Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Funnies


Hi,

It was another good day in Chiang Rai.  Hot, of course, but to be expected.  There is a forecast for rain this evening and it's looking promising outside.  Tonight we begin a rather social weekend.  

This week's 'Zany Day' song was "Searchin'" by The Coasters.  Here's a tip from your friendly song pusher: you can go to Youtube and hear the songs you don't know, or haven't heard in a million years.  It's cool.  Now on to the business at hand, 'Old School Friday'.  Here's a standard that everyone should know:  "I bought you a brand new __, a nineteen sixty-five, h'uh.  Now you come around signifyin' woman, you don't wanna let me ride.  __ __, guess you better slow that __ down...  Clue:  It's a two word title.  Obviously about a car and a woman.  Too easy.

This morning, after our Makro supply run, we stopped by Bliss Studios to extend birthday greetings to our friends Chalit and Amber.  The studio is on a busy street with no parking in front of the studio.  If there is space, we park on the sidewalk.  It feels so wrong, and yet thrilling.  (555)

This evening we're going to Le Meridien for another wine-tasting party.  We've already ordered dinner we can eat and my endless glass of Sprite.  It's a chance to see friends and expand our circle a bit.  We always meet someone interesting.  Sometimes it's a guest from the hotel and other times we've connected with people in Chiang Rai that we had never met.  

Tomorrow we will drive out to the country to attend a birthday party for our friend Caty.  She's the mother of the twins and we haven't seen them since they were two weeks old in the hospital.  They're bigger now, and it should be fun.  There will be swimming and food prepared by her husband, Kopchai, who is a very creative cook.  There will be more old friends and new faces.

When we first came to Chiang Rai in 2007, there was a new batch of Samlors distributed around town, in commemoration of The King's 80th birthday.  The 'bucket' for passengers was fashioned out of fiberglass with a graphic of flowers.  It's lighter and more uniform and modern.  Occasionally I see one of the 'Old School' Samlors around town and you can see the weathered wood and old paint.  When we were in Chiang Mai recently, we saw one that had been restored and it is a thing of beauty.  Today's photo is a classic wooden Samlor.

                   Wooden Samlor

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.   Time for a 'Funny'

                Peace,
                           Danny


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hands


Hi,

Today in Chiang Rai was a day like any other (555).  A slight breeze made it feel a little better.  It was a day for a morning swim, and an evening at the Bazaar.

I never said the 'Zany Day' song would be easy.  Maybe the detective names will be a clue for you.  Verse two:
"Well, Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade got nothin', chile, on me.  Sergent Friday, Charlie Chan, and Boston Blackie.  No matter where she's a hiding, she's gonna hear me comin'.  Gonna walk right down that street like Bulldog Drummond.
'Cause I've been __, ooh chile, __ every which a-way, yeah yeah.  But I'm like the Northwest Mounties...."  Hint:  What is it when you're lookin' for somethin'?  You are __.

After the 'running of the dogs' I went to the big tire shop on the Super Highway.  My plan was to go early enough so as not to have to wait too long.  It worked.  While I was waiting, I made a call to America and by the time we had finished talking the car had two new tires, and an alignment check.  One of the nice things about many businesses is their attention to your comfort.  A woman brought me a glass of ice water with a coaster no less.  There are new custom tire and wheel shops opening in Chiang Rai.  We may be way up in the north of Thailand, but customizing has become an international past-time.  Here's a photo of a truck sporting 'big wheels', as part of the promotion of a custom shop.


By 10:30 this morning it was already very hot.  We decided to go into the pool.  The water was 84 F and it felt refreshing on the body as we swam laps.   

Whenever we go to the States there is a lot of preparation involved.  Today we counted how many vitamins and supplements we need to bring back.  Sometimes it can get complicated and if you lose count, well, there are not enough.  This time I think we nailed it.  Lisa has a spread sheet so we can keep track of what we've ordered.  A reason to pay attention in math class.  (555)  

On our way to the Night Bazaar this evening we were following a motorbike pulling a trailer.  When we got to a turn in the road he slowed down to a crawl and kept looking back at his 'load'.  As we passed him we noticed he was hauling large pots of food and he was concerned about spilling them.  Hmm, food delivery at it's finest.

The Night Bazaar was fun since we haven't been in weeks.  Seeing all our vendor friends and having little conversations in broken Thai/English and feeling that sense of community is something I really enjoy.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                   Peace,
                              Danny  

"As you grow older you'll discover that you have two hands.
One for helping yourself, the other for helping others."
~Unknown

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ambitions


Hi,

We had another scorcher today, but you probably figured that.  I started the day with a massage, and ended with a very cool reunion with friends from 'down south'.

That 'Easy Monday' tune you've been humming was "I Shot The Sheriff" by Bob Marley, covered by Eric Clapton.  Now it's time to get crazy with our 'Zany Day' song.  This one is by a group that did a lot of zany songs a long time ago.
"Well, now if I have to swim a river, you know I will.  And a if I have to climb a mountain, you know I will.  And if she's a hiding up on a blueberry hill.  Am I gonna find her, child, you know I will.  'Cause I been __, oh yeah, __ every which a-way, yeah yeah and I'm like the Northwest Mounties, you know I'll bring her in some day."  Clue:  The hunt is on for his missing woman.  

The first thing I noticed as I drove up to Khun Joy's for my massage, was the progress on the new building across the street.  It's an apartment building that is the tallest thing on the block.  There is still bamboo scaffolding for the workers to climb about, but it's taking form.  Today they were putting decorative sheet metal on the edge of the roof.  It amazes me how fearless some of these men and women are as they scamper up and down the bamboo.  During my massage, Joy was trying to tell me something but I didn't get it all.  She has very limited English, and she forgets that I can't understand her.  I try to interpret body language and facial expressions to try and keep up.  Yep, still a foreigner.

The rest of the day was spent 'behind the walls', making lists of things to do, watching a little tennis, and waiting for the pool guy.  Between the odd weather and the dust from the plowing next door, we've had an imbalance that needs attention.  Khun Na came in the afternoon and spent a long time working on cleaning the bottom and adjusting the saltwater chlorinator.  All that meant that we couldn't swim today, but tomorrow it will be splash time.  

