Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Music Gives

Hi,

Today was a beautiful day interrupted by a rain storm.  Yeah, that's what happened.  

The 'Easy Monday' song was "Creepin'" by Stevie Wonder.  This week's 'Zany Day' song should be familiar:
"Take out the papers and the trash, or you don't get no spendin' cash.  If you don't scrub that kitchen floor, you ain't gonna rock and roll no more.  __ __ (don't talk back)"  Hint:  This could be called a parenting guide I suppose.

The dogs are always quite energetic after a big storm.  New smells and cool air seems to suit them just fine.  After their play time, the workers came to seal the leaks on the west side of the house.  Lots of silicone and a special splash guard for my studio window.  Their work was right on time since we had another storm this afternoon, with wind coming from the west.  No water entered the house and that makes us smile.  

While we were shopping at Makro we realized another something about the fish department.  It's not very humane.  Without any details, I'll just tell you that the live fish were crowded in one tank and got agitated.  Water was splashing out of the tank and no one seemed disturbed about it.  Many vendors buy the fish and take them to their place of business.  I guess the store got more than usual today.  I also noticed that in the frozen section there is mackerel from Japan.  We have been giving the dogs mackerel, but from the Indian Ocean.  I'm not sure if fish from the waters off Japan are safe these days.  I'm also not sure how many people really care.  Hmm.

On our way home from shopping, we had to take a detour and I decided to take a side trip for a photo.  The boat in today's photo is in our neighborhood, a few blocks north of us.  We don't know what it is, but suspect it's either a hotel or a restaurant.  I'll pass the photo around and see if I can get more info.  Just blew my mind.


It's very quiet here tonight.  With Cat and Boot both gone, and BamBam staying at Boot's house with Rudi, we're all alone.  It's not a bad thing, just different.  After the hectic day we had, we'll probably actually go to bed early.  When there is work done on the house, a proper nap is out of the question.  (555)

Time for Wacky Wednesday.

                 Peace,
                           Danny

"Music gives a soul to the universe,
wings to the mind, flight to the imagination,
and life to everything."
~Plato

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Genius

Hi,

Chiang Rai showed the usual signs that a storm had passed through last night.  In our area, the result of the wind was very visible in a couple of temporary shacks that were flattened.  This evening there was a mild breeze, and patchy clouds.  

A few of you recognized the 'Easy Monday' song.  For those in doubt, here's the bridge and another verse.  
"When I'm asleep at night, baby, I feel those moments of ecstasy.  When you sleep at night, baby, I wonder do I __ into your dreams, or could it be I sleep alone in my fantasy?  Oh, love is so amazing, guess you will be stayin', so let it be that you always __ into my dreams."  Clue:  Something one does very quietly, often on tiptoe.  (555)

This morning we surveyed the yard and found that all of our trees survived the big wind.  All of the water that had created a giant lake had drained and everything looked healthy and happy.  The braces around all of the trees kept them from being blown over or snapped.  When I drove Cat to the market this morning, to get a Song Taew to her village, we saw the remains of two structures that were built for workers by the river.  They had been built with bamboo frames and wood or tin for the walls and roofs.  The bamboo frames were the only things left standing.  It was an eerie sight, especially seeing clothing hanging on the frames and pieces of furniture.  They will put them back together with a few more nails and hope for the best.  

Thailand has a national lottery and the tickets are sold on the street by vendors carrying cases that look like slim brief cases.  Instead of picking numbers, you buy a ticket that already has a series of numbers.  This makes for some interesting scenes as people stand around studying the tickets to see if they have the right combination of numbers, or their lucky ones.  We are not clear on how it all works because we can't play, but I do know that after the drawings, there are people who stand at busy intersections and pass out sheets with the winners printed out.  

This morning, at Big C, it looked like a Saturday morning.  The place was packed with shoppers.  Part of it was the back to school business.  As we were leaving I stopped to watch one of the automatic sewing machines as it pumped out the insignia for one of the high schools.  Many carts were loaded down with uniforms and shoes for the coming term.  As we were leaving the parking lot, I spotted a truck with a sticker in the window that read 'Auto Hi-Fi'.  I hadn't seen that term in a long time.  Hmm.

One of the most frustrating things about shopping for 'packaged' food is the fact that most stores place a sticker with the ingredients in Thai on top of the English ones printed on the label.  The glue they use will not allow the labels to be lifted to read what's inside.  Many times we have passed on a product because we didn't know the whole story.  

Today's photo was taken back in 2007, at a street fair in one of the local villages (neighborhood).  This was our first encounter with the 'Country/Cowboy' element in Thailand.  There are several local groups that are quite serious about their recreation and accuracy.  This group even dressed the part and had a big crowd around them.


Have a Happy Tuesday.

                Peace,
                          Danny

"The secret of genius is to carry the spirit
of the child into old age, 
which means never losing your enthusiasm."
~Aldous Huxley

Monday, April 28, 2014

Power

Hi,

After a hot, humid weekend we're finally getting some rain tonight.  There has been plenty of thunder and lightning, but this time there is rain as well.  The swim party was the consuming event of the weekend and it was a huge success.

