Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Funnies

Hi,

Could it be that the rainy season is sneaking up on us?  The new pattern seems to be hot day, cloudy afternoon, noisy sky, followed by light rain.  Yesterday's storm cooled the pool so something is happening.

The 'Zany Day' song was "Trick Bag" as sung by Robert Palmer.  For 'Old School Friday' we're back in the 60s.
"I need love, love to ease my mind.  I need to find, find someone to call mine, but mama said, __ __ __ __ no, you just have to wait.  She said, love don't come easy.  It's a game of give and take..."  Hint: Three singers from the motor city singing about patience.  What?

Here in Chiang Rai we may be free of the drama in Bangkok.  Except for massive traffic in one area due to an army detour, things seem to be going as usual.  The only thing the detour seems to do is prevent anyone from buying plants at a nursery.  Hmm.

Sometimes things can be simplified too much.  There is a travel site that gives instructions on how to get places.  The reader is told to take a Song Taew or rent a motorbike.  If you are a visitor and don't know where the place is, how can you rent a motorbike and get yourself there?  

Today at Cat's school they had a day on earthquake safety.  In the morning they had instructions on what to do and in the afternoon they had drills.  They use a 'buddy system' for exiting the building and that seems like a good idea. There were also instructions on what to do if someone was injured.  Let's hope they don't have to use these instructions.  It reminded us of the 'duck and roll' drills back in the day.  (I'm not saying which day)

A mystery was solved when we found out what the 'Naval Pillar' means and where it is.  There is a sign on the Super Highway that we've seen for years, but it had no meaning.  The 'Naval Pillar' is a monument to The King.  It is a pillar as tall as The King and twice as thick as his fist.  It is surrounded by a circular pattern of smaller pillars.  Since it's not far from us, we'll have to go and check it out.  There are so many things in Chiang Rai that we still haven't discovered.  We will be having house guests after our return from America and it looks like we'll have more things to show them.

I will close out the week of photos from the Art Bridge Workshop with a painting that I found to be quite moving.  It appears to be a close-up of The Buddha's face, with Thai flags hanging from the eyes, as if they were tears.


Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.      On to the 'Funnies'.

             Peace,
                       Danny  


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rainbow

Hi,

The weather in Chiang Rai could best be described as hot and muggy, but slightly cooler than yesterday.  By the afternoon we knew a storm was coming.  

Only two people remember the 'Zany Day' song, so far.  There are many versions of this blues.  I gave a hint about my favorite.  "We had a fight, then you got mad; got on the telephone, called your mom and dad.  Dad said,'She's my daughter and I'm her pa, and you ain't nothin' but a son-in-law'.  I saw you kissing Jimmy across the fence... You done put me in a __ __."  Hint:  The title is a term meaning to be put in a situation that can lead to a disastrous outcome.

Today we went to the big market in search of fabric.  Khun Gahn has made me a few shirts that I like so I'm having her make more out of 'cool' material.  In the hot and sticky weather there seems to be nothing worse than clothes that cling.  Lisa has a few designs that she really likes so we're on a bit of a roll.  After we left the market we tried a new Doi Chaang Coffee shop near Cat's school.  It's a small place, but very cute.  It was nice to sit in the cool air before heading home.  As we were leaving we noticed a new restaurant and checked it out.  It's called The Salad Shop and it looks like a place we might like to eat (except for the "squid tentacles).  

The apparent 'Facebook glitch' was intentional.  I guess there was enough of a storm after 30 minutes that they turned it back on.  Now there are meetings with Twitter and other social media outlets.  I wonder what they will talk about?  The main goal is to keep order, but the horse may be out of the barn as far as the internet is concerned.  
There have been some casualties of the coup that some may not think about.  Touring musical artists have cancelled shows because of the uncertainty.  One of the biggest names to surface was Taylor Swift.  Her Asian tour is sold out, and the Bangkok show was cancelled.  

This afternoon we both had appointments with our dentist, at 4:30pm.  We're not usually out and about at that time.  Today we remembered why.  Not only was a big high school just ending it's day, the storm was right on our heals.  Just as we got to the traffic jam by the high school, the lightning started flashing, thunder was cracking and then the sky opened up with a burst of hail and then rain.  Through it all, we made our appointments.  The funny part is that it didn't rain that hard at our house.  We have noticed that there are several different weather systems in Chiang Rai.

Today's photo is another work of art from the Art Bridge Workshop.


Have a Thrilling Thursday.   Maya will be with us for a long, long time.

                Peace,
                          Danny 

"Be a rainbow in someone else's cloud."
~Maya Angelou

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Silence

Hi,

Today was another hot one, with a storm after dinner.  One can never tell what the weather will do.  There was some internet drama this afternoon in Thailand, and the curfew has been amended.  Read on.

