.  They loved their hot weather 'brothcicles'.  We learned about this from a FaceBook site called Crafts Corner.  

The sky is grumbling, but nothing has happened yet.  We live in hope.

Have a Great Week.

                          Peace,
                                     Danny

"Wherever you are,
whatever your circumstances may be,
whatever misfortune you may have suffered,
the music of your life has not gone.
It's inside you.
If you listen to it, you can play it."
~Nido Qubein

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Funnies


Hi,

Songkran has begun.  Today was declared a holiday so everyone has an extra day of whatever.  We got an early dose of dousing and our house guests arrived.  

The 'Zany Day' song that some of you knew was "Nothing From Nothing" by Billy Preston.  Now it's time for some 'Old School Friday'.  "Get your motor runnin'.  Head out on the highway.  Lookin' for adventure, and whatever comes our way.  Yeah Darlin' go make it happen, take the world in a love embrace.  Fire all of your guns at once, and explode into space.
Like a true nature's child...."  Hint:  Really?  I think you know this one.  Even if you're not old you know this.  (555)

We spent the first half of the day at the house.  We didn't get rain today, but we had a little water drama anyway.  There is a misting system that waters the plants around the waterfall.  The valve that sends water to the nozzles sprung a leak.  Most plumbing here is done with PVC tubing that is glued together.  I knew that the valve needed replacing, but I've never learned the art of pipe-gluing.  We called our friend Sutheera and she helped us get Khun Mahn to come over and fix it.  He wasn't going to take payment but we insisted.  It's really the beginning of Songkran, nobody is working, yet he and a helper came out.  They were very appreciative and we felt better.

When we left the house to have coffee at Doi Chaang with Khun Jaffee, we didn't realize that Songkran had begun.  As soon as we turned onto the main road to town we met a parade going away from town.  There must have been a quarter of a mile of pick-up trucks converted to various floats.  Some were decorated with lots of ornaments, others just had lots of people and bamboo.  We still don't know the significance of this parade, but it was impressive.  We also encountered our first splashes of water.  Some of the little kids just looked at us as we drove by and I mentioned that they were being selective.  Just then a little girl fixed her eyes on us and timed her toss so her bucket of water smacked right into the passenger window.  The children are serious about their water.  Below are three photos of the first day of Songkran.  The first shows a family with a wading pool for the little ones while the older boy has a massive squirt gun.  The second photo shows water floating down from the pick-up truck and the final photo shows the payback.


Late this afternoon Tatt's family arrived.  They had been driving since yesterday and were happy to be here.  There were more people than we expected, but they don't expect us to do anything.  The cast consists of Tatt's mother and father, his sister and her husband and their two girls.   They brought us a ton of fruit, most of it things we like.  A case of Dragon fruit (Lisa's favorite), a bag of mangos (my favorite), something we've never eaten, and a Durian, which we told them had to stay outside.  Everyone took a turn at getting acquainted with the dogs and Tatt made us a list of all their names so we could keep up.  They have plans for tomorrow, sightseeing around the area.  The whole family will leave on Monday and we will close a very interesting chapter in our adventure.  Amazing.

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.         Oh yeah, there is laughter.

                        Peace,
                                  Danny


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pain


Hi,

The air in Chiang Rai was a tiny bit better today.  Still need a good wash with some rain.  We stocked up on supplies to cover the weekend so we don't have to do to much driving around during the holiday.

"__ __ __ leaves __, and I'm not stuffin', believe you me.  Don't you remember I told ya, I'm a soldier in the war on poverty.... You gotta have somethin' if you wanna be with me.  You gotta bring somethin' girl, if you wanna be with me."
Hint: The singer is clearly wanting a monetary contribution to the relationship.  One of a few people that sang and played with The Beatles on record.

We weren't the only ones who had plans to buy lots of 'stuff' today.  Makro was packed with families and small store owners preparing for the Songkran weekend.  It was interesting to note that some prices, especially chicken, jumped way up right before the holiday.  Hmm, I hope it goes down after it's all over.  When we left the store we paused to find the aisle where we parked and the attendant saw our indecision.  He waved his arm toward the car, the same way he does when showing you an empty space.  We all laughed.

On our way into town to get a bag of coffee we stopped to get a photo of the front of '@night'.  I love the creative thought that went into making the banner that spans the front of the place when it's closed.

                          Things to do @night

As we approached the 'New Bridge' we noticed many awnings in the street next to the curb.  It looked like the beginnings of a street fair.  Then I spotted a man connecting plastic pipes and then we saw the water spigots.  The road is going to be a party zone, complete with filling stations for the shops so they don't run out of water.  The awnings are to protect the water tossers from the sun.  Note to self:  Don't go over New Bridge this weekend.