The 'Old School Friday' song was "Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler)" by Marvin Gaye.  Now it's time for 'Easy Monday' and I just know that some of you will get this one.  Note that the title word is in a different form than in the lyric.  "I can hear  you sighin', sayin' you'll stay beside me, why must it be that you always __ into my dreams.  On the beach we're sittin', huggin, squeezin', kissin', why must it be that you always __ into my dreams, in my dreams."  Hint:  I wonder how many of you will have this tune looping in your head all day?

It is a rare occasion to have all but one invited guest show up for a party.  That was the case on Saturday afternoon.    There have never been so many people in the pool at once, all having various kinds of fun.  There were adults, kids, toddlers and babies all having a 'cool' time.  A slight sprinkle got some of them out of the water for a food break.  The two 11/12 year old boys stayed in the water all afternoon.  Conversation in and around the pool covered topics ranging from child-rearing to recycling to the education system.  It was interesting to walk around and hear Westerners talking with Thais in Thai, and visa versa.  We realized that we have known most of the little ones since birth, and watching some of them taking their first tentative steps was a joy. 


The storm has just moved up in status to a monster.  I had to take a break from writing this to do mop-up duty on the west side of the house.  The sideways wind did its thing and water came in from some new places.  The tiles on the west facing roof, and the window frames are the culprits.  And to think, the rainy season hasn't begun yet.  The adventures in Thailand continue.

Meanwhile, Cat leaves for her village tomorrow and won't be back for about 10 days.  Her project with the tree planting has to wind down before school starts.  Boot leaves for Rayong on Wednesday for a vacation with her sister, so we will be on our own for over a week.  Just us and the dogs.  

Well, time to get more towels and patrol the house.  The thunder is now in the distance, and the wind seems to have stopped so the worst may be over.  

Have a Great Week.

                  Peace,
                            Danny

"Power 'should be' the ability to do good things for others."

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Funnies

Hi,

There was a change in the weather, a change in the diet, and a change in the furniture outside.  Oh, so much change (555).

Our 'Zany Day' song this week was "So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star" by The Byrds.  My friend Lane was the only one to get it.  Maybe you'll do better on this 'Old School Friday' tune:  "Rockets, moon shots, spend it on the have nots.  Money, we make it.  'Fore we see it, you take it.  Oh, __ __ __ __ the way they do my life.  This ain't livin', this ain't livin' no, no baby....  Hang ups, let downs, bad breaks, set backs.  Natural fact is, I can't pay my taxes.  Oh, __ __ __ __, and throw up both my hands.  Yea, __ __ __ __, and throw up both my hands."  Hint:  I heard it through the grapevine that you know this song (555).  Bonus Cool Points if you know the complete title.

This morning while we were at the alternative clinic at Maefarluang University, we had a consultation with a Chinese herbalist from Viet Nam.  I have some food intolerances that I just can't tolerate.  She took a look at my tongue and exclaimed in a low groan.  What does that mean?  Didn't ask really.  For the next ten days our diets are restricted.  Most of the restrictions are not that bad, adjustments will have to be made and tiny herbal pills will be swallowed.  If it helps find a remedy I'm willing to do what it takes.  

The sky began to get dark in the early afternoon.  One minute it looked like rain, and then we'd see patches of blue.  Timing is everything when it comes to getting in a swim if the sky is like that.  We took delivery on a new table and chair set for the rear deck and figured we could get in the water as soon as the workers left.  As soon as we started enjoying the water we saw random drops in the pool.  It was starting to rain.  Of course, as soon as we'd changed clothes the tiny rain stopped.  Nothing has fallen from the sky since then.  There is talk of rain next week.  Since all of the forecasters agree, it just might happen.  It did cool things off slightly, but it's still very hot.

This evening, we saw a horse trailer on the highway from 'Appaloosa Farms'.  See, I told you there were cowboys in Thailand.

Driving through town at 8:30pm on a Friday, some of the streets in the business area were empty and everything was closed.  All of the shop owners had gone home, upstairs.  It struck me that most of the businesses are in shophouses, which means that they are owner-operated.  It turns out that this was the conclusion arrived at by our friend Sutheera during her study of small business in Thailand.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out as more franchise operations move into Chiang Rai with the coming ASEAN community.

Today's photo was taken at the far end of the pool.  The mask is one of three given to us by Khun Tawd, and Lisa painted it.  


Tomorrow we have the 'little kids' swim party.  It should be a fun time.  

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.   Time for the 'Funnies'.

             Peace,
                       Danny


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Music

Hi,

The heatwave continues, but life goes on in Chiang Rai.  The traffic lights are coming back, along with a return to civility (555).  