'Easy Monday' was The Beatles singing "We Can Work It Out".  For 'Zany Day', here's a little challenge for you:
"12:00 o'clock at night, you walk out the door.  You told me baby, you were going to the drug store.  Well, in my mind, I knew you were lying; the drug store closed at a quarter to nine.  I say I saw you kissing Jimmy across the fence, I heard you telling Jimmy I ain't got no sense.  The way you've been acting is such a drag; you done put me in a __ __."
Clue:  The artist was addicted to love, and this song proves it.  He's being fooled and he knows it.  Hmm. 

We spent part of the morning looking for an armoire for the music room, which has become the second guest room.  Here in Thailand they don't normally build closets into a room.  A stand-alone closet is used, so any room can become a bedroom.  We found what we were looking for at one of our familiar shops and they delivered it this afternoon.  A few more touches and the room will be ready for visitors.

The big news this morning was the change in the curfew.  The hours are now from 12 midnight to 4am.  This will allow for a lot of life to go on as usual.  I'm sure there was a big sigh of relief in the resort cities as well as all of the Night Bazaars and markets that depend on late shoppers.  Even 7-11 was having a tough time with the early curfew.  

This afternoon at 3pm, Facebook became unavailable in Thailand.  This sent a shockwave through the land.  What?  How could they?  By 3:30pm it was back and folks were told it was a glitch.  Hmm, that will do, as long as they have their Facebook.  Before we knew it was back online we pondered just what this would mean for millions of people.  Some might have to pick up the telephone and talk to someone, or visit, or just resort to texting.  All that still happens anyway, but FB is giant here.  Teachers communicate with their students during off hours, as to assignments, schedule changes, and even which uniform to wear.  I guess the nation is safe and there won't be the 'Facebook Revolt of 2014'.  

Today's photo is from Sunday afternoon at Art Bridge.  


It feels like a Wacky Wednesday.

                Peace,
                          Danny

"Silence is often misinterpreted, but never misquoted."
~Unknown

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Whisper

Hi,

Chiang Rai had a slightly cooler day today.  An afternoon thunderstorm was very loud, but produced little rain.  Oh well.

The 'Easy Monday' song is basically about conflict resolution.  The title is trying to spin a positive outlook.
"Think of what you're saying.  You can get it wrong and still you think that it's all right.  Think of what I'm saying, we can work it out and get it straight, or say good night.  __ __ __ __ __, __ __ __ __ __."  Clue: It takes work.

This morning, on our way to Makro, Lisa tried the radio in the van.  It seems that our favorite stations are still off the air.  What, no Fat Radio?  Hmm, it's funny because there's a station that plays what Cat calls 'Old music' that is broadcasting.  Maybe the powers that be just like that kind of music.  

After Makro and the veggie market we made a couple of stops and decided to get the dirty van washed.  On our way to the shop we came upon our photo of the day.  It was hard to make out just what we were seeing at first.  Then we realized it was an ice man with a full load.  His motorbike was struggling.


Our friend Rachel, the American director of the Sold Project, is in town for meetings with the staff and she came over for dinner.  She and Cat have known each other for five years and have a strong bond.  We had fun during dinner and went for a swim afterwards.  It was a beautiful way to end the day.  

With the curfew still in place, it seems that every day we learn about some part of life that has been interrupted by it all.  In Chiang Mai there is a huge flower mart.  Some of their deliveries are usually made at 2am.  This cannot happen with the curfew.  There are many other situations like this where business has had to alter their routines.  The tour industry is petitioning the military to make exceptions in certain areas of Thailand so they can continue to provide vacationers with events that they came here to enjoy.  Of course, that probably is about the night life in the beach cities, but business is business.  Our local Night Bazaar is still operating, though with fewer vendors than usual.  If you travel from an outlying village each evening, set up your booth, and have to take it down, there is a loss of time and money in order to get home before the curfew.  Everyone is hoping that the restrictions will be eased soon. 

We find that our lives have not been impacted directly by any of this.  It's still a wonderful place to live and enjoy life.

Have a Happy Tuesday.

                Peace,
                          Danny

"It's not what you say out of your mouth
that determines your life, it's what you 
whisper to yourself that has the most power."
~Robert Kiyosaki

Monday, May 26, 2014

Transform

Hi,

We seem to have two constants in our lives these days:  The heat and the coup.  Even with those things going on, art prevailed this weekend and we had a busy, fun time.

The 'Old School Friday' song was "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" by James Brown.  'Easy Monday' should be easy for some, we've sung it before:  'Try to see it my way, do I have to keep on talking till I can't go on?  While you see it your way, run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone.  __ __ __ __ __, __ __ __ __ __."  Hint:  It's about trying to find a solution.  It's by four lads who want to hold your hand.

Saturday morning when we arrived at Art Bridge, the activities were already in full swing.  There was a large group of high school students in the outer gallery listening to a discussion on traditional Thai art.  The entire restaurant area was being used as a 'studio' for members of Art Bridge who were working on new works.  Lisa had a spot on the patio near the river inlet and began working on a piece she had started at home.  As I walked around, I could see the beginnings of shapes and forms, not knowing what some of them would become.  