For the five plus years that Boot has been cooking for us, we've been having fruit with every lunch and dinner.  We have come to understand that certain fruit is good for a while and then it goes out of season.  It might look like a good watermelon, but once it's cut up and served you realize that there is no taste.  We just had one that was bright red and juicy, but bland.  The pineapple she served yesterday was sour.  Vendors will sell you the fruit and tell you it's sweet, but you don't know until you get it home.  It means changing 'dessert' several times a year.  Right now I'm really into mango, but it will soon be gone.  Boot bought a bunch and keeps it cold so we can stretch it out.  There are lots of local fruits that are an acquired taste and I have yet to make the adjustment.  

Thailand is a major auto producer in the region.  Most of the major brands have assembly plants and they supply surrounding countries.  Today's photo is a shipment being sent to China on a barge going up the Mekong River.  What makes this really interesting is the way they got the cars onto the barge.  You will see planks between the shore and the barge.  The cars were driven over these planks.  This takes some steady driving to say the least.

                               Steady now...

This evening I met with a friend of mine who lives in Phuket.  He's originally from Sweden, but has been living in Thailand for many years.  He brought along a friend from England and we had some inspiring conversations.  

It's time for Wacky Wednesday.

                     Peace,
                                Danny

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.
Small people always do that,
but the really great make you feel that you, too, can be great."
~Mark Twain

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Heart


Hi,

Today in Chiang Rai it was bright and sunny, cloudy and smokey, and hot.  There were little adventures in town today as we hit the streets in the morning and the afternoon.

I was surprised to get so many responses, considering many of you were celebrating a holiday.  'Easy Monday' is back.
"Sheriff John Brown always hated me, for what, I don't know.  Every time I plant a seed, he said kill it before it grow, he said kill it before it grow.  And so, __ __ __ __ but I swear it was in self-defence...."  Hint:  Oh mon, him say him guilty.  What?

This morning we went to the bank and conducted our business at the counter, with a teller.  The man who usually helps us was busy so we just handled it like the big kids.  When we stopped to get gas we saw our friend Amber, who just returned from an extended visit to America.  There is something to be said for living in a relatively small town where you can run into people you know at the gas station, 7-11, or on the sidewalk.  Cool.

We have been enjoying pretty clean air with the rain and the constant breezes.  Today was a different story.  Someone in the area did some serious burning of some nasty smelling trash.  It's such a shock to leave our cool, clean-air room and get smacked in the face with a foul smoke smell.  The first time it happened we were on our way out, so we closed the house and jumped in the car.  Freedom for the moment.  Our afternoon swim was briefly interrupted by the funky smell, but it blew out quickly and we went back into the pool.  

I can tell we're getting braver about the traffic because we went into town around 4pm, which has been the time not to go.  It wasn't so bad as long as we kept noticing things and giving everyone all the room they demanded.  There was one street that has three schools within two blocks and we got there just as school let out.  We moved along easily but when we got to our destination there was no place to park.  Motorbikes as far as the eye could see.  The curbs were full of them.  We just wanted to make a quick stop at the bakery so I did the 'local thing' and parked in the red while Lisa went in and got the goodies.  

With all the driving around there is always something that catches our eye and says: "Photo op".  Today we saw an electric three-wheeler with a twist.  They had mounted the seat and back of a chair in the passenger section.  We could only get a shot from the rear, but I think you get the idea.

                                      Cruisin'

We usually go to Fan Guy to have our fans repaired.  Last week I took him a table lamp that Boot thought was no good.  They called today and we picked it up.  It works perfectly and I was shocked when he only wanted the equivalent of $1.66.  On the way home we went to the nursery to look for some plants.  Many of the nurseries are like co-op villages, with a collection of vendors, each with a concentration on a particular type of plant.  The cool part is that you can drive up and down little roads and check them out.  All we bought was dirt, which was a little disappointing, but they had mostly shade plants and we needed things for bright sun.  We'll go to the bigger collection on the highway and find what we need.

Have a Happy Tuesday.

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

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happiness


Hi,

There's nothing like a little rain to wash things down, and raise the humidity.  While we play tag with the forecasted rain, it looks like the rainy season is very close.  

Our 'Old School Friday' song was "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" by The Righteous Brothers.  'Easy Monday' will be as easy as I can make it (555).  "__ __ __ __, but I did not shoot the deputy, oh no! Oh! (repeat)  All around in my home town, they're tryin' to track me down, they say they want to bring me in guilty for the killing of a deputy.  For the life of a deputy, but I say:  __ __ __ __, but I swear it was in self-defense...."  Hint: There are two very popular versions of this song so either artist will be valid, but the original gets you the 'Cool Points'.  Someone is admitting to a crime, but claims innocence of another.  Hmm, here come the judge.

Our Saturday was pretty mellow.  Since it was a holiday weekend there was lots of traffic in some places.  I'm getting better at picking the right routes most of the time.  There are still times when no 'traffic' doesn't mean no obstacles.  A 'trash picker' pulling a trailer with a motorbike can still slow you down, especially if they are looking for trash of a certain kind.  With most streets being only one lane in each direction it makes it tricky to pass onto the other side of the road.  Oh, the joys of threading the needle.

Sunday we went to Big C for some light shopping.  We discovered honey roasted pumpkin seeds and we had to find more.  The place was jumping and at first it looked like a bad idea.  There was a long line of cars in the parking lot but we realized it wasn't because the store was full, but the lot had been compromised.  Toyota took over half the parking for a big sale tent and an obstacle course.  They had a little road track and we watched a pick-up flying around like it was on a mission.  I'm not sure if it was a demonstration or a test drive, but it was interesting.  It reminded me of the days when I used to participate in Slalom events on Sunday mornings around Southern California.  Good times.  