No one seems to know the 'Zany Day' song for this week.  The group's first hit had to do with a tambourine.
"Then it's time to go down town where the agent men won't let you down.  Sell your soul to the company who are waiting there to sell plastic ware.  And in a week or two if you make the charts the girls will tear you apart...."
Hint:  This ten word title has to do with becoming something you are not.  Follow the directions and be a star.  Hmm.

This morning as I returned from taking the girls to The Brain, I got stuck in a very odd traffic jam.  Today was 'street washing' day and I was two cars back from the big, new, shiny tanker truck from the fire department.  It was inching along spraying water out of the left side.  On the street there were men and women with stiff brooms, scrubbing and sweeping the water toward the curb.  This went on for a long block, nothing to do unless you wanted to get blasted by the fire truck.  A few blocks down I saw the old tanker truck with a guy using a hose to do the same thing.  That's what I call spring cleaning.

This Saturday we're having a little swimming party for friends with tiny little kids.  As it stands there will be about 20 adults and 7 children.  The staff from The Sold Project is also coming so it will be a very connected group.  Everybody knows each other.  

This afternoon we have three of the air/con machines serviced.  They last longer if they get regular, professional cleaning.  This heatwave is not the time to have something go wrong with our number one source of relief.  While they were working we moved to the kitchen.  Lisa and Cat worked from an English/Thai book, working on pronunciation.  There are many sounds that are 'foreign' to the Thai tongue.  The ends of words seem to be the hardest thing to learn.  A word like change, might sound like chain.  There are no percussive endings so words sound like they're trailing off.  We have the opposite challenge with our English speaking mouths.  Cat has a good ear and is very eager to keep trying until she gets it right.  Her English will just keep getting better and better.  

After the air/con guys left, we found relief from our second source, the pool.  It was warmer than yesterday and if it keeps up, it will be too warm to swim.  What?  Not gonna happen.  There is a storm forecast for Sunday and the timing couldn't be better.  

Today's photo was taken in our front yard.  The Morning Glory vine has started blooming and looks brilliant against the newly painted portion of the wall.  


Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                Peace,
                          Danny

"Music in the soul can be heard by the universe."
~Lao Tzu

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Go

Hi,

Chiang Rai had another day of you know what.  Yes, still very hot.  The 'feels like' temps are well over 100F and I can't imagine what living in a tin house without air/con must be like.  Grateful for the air.

The 'Easy Monday' song was "Going Out of My Head" by Little Anthony & The Imperials.  Time to get crazy with another 'Zany Day' song.  "__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __, then listen now to what I say.  Just get an electric guitar and take some time and learn how to play.  And, when your hair's combed right and your pants fit tight it's gonna be all right.  Hint:  Aside from being one of the longest titles in R&R, it's a handbook for stardom in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way.  

There are times in Thailand when it's possible to forget where you are and think you're in the old west.  Cowboy life is very popular in some circles.  There is a restaurant in Chiang Rai called 'Family Bakery' and the motif looks like something from an old western movie.  Wagon wheels, long rifles, spurs on the wall and photos that look authentic.  When I asked about it, I was told that Thailand has cowboys.  They don't necessarily herd cattle, or ride horses, but they are cowboys.  In Chiang Mai there is a shop in one of the malls that focuses on cowboy clothing and accessories.  All this is a build-up to the music we heard a few nights ago at dinner.  Two men, one playing guitar, the other a keyboard, with the assistance of a laptop, gave us a full set of cowboy/country-western music that was very well done.  I closed my eyes and couldn't believe how well the accent on some songs had been mastered.  We have seen some acoustic groups as well, and you can tell they've worked hard to be the real deal, Thai style.  

This morning we drove out to the country north of town, to the frame factory.  As we approached Khun Tawd's complex, we were taken by the view.  On both sides of the narrow, winding road we saw nothing but bright green rice fields.  They went on for miles, with an occasional house in the distance.  It's refreshing to know that even though it seems like the city is growing like crazy, there are still wide expanses of 'land without concrete'.  We picked up the first group of Lisa's new series of cast acrylic prints, framed and ready for her next exhibit.  We also took a print for Tawd, who wanted one of Lisa's works for his collection.  He has work from most of the local Chiang Rai artists and it's quite impressive.  When some artists needed frames for their work in the beginning of their careers, Tawd would trade them framing for one of their pieces.  It's a brilliant collection that will probably be shown in his gallery when it's completed.

Today's photo is the rice fields we experienced on our way to the frame factory.  The beauty was enhanced by the quiet of the morning.


The very hot days coupled with the warm nights and no rain has raised the temperature in the pool to a perfect state.  We slipped into the water this afternoon and immediately noticed a lone plumeria flower floating on the surface.  It was a good day.

It's Time for Wacky Wednesday.

                  Peace,
                            Danny

"Wherever you go, go with all your heart
~Confucius 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Character

Hi,

The weather here is, well, you know.  Last night there was a sprinkle that barely wet the ground.  Today it was blazing hot again.  Once again, there is a forecast for rain next week.  I'll believe it when I get wet.  