I returned to Art Bridge during the mid-day lunch break.  It seemed busier than before.  We packed up the paints with a plan to return the next morning.  One thing about working in the intense heat is that the paint dries fast.  

We still don't have any international news channels, but they gave us back much of the TV world, including our sports channels.  The internet has been our only source of information regarding the state of things here in Thailand.  Locally, there are only a few blocked roads, and there are alternate routes around them that aren't difficult.  The nightly curfew has taken it's toll on some businesses and activities.  There was no 'Walking Street' on Saturday night, and no 'Happy Street' on Sunday. We don't participate in the 'night life' so we don't stay out near the 10pm curfew, but there are a lot of clubs and bars that have surely been hurt by the time limit.  Many shops have to close early so their employees can get home in time.  

Sunday morning at Art Bridge was an amazing sight.  The students were working on their art in every available spot.  The bulk of them were in the outer gallery on the floor, but a few were in the main gallery, and a bunch in the restaurant.  Everyone had been given a black T-shirt to commemorate the event, so it had quite an impact visually.  Many of the member artists have their own unique styles and some of them can turn out a stunning piece of art in a couple of days.  Some of the students created beautiful work.  Cat's friend artist Fern met us there, and it was her first visit to the gallery.  After a couple of hours we left, and the four of us had lunch in town since the food was too spicy at the gallery.  In the evening we returned to Art Bridge and looked at all of the work, and hung out with the artists while they ate more spicy food.  Later in the evening it became a party.  We went home and I got to watch the F1 race from Monaco.  

Today's photo is an example of the artwork being created at the two-day event at Art Bridge.  This piece was created using a small spatula.


There was a thunderstorm this afternoon, with a token sprinkle.  The dogs are missing their afternoon playtime because it's just too hot.  Running in the mornings is all they get to do for real exercise.  They want rain too.

Have a Great Week.

               Peace,
                         Danny

"Don't spend time beating on a wall
hoping to transform it into a door."
~Coco Chanel

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Funnies

Hi,

Well, had I read the news last night I could have told you that as of 4:30pm yesterday, Thailand is now under the complete control of the military.  A Coup has thrown out the constitution, established a curfew from 10pm to 5am, taken over TV and radio, and closed schools from Friday to Monday.  As you can imagine, there are varied opinions on whether this was the right thing to do.  We stayed home for most of the day.  I want everyone to understand that we are in no danger and everything in Chiang Rai is calm.

The 'Zany Day' song was "Hot Fun In the Summertime" by Sly & The Family Stone.  For 'Old School Friday' you get an easy one:  "Come here sister, Papa's in the swing.  He ain't too hip about that new breed, babe.  He ain't no drag, __ __ __ __ __ __."  Hint:  The 'Hardest Working Man in Show Business' is not talking about his man purse.

It is a very odd feeling to turn on the TV and see the same image on every channel.  There is a row of official seals from different departments and under that the words: "National Peace and Order Maintaining Council".  OK, first order of business is a new translator. There are occasional announcements from the military, but they're all in Thai. Apparently, if you need info you can go to Facebook or Twitter for updates.  

Late this afternoon we left the house to go to the dentist.  We saw troops in front of the army base near our house, in front of City Hall, and blocking one street that was completely closed.  The closed street had a shelter with tables and chairs for soldiers to sit in.  It looked like a check point.  We traveled to our destination without incident and don't anticipate any real interruption of life.  The big question on many minds is: how long will this go on?  There are deep political things that are at the root of all of this.  This is nothing new in Thai politics, so we just live our lives, do what we do, and hope the country can heal.

Today's photo shows you a morning view of our front yard.  That's me and Daku at the front gate, playing a game where he runs from me to Lisa and back again.  He loves it.  This is why we have no problem staying at home.


This weekend there is a big event at Art Bridge with all of the artists painting a piece in honor of King Mengrai, the founder of the province.  We are going to participate on the assumption that it is still happening.  Many educational and artistic events have been cancelled, so we'll see.  

On a personal note, this blockade of the TV could not have come at a worse time.  This is the weekend of the Formula One Monaco Gran Prix, and also the opening of the French Tennis Open.  What?  At least we have the internet.  

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.     On to the 'Funnies'.

                   Peace,
                             Danny


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tea

Hi,

Today felt like the hottest day this week, and that's saying a lot.  Afternoon clouds made an appearance without doing anything.  Calm has been restored in Bangkok (BKK) and the politicians are talking.  

Seasonally speaking, the 'Zany Day' song is a little early, but a few of you still knew it.  Here's a little more from this fun song:  "First of the fall and then she goes back.  Bye, bye, bye, bye there, them summer days, those summer days.  'Boop-boop-ba-boop-boop' when I want to, out of school, yeah.  County fair in the country sun, and everything, it's true, ooh yeah.  __ __ __ __ __ (x4)."  Hint:  I left some sly hints yesterday and today.  