Sometimes we take for granted the fact that we've been here over 5 1/2 years and that we have established patterns.  When we went to Doi Chaang for our coffee, they knew what to do when I put the bag on the counter.  We went by TechnoCom and the young man behind the desk stood and said, 'Ink?'.  He was right of course, that's what we buy in his shop.  Then we went to the shop by the marketplace where we get our chicken sausage and the clerk said, 'Gai? (chicken)'.  I guess it's nice to be remembered and treated as a regular customer instead of an oddity.  That's how it seemed in the beginning.  Now, we're almost locals.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                   Peace,
                              Danny

"We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey."
~Kenji Miyazawa

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Attitude


Hi,

The build-up to Songkran is obvious all over town.  Some businesses have already closed, squirt guns and buckets are for sale everywhere, and preparations are being made to deal with the fallout.  We have house-guests coming in the middle of all of this.  Hmm.

The 'Easy Monday' song was "Good Vibrations" by The Beach Boys.  Congrats to all the 'winners' who played.  See if you know this 'Zany Day' tune:  "__ __ __ leaves __.  You gotta have somethin' if you wanna be with me. (repeat)  I'm not tryin' to be your hero, 'cause that zero is too cold for me, brrr.  I'm not tryin' to be your highness, 'cause that minus is too low to see, yeah..."  Clue:  It's a question of mathematics.  

The Festival of Songkran is celebrated in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Laos.  It is the Thai New Year, the celebration of the vernal equinox, and a reason to cool off during the hottest month of the year.  It coincides with festivals in other cultures as well.  In the early times it was all about cleansing for the coming year.  House cleaning, the cleaning of all statues and amulets, and the symbolic sprinkling of water on statues of Buddha.  That sprinkling has evolved into the tossing of buckets of water for the sake of soaking.  

While Songkran is a big holiday for most Thai people and big business for tourism, it also poses problems for law enforcement and hospitals.  The consumption of alcohol is a big problem in the country on any given day.  With a holiday like Songkran it just gets worse.  Hmm, another reason to stay at home.  Amazing.

Our resident student is coming to the end of his stay.  Tatt will be leaving next week.  His parents, older sister, and teacher from Rayong are all coming on Friday and will leave on Monday.  It will be nice to finally meet his family.  Tatt will have his hands full translating for all of us.

There is a tree in our driveway that hasn't done very well since it was planted, but it has been home to several orchid plants that seem to like where they are.  Some orchids will be dormant for what seems like ages and then, suddenly explode with beautiful flowers.  Today's photo is of one of those plants.  These are some of the smallest orchid flowers we have ever seen.


The rain forecast has been moved from Friday to Saturday so I guess I'll have to do my rain dance after all.  It would be a shame to have rain on the first day of Songkran.  All the water tossing would be so redundant.  (555)

It's time for Wacky Wednesday.

                   Peace,
                              Danny

"Great effort springs naturally 
from great attitude."
~Pat Riley

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Build


Hi,

Life in Chiang Rai is quiet for us right now.  Our 'outside time' is limited as we try to stay out of the bad air.  The dogs are frustrated since their playtime is cut short, and we are frustrated because our swim time has been cancelled.  On the bright side, there is rain in the forecast for Friday.  

There's still time to be on the list of winners who knew the 'Easy Monday' song.  The key word in this two word title is defined as an oscillation of the parts of a fluid or an elastic solid whose equilibrium has been disturbed.  I know that's a mouthful, but it is what it is.  "Close my eyes, she's somehow closer now.  Softly smile, I know she must be kind.  When I look in her eyes, she goes with me to a blossom world.  I'm pickin' up __ __, she's givin' me the excitations.... I don't know where but she sends me there...."  Hint: This American group started off singing about cars and surf.  I doubt if this song is about the tune-up on their little deuce coupe.

This morning we noticed that the traffic is getting a little heavier.  I took Lisa for her massage and there was a much longer line of cars on a street that usually isn't so crowded.  One of our friends suspects that it has to do with people returning home for Songkran.  Last year the government offered a big rebate for first-time car buyers and a lot more cars hit the roads.  It figures that people who left Chiang Rai and bought a car might drive that car back here rather than take a bus.  At any rate, it's going to be busy on the streets until late next week.  Another reason to stay at home.

For some reason, our back lawn is a different kind of grass than the front.  Hmm, they were supposed to be the same.  Oh well, it turns out that the back grows much faster than the front and this has prompted us to consider getting a lawnmower to keep it low until the yard crew comes.  It's been three weeks since everything was cut and the back is already getting long.  They can't come back until after Songkran, which will be another two weeks.  Then there's the whole thing of what to do with the grass cuttings.  I guess they could always be used as mulch in the abandoned field next to us.  