This week's 'Easy Monday' song has lots of fans.  The perfect song for anyone struggling with unrequited love.
"I see you each morning, but you just walk past me, you don't even know that I exist.  __ __ __ __ __ over you, __ __ __ __over you, __ __ __ __ day and night, night and day, wrong or right.  I must think of a way into your heart.  There no reason why my being shy should keep us apart...."  Hint:  Really?  So easy.  Mid 60's ballad.  

Last night we went out to dinner with Boot, her boyfriend Rudi, his son Kim, and Cat.  It's the first time we've used the third row of seats in our little van.  Six passengers fix comfortably and the Ertiga still performed like it was nothing at all.  The occasion was an evening with Kim, who is a chef and recently returned from a job on a cruise ship.  He speaks Dutch, Thai and English and there were three languages being spoken in the van, at once.  We had a bit of deja vu since our first choice of eating spots was closed.  What?  We went to a spot we knew would be open by the river.  Lelavadee is a large, restaurant with a big roof and no walls.  There was a slight breeze off the river but it was still warm.  Later, during our meal, the wind came and they lowered canvas curtains that made it very pleasant.  Kim told us about working on the ship, and how glad he was to be back on land.  He has two offers in Chiang Mai at 5 star hotels and will begin work next week.  At 22 years old, it looks like he has a bright future in the food industry.  Today he and Rudi and a few friends rode their motorcycles to Chiang Kong.  

This morning when I took Cat and Pawn to The Brain we encountered many intersections without traffic lights.  Morning rush hour in Chiang Rai with no traffic control translates into chaos.  The concept of treating each intersection like a four-way boulevard stop is not part of the driving vocabulary.  Some drivers tailgated behind the car in front of them and forced their way through.  If four or five cars did that, you just had to sit and watch them go by.  At the crucial points in our travel the lights were working so we managed to not have too many 'challenges'.  Both girls are studying chemistry this time around and it's clearly difficult.

There is only one major television provider in Thailand.  Truevisions tested their new digital system overnight last night and it included a reshuffling of all the channels.  Now we have to consult a page on their website to find our 'regularly viewed' channels.  It's mostly sports stuff, and they kept them together, but now I have to memorize new numbers.  If the picture improves then it's worth it.  Some people have several small dishes or one large one so they can watch programing from other countries, but that's because they can understand the languages.  Being mulit-lingual has it's advantages.  Kim mentioned this fact when telling us about the hiring practices at some hotels.  A chef who speaks English can earn more money at some hotels because they can communicate with visiting clientele.  Makes sense.  

Contrary to what some might think, Thailand is a very modest country.  They sell swimsuits at the department stores and some small shops, but when it's time to go to the river, everyone is dressed in casual clothes.  Men might wear shorts and a T-shirt and women wear shirts and bermuda-length shorts.  The swimsuits are worn by those traveling to the beaches in the south, or resorts.  Locals stay covered up.  Part of it is modesty and for some, it's to keep the sun from tanning their bodies.  There is a very strong 'color caste system' here and it's obvious by the products in the stores and the number of clinics offering 'whitening'.  Thai television is one of the unspoken promoters of this, with all of the soap stars and 'presenters' having very fair skin.  Apparently, having dark skin means that you are a laborer who works in the sun.  One with light skin has not had to do menial labor and is therefore of a higher status.  This translates into a class system that has been going on for a very long time.  The adventure continues.

Today's photo is a portion of a carving that was all done from one piece of wood and is at least 6 feet tall.  The figure is known as Kinnari and is part of ancient folklore derived originally from India, and modified to fit in with the Thai way of thinking.  She is part woman, part bird, and able to fly between the human and mystical worlds.


Have a Happy Tuesday.

              Peace,
                        Danny

"Character is the governing element of life, and is above genius."
~Frederick Saunders

Monday, April 21, 2014

Smile

Hi,

In the midst of a very hot and humid weekend, things were pretty busy for us in Chiang Rai.  Lots of plants and art.

The 'Old School Friday' tune was "Uptight (Everything is Alright)" by Stevie Wonder.  For an 'Easy Monday', see if you remember this one:  "Well, I think I'm __ __ __ __ __.  Yes, I think I'm __ __ __ __ __ over you, over you.  I want you to want me, I need you so badly I can't think of anything but you..."  Hint: Some might call him crazy.  It's by a group that was lead by a singer who really was what his nickname said.  Hmm.

These days, the notion of doing things early and beating the heat are just plain ridiculous.  When the overnight temp is in the mid 70s there really is no cooling off at night.  We just press forward, complaining from time to time about how hot it is (555).  Such was the case on Saturday morning when we went looking for trees and flowers for the yard.  The nursery is large so we would get little air/con breaks in the van as we moved from one section to the next.  We brought home some flowering trees, a group of citrus trees (orange, lemon, and lime), plus gardenia and jasmine bushes.  Everything is in the baby stage now, but when they grow up it will be a sweet smelling yard.   I did test out the new electric lawn mower and it works great.  Now I can keep it at a reasonable length, especially during the rainy season.