There are many opinions about the declaration of Martial Law here in Thailand.  Some are calling it a coup, while others see it as a way to clean up the streets.  There had been escalating violence, not only at the demonstration sites, but attacks on the homes of some politicians.  All that seems to have stopped.  The fact that the troops on the streets of BKK are being greeted with flowers, food and photo ops says a lot for the mood of the citizens.  

Thailand is an important country in this region and for that to continue, stability is essential.  Most of the computer hard drives in the world are made in Thailand.  There are manufacturing and assembly plants for most of the Japanese car companies as well as Ford.  Tourism is a big industry here and the sooner things quiet down, the better it will be for everyone in the Kingdom.  

Meanwhile, in Chiang Rai, things continue as they always have.  The dirt trucks keep hauling dirt, farmers farm, and shophouses keep springing up like weeds.  Yesterday we fulfilled our mission to find out where the dirt was going.  On our way home from Makro we spotted a dump truck turning onto a small soi and we followed it.  It was a daring thing to do since we didn't know where we were going.  The truck took us through a bunch of narrow roads and then turned into a driveway leading to a huge piece of land.  Not far from that was a road that led us back to civilization.  I am still fascinated by the way one turn can take you into the feeling of being in the country, and another back into the city.

The two photos below will give you an idea of the process that goes on when land is filled in for building a house.  This was the land that would ultimately be our home.  In the second photo there is a seam on the wall to the right.  The dirt will be up to that seam.  That's a lot of dirt.



Have a Thrilling Thursday.

               Peace,
                         Danny

"Leave your front door and your back door open.
Allow your thoughts to come and go.
Just don't serve them tea."
~Shunryu Suzuki

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Problem

Hi,

Another hot day here in Chiang Rai.  The sky was clear by the afternoon, with no sign of rain.  There was also no sign of troops.  Today was a good day.

This week's 'Easy Monday' song was "By the Time I Get To Phoenix" by Glen Campbell.  Feel like a 'Zany Day' song is in your future?  Well, here it is:  "End of the spring and here she comes back, 'Hi, Hi, Hi, Hi, there.  Them summer days, those summer days.  That's when I had most of my fun, back.  High, high, high, high there.  Them summer days... __ __ __ __ __ (x 4)."  Hint:  A key word is in the verse.  It was a family affair that took you higher.  Hmm.

This morning, while we were playing with the dogs, I happened to look over the wall to watch the passing cars.  There is something about watching people doing their morning commutes that sparks my imagination.  Where are they going?  Are they on time?  Suddenly my attention focused on a group of 'Forest Monks' walking by the side of the road.  I knew who they were by the color of their robes, the fact that they were carrying everything for a long journey, and they were all barefoot.  I find their way of life intriguing.  They live in another time.  No motorized transportation, no electronic devices, and the humblest of dwellings in the woods.  Today's photo shows them as they continued down the road.


We went to Makro, which is a necessary thing to do.  On our way home we stopped for gas.  The young man who helped us was practicing his English.  When Lisa told him in Thai, that we wanted a full tank, he replied in English.  When we finished he gave us the price in English.  From time to time we have encounters like this and it puts a smile on our faces to see someone trying to communicate.  Quite often, we get the same response from Thai people when they see we're trying.  It's a very intimidating thing to suddenly use words from another language in a real world situation.  For us, we often don't know if we'll be understood.  Sometimes you can say a word with every intention of doing it right and they'll look at you with a blank stare.  There was some tiny little thing that wasn't right and it cancelled the whole thing.  Other times, there is an understanding from context and they'll work with you.  The adventure continues.

There are still no signs of Martial Law in Chiang Rai, which leads me to believe that the main focus in on Bangkok.  In the big city, what was bad traffic is now worse as a result of the new decree.  Check points at main intersections are tying up the movement of vehicles and it's slower than ever.  Another reason we love life here in the north.  We may see an influx of 'visitors' as a result of the congestion in Bangkok.  I'm sure the local merchants will greet them with open arms.

This evening at dinner, Cat told us that her group had to clean her classroom today.  The class has five groups and each day a different group cleans the room at the end of the day.  Very interesting concept.  

Time for Wacky Wednesday.

                 Peace,
                           Danny

"No problem can be solved
from the same level of 
consciousness that created it."
~Albert Einstein

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Alive

Hi,

That moderate cooling I mentioned is gone.  We're back to HOT.  The big news in Thailand is the Army's declaration of Martial Law.  Nothing has changed in Chiang Rai.  Everything is just the same.  There are no troops in the street, no one seems to be upset.  The Marital Law was imposed, as we understand it, to defuse what was about to become a physical confrontation in Bangkok between the two groups that have been demonstrating for the last seven months.  Each side has been pushing the other towards a showdown and the Army stepped in to calm things down.  The only problem is, there really is no functioning federal government to deal with day-to-day decisions.  Now we wait and see.