The highlight of the day was dinner at Art Bridge.  When we arrived, the parking area was almost full.  That made us happy, since the restaurant is what will sustain the gallery.  We've been there enough that the staff knows us now and it's fun.  They are all young and enthusiastic and they really try to help.  Our table was near the center of the action between the entrance and the coffee bar so we saw everyone who came in and out.  I must say that dining with a celebrity is very cool.  People kept coming to the table to say 'hello' and one woman who was running to her car stopped, wai'd Lisa, and then continued.  Hmm, we'll have to do this more often.  (555)  

Many of you have asked about the big tree that was knocked over in the wind storm.  Well, it appears to have survived so far, and there are new leaves and a few orange flowers are back.  


Have a Great Week.

               Peace,
                         Danny

"Happiness is always a by-product.
You don't make yourself happy by chasing happiness.
You make yourself happy by being a good person."
~Unknown

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Funnies


Hi,

The rain last night was some kind of 'make up rain'.  It soaked the yards and they were very happy this morning.  Late last night I had to take the dogs out and it was like walking through a marsh.  Slosh, slosh, slosh.  Today was hot and humid.

The 'Zany Day' song was "Mercedes Benz" by Janis Joplin.  It's time once again for 'Old School Friday' and I'm sure you know this one:  "You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips.  And there's no tenderness like before in your fingertips.  You're trying hard not to show it, (baby).  But baby I know it, __ __ __ __ __, whoa that __ __.  __ __ __ __ __ now it's gone, gone, gone, wooooh."  Clue:  Something is missing, gone, not there anymore.  It's by two brothers who weren't really brothers or brothers.  What?

This morning we drove up the highway to Makro.  Driving through Ban Mai, the village next to us, we noticed big progress on several structures.  It's hard to tell what they will be since everything begins with the same basic format.  Some will be shop houses and others will be apartments.  It usually isn't until the final phase of construction that one can tell the purpose.  Makro was busy this morning since it was a holiday and many people were off work.  Lots of businesses and schools were closed.  

This afternoon we had coffee with our friend Andrew.  He is the manager of AUA, a language school that mostly teaches English to Thai students.  They also offer lessons in Thai and we took some when we first arrived here.  We talked about the growth of Chiang Rai, places to go that we haven't seen, and the many ways English is being taught.  Andrew is going to show us some cool places he's found outside of town that are fun getaways.  

A couple of weeks ago when we were in Chiang Mai, we went into a little shop that had lots of wood carvings and homemade items.  The owner was not around, which we found curious.  He seemed to leave visitors on an honor system.  The sign on the wall told us he is a trusting soul.


The weekend forecasts call for showers.  That would be nice, as long as they don't get carried away.  (555)  

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.    Stay tuned for the 'Funnies'.

                   Peace,
                              Danny


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Soul


Hi,

The weather continues to be hot, with a forecast of rain.  This just in, it's raining.  The good news is that we can water the yard again and a baby tree was delivered by a friend.  Tomorrow is a special Thai holiday.

This week's 'Zany Day' song has lots of friends.  If you didn't get it from the second verse, here's the first and last:
"Oh Lord, won't you buy me a __ __?  My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.  Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends, So Lord, won't you buy me a __ __?"  Clue:  She rocked it with big brother, she's praying for a sweet ride.

Since our visit to the vet yesterday, Daku hasn't had the urge to scratch his chin.  He's very happy to be free from his cone.  Now he can run around and smell things easier and he can once again catch the ball in the air.  While we were playing this morning, BamBam went into the air to catch her ball but tipped it off her nose and it flew over the wall, into the corn field.  I went over, braved the little embankment, and went into the dried out field and got her ball.  If I hadn't, she would have stayed at the wall, whining.  

Our morning adventures took us to the Talat (market) in the center of town.  Once we got past the initial 'wall of smell' provided by the fish stalls at the entrance, there was the same level of excitement that always comes with the hustle and bustle, the sights and sounds, and the realization that this is not Whole Foods.  We went to the treat lady for some coconut delights.  We passed one little table that intrigues me.  A man sells cooked corn, in the husk and that seems to be all he sells.  My imagination pictured him selling something from behind the table, like special lottery numbers, or magic potions, but there was no evidence of any of that.  (555)  There was a lottery table with a crowd of people around it, looking carefully at the large display of tickets.  People have their special numbers and they study the tickets to see if there are any combinations they should play.  Sometimes they get numbers from the fortune tellers and since the numbers are pre-printed, it takes great study to find the right one to play.  Hmm.  We also visited a fabric shop to get backing for Lisa's cast acrylic prints, and material for a shirt.  

Back on the city streets, we went by Bobby Bo's for brownies.  I actually wanted his oatmeal cookies, but he hadn't baked them yet.  Driving through town, there are always new things to see.  Today we saw a large crew of people working on the plants in the park where the flower show was held.  As seasons change, all of the flowers are replace by what ever is in bloom.  This happens at many locations, just to keep things beautiful.  

After lunch we got a call from our artist friend that he had left the baby Jacaranda tree outside the gate.  We will have to find the perfect place to plant it and tonight's rain will make it easier to dig.  Here's what it looks like.


Tomorrow is Wisakha Bucha Day.  It is a Buddhist holiday celebrated all over the world, with different names in different cultures.  It commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and entry into paranirvana.  It also marks the beginning of the rainy season and the 'Rains Retreat' when monks remain in their monastaries overnight.  In ancient times, in India, monks would stay in the monasteries to prevent stepping on newly planted crops during the rain.  Tomorrow there will be no sales of alcohol in Thailand.  

There is occasional thunder in the distance, and BamBam is curled up right beside the bed.  It's going to be one of those nights.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                       Peace,
                                  Danny

"The soul is the same in all living creatures,
although the body of each is different."
~Hippocrates

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Roses


Hi,

We've been three days without water, feeling light-headed, mirages appear from behind every palm tree.  Oh wait, I'm awake now.  The yard plants probably feel like that, no water since Sunday.  The well saga continues.

