Tuesday, March 31, 2015



How hot was it?  I wore a T-shirt at 6:30 this morning and it was comfortable.  It was downhill from there.  I'm beginning to think that I really have acclimated to this kind of weather.  It feels so much better than what we thought was 'cold'.  

The 'Easy Monday' song got a ton of responses.  This song is apparently unforgettable.  I was a disco smash. 
"Go on now go, walk out the door, just turn around now 'cause you're not welcome any more.  Weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye?  You think I'd crumble, you think I'd lay down and die?  Oh no, not I. 
__ __ __, as long as I know how to love I know I'll stay alive.  I've got my life to live, I've got all my love to give and __ __, __ __ __ (Hey hey)."  Clue:  

Today we witnessed an annual phenomenon.  The light breeze from the south turned into a wind and the sky was filled with little white balls that looked like fluffy cotton.  They were streaming through the trees, landing on the lawn, in the pool, and into the house through an open window.  This went on for about an hour, and then stopped, even though the wind was still blowing.  Each little puff contains a black seed.  Tomorrow I will find out which tree released them, but it was a very freaky sight.  The picture tells the story.

At dinner on Sunday evening at Le Meridien there was another treat that I forgot to tell you about.  The little elephants from the Art Bridge project are now living at the hotel until July.  It was good to see our little friends, especially Lisa's, which was standing in the front of the lobby entrance.  

This was day two of having help around the house in the mornings.  So far it has been a wonderful thing.  Khun Lin follows directions on what we want and is very thorough.  Living in a big house is nice until it's time to clean it.  Once she 'learns' the house, it will give Lisa time to go back in her studio.  

While we were in town this afternoon, we stopped at Healthy Choice, our heath food store.  It's on Bus Station street which is very busy.  I usually double-park and Lisa goes into the store.  As I sat, watching the traffic, an image from another time rolled by.  There is a man I have seen since we got here, who moves around town siting on the frame of a Samlor.  He is very low to the ground and propels the three-wheel vehicle by 'walking' while seated.  There are no tires on the wheels, but he still manages to make his way through the busy streets.  It's an amazing contrast with all of the modern machinery whizzing around him.  Gratitude comes to mind every time.

Have a Happy Tuesday.


"Art has no enemy
except ignorance."
~Latin Proverb

Monday, March 30, 2015



We are now back in the 'Hot Season'.  Forecasts call for low to mid 90s during the week, and 100F by Sunday.  If the air stays clear we will be in the pool by next weekend.  

The 'Old School Friday' song was "You Send Me" by Sam Cook.  'Easy Monday' is next with a song you know.
"First I was afraid, I was petrified, kept thinking I could never live without you by my side.  But then I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong, I grew strong, I learned how to get along.  And so you're back, from outer space.  I just walked in to find you here, with that sad look upon your face.  I should have changed that stupid lock, I should have made you leave the key.  If I had known for just one second  you'd be back to bother me... You think I'd crumble, you think I'd lay down and die.  Oh no, not I.  __ __ __.  As long as I know how to love I know I will stay alive...."  Hint: This song was a disco anthem back in the day.  Female singer making a declaration. 

Saturday morning we went to Art Bridge to deliver samples to the gift shop.  In the lobby there were about 50 children between 8 and 10 years old, seated on the floor.  There were four adults seated before them, telling them about art.  I don't know what was being said, but it apparently went over the kids heads.  They were having fun talking, playing games, and looking off into space.  The event was put together by the Chiang Rai Cultural Affairs office.  The children came from Buddhist, Muslim and Christian communities and the idea was to come together to learn about art.  Great idea.

The crowds at the river seem to get bigger every weekend.  By Saturday afternoon it looked like a little village. There are people living in temporary huts, complete with car ports.  Vendors have stands around the grounds, and at the edge of the river there are small, square platforms for eating.  There are even little potted trees placed near the platforms to add to the atmosphere.  Songkran doesn't begin for two weeks, but it looks like it's happening now.

Rapid progress is being made on the Thai kitchen on the side of our house.  Every day there is a dramatic change.  Sunday we bought tile so the counter top could be covered.  It brought back memories of when we were building the house, and all the trips to the tile store trying to decide on what to get.  Fortunately, Khun Yee told  us how many boxes of tile and how many bags of grout to get.  I'm guessing it will be done by the end of the week.  