The 'Easy Monday' song must be easy based on the number of responses.  Just in case you need more, here's the second verse:  "By the time I make Albuquerque, she'll be working.  She'll probably stop at lunch, and give me a call.  But she'll just hear that phone keep on ringing off the wall, that's all."  

This morning the yard crew came and did the whole yard in half a day.  This has to be some kind of record.  Trees were trimmed, bananas and coconuts harvested, and four new flowering plants were put in place.  Now we have more aromatic blossoms in the front as well as the back.  There's nothing like walking around the yard smelling the delicious mix of scents.  

Our front gate opens and closes by way of a small remote control. There is no worse feeling than to push the button and have nothing happen.  It uses a little battery that we have only found at one shop in the downtown area.   We went into town to get a supply and that's when we realized that it's time to map out new alternate routes.  With schools back in session, streets being dug up, and traffic lights working things move slower on some streets.  After almost seven years here, I can visualize which streets go which way so it's just a matter of deciding where I want to be and then mentally mapping it out, before we go.  With all the traffic lights working, it feels odd to be able to just drive through an intersection, not having to play 'chicken' with cars and bikes in three opposing directions. 

Today's photo was taken on the Super Highway.  There are apparently no rules on how high one can pack a load of cardboard, or anything else.  This truck was going really slow, and you can see why.  The first photo shows what we saw as we approached the truck, the second is close up.  It's a good thing there was no wind.



We are now in the three week countdown until our trip to the states.  It's about this time that thoughts turn to what to take, scheduling visits, how's the weather, and what we need to bring back, etc.  This time we'll be traveling on a different carrier and that also works the mind a bit.  

Have a Happy Tuesday.

                  Peace,
                            Danny

"Stay close to anything
that makes you glad
you are alive."
~Hafiz

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mind

Hi,

The weekend in Chiang Rai was cooler, thanks to some rain.  Cooler is, of course, a relative term when it comes to the weather here, but we did notice a difference. 

Our 'Old School Friday' song was "Spanish Harlem" by Ben E. King.  For 'Easy Monday' we travel back to the early 70s, and a sad song about leaving.  "__ __ __ __ __ __ __ she'll be rising.  She'll find the note I left hanging on her door.  She'll laugh when she reads the part that says I'm leaving, 'cause I've left that girl, so many times before..."
Hint:  It's an early hit by a singer who went on to become a Country legend.  The title is about travel and a specific location.

I don't think we had any aftershocks this weekend.  What?  So that's why it was so mellow.  Let's just hope that it stays like this.  

Most of the expat community in Thailand is buzzing about some rule changes that the immigration department announced.  They are putting restrictions on the number of tourist visa renewals and it will mean that some people will either have to change their visa status or not be allowed back into the country.  It has been possible to leave the country every 30 or 60 days, and get a new tourist visa upon re-entry, but that is coming to an end.  Before we left America, we got retirement visas from the Thai government, so none of this will affect us.  It will be interesting to see how this all works and whether it will create a mass exodus from The Kingdom by those without a way to stay.  Many teachers, small business owners, and older people may have to return to their home country or settle somewhere else.  

Living in Chiang Rai means there is always something changing.  This week, work began on more storm-drain improvements.  That means ditches are being dug on major thoroughfares, traffic is getting weird, and merchants are standing in front of empty stores wondering how long it will take before completion.  The city tries to do the work between the tourist seasons, and if last year is any indication, they may finish just in time to welcome the next wave of guests. 

Banners have been hung across major streets announcing a Maekong Trade Fair next month.  This should be very interesting since the ASEAN community will become a reality in less than a year.  In light of all the new buildings that are designed for small businesses, investors are hoping for a wave of new enterprises.  Saturday we went to the dentist and he wondered if the recent earthquake might change some peoples minds about investing in the area.  That remains to be seen.  If half of the current buildings are occupied next year, the city will have grown a bunch.

Sunday we went to the big market.  As we were leaving we passed by a big fabric shop.  Today's photo shows a unique use of some remnants as bike covers.


Today, on a tip from a friend, we visited a little deli that we hadn't been to in years.  They now have fresh bread without any milk, butter or soy.  That means I can have bread again.  While we were there we had a little reunion with our friends Susan and Noy, the couple that grows hydroponic lettuce.  We compared notes on the recent natural 'events' and will probably get together in the near future.  Life in a small town has its rewards.

Have a Great Week.

                 Peace,
                           Danny

"If you correct your mind,
the rest of your life will fall into place."
~Lao Tzu

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Funnies

Hi,

After reading the weather reports from Southern California, I won't bore you with our circumstances.  You know the feeling.  The only difference might be our high humidity levels and the aftershocks.