It turns out that 'Easy Monday' was a stumper.  Christopher was the only one who knew it.  With that in mind, here's a 'Zany Day' song that you might remember.  We're starting with the second verse so as not to give it away too soon:
"Oh Lord, won't you buy me a color TV?  Dialing For Dollars is trying to find me.  I wait for delivery each day until three, so Lord, won't you buy me a color TV?  Hint:  The title is two words, it rides on four wheels, and it's price has lots of zeros.  The singer once offered a piece of her heart.  What?

This morning we took Daku to the vet.  He's been dealing with several hot-spots, and what looked like an insect bite on his chin.  As soon as I came into the kitchen with a towel for the back seat of the car, both dogs started getting excited and ran to the carport door.  They remembered the last time they were in the car, when we went to the river.  'Oh boy, a car ride'.  When we got Daku to the vet it was a different story.  He knows that it's the place where they do things to you.  He was a handful for most of the visit.  It turns out he has a bite but there was no infection or anything wrong.  The doctor gave us a spray that seems to calm the urge to scratch so he won't have to wear the cone all the time.  He was very happy to get home.

In other dog news, while I was waiting at the bus station in Chiang Mai I noticed a dog I had seen before.  It was the 'Bus Station Dog' and she roams around like she owns the place.   We have one in Chiang Rai too. 

                          Bus Station Dog

After the mini-blackout last night, the lights on the wall and the gate motor didn't survive the restart.  Boot had to climb over the gate to get home last night.  This morning Khun Nung and his friend were messing with the wires again.  They got things working but suggested a separate 'breaker' for the wall.  Pretty soon the wall will look like mission control.

Khun Mahn came to work on the well today, but could not get any more water.  We called a friend who called someone else who knows about these things and speaks English.  He explained that 'local' drillers can only go so deep and don't have the tools to go through bed rock.  If we want a large supply of water we have to go deeper.  That drilling is done by 'dealers' as he called them.  These are the pro drilling companies and they charge by the depth.  I have the name of one of these outfits and that will be the next step.  Meanwhile, we will need to switch back to city water in the yard for the time being.  

The French Open begins this week so we'll be watching a bit of tennis (555).  This weekend is the Monte Carlo F1 Gran Prix and the tennis will have to share TV time.  Better get some more popcorn.

Time of Wacky Wednesday.

                   Peace,
                              Danny

"You can complain because roses have thorns,
or you can rejoice because thorns have roses."
~Tom Wilson

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Doubt


Hi,

Chiang Rai is in drought mode, with the river looking lower than ever.  The temps are up, but so are our spirits.  As long as there's air/con and the pool, we can keep up.  I can't say the same for the operators of the long-tail boats that have to try and negotiate the sand bars that keep popping up.  

Well, there is still time to be first with the correct answer.  Looks like 'Easy Monday' is not so easy after all.
"If you say run, I'll run with you.  If you say hide, we'll hide.  Because my love for you would break my heart in two if you should fall into my arms and tremble like a flower.  __ __ for fear your grace should fall.  __ __ for fear tonight is all."
Clue:  This 1983 hit is from an album of the same name by an artist who once sang about fame, gigged with some alien spiders, and went into space.  

Things get a little weird when you don't have any water in the outside faucets.  We're having a dry well dilemma and it means we can't water anything in this extremely dry weather.  Somehow, the idea of routing all the well water on separate pipes is not sounding so good right now.  An emergency bypass is needed, then we'll be happy.  

This morning we made the rounds of several of our downtown merchants.  At Sahapaiboon we asked about something to clean the deposits out of the shower head.  Try translating that into understandable terms.  Lisa was working the translator program on her phone, using the Thai words she knows, while the young people were showing us new showers in different shapes.  Finally, Lisa pointed to a shower head and gestured like the water going in wild directions and they understood.  The answer: No have.  Then a young guy who spoke English came to the rescue and ran around asking various staff.  He came back with his phone on a translation program and told us to try vinegar.  It was a classic case of communication through technology, sort of.  When we got home we soaked the head in vinegar and it's better.  

The police have a piece of property across from the main station where they have a dinning/hang-out area.  We noticed a motorcycle parked there that was not typical of the Chiang Rai Police.  It was a big bike from Chiang Mai, with a red light on a post in the rear, and official looking bags on the sides.  I wonder if we're going to get pursuit bikes up here?  That would totally confuse most drivers, since no one ever gets pulled over for a traffic offense.  Hmm, the price of progress.

While we were hanging out in the pool this afternoon we realized that all of the large-leaf palm type plants have had their leaves shredded by the high winds.  The banana tree and the 'Barrier' palms must have been designed by nature to withstand the wind by letting the leaves split, rather than act as sails and topple the plants.  They're still thriving, they just look different.  I'll have to take some photos.

We had a really cool Skype call with our friends Louise and Jesper in Denmark.  Their 7 month old son Rasmus was on the screen the whole time, being alert and cute.  It's so amazing to be able to communicate like that, and see the changes in little ones.    

As we patiently wait for some of the forecasted 'near by' rain to get closer, the weather is back in teasing mode.  It was looking like it might happen when the breeze got strong, but nothing.  We had a 2 minute black-out for no reason and that just puzzled us.  It usually happens when there's thunder and lightning.  

Today's photo is one of the sewing machine tables I told you about.  Most of them seem to be used in coffee shops and small cafes.  It's a pretty cool recycling idea.


Have a Happy Tuesday.

                   Peace,
                              Danny

"Doubt kills more dreams 
than failure ever will."
~Unknown

Monday, May 20, 2013

Enough


Hi,

I had a great weekend.  After an overnight stay in Chiang Mai, Daku greeted me like I'd been gone for weeks.  There was a morning swim, an afternoon shower, and an evening dining by the river.  

'Old School Friday' should have been easy.  It was "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf.  Here comes your 'Easy Monday' tune:  "__ __, put on your red shoes and dance the blues.  __ __ to the song they're playin' on the radio.  Let's sway, while the color lights up your face.  Let's sway through the crowd to an empty space..."  Hint:  This easy one came from across the pond and it's all about moving feet across the floor in a rhythmic manner.