In the evening we went to a birthday dinner at Le Meridien for our friend Claire.  I was able to 'eat out' thanks to our friend Scott, who is head chef at the hotel.  We told him exactly what I needed for my typical meal and they made it perfectly.  During dinner I learned about things going on around town.  There is going to be another hospital in Chiang Rai, being built by a hospital chain.  It will mean another outlet for quality medical care and more doctors in town.  While discussing different fruits, Scott showed us a photo on his phone of a custard apple.  Cat said she knew this fruit by it's Thai name.  Then she told us how the leaves can be put in a blender and smeared on the head to get rid of lice.  Hmm, the things you learn.  There was also much laughter when we realized that the word for brown and the word for sugar are the same.  The laughing began when I mentioned the song 'Brown Sugar' being sung in Thai.  It would be:  'Namtan si namtan' or sugar brown.  The image of Mick singing this was too much.

I have been going on about the air quality and finally have some photos to show you what I'm talking about.  The first photo is obviously a day when the air was bad.  On the bottom was the day after a night of rain.  Note that you can't even see the hill in the middle.  

Have a Great Week.


"The universe, as we know it,
is a joint product of the observer
and the observed."
~Teilhard de Chardin

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Funnies


Judging by this evening's temperature, the cool weather may be over soon.  Today we got help with the house, a building project began, and Daku seems to be enjoying his new role as 'King of the Hill'.

The 'Zany Day' song was "The Weight" by The Band.  That means it's time for 'Old School Friday'.  It's easy.
"Darling, __ __ __.  I know __ __ __.  Darling, __ __ __, honest you do, honest you do, honest you do, whoa.  You thrill me, I know you, you, you, thrill me.  Darling you, you, you thrill me.  Honest you do."  Hint: This classic ballad from 1957 has had numerous covers.  Three words describing what she does to him.  

Today was a red letter day for The Big Brown House.  This morning we met with a young woman who will begin work on Monday, helping with housework on a part-time/temporary basis.  Her dad is the man we met a few days ago, and he's still looking for a full-time person for us.  He also connected us with a contractor who came over and started working on the Thai kitchen we have wanted since the beginning.  A Thai kitchen is outside.  It is basically a sink, a preparation area and a countertop gas stove, typically with two burners.  Thai cooking can be very aromatic so it keeps the strong smells from overwhelming the living area.  If we have a live-in housekeeper, they can cook whatever they want.  Between strong chili peppers, garlic, and certain fish, it can get pretty heavy when it's inside.  The kitchen will be done in 3 or 4 days.  Khun Yee and his wife, Min, began this afternoon and made more progress than we expected.  They just may be the people to do some other renovations  we have in mind.

At Big C, there is a long table just past the check stands, with seven Buddhas.  They are in one of three poses: sitting, standing or reclining, and they each represent a day of the week.  In front of each one is a large bowl.  Cat explained that people make donations to one of the Buddhas based on the day of the week they were born.  This display is set up each year at this time but this is the first time we've been given a complete explanation.  

After picking up a sink for our 'new' kitchen, we went to the post office.  Today's photo was taken there.  I noticed a sign that caught my attention.  What you are seeing is a Thailand postal carrier who makes his rounds by motorboat.  These carriers travel on the rivers and service the people who can't get to the regular post office.  Amazing Thailand.

The rain came again last night, but it was light.  We have been noticing things getting greener as a result of the recent downpours.  We are actually in the hot season, so this has been a welcome interlude.  The heat is due to return anytime.  

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.    Time for the 'Funnies'.   This weekend is Formula One from Malaysia.  Zoom.


Thursday, March 26, 2015



Chiang Rai started out cool again today.  It warmed up by afternoon, but it never got hot.  Last night we had very dramatic weather.  Stay tuned.

This week's 'Zany Day' song was quickly recognized by several readers.  See if the second verse rings a bell:
"I picked up my bag, I went  lookin' for a place to hide; when I saw Carmen and the Devil walkin' side by side. 
I said, 'Hey, Carmen, come on, let's go downtown.'  She said, 'I gotta go, but my friend can stick around.  Take a load off Annie, take a load for free......"  Hint: This zany saga was recorded by the band in a big pink house.  They were friends of Robert Zimmerman.  That's pretty heavy.

After I wrote to you last night, the wind started blowing hard.  We knew from the sky, that rain was possible and were hoping it wouldn't come with the wind.  Fortunately, the wind calmed down before the rain and we had another good downpour.  This morning we found that one of our vines had been blown off the wall.  We tried to put it back in place but it was too heavy.  Tomorrow Khun Keck will come by and put things back together.  

We had a very productive day in town this morning.  We went from the Healthy Market to Big C, and finally, Central Plaza Mall.  We got everything from vegetables to study books and a few things in between.  We were especially happy when we got to the mall and discovered that the front entrance had been reopened.  The gate has been closed for about a month, for 'security' reasons.  It meant that we had to go around to the back side of the mall, which is a bit of a drive.  Now, there is a guard with a mirror who stands at the entrance and presumably, inspects the underside of the vehicles.  