We have never been to Central Plaza mall on a Saturday night, but this weekend we changed that.  We picked up some essentials and then went to Swensen's for ice-cream and sorbet.  I guess the mall was a cool refuge for a lot of folks because it was jumping.  The ice-cream shop was packed with families.  We wondered how some of the parents of little ones would deal with their kids after all that sugar in the evening.  Hmm.  I'm not usually one who endorses products, but one of the things we picked up at the mall was a Belkin laptop cooling stand.  If you actually put your laptop on your lap and it gets too hot, you need one of these.  It really pulls the hot air away from the computer and keeps your lap cool.  

Sunday we drove out to the frame factory.  It was Cat's first visit to this amazing place and she really enjoyed it.  Khun Tawd took us on a tour of his new concept in progress: An art village.  He has a huge gallery about the size of a barn, a smaller gallery that had some work already on the walls, and a few rooms where artists can come and stay.  Outside, by a huge pond, he's assembling what he laughingly calls his Thai Stone Henge.  Then he took us to his house on the other side of the pond, where he stores original drawing of the Clock Tower and other works by Chalermchai, the creator of Wat Rong Khun.  Tawd has worked closely with him to create many large pieces based on the drawings.  When we left, we had a new understanding of this very talented man and his dedication to a vision.

Today's photo was taken at the frame factory.  This little statue of a boy monk was sitting in the middle of an open space, next to a tiny elephant.  


We usually eat out on Sunday evenings, but this week it looked like it wasn't going to happen.  We went to three restaurants and they were all closed.  Apparently they gave their staff a few days off after Songkran, since they had to work through the holiday period.  Our fourth stop proved to be the perfect end to what had been a frustrating hunt for food.  The Imperial River House had good food and service and we now have a new place to add to our list.  

As I predicted, the Songkran Village on the river lasted until Sunday night.  Monday morning they began dismantling the houses and taking apart the floating eating spaces on the water.  Vacation is over and life in Chiang Rai is slowly returning to normal.  Oddly though, all of the traffic lights were out all over town on the day when everyone was moving around.  Not good, but we managed to get where we needed to be.  

Have a Great Week.

              Peace,
                        Danny

A smile is the lighting system of the face, the cooling system of the
head and the heating system of the heart.
~Unknown

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Funnies

Hi,

The hot just keeps getting hotter here in Chiang Rai.  It's definitely time for some rain to cool things off a bit.  Today we did the 'Back to school' shopping thing.  This evening we bought a new machine.

The 'Zany Day' song was "Cowboys to Girls" by The Intruders.  That means it's time for 'Old School Friday' and something from someone we all know.  "I'm a poor man's son, from across the railroad tracks, the only shirt I own is hangin' on my back.  But I'm the envy of ev'ry single guy since I'm the apple of my girl's eye... She says 'Baby, everything is alright, __, out of sight.  Baby, everything is alright, __, clean out of sight."  Hint:  The title means something different than it's usual reference.

This morning we took Cat to the big market (the Talat) and dove head first into the ritual of back to school clothes and supplies.  Schools here require uniforms and there are numerous shops that specialize in this.  Some shops seem to carry uniforms for the lower grades and so on.  Cat knew exactly where to go and what she needed, so there was no guess work or big decisions to be made.  After we got all the parts, we took the blouses to a shop that does embroidery.  Every student at every school has the name of the school and their name on their shirts.  Cat's school also requires the grade-level and student ID number.  The little shop has a bunch of automated sewing machines that must be running day and night.  The whole thing brought back memories of the dreaded ordeal of getting clothes for the coming year, and not knowing if what you got was 'right' and if you'd be in style.  This uniform thing eliminates all of that anxiety.  Hmm.

All around town, things are returning to normal.  Shops are opening and traffic is picking up.  Today's photo is a parting tribute to the 'water wars' of Songkran.  


The thermometer in our pool stays at a constant 86 F but we can tell that it has been getting warmer all week.  Today it was at what we call 'lounging temperature'.  We swam our laps and then just hung out, looking at the yard and talking about things we'd like to change.  That brought up the idea of having our own lawnmower to cut the grass that the dogs obsess on when it gets long.  Before BamBam and Daku, I didn't know that dogs grazed like cattle or sheep.  Apparently, it smells like protein to them, but it's not good for them to eat a lot of it.  This evening we went to HomePro for more paint.  While they were mixing the color we looked at the small electric lawnmowers.  Cat helped us communicate with the salesman and we left the store with a machine that will do the trick between visits from the yard crew.  The dogs will not like this one bit (or is it bite).

This weekend there will be lawn cutting, and Formula One racing in China.  A double-zoom weekend.  Oh yes, and probably a rain dance or two.

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.

                  Peace,
                            Danny


Gettin' Funky, Thai Style 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Flexible


Hi,

Officially, Songkran is over, but there are different opinions as to when it's really over.  Today no water was thrown and our day was very productive.