                Looks like it could use some mulch

Today the temperature in the pool was 80 F and the air was super hot.  To turn and walk back into the house was very difficult.  On the other hand, one look at the haze covering the hill to the west and it made perfect sense.  Our air filter machine is making all the difference these days.  When I leave the room and smell the air from outside it's pretty obvious.  The government is now offering rewards for photos of people starting forest fires.  People go into the forests and burn off areas for planting of crops.  This problem has become more severe for at least two years around this time.  There is a site that NASA has that shows fires in different parts of the world and Thailand and surrounding countries have a large number of fires that have been identified from space.  Oh my.

One good thing about all this time in the house: More artwork.  Lisa just finished another amazing cast acrylic print.  She's also developing new little techniques to add to the process and new ideas come as a result.  

Have a Happy Tuesday.

                     Peace,
                                Danny

"It is easier to build strong children 
than to repair broken men."
~Frederick Douglass

Monday, April 8, 2013

Things


Hi,

This weekend was spent dodging the nasty air and taking care of business.   We experienced immigration, babies and art.  It was a great weekend.

The 'Old School Friday' tune was "Born Under A Bad Sign" by Albert King.  There is also a great cover by Cream.   Now it's time for 'Easy Monday' and I promise to make it easy this week.  "I, I love the colorful clothes she wears, and the way the sunlight plays upon her hair.  I hear the sound of a gentle word on the wind that lifts her perfume through the air.  I'm pickin' up __ __, she's givin' me the excitations...."  Hint:  The two word title of this song became an iconic phrase once the song hit the airwaves.  

Saturday morning we went to Central Plaza for our 90-day visa check-in.  We made friends with an American, and saw a Scottish expat that we'd met at a party.  Since we had our forms filled out in advance, the whole thing was pretty quick. We're on friendly terms with one of the officers and always have a few laughs with him.  After our business was done I went to Boomerang Music and played them a song I heard on the radio and recorded on my iPhone.  They only had the karaoke version of the CD but sent us to B2S, the stationary store, where they had the regular release.  We've been enjoying most of the album this weekend even though we don't know the names of the two women vocalists, or any of the song titles.

Our afternoon adventure was a trip to the 'Thai Hospital' in the center of town.  We went to visit with our friend Caty, take her some food and see the twins.  When we got to the main building we asked a nurse where to find the maternity ward.  She looked as us, smiled and said, 'Twins?'.  We all laughed and she took us to Caty's room.  All of the staff know the twins and Caty since they've been there for two weeks.  After Caty had lunch she took us up to the room where the new-borns are kept.  Her girls were premature so they get special care and are not allowed out of the ward.  She brought each of them to the window so we could say hello.  They are beautiful, and so tiny that it almost doesn't seem real.  When Jaiya came to the window she was asleep.  Every time Caty kissed her, her little eyes opened and then closed.  Her little sister Taeyo was awake, just staring at her mom.  It was a very sweet moment.  Jaiya met the 2 kilo weight requirement to leave the ward today and is now staying in the room with her mom.  Taeyo has to gain a little more weight and must stay behind.  Caty will stay at the hospital until both girls can go home.  We were glad we got to see them so early in their little lives.

Sunday evening we went to 9 Art Gallery for the opening of a new exhibit.  It was mostly attended by the local art community and the family of the artist.  There was also a group of university students and that was good to see.  Their professor is a member of Art Bridge.  We had an interesting conversation with Khun Sompong, owner of the gallery, who had just returned from Viet Nam with a group of Chiang Rai artists.  They had a show there that lasted five days.  He explained that they had to bring the artwork home with them since they had no representation in Viet Nam.  A quick trip and a lot of work, but what a great adventure.

This morning, on our way to Makro, Lisa snapped this photo of the front of the Art Bridge building.  The dream is alive.

                            Art Bridge Chiang Rai

Have a Great Week.

                  Peace,
                             Danny

"The things you take for granted
may be the things someone else
is praying for."
~Unknown

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Funnies


Hi,

We had big, hot wind in Chiang Rai today.  Things were blowing around like crazy.  We had a friend join us for lunch and had a mellow afternoon.

This week's 'Zany Day' song was "Mother's Little Helper" by The Rolling Stones.  Here's an 'Old School Friday' tune that we've played before.  This is real Old School, but I think you'll remember.  "__ __ __ __ __, been down since I began to crawl.  If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all."  Hint:  If you know your Zodiac, you might relate.  