I'm happy to say that Daku seems to be adjusting to living the 'solo life' without BamBam.  He is benefitting from her absence.  BamBam would often drink all the water in their bowl, leaving Daku to have to come and tell us he needed a drink.  Now the water bowl stays on the floor and he can drink at his leisure.  

Today's photo was taken last night while we were preparing our evening soup snack.  We made him come down with us for his last outing in the yard.  He then plopped down on his kitchen bed and stayed in this position, waiting to go back upstairs and go to sleep.

 This evening Cat, Lisa and I went to Arisara for a foot and shoulder massage.  It was Cat's first time having a massage and she enjoyed it.  At one point she and her masseuse were chatting and laughing.  We all left feeling more relaxed.  It's time to get back into the massage pattern again.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"Life is an endless series
of experiments."
~Mahatma Ghandi

Wednesday, March 25, 2015



The weather was cooler again today, with no rain, but lots of clouds.  We said good-bye to a friend and made some new ones.

The 'Easy Monday' song was "I Wish It Would Rain" by The Temptations.  Time for another dose of the 'Zany Day' song, one you just might remember:  "I pulled into Nazareth, I was feelin' 'bout half past dead; I just need some place where I can lay my head.  'Hey, mister can you tell me where a man might find a bed?'.  He just grinned and shook my hand, and 'No!', is all he said.  Take a load of Annie, take a load for free.  Take a load off Annie, and (and, and) you can put the load right on me."  Clue: Concerns the effect of gravity (555).  Title is in two words.

This morning we went into town and ventured into the Talat.  The big market place was buzzing with activity.  It's that time of year when folks are shopping for Songkran celebrations, and doing some back-to-school preparations.  Part of our trip was to get Cat a few new items for her school uniform, and have the 'class' changed on some of her tops.  All of the school kids have to wear a uniform.  The shirts/blouses have the name of the school on one side and what class they are in on the other.  There are lots of little details to attend to before starting a new year.  Even though school doesn't begin for her until May, there's almost a two week wait for the sewing to be finished.  Every time I see kids and their parents pondering sizes for shoes and clothes, it reminds me of when we'd go shopping before school.  I suppose having a uniform takes a lot of the style choices out of the equation.  

This afternoon we had a visit from a couple who run a foundation to help Akha youth.  They have some recent high school graduates who are looking for work before they begin college.  There is a strong possibility that we will have some temporary help in the near future. They may also be able to find us a couple to stay in the back house as full-time workers.  They speak English fluently and we had a lot of interesting conversations, ranging from Chiang Rai history to art.  Khun Luk went to school near our house and he remembers when there was just a bamboo bridge across the river.  Only bicycles, motorbikes and foot traffic was allowed.  Then a steel bridge was built, but later replaced with the concrete/steel one that we have today.  He told me how the river used to flood during the rainy season and there was water where our house is now.  Khun Ghan told us how the last big earthquake destroyed 80% of their dormitory facilities.  They are located in Mae Lao, the epicenter of the quake.  It turns out that they have a mutual friend with Blue.  An American couple who lived in the region for many years, helping the Hill Tribes used to visit the Bangkok Blue Restaurant and they became friends.  It's a small world after all.

The biggest news of the day concerns BamBam.  This morning Boot and Rudy came over and gathered up all of BamBam's 'things' and we took her to Rudy's house.  She missed them terribly and her barking and restlessness at night, keeping us awake, made it obvious.  She will be living with them now and we're sure they'll all be happier.  

Today's photo was taken at the Healthy Market.  What you're seeing is four very large Thai pumpkins.  We usually buy pumpkin after it has been cut into smaller wedges.  These whole ones are more difficult to deal with. They have to be boiled to soften the skin and it takes a big pot and a lot of muscle.  

Time for Wacky Wednesday.


"Remember, happiness doesn't depend
on who you are or what you have; it depends 
solely upon what you think."
~Dale Carnegie

Tuesday, March 24, 2015



Chiang Rai is very happy today.  Last night it rained.  It wasn't a heavy rain, but it washed the sky.  This afternoon we had a real downpour.  A day without high heat and nasty air is a reason to celebrate.

I got some quick responses to the 'Easy Monday' song.  Maybe the last verse will ring a bell for some of you:
"Day in, day out, my tear stained face, pressed against the window pane.  My eyes search the skies desperately for rain, 'cause raindrops will hide my teardrops, and no one will ever know that I'm cryin', cryin' when I go outside.  To the world outside my tears I refuse to explain.  Oh, __ __ __ __ __."  Clue:  The singer has a strong desire for precipitation.

For the first time in a long time, we are enjoying a pleasant evening with the windows open.  It's nice to hear the sounds of nature around us.  Well, at least for a little while.  We just had to close the windows due to the smell of smoke.  I shall spare you the rant.