This week's 'Zany Day' tune was remembered by many of you.  Here's a little more for you to digest.  
"I remember when I used to see you jumping rope.  And I remember when you got your first baby coat.  But you were young and didn't understand, now you're a woman and I'm a man.  And it's me that you're kissing, ain't it fun reminiscing... You went from (pretty dolls to boys).  And I went from __ __ __, oh yes I did...."  Hint:  The three word title has to do with a transition.  Hmm. 

On our way to Makro this morning, we spotted two postal service motorbikes parked together.  I'm guessing it was a mid-morning coffee break.  What makes today's photo so interesting is the fact that they carry not only mail, but small parcels as well.  If it's too large for the mail carrier to take on his bike, you have to come and get it at the post office.  We don't have sleet or snow (usually), but I have seen them delivering in the rain.  They ride on the sidewalk downtown, sometimes handing the mail to business owners.  If we get a special delivery, they ring the bell and ride into the yard.


Our first trip to the new Chiang Rai immigration office was like a dream.  Parking was not a problem, and when we found the office, it was practically empty.  The officer that waited on us spoke English and all he needed was our passports.  In the past, we had to fill out forms, have copies of certain documents, and usually had to go to more than one window.  Today it was all done at the counter.  Since it was not busy, we got some questions answered and left with a good feeling about future check-ins.  

While we were at the big market we got a call from Cat saying she was home from her sister's house.  It was time for lunch so we picked her up and went to Doi Chaang.  While the car was being washed we ate lunch.  At the table next to us were some staff members from The Sold Project.  During lunch, Cat told us about her stay in her village.  Today there was a party-like atmosphere because many people came to pay respects to the elders and pour water on their hands.  This is to show respect and to ask for their blessing for the coming year.  Cat did this with her grandmothers.  It's very important to us, and The Sold Project, that she continue with the traditions she was raised with, and honors her culture.  She also spent time with her uncle, who is a monk at the local temple and the patriarch of her family.

Although Songkran is officially over, you would never know it by the population of the village down by the river.  It will probably last until Sunday.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                 Peace,
                           Danny

"Blessed are the flexible for they will never get bent out of shape."
~Unknown

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Knowledge

Hi,

Chiang Rai can say it's consistent with its weather patterns.  It's still hot, although we haven't had rain in two days. Our current motto seems to be 'Paint while it's cool, sleep through the heat'.  Hmm, so far so good. (555)

The 'Easy Monday' song was "Light My Fire" by The Doors.  That means it's time for the 'Zany Day' tune from '69.
"I remember when I used to play shoot 'em up.  (Shoot 'em up, bang, bang baby).  I remember when I chased the girls and beat 'em up.  But I was young and didn't understand, now I'm a grown up man.... I went from __ __ __, oh yes I did, __ __ __."  Clue: Growing up intruded on his childish games.  

Today we painted again, and I think we have one more day before it's finished.  I like how it's looking, but it does take a toll.  After the touch-ups, I don't want to see another roller or brush for at least 6 months.  (555)

The speed bump tree is gone.  Some time this afternoon a crew came and cut it up and left it by the side of the road. That crew may have been from the city, or it could have been someone with a small chain saw doing a good deed.  We have noticed that people take it upon themselves to fix or repair some things just for the good of the community.  That is a beautiful thing.  

In some parts of the world you will get to see the eclipse of the moon.  This one will appear red and has been called a 'Blood Moon'.  Hmm, we see that all the time during burning season (555).  We will not get to see this current eclipse because of the orbit, blah blah.  It's OK though, probably wouldn't want to go outside that late anyway.  If you do see it, say 'Hi' from me.

Tomorrow we go to the new Chiang Rai immigration office for our 90 day check-in.  This will be our first visit to the local offices.  It means we don't have to drive to Mae Sai, near the border with Burma.  For many expats from various countries this is a big deal.  Thinking back to how busy the 'office' would be on the first of each month when they did business at Central Plaza, this new location will benefit many.

Most of the buildings in Thailand are made of brick, concrete and steel.  A lot of sand and gravel is needed to make all the structures that are going up in Chiang Rai.  At several points on the river, there are barges that dredge sand and rock from the bed and send it on a conveyor belt to a machine that washes and separates it and dumps it in big piles.  It's not a pretty sight, but it's the price of progress I suppose.  We noticed one of these processing plants when we went to Chiang Rai beach last week.  They can only do this if there is open land on the bank of the river, for the various piles they produce.  Hmm, I guess they won't be moving down our way.  Whew.  Today's photo shows part of the process.


Tomorrow is supposed to be the last day of Songkran, but there are always hold-outs who can't resist a few more days of water play.  

Feels like a Wacky Wednesday.

                      Peace,
                                Danny

"To resist the influence of others, knowledge of oneself is most important."
~Teal'c

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Learn

Hi,

Even though the sky was a bit overcast, it was still a very hot day.  After a morning at 'the wall', our day was done.