Saturday morning in Chiang Mai, and the thought of mango waffles was enough to get me out of bed.  In the little garden cafe I was the only patron for most of the time.  The server kept wanting me to eat more food.  It's a Thai thing apparently.  I convinced her that the waffles would be enough.  The view from my corner table was beautiful plant life with the hint of the swimming pool through the leaves.  I noticed that the smaller tables were recycled sewing machine tables, complete with the big peddle underneath.  I think there must have been some kind of 'dumping' a long time ago because you see these tables all over Thailand.  

     The Garden Cafe at Shewe Wana Boutique Resort

The hotel sent me back to the bus station in an air/con van.  As soon as I got adjusted to the overwhelming heat, I spotted a familiar face.  It was one of the artists from Chiang Rai, waiting for a bus to the Golden Triangle.  He speaks English so we had a long conversation about his travels and his upcoming trip to Europe.  

I arrived back in Chiang Rai in early afternoon, just in time for the next chapter in the 'air/con soap opera'.  Our bedroom unit was still not cooling like it had before the heatwave.  We thought it might need Freon or something.  The techs came and used a pressure wash to clean out the compressor, then attached gauges to measure who knows what.  When they left it didn't seem to work any better.  We have to set it colder to get the desired results.  We've been told that it's because it's so hot.  Hmm.

Sunday morning was so hot that we swam at 9:30am.  It was great, and a good thing because in the afternoon the sky got cloudy and we finally got the much needed rain.  Everything got a good soaking and the temperature dropped a little.  In the evening we met our friends Stephan and Claire at Art Bridge for dinner.  They had just returned from a week in Chiang Mai so we had lots to talk about.  We watched a colorful sunset and got interesting feedback from Stephan on the logistics of the layout of the restaurant.  He's in the hotel business so he sees things with that in mind.  

This morning we went back to Art Bridge to deliver some of Lisa's tote bags with silk-screens of her 'Dancer Series'.  They are now on sale in the gift shop.  We had to go to our main post office, which is north of the city.  All of a sudden three lanes became one as we approached a re-paving project.  It wasn't as bad as it looked, and we didn't have to sit too long.  Bit by bit the highway is getting smoother and smoother and that's a good thing.  

Have a Great Week.

                       Peace,
                                  Danny

"To do the useful thing,
to say the courageous thing,
to contemplate the beautiful thing:
that is enough for one (person's) life."
~T.S. Eliot

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Funnies


Hi,

I'm writing to you from the big city of Chiang Mai.  The weather is the same as in Chiang Rai so you know how I feel.  It's been a mostly mellow day and evening.  

The 'Zany Day' song this week was "Bennie & The Jets" by Elton John.  'Old School Friday' should put you in a mood:
"I like to dream yes, right between my sound machine, on a cloud of sound I drift in the night, any place it goes is right.  Goes far, flies near, to the stars away from here.  Well, you don't know what we can find.  Why don't you come with me little girl, on a __ __ __..."  Hint:  The three word title may evoke visions of genies and stuff.

One of the rules of home ownership should be 'Always keep an eye on anyone working on your house'.  I don't like to hover, but there are times when supervision can save a lot of angst.  When the wiring for the gate was repaired the wires for the lights on our wall got cut.  It all happened at the same time, yet the claim was 'a short'.  This is an easy out apparently.  Today we had another crew come to fix the lights.  I wanted the yellow tubing that contained the new wire to be painted dark brown.  Should have been there when the painting was done.  My understanding is that there is now an abstract pattern of brown paint on the wall.  Oh well, the paint was fading anyway.  (555)

Today's photo is the logo for 'Rasta Chicken'.  When you realize that this is in Northern Thailand is has more meaning.


My bus ride was uneventful.  It still amazes me how they can make the trip in exactly three hours, regardless of traffic on the road.  Maybe I shouldn't want to know.  The scenery is greener than usual due to recent storms.  I did notice some intentional fires along the roadside that were disturbing.  Just before I saw the fires I noticed signs with a symbol banning burning.  After a couple of TV shows on my iPad, I took a nap and the next thing I knew we were on the outskirts of Chiang Mai.  The volume of vehicles is such a contrast to Chiang Rai.  I will have to remind myself that we really don't have bad traffic in our 'city/town'.  

When the bus pulled into the station there was a young woman dressed in the traditional costume of the hotel, waiting for me with a sign with my name on it.  She motioned to a van a few feet away, the driver got my bag and away we went.  I was expecting their courtesy Tuk-Tuk, but the weather is so hot they sent the van.  She spoke very good English and we talked about Chiang Rai and the weather all the way to the hotel.  This service was free.  What a nice place to stay.  

The center where my meeting was held is within walking distance so I had a chance to savor the sidewalk scene on a Friday evening.  There were many carts cooking food, with tables and chairs blocking the narrow sidewalk.  I got into the rhythm of stepping into the street to pass the 'restaurants' and then continuing on the sidewalk.  The people who are cooking really have it rough.  The air is very hot, and the temperature by their stoves is incredible.  I felt the fire from one as I passed and the thought of standing there, stirring a wok and preparing meals was beyond me.  

Tomorrow morning I will board the bus and return home.  Sunday we're going back to Art Bridge for dinner with friends.

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.    Hang on for the 'Funnies'.

                      Peace,
                                 Danny


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Shadow


Hi,

You know something is happening when the weather is the talk of the town.  'Very hot' was all we heard as we moved around town today.  There were errands in the morning, mid-day shelter at the mall, and plans for an overnight trip.

A few sharp eyes caught on to the 'Zany Day' tune.  The artist likes flashy costumes and zany glasses.  This line should clear up the mystery:  "... She's got electric boots, a mohair suit, you know I read it in a magazine.  __ __ __ __."  Hint: The name of the backup group in the title is the same as a gang in a Broadway musical.  Oh.

This morning we went downtown to the pharmacy warehouse and the owner actually initiated a conversation about the weather.  She usually doesn't say much unless we ask a question.  Today she went on about how hot it is and how it's been getting hotter every year.  After shopping down the street at Boot's we met an artist friend on the street.  He saw the photos of the fallen trees and told us he will bring us a small South African Jacaranda tree next week.  What a nice surprise. 