This week's 'Zany Day' song was "We Got The Beat" by The Go-Gos.  Time now to drift back to the 60s, and a tune with a latin theme by an R&B crooner.  "There is a rose in __ __.  A red rose up in __ __.  It is a special one, it's never seen the sun, it only comes out when the moon is on the run.  And all the stars are gleaming, it's growing in the street right up through the concrete, but soft and sweet and dreamin'."  Hint:  The singer is in a New York state of mind.  

There are certain aspects of the growth of Chiang Rai that require immediate upgrades.  One of those is power requirements.  As the town spreads out, so do the needs for electricity.  On our morning drive to Makro, on the Super Highway, we saw this work crew rewiring some power poles.  It amazes me how they know which wire to cut and which one to add, given the tangled nature of it all.  The photo for today shows the 'gang approach' to refitting the poles.


In the course of running errands today we got another 'step down' from a shop downtown.  I don't know if there is a Thai word for the device since the young woman in the shop also referred to it by the same name.  Lisa went across the street to the warehouse pharmacy and the topic of the earthquake came up right away.  When asked if they had any damage, the owner told her that everything came off the shelves and it was a giant mess, but nothing broke.  Considering that their stock goes from floor to ceiling, I can only imagine the clean up.  

Sometimes we entertain ourselves with various signs around town.  It might be the misuse of English, or in the case of today's laughter, a sign with a missing letter.  There is a place called the 'Face Bar'.  The 'C' is missing from Face and we started replacing it with other letters.  The 'Fate' bar was the first offering, then it became the 'Fake' bar.  That would be a good name for a spot.  It keeps our spirits up (555).

Cat had to stay late after school to help prepare a room that will be used for a little party tomorrow.  The Juniors will host the new students and meet with their 'Little Sister' or brother.  They will sing songs, play games, and get acquainted.  It's a pretty cool idea.  She already has a math test on Monday, the second day of school.  Vacation is clearly over.

The earthquake was on May 5, and so far there have been over 700 aftershocks.  We haven't felt all of them, maybe 50 to 60, like that makes any difference.  This is a whole new experience for us, considering we thought we knew all about quakes (555).  We are still ready for them to stop anytime.

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

                Peace,
                          Danny


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Nothing

Hi,

The weather in Chiang Rai is the same as it ever was.  We were teased with a breeze and some thunder late this afternoon, but no water from the sky.  It did cool off a hair, but it's still hot.

There is a major clue in this third verse of the 'Zany Day' song.  See if it helps you name the tune and the group.
"Go-go music really makes us dance, do the pony puts us in a trance.  Do the watusi just give us a chance, that's when we fall in line.  __ __ __ __, __ __ __ __, __ __ __ __, yeah __ __ __ __."  Hint: The key word in the title is the thing one tries to stay on when dancing.  Hmm.

This morning I had a conversation with one of the staff from The Sold Project about conditions in the village.  He told me that there are still some families living outside and until temporary housing can be established, they're camping on the soccer field of the school.  There are some families who were taken in by those who had room. Fundraising has begun to help the villagers get the rebuilding underway.

As the traffic lights come back to life, the realization that there is, indeed, traffic becomes clear.  When there was no control, things actually moved down the main streets at a different pace.  Even though the actual intersections were chaotic, the flow kept moving.  It's a curious thing to think about.  I guess I would rather sit for a minute than have my nerves rattled every time I had to guess when it was safe to go.

As I sit here writing to you, we just had another 'shaker'.  It was pretty strong so I don't know what to call it.  It turns out that one of the things we thought was an aftershock a few days ago was actually a 5.0 quake.  Needless to say, the heart rate quickens for a few minutes.  There is a growing concern in some areas, that the continuous quaking may cause more damage to some structures.  Time will tell.  

Today's photo is one I have been trying to take for some time.  There never seemed to be parking, or a long enough red light to capture the sign.  DeHug is a boutique hotel on one of the streets we travel a lot.  I think it's a unique sign.


Tomorrow is the first day of school for Cat.  Today was the first day for other schools and I knew this when I opened the front gate.  Across the river I could see the silver school vans parked under the trees.  It meant only one thing.  Cat spent the afternoon getting her notebooks in order and at dinner there was a different mood.  There are so many things to think about before that big day.  I still remember the apprehension and anticipation.  This year she knows the ropes and has lots of friends so it should be fine.  

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

              Peace,
                        Danny

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance
and conscientious stupidity."
~Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Impossible

Hi,

As promised, today was hotter.  'They' are saying it is 105F and we believe them.  It feels even hotter when I see someone wearing a jacket.  What?

As many of you know, the 'Easy Monday' song was "Groovin'" by The Young Rascals.  'Zany Day' will get you dancin'.
"See the people walking down the street, fall in line just watching all their feet.  They don't know where they wanna go, but they're walking in time.  __ __ __ _, __ __ __ __, yeah __ __ __ __."  Hint: The group's name is one word, twice.  There is something that everyone has and they figured it out.