Quite a few of you knew this week's 'Easy Monday' tune.  It's by an L.A. band that played lots of venues around the world.  "The time to hesitate is through.  No time to wallow in the mire.  Try now, we can only lose, and our love become a funeral pyre.  Come on baby, __ __ __..."  Hint:  There seems to be a request for pyrotechnics.

This morning we tackled the paint job on the front wall.  There is something about painting in odd positions that takes its toll on the body.  Climbing over plants, reaching around things, and bending and stooping let you know about muscles you'd forgotten.  While we were working, we had a chance to get a closer look at a giant tree limb that fell into the street last night.  I'm not sure what happened, but late last night we heard tires screech, but couldn't see anything.  One side of the street is blocked by this tree part, and it's been there all day.  We have one more panel to paint and then we move on to another painting job.  

One nice side benefit of the tree blocking the street is the slower traffic.  I've had this fantasy of putting in speed-bumps in the middle of the night, just to slow things down.  

Life along the bank of the river is in full time vacation mode.  At first, I used to think that people came to the river for the day, but a few years ago it was clear that when clotheslines are set up, they have moved in for the week.  Crossing the bridge and looking down on the 'village', it looks like there are vendors with food stands, and a make-shift restaurant.  The music started early this morning, but seems very quiet this evening.  I think the threat of rain has calmed things a bit.  Today's photo was taken from the boat dock on Songkran Day. 


Yesterday Cat went to her village to stay with her sister and help her with her food stand near the waterfall.  She spends part of the day helping, and the afternoons playing with her nephew and her friends.  It means that things are different here.  Monday night Daku wandered down the hall, not realizing that Cat was not home.  Oh, the patterns of life.  

Have a Happy Tuesday.

                Peace,
                          Danny  

"I am always doing that which I can not do,
in order that I may learn how to do it."
~Pablo Picasso

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pursuit

Hi,

The weather is hot but folks are cooling down with lots of water.  Some of it from the sky, but most of it from each other.  Songkran has begun with a splash.

The 'Old School Friday' song was "What's Your Name?" by Don & Juan.  Barry let me know that it was released in 1962, which still makes it pretty old (555).  'Easy Monday' is next, with a song that had four versions.  There was the single version, the long radio version, the album version, and the live version.  Hmm, take your pick, it was all cool.
"You know that it would be untrue, you know that I would be a liar, if I was to say to you, girl, we couldn't get much higher.  Come one baby, __ __ __, come on baby, __ __ __, try to set the night on fire."  Hint:  This song was the first major hit from a group that had a movie made about them, with their name as the title.  It's something one walks through, if you can stand the heat.

Saturday morning we began our wall painting project.  Workers put some dark brown paint on our wall and left an ugly, partial strip that just didn't match the rest so we started with some primer.  Not long after we finished, Gary and Jago were scheduled to come over for a play-date.  We hadn't seen them in a long time, and when Lisa mentioned Jago's name, Daku got all excited.  The dogs had a good time running around the yard, and it seemed like BamBam is starting to accept Jago.  She was very tolerant of his pokes as he tried to get her to play.  Daku and BamBam were pretty mellow for the rest of the morning.  Nothing like a good run with an energetic friend.

Sunday morning we were sure we'd stay inside since we knew the water tossing would be crazy on the streets.  Cat was supposed to go with her friend Pawn and 'play Songkran' at the waterfall, but things fell through.  We could tell she was missing doing something so we decided to go out for a treat and check out the water play in town.  It was pretty much what we thought it would be, water stations by the side of the road with kids tossing buckets of water, pick-up trucks filled with revelers throwing water on motorbike riders and anyone else they saw.  We went to Doi Chaang Coffee and watched the 'fun' on Clock Tower Street.  There is no age limit for who can throw water.  Young and old, everybody was getting into the act.  Today's photo shows a tiny little boy with a bucket of water, ready to throw it.  I slowed down so he could let it fly, and he made a direct hit.  


This morning, on our way to Big C, the streets seemed rather quiet.  We did see several truck loads of people on their way to throw water.  One truck had 15 adults and children in the back, along with buckets of water and squirt guns. 
At Big C, it seemed like 'family shopping day', with what were probably visiting family members being shown around town.  It is very common for people to return to the family village for Songkran.  It's a wonderful tradition that keeps the bonds and reaffirms the respect of the elders.  

On our way home we could see wet spots in the streets where 'battles' had been waged.  Tonight there is music coming from across the river as the party continues.  There is no carnival this year, but it doesn't seem to have dampened any spirits.  For a second night, there is no rain and that is good for the Songkran village.  It will all continue until Thursday or Friday.

Have a Great Week.

                  Peace,
                            Danny

"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy."
~Guillaume Apollinaire

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Funnies

Hi,

Chiang Rai is back in a familiar weather pattern.  Sunny and hot with an afternoon rain.  Today it was more wind than rain, but it was dramatic.  This evening we are in the midst of a big thunder storm with rain.  BamBam is freaking out and Daku seems a bit concerned.  We braved two popular shopping areas for supplies, and survived.