While downtown we walked over to the bus station where I got a ticket to Chiang Mai.  I'm going tomorrow afternoon so I can attend a Recovery meeting in the evening.  I'll return on Saturday morning.   

Sometimes there are harsh reminders that we are illiterate in The Land of Smiles.  Banners hanging over streets announce events and we don't know what they say.  Ingredients on products are often covered with stickers with Thai script, and then there is the mail.  Today we picked up a package of art supplies that was shipped to Lisa.  When she got in the car we had a funny exchange:  She said she hoped it was hers.  I asked if she saw her name on it and she said, "Not yet".  We laughed for a few blocks.  It was the correct package, but we never would have known if we had to read the labels.

There is no shortage of coffee in Thailand.  There is also no shortage of coffee shops.  Everything from carts to fancy walk-ins provide fresh coffee.  Here's an example of a small coffee shop built in front of a video rental shop. 

               One Small Coffee Please

Central Plaza Mall opens at 11am, but some shops that are not inside open earlier.  We arrived before opening time so we had a cup of coffee at Starbuck's.  Not a usual stop for us, but it was a nice break.  Our main goal was to hang out and then have lunch.  One of the big things happening in Thailand right now is the arrival of 3G networks.  This may seem  late in the game for those of you in other parts of the world, but here, it's a big deal.  After I put more money on my phone, the tech showed me how to activate the 3G part.  I don't use my phone for the internet, but in some cases I can get better reception so it's good to know.  We had lunch at a small place called '6th Sense'.  The presentation was worthy of a photo, but I forgot until it was half gone.  Next time.  (555)

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                     Peace,
                                Danny

"Worrying often gives a small thing a big shadow."
~Swedish proverb

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Precious


Hi,

This morning we thought it was going to rain, then that darn sun appeared.  Hot and humid all day and into the evening.  The highlight of the day was the opening of the Art Bridge Restaurant. 

The 'Easy Monday' song was "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" by Stevie Wonder.  Put on your dancin' shoes and get ready for your 'Zany Day' song:  "Hey kids, shake it loose together, the spotlight's hitting something that's been known to change the weather.  So stick around, you're gonna hear electric music, solid walls of sound."  Clue:  Many interpretations but the title is in four words and it's the name of a band.  

Most of the day was routine for us.  Makro in the morning, pool guy, blah blah.  At Makro they have a big fan display as soon as you walk in the front door.  Fans are selling big and the kind like we just got with the cooler mode, are also doing well.  For many without air/con, the evaporative cooler is a wonderful 'new' invention.  With daily temps over 100 F, being inside is not always pleasant, especially if the place is small.  

Our pool has been looking a little strange and I learned today that changes in weather can play a part in the chemistry of the water.  Add to that, all the leaves and flowers that have been blowing into the water, things happen.  Today it got lots of medicine and I'm hoping we can dip in tomorrow.

Tonight's opening of the Art Bridge Restaurant was a grand affair.  We got there early and didn't realize people were reserving tables.  One of the artists on the board invited us to sit at his family table.  Within an hour the place was full and the staff was working to find extra seating.  The dishes that we ordered were very good.  We made new friends, as usual, and got a chance to hear a singer from Bangkok who seems to be a legend in his own time.  With every song he began, the audience would break into enthusiastic applause.  The restaurant will definitely be a place to go for dinner in the future.   This photo below is just part of the scene at the opening.

             Art Bridge Restaurant in Full Swing

It's time for Wacky Wednesday.

                      Peace,
                                 Danny

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Invisible


Hi,

The temps in Chiang Rai are over 100 F every day, if we are to believe the weather services.  At this point, even if we get rain it will still be hot.  Oh, the joys of tropical living.  On the bright side, today we got air/con service so we can just stay in the room and cool it.

I got a few responses to the 'Easy Monday' song, but I guess the heat in SoCal and other parts has melted your minds.  555.  I wonder what it will take for you to get this?  "You must have known that I was lonely, because you came to my rescue.  And I know that this must be heaven, how could so much love be inside of you?  __ __ __ __ __ __ __, yeah, that's why I'll always be around.  You are the apple of my eye, forever you'll stay in my heart."  Hint:  When the singer sang this he was no longer 'Little'.  

This morning I drove across town to get gas.  The amount of building is mind-boggling.  On the main road from our house a structure is being built that is so small that it could only be a snack shop or a coffee stand.  Buildings are being gutted and rebuilt to new plans, and old structures are being torn down to make way for modern types.  This is a boom town for sure.  Meanwhile, back on the city streets, not much has changed.  I watched the Boys in Brown pulling over motorbikes, doing the usual thing.  If half of them directed traffic things would be smooth, but I'm not running anything.  

Yesterday, late in the afternoon, Boot started yelling to come outside.  When we ran out she pointed to the sky as two paragliders (a motor driven parachute) were passing overhead.  It was an amazing sight that we've never seen in these parts.  BamBam made a dash for the house, freaked out by the droning noise of the engines.  I wonder where they took off from and where they were landing?  It's the kind of thing that usually only happens down south, near the ocean.  Amazing Thailand.

            Sailing into the sunset

Tomorrow we get our new screen door for the music room.  Hopefully, it will help in keeping the horizontal rain from coming in and causing puddles.  It turns out that the door is part of the problem as well.  It has tiny holes in it.  There may be a new door in our future.  Speaking of future, tomorrow evening is the grand opening of the restaurant at Art Bridge.  We'll be there to check out the new menu and sample a few dishes.  

Have a Happy Tuesday.

                   Peace,
                              Danny

"What we can easily see is only a small percentage of what is possible.
Imagination is having the vision to see what is just below the surface;
to picture that which is essential, but invisible to the eye."
~Unknown

Monday, May 13, 2013

Formula


Hi,

The weekend in Chiang Rai had a range of weather and activities.  There was lots of swimming, another wind/rain storm, an evening at the 'theater', and a very mellow Sunday.