This morning I had my first massage since February.  I was expecting all kinds of hidden pain to be brought forth.  Khun Joy almost seemed aware of my apprehension and proceeded gently.  I forgot how relaxing the results can be.  Something has evolved in her technique since I didn't scream once (555).  

There have been several traffic lights out of service for weeks.  They are all at critical intersections and it seemed like they had been abandoned.  Today, one of them was working again and it was a relief.  I don't mind sitting through a sequence of lights if it means I don't have to play 'dodge the car/truck/bike' to get through to the other side.  

We found out today that one of the 'jolts' we felt yesterday wasn't an aftershock, but another earthquake.  Oh great.  Now I suppose we're going to have to listen to this one sending us messages for a few days.  Actually, today has been fairly calm, with just one tiny shake.  Something that I have noticed is how everyone has their own physical interpretation of the earthquake.  It might be waving of arms, hand gestures, or whole-body demonstration, but no one just says the word without some kind of dramatic expression.  

Today's photo is a recent shot of the place we visit every afternoon.  Ironically, today the water was too warm for serious swimming, but great for cooling off a little and hanging out.  


Time for a Wacky Wednesday.

               Peace,
                         Danny

"It always seems impossible
until it's done."
~Nelson Mandela

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Smile

Hi,

Chiang Rai had a day with lots of heat and no rain.  Tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter.  

'Easy Monday' got a few responses, but I just know that more of you can remember this classic from the 60s.  Try it:  "__, on a crowded avenue.  Doin', anything we like to do.  There's always lots of things that we can see, we can be anyone we want to be, and all those happy people we could meet just __, on a Sunday afternoon..."  Hint:  It's easy.

Early this morning, when we went downstairs, we could hear the sound of chanting from the village temple.  Today was Vesak, the observation of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and death.  When I took Cat and Pawn to The Brain I saw many people carrying bunches of flowers.  Part of the observance is to take flowers to the temple where monks meditate and chant.  In the evening there are candlelight vigils and participants walk around the temple three times.  This observance is practiced all around the world.

This morning we went into town and ran a few errands.  We stopped by Work@Home and had a wonderful visit with our friend Katai.  The main topic of conversation was the earthquake, of course.  We hadn't seen her since the shaking and we did what everyone does, compared notes on the experience.  It seems that everyone is totally done with all the aftershocks.  Just when we've put it all behind us, the shaking begins and it all comes back.  We got an interesting lesson in economics as she explained why the tractor business was slow right now.  A combination of political uncertainty, the lower price of certain crops, and the growth of land value in the region have all contributed to a bit of a stand-still as far as farming investments are concerned.  There is a ripple effect that has many people wondering what to do next.

Cat and a bunch of her friends from school all study at The Brain.  Today, after they finished studying, they had a field trip to Central Plaza for the afternoon.  With their 'summer break' almost over, it was good for them to get together and hang out.  This evening, Cat went for a run with friends, came home and played badminton, and then went for a swim.  Whew.  Nothing like youthful energy.

It's that time of year when we begin our countdown for our 'Summer Visit' to America.  In a little less than a month we will be flying across the Pacific to spend two weeks of reconnecting with friends and family.

Today's photo is something we probably won't see on our visit to the states.  This 'Rolling Kitchen' is about to make a brave run across the Super Highway.


Have a Happy Tuesday.

                Peace,
                          Danny

""There are hundreds of languages in the world, but a smile speaks them all."
~Unknown

Monday, May 12, 2014

Work

Hi,

We had another beautiful weekend in paradise.  If you consider paradise very hot with thunderstorms and aftershocks.  (555)  Seriously though, it was great weather.  

The 'Old School Friday' song was "Do You Love Me (Now that I can Dance)?" by The Contours.  Now you know.
Time for 'Easy Monday' and a song that everyone should know:  "__ on a Sunday afternoon.  Really, couldn't get away too soon.  I can't imagine anything that's better, the world is ours whenever we're together.  There ain't a place I'd like to be instead of __..."  Hint:  One word describing a mellow time.

On Saturday, Cat returned to Chiang Rai from her village.  I picked her up at the Song Taew 'Terminal' in the big market.  It's a little parking lot where all of the covered pickup trucks with benches in the back, stage for trips to various parts of town.  Most of them go to distant areas, providing cheap transportation for shoppers.  Cat was happy to return, with just one week before school starts, it's time to get into 'school mode'.  She had many stories to tell regarding the earthquake and how it impacted her village.  Many people lost their homes, her old school was damaged, and it will be a long time before things return to normal.

There have been over 500 aftershocks from the earthquake, and it's not over yet.  There is no 'getting used to it' when it comes to your world being shaken.  For many, this is an experience far beyond their understanding.  The quake 3 years ago was centered in Burma, just across the border.  There were some aftershocks, but they were not as heavy and didn't last this long.  Having grown up in an area of the world where we were taught about quakes and safety, it is not as mysterious.  Hopefully, there will be a new understanding for the need to educate the population.