This morning the air didn't seem as bad as the day before, but the heat came early.  We went to the Healthy Market for veggies and fish, and gave the day a traffic designation:  'Park in the way day'.  There seemed to be a lot of double parking, parking on corners, and not quite parking.  It was a good sign to just go home and stay there.

Our good friend Sutheera came over for a lunch prepared by Chef Lisa.  We had a flat noodle dish with chicken and vegetables and it was very good.  We talked about everything from art to politics to religion.  One thread of the conversation began with me asking her if she liked Songkran.  Her response was that it is not the same as it used to be.  All the focus is on buckets of water and lots of alcohol.  The deeper meaning has been lost on an exaggeration of one part of the holiday.  I enjoy hearing different perspectives on what has become a controversial holiday.

The photo interlude for today is our new friend Tia the dog.  He made quite a point of making body contact with both of us.


Just before lunch the wind began to blow.  It reminded me of the Santanas that blow in Southern California.  That warm wind that blows in from the desert.  Our wind came from the west and blew lots of tiny thread-like trash from the big tree on the lot next to us.  The pool was a magnet for lots of debris, including big pieces of ash from an unknown fire.  We were all set to go for a swim and actually got in the water, only to realize that the air was still bad and deep breathing was not a good idea.  The wind had played a trick on us, making the air look clearer than it really was.  

Tomorrow we will go to Central Plaza for our 90-day visa check-in.  In the afternoon we are taking mashed potatoes to our friend Caty, who recently had twin girls who decided to come a month early.  She is staying at the hospital with her girls and tomorrow we might get to see them.  They are so tiny, but are growing every day.  

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.   It's time to laugh.

                   Peace,
                              Danny


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ability


Hi,

Today was a day for following directions and wild goose chases.  We learned about bamboo and birds, and tried to catch some cookies (read on).  

There were quite a few responses to the 'Zany Day' tune.  Here's a passage that should surely jog your memory:
"Doctor, please, some more of these.  Outside the door, she took four more.  What a drag it is getting old.  'Life's just much too hard today,' I hear every mother say, the pursuit of happiness is just a bore..."  Hint:  The title is three words, and it's a play on words.  I know, it's only R&R but we like it.

The bad air is back in Chiang Rai.  Today was extremely hazy and smelled of smoke.  This morning we could tell it was going to be a rough one.  We had an appointment to meet with our friend Siam, who prefers to be called Yai, at 11am.  I had written down directions from him as best I could.  When we began trying to follow them it wasn't making sense so I called him.  Once we made the first turn at the right place the rest was simple.  We were greeted by three dogs.  The smallest was the most vocal and protective.  His name is Tia and it means 'short'.  Yai makes furniture using bamboo and we saw some of his new work.  Each piece is an individual work of art.  We sat inside and his girlfriend, who is a talented artist, joined us.  Yai talked to us about bamboo and the problems we could have since we have a swimming pool.  In the dry season the leaves shed and travel on the wind.  The pool is not that far from where the bamboo would be planted.  We may have to rethink our plan.  While we were talking we heard the sound of a bird that we just love.  The English name is The Greater Coucal.  They are about the size of a Raven, with burnt orange wings, a dark brown body, and red eyes.  We asked Yai what it's called in Thai and it sounds like: Nok Kra Bood da dang.  He explained that they like to eat snakes so you will find them near rivers and canals.  There are lots of them around because they smell bad to Thai people so they don't hunt them.  That's good for the bird and for us.  They make a 'hooting' sound that almost sounds like an ape.  When several are together and they all make this sound it feels like the jungle.  Near the end of our visit Tia came and lay down with his head on Lisa's feet, and his hind legs on mine.  Yai told us this means he loves us.  We totally dug this little dog.  When we got to the car, Tia ran over and stretched out under the car.  What a guy.  Today's photo is a Greater Coucal sitting in a tree in our yard.


This afternoon we had to cancel our swim because of the air quality, so we went on a 'cookie hunt'.  A the Chezmoi fashion show they had some delicious cookies that I could eat.  I got a rough idea of where the bakery was located, but no details.  Our first attempt was based on my remembering wrong.  Later this afternoon we went out again with what we thought was pretty direct info.  We still haven't found these cookies made by a guy named Bobby Bo.  I will have to request a map for the next round.  

Songkran is probably the biggest holiday in Thailand.  We have many friends who do not like Songkran, and many who love it.  It is a happy time, a time for cleansing and family reunions.  It is also a time for traffic jams, unwanted buckets of water thrown on you, power-squirt guns, and too much drinking and driving.  Those who ride motorbikes are the most vulnerable, and many just don't ride during the water tossing days.  It's still a week away and it's becoming the talk of the town.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                  Peace,
                             Danny

"Ability will never catch up with
the demand for it."
~Confucius