The 'Old School Friday' tune was "Ruby Tuesday" by The Rolling Stones.  Now we get to have an 'Easy Monday':
"__ __ __ __ __ __ __, that's why I'll always be around.  You are the apple of my eye, forever you'll stay in my heart.  I feel like this is the beginning..."  Hint:  Singer is singing about something he's never seen.  Hmm.  Easy

Saturday was a pretty calm day around the Big Brown House until the front gate refused to respond to the push of the button.  I put it on manual mode and we called the repair company.  They actually came out a while later, but told us they would have to come back on Monday.  When the wind came and the rain followed we had doubts about going out to open the gate for our evening adventure.  Luckily, everything calmed down by the time we had to leave.

At The Legend Resort they held the opening of the play, 'The Dodo Bird'.  The 'Dodo Bird' takes place in a tavern and we were held captive by a bully, an enabler, and an alcoholic who was trying not to drink.  It was well acted and stimulated lots of conversation afterward.  There was a buffet where we met the cast, reconnected with friends, and got our picture taken several times.  It turned out to be a fun evening.

Sunday was a day without plans, a complete day to ourselves.  We did something different; we had a morning swim.  It was as warm as some afternoons so it just felt right.  We decided to go into town for coffee and coconut ice cream at Doi Chaang after our nap.  Then we realized we might as well go to the mall and check out towels for the pool.  On the way, we stopped and got those cookies I like from Bobby Bo.  Central Plaza was super busy, but we found what we were looking for.  On the way home we stopped by to check out 'Rasta Chicken'.  The guy was as friendly as described and we picked up a couple of pieces to go.  The chicken was OK, but nothing to rival my all time favorite 'Bill's Chicken' in Pasadena, California.  

As we turned onto our Soi, we noticed a line of traffic, which is unusual.  At first we thought it might be an accident, since it's such a narrow road, but the cause for the congestion was a tree-trimming project.  There was a giant tree limb across the road, creating a jam in both directions.  We only had less that 100 yards to get to our house, but we had to wait.  Today's photo is the scene and if you look carefully, you will see the 'cutting guy' at the top of the bare tree.

                     'I can't get down'

Today was hot and hot, no rain in sight.  There's music across the river and the gate works again.  It took all day, but they rewired the power from the house to the gate.  

Have a Great Week.

                    Peace,
                               Danny

"The most important single ingredient in the formula of
success is knowing how to get along with people."
~Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Funnies


Hi,

Today was a bright, sunny day in Chiang Rai.  We had a very productive day, dealing with grown-up stuff in the morning, and swimming in the afternoon.  

The 'Zany Day' song was "Start Me Up" by The Rolling Stones.  By now I guess you've figured out that this is 'Stones Week', since they're touring the US.  That means that the 'Old School Friday' song is by them as well.  What is it:
"She would never say where she came from.  Yesterday don't matter if it's gone.  While the sun is bright or in the darkest night no one knows, she comes and goes.  Goodbye, __ __.  Who could hang a name on you?  When you change with ev'ry new day.  Still I'm gonna miss you."  Hint:  Title is in two words.  A precious stone and a day of the week.

Last night's wind storm not only shortened the concert across the river, but it knocked over the little tree that had been replanted yesterday.  We put in a call to Khun Kek and he brought a crew over to work on it.  It's standing up again, with better braces.  Today's photo shows both trees standing.  The 'big' tree isn't standing so tall anymore since they trimmed it, but it has potential.

                 Ready for the Wind

We are fortunate to have an insurance company that is very accessible and our agent came by today to renew our car policy and survey the damage by the wind earlier this week.  After going over the sequence of events many times, he concluded that the main office should cover the damage, but I have to send photos and get estimates on costs.  They have honored claims in the past and there is no deductible and no increase in the cost of the policy.  

Silly me, I forgot that one doesn't drive across town on the northern road during lunch hour.  There we were, 11am, stuck in traffic.  The necessary U-turn was made and we dropped down to the main drag through downtown.  It was a little better, the consolation being that there's more to see while you sit in traffic.  I think it's time to bring in a traffic control specialist to coordinate the lights and enforce a few rules.  Anyway, we made it to our destination, handled our business and got home.  No more outside trips for the rest of the day.  Yea.

After our afternoon swim, Daku came upstairs with that 'Who's gonna play with me' look on his face and a ball in his mouth.  We took both dogs outside and Daku was a wild boy for a few minutes.  Then he shifted to 'Hey, I haven't smelled that since yesterday, better go see what it is' mode.  He's been wearing a cone all week due to hot spots on his face.  He's a real trouper though, running after the ball, trying to catch it with this big plastic thing on his head.  He's improving and we can't wait to set him free.

Tomorrow night we're going to The Legend Resort for an evening of theater.  The troupe from Chiang Mai is back with another production.  This time it's 'The Dodo Bird' and the description is, well, deep.  It will be an adventure in 'culture' and seeing lots of friends.  This is also a Formula One weekend so set those VCRs (555).  I'm off to watch practice now.

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.   Prepare to laugh.

                  Peace,
                             Danny

PS  If you have an AOL account and didn't get 'Friends' from yesterday, let me know.  


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Friend


Hi,

The music festival continues across the river.  Tonight may be a little better than last night.  The fallen trees are back in place, and Art Bridge is getting press outside of Chiang Rai.

It looks like we have a few 'Zany Day' readers who are on their toes.  One even noticed the method to my madness.
"If you __ __ __, kick on the starter give it all you got, you got, you got.  I can't compete with the riders in the other heats if you rough it up... Don't make a grown man cry..."  Hint:  One of those songs whose meaning depends on your depravity.  Could be about a motorcycle, or...  

This morning Khun Kek and his yard crew arrived.  The first order of business was surveying the damage from the windstorm.  When they began trimming and sawing on the big tree I thought it was to make it easier to take away.  They actually cut some of it off and then, with the whole crew of 8, they raised it up and braced it in place.  He's confident that it will come back.  The also put the little tree back in place.  We will see what happens during the rainy season, which is just starting.  There were numerous branches and stalks that had to be cut away, so now there are gaps around the wall.  Today's photo is pretty obvious.