The 'Zany Day' song was "Life In The Fast Lane" by The Eagles.  Now we go way back, with a male duo asking:
"__ __ __? I have seen you before.  __ __ __?  May I walk you to your door?  It's so hard to find a personality with charms like yours for me.  Ooh-ooh, ohh-ooh, ooh-wee.  __ __ __?  Is it Mary or Sue?  __ __ __?  Do I stand a chance with you?  It's so hard to find...."  Hint:  This classic R&B oldie asks a better question than 'What's your sign' (555).

One of the fun things about Songkran is the way the staff at so many stores dress in colorful, flower shirts.  We learned last year, that there is an historical connection to the Hawaiian shirts and Thailand.  Some time during the '50s, after a trip to Hawaii, the dance of the luau was mixed with Tai Lue, a traditional Thai dance, to form what is now called Northern Thai 'Lanna' style.  That trip formed a connection that is still present today.  Now the shirts don't come from Hawaii, mostly from Thailand and China, but it doesn't matter.  Everyone at Makro and Big C is decked out in some form of 'Songkran shirt'.  It adds to the festive atmosphere.

This morning, after Makro, we went to the Big Market (Talat) downtown.  As we made our way down one of the main aisles, we hit a traffic jam.  Two women had set up a table in front of a stall and were selling children's swimwear.  One of the women sounded like a barker at a carnival midway.  She had a big crowd around her and they were selling like crazy.  Since kids are going to be wet anyway, why not dress them in swim outfits, even though they won't be swimming.  

Many shops on the streets were already closed for the long holiday.  With Songkran landing on a Sunday this year, it gives many workers a long weekend plus the following week.  We can hear the music playing from somewhere across the river, and it will be like this for the next 10 or 12 days.  It's mostly the bass and bass drum, until one of the pro acts performs, and then we'll get to hear everything.  There have been occasional explosions of fireworks, which will escalate this weekend.  

Yesterday, at Wat Rong Khun we took this photo of thousands of tags that each have a personal message written on them by visitors to the complex.  Some are prayers, some just names, and some are offerings.  We have no idea just how many there are, but it's a lot.


Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.    Time for a 'Funny'.

                       Peace,
                                 Danny


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Teach


Hi,

The forecast for today was 105 F and we believe it.  Our little art tour was a success and this afternoon we swam for the first time in about six months.  It was a good day.

A few of you knew this 'Zany Day' song.  It paints a colorful picture of a couple living on the edge.  Here's more:
"Eager for action, hot for the game.  The coming attraction, the drop of the name.  They knew all the right people, they took all the right pills.  They threw outrageous parties, they paid heavenly bills...... __ __ __ __ __ surely make you lose your mind.  __ __ __ __ __ everything all the time.  __ __ __ __ __."  

A few months ago Cat expressed a desire to see places she'd never seen before, with us.  Today's art tour was the first of such trips and we began with a visit to Wat Rong Khun.  I always enjoy the looks of amazement on the faces of people we take to see the 'White Temple' as it is often called.  Watching these two teenagers was special.  On the long walk to the temple entrance there seemed to be excitement at every turn.  Cat was really taken by the giant Koy fish swimming on either side of the bridge we stood on, and they were both intrigued by the hand-cut mirrors that covered everything.  Inside the small temple they both knelt down and said prayers before looking at any of the wall paintings.  I was impressed by their devotion.  Then they became tourists, recognizing all of the heroes and characters depicted on the walls.  For a brief moment, Cat's face became solemn when I explained the progression of the mural and it's spiritual meaning.  Then it was all smiles again.  The grounds of the temple complex were full of visitors from all parts of the world.  We saw many tour guides that had been engaged by small groups, explaining details and answering questions.  What used to be a small village has turned into a small town with its own economy as a result of the tourism created by the temple.  

By the time we finished at Wat Rong Khun we had just enough time to get to Art Bridge for lunch.  We ate and toured the gallery.  Lisa explained a few things as we looked at various works of art and questions were asked.  Today was great exposure to the world of imagination, possibilities, and more Thai culture.  

When we returned home we were ready for a nap.  The kids wanted to go to the big temple up the road from us.  We told Cat she could go on Jiw's motorbike provided she wore her helmet and put on jeans.  She changed and off they went.  Later she said they had a good time at the temple and encountered kids on the road who were already throwing water.  Hmm, it has begun.

The afternoon ended with a cool, relaxing first swim of the season.  As long as the air stays clean, we have our great escape from the heat.  

Today's photo was taken from the long-tailed boathouse on 'our side' of the Mae Kok river, looking across to what I like to call Songkran Village.  What you see on the shore has been built for the Songkran celebration and will be taken down when it's over.  I will take another photo with all the people in place.


Have a Thrilling Thursday

                Peace,
                          Danny

"The more you teach positive ideas to others,

the better you learn them yourself."
~Brian Tracy