Saturday was also a day for house repairs.  Khun Mahn brought a crew and they set up scaffolding so he could seal the upstairs studio windows and begin the roof inspection.  I was just glad he brought steel instead of bamboo.  There is nothing more precarious looking than two stories of bamboo with men climbing around on it.  On Sunday they returned and made some adjustments to the roof tiles.  We've had two big rains since then with no leaks.  


Saturday afternoon we went to an annual membership meeting at Art Bridge, where we got a financial report and elected the chairman of the board.  Cat went with us and served as translator, which was a great help.  Everything was in Thai and we would have been lost.  It was good to see some of our artist friends and find out about plans for the future.

Sunday was an election day in local politics.  It's interesting to note that during voting hours, the sale of alcohol is prohibited in Thailand.  Hmm, good idea.  The streets of Chiang Rai will be a little quieter with the election over.  Over the last month there were many 'sound trucks' slowly driving around town with posters for candidates and recorded messages blasting into the neighborhoods.  The trucks will still be around, selling products, but there will be less noise.  

The parade of dump trucks carrying dirt has not stopped.  In fact, it seems like we're seeing more of them.  It struck me today that a lot of dirt has been moved around this city over the last year.  It's pretty amazing when you consider that most of the dirt is going to fill in what was once a farm of some sort.  Ah, the price of progress.

Have a Great Week.

                Peace,
                          Danny

"The work you do while you procrastinate
is probably the work you should be doing
for the rest of your life."
~Jessica Hische

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday Funnies

Hi,

It was another great day in Chiang Rai.  The weather was partly cloudy with an afternoon downpour that ended in time for us to swim.  We have moved into the official season of the rain.  As if it wasn't already here (555).

The 'Zany Day' song known only to Lisa and Barry was "We Gotta Get You A Woman" by Todd Rundgren.  'Old School Friday' may also be a challenge for some.  "You broke my heart 'cause I couldn't dance.  You didn't even want me around, and now I'm back to let you know I can really shake'em down.  __ __ __ __? (I can really move).  __ __ __ __ (I'm in the groove).  Ah, __ __ __ __, __ __ __ __ __?"  Hint:  There seems to be a musical question in there.  The group name has to do with shape.  I think it's a dance song (555).

Today was the 'Royal Ploughing Ceremony', which marks the beginning of the rice planting season along with the rainy season.  The Royal Oxen plough a ceremonial 'field' and are offered various grains and grasses.  Based on their choice, it is determined how the harvest will be.  This year they chose water and grass, which translates to abundant water and lots of food.  There is much pomp and circumstance during the ceremony and it is watched on TVs throughout the Kingdom.

When you buy gas in Thailand, it's usually not just a gas station.  There is always some kind of store on the lot.  The government owned PT gas stations in Northern Thailand have a unique layout.  There is a 7-11 and an Amazon Coffee shop.  The Amazon shops are unique in that they always have beautiful landscaping that give you a tropical feeling.  They are each a little different, but all very special.  Today, while getting gas, I took this photo of one of the local 'jungles'.


When moving to Thailand we were aware of the difference in voltage.  The current here is 220 volts, compared to 120 in the U.S.  This means you either buy appliances made to take the higher voltage, or buy what is called a 'step down' in order to use 120v products.  We have had several of these devices through the years, and now need a new one. They are not readily available, but we remember a place to go.  We still have a few things that are 'old school', like a cassette deck, and a turn-table. 

The adventure for the day was to visit a fairly new store called 'Thai Watsuda', at the southern tip of Chiang Rai city.  When it was under construction we had no idea what it was going to be.  The building looks like a giant airplane hanger.  I found out that it is part of a chain that offers discount building and home supplies.  When we arrived, before we got to the main part of the store, we saw rows of stoves.  There were table top stoves and cabinet stoves.  Some were white, some pink with flowers.  The place has no doors as we know them.  You just walk into this big space and get overwhelmed.  We did not find the step down we were looking for, but we did get a bag of light bulbs for a very low price.

We had several aftershocks today and one big aftershocker.  There is still an 'edge' in the air.  I talked to two friends today and both mentioned the quake and how tense they still feel.  The latest report says there have been over 270 aftershocks, which is not fair at all (555).  The real tension comes for people who live near other buildings that have had damage.  Does this mean your house might fall apart, is it safe?  Hmm.

Cat has been part of a team that has been going around in her village, assessing the damage.  Many houses collapsed or lost walls.  Her old school was also damaged.  She will be coming home tomorrow.  My guess is, she could use a break from all she's been seeing this week.

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.  Stay tuned for the 'Funnies'.  Formula One this weekend.  Zoom.

            Peace,
                      Danny