One of the food items that Kwan told us about yesterday was a place called 'Reggae Chicken'.  The guy wears a hat with Jamaican colors and has a logo of a chicken with the same hat.  It's deep fried chicken so we won't be regular customers, but I've got to give it a try.  We drove by today to take a photo but he was closed.  Have to try in the late afternoon.  You never know what you're going to find here.  

During the opening day celebration at Art Bridge we met a young American writer who works for Chiang Mai CityLife Magazine.  She was doing a piece on the project and interviewed Lisa.  Today we got an email with a link to the article.
http://www.chiangmainews.com/ecmn/viewfa.php?id=3778   This is just the sort of thing we need to raise the awareness of our beautiful complex.

Right now the wind just arrived.  It's the same wind that we had on Monday night.  The hatches have been battened down and we're ready (555).  I'm just glad it only comes at night, I think.  

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                     Peace,
                                Danny

"The only way to have a friend is to be one."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Can Do


Hi,

Wednesday ini Chiang Rai means it's massage day.  It was also 'Pool Guy' day, new 'Screen Guy', and the return of Khun Mahn and his skills.  We had pool guests in the afternoon and and an unwanted 'concert' this evening.

Our 'Easy Monday' song was "19th Nervous Breakdown" by the unstoppable Rolling Stones.  If you knew that one, maybe you know the 'Zany Day' tune as well.  "I've been running hot, you got me ticking gonna blow my top.  If you __ __ __, if you __ __ __ I'll never stop, never stop, never stop... You make a grown man cry (x2)..."  Hint:  If you noticed a pattern here, you're right.  Tune is about setting something/someone in motion.

When I returned from my massage this morning, things were really jumping at the Big Brown House.  The Pool Guy had his work cut out for him after the big storm.  The water was full of leaves and things, and there was a cloudy look to it all.  By the time he was finished the water looked pretty good.  

The backdoor to my studio room had a lot of water on the floor as a result of the horizontal rain so we asked Khun Mahn if he could make a new door.  The present one has tiny holes and cracks that let the water seep down to the floor.  He filled most of it with silicon and brought in a new Screen Guy to build us a better outer door.  The laminate flooring will have to be replaced and we're thinking about using tile for the entry.  

This afternoon, our friends Kwan and David came over for a swim.  David and I hung out in the pool, talking about everything from coffee to UK business practices.  He's been researching the business aspects of opening a coffee shop in Scotland and it was very interesting.  While we were in the water there was a very loud, percussive explosion.  Kwan mentioned that there is a big rock quarry north of us and that might be the source.  That would explain a lot of big bangs we've heard in the past.  They ended up staying for dinner and we had lots of fun eating and discussing food.  We learned about two places we have to check out that make some traditional dishes without the 'spice'.  

Meanwhile, across the river, there is a major concert going on and it's a little loud.  The band is good, but a little distracting (555).  They lucked out on the weather since this is the first evening without rain in about 5 days.  Play on.

Today's photo is the dancer and the musician from the art exhibit.  

                                   Thai Dancer

It's time for Wacky Wednesday.

                     Peace,
                                Danny

"Don't let what you cannot do
interfere with what you can do."
~John Wooden

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

To Live


Hi,

Today we mourned a tree, retrieved some artwork, lunched with friends, and had more rain.  Things are returning to normal.  (555)

It appears that 'Easy Monday' is easy for some.  If you're still trying to figure it out, here's the second part of the second verse.  "Your mother, who neglected you owes a million dollars tax, and you father's still perfecting ways of making sealing wax.  You better stop, and look around.  Here it comes (x3) Here comes your __ __ __."  Clue:  If you'd had 18 of these, you probably know what to expect.  Ready?

It's tough to wake up and realize that things that happened in the night were real.  The big tree in the front yard is really down.  We have no way of knowing how fast the wind was blowing, but it felt like a hurricane.  The house was shaking and it sounded like a train was coming through.  When I took Daku out this morning we were both a little surprised to see this very large green thing on the lawn.  While the tree and the horizontal rain were highlights of the evening, we also had a little Earthquake at 3:15am.  Daku and I slept through it, but Lisa and Boot felt it.  Crazy times.  Here's a photo of Lisa with the tree, for perspective.

                                          'Oh no'

We drove up the highway to Rajabhat University to pick up one of Lisa's cast acrylic prints that had been on display.  Along the way we stopped at Art Bridge for a quick peak inside.  There is so much to see, we're going to have to set aside a morning and just hang out.  As we drove through the campus at Rajabhat, we realized just how beautiful it is.  There are elevation changes, tree covered streets, a large lake, and some interesting schools of study.  This morning we passed the School of the Study of Tourism.  We were successful in retrieving the artwork and plan to go back to the campus and visit a few spots.

It's hard to be so close to Makro and not pick up the things that will be needed later in the week.  Today we bought something that warranted a trip to the 'promotion counter' for yet another bottle of Coke.  We have a collection of the giant bottles that we're starting to give away.  Hmm.

Yesterday we heard someone answer their phone and it started up an old conversation.  Most Thai people say 'Hello' when they answer their phones.  I asked a friend about this years ago and she told me it started with the instruction manual for the phones.  They go through the actions to answer the phone and after you push the 'talk' button you say 'Hello'.  Most of the people doing this speak no English, yet they answer the phone with 'Hello'.  One of those things that make you go 'Hmm'.

We had lunch at Doi Chaang with our friends Beth and Tawee.  Tawee is the Thailand Director of The Sold Project.  They are expecting their first child in a month and will be leaving for Chiang Mai this week.  They used to live in Chiang Mai so we had a bunch to talk about since we were just there.  They told us about the progress on the second building at the Resource Center for the community served by the Sold project.  We learned about well water from Tawee.  There are two kinds of water one can get from the ground: Surface water and Deep water.  Here in Thailand, the shallow wells produce a redish colored water.  It isn't until the drilling goes through the stone shelf that the clear water is found.  That explains why Khun Mahn had to get a different driller to come and go deep for the clear water.  The adventure continues.

Have a Happy Tuesday.

                 Peace,
                            Danny

"To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else."
~Emily Dickinson