Today we stayed at home all day.  Another housing cleaning day for the history books.  Tomorrow we have a meeting with a man who helps Hill Tribe college students who are looking for work during their school break.  Help is on the way and we are hopeful.  

This morning, while exercising the dogs, we took time to enjoy the new flowers on a large tree in the backyard.  For a long time it stood bare, like it was not alive.  The last time Khun Keck brought his crew to groom the yard, he told us he could see the beginnings of the new blossoms.  All it took was patience.  Today's photo is one of a few branches that are blooming.  If the whole tree fills in, it will be quite a sight.  The flowers also smell wonderful.

More rain is predicted for tonight and tomorrow.  As long as there are no high winds with the rain, things will be fine.  It will certainly be nice to see more green around town.  

Have a Happy Tuesday.


"In every living thing
there is the desire for love."
~D. H. Lawrence

Monday, March 23, 2015



The Chiang Rai air was a little bit better today, but the weekend was the same.  There are some interesting tactics being used to combat the 'haze', with little success.  

The 'Old School Friday' song was "Rockin' Robin" by Bobby Day.  That means it's time for 'Easy Monday' and a song that may be corny to some, but reflects the wishful thinking of many in Chiang Rai.  "Sunshine, blue skies, please go away.  My girl has found another and gone away.  With her went my future, my life is filled with gloom.  So day after day, I stay locked up in my room.  I know to you it might sound strange, but __ __ __ __ __." 
Hint: I'm tempted to tell you something useful, but I think I already have.  It's an R&B tune from 1968 by a group.

Saturday morning I took Cat to get her braces adjusted.  While waiting in the van, I noticed a firetruck in my rearview mirror.  We don't see them on the streets very often so I turned around to get a better look.  To my surprise, there was a giant stream of water shooting into the sky from the top of the truck.  As it rolled down the middle of the street I realized they were 'washing' the sky.  Wishful thinking on someone's part.  In Chiang Mai they have flown military planes over parts of the city, spraying water with about the same results.  A fine mist falls but the smokey haze remains.  Seeding clouds has been discussed, but you have to have clouds to pull that off.  Some time this week we may get rain.  Hmm.

 The Songkran Festival doesn't begin until April 13, but the banks of the Maekok were teaming with people this weekend.  It looked like the holiday had begun.  In spite of the bad air, folks were sitting by the river in lawn chairs, wadding across the river, and having a good time.  When you want to get away, hot weather and bad air don't have to slow you down.  I wonder how many of them were wearing masks?  

Today's photo was taken by Blue on Sunday evening.  This amazing photo was shot with a 300mm lens through a window, with the focus on the leaves in the foreground.  The ring around the sun, according to Blue, may have been caused by the window, the smoke or the fact that the sun was out of focus.  Whatever the cause, it's a stunning photo.

We found out today, that the little elephants will be staying in town for a while before going to Bangkok.  They're going to be hanging out at Le Meridien Resort.  That's great news since I still haven't gotten my fill of the little creatures.  Art Bridge just posted some individual photos that can be seen at the long link below.  Just click and enjoy.

Have a Great Week.

"To enjoy freedom we have to
control ourselves."
~Virginia Woolf

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Funnies


Smokey air continues to be the hot topic here in Chiang Rai.  We spent the evening with our little elephant friends and some humans we like a lot.

The 'Zany Day' song was "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" by Paul Simon.  'Old School Friday' is from 1958.
"He rocks in the tree tops all day long, hoppin' and a-boppin' and a-singin' his song.  All the little birds on Jaybird Street, love to hear the robin go tweet, tweet, tweet.  __ __ (Tweet x 3) __ __ (Tweet, tweedle-lee-dee), go __ __ 'cause we're really gonna rock tonight...."  Hint:  It's about a bird who really knows how to party.
Extra Cool Points for the original artist.

We declared today a 'No Housework Day'.  That's because Wednesday was a yard work day and Thursday was a housework day and it was quite enough.  Our respect for what Boot did on a daily basis went up a lot after doing some of the things she did.  Raking leaves, mostly in the front yard, was a big job.  Vacuuming and mopping the floors is also a big job.  The timing of Daku's summer shedding is making the whole thing even more fun (555).  

Cat returned from her village today.  We picked her up at the big market and we all went to a place called Thai Watsadu.  It's a giant store that sells everything for building and maintaining a house or business.  It's so big we haven't seen all of it yet.  When we asked Cat what 'Watsadu' meant, she said it meant 'surprise'.  With further discussion we realized she meant 'supplies'.  It was a good opportunity to emphasis the importance of putting 'L' and 'R' in their proper place.  

The big event of our day was the special exhibit at Art Bridge this evening.  It was titled "The Little Elephants of Chiang Rai".  Dignitaries from various sponsoring organizations were present, as well as almost all of the artists.  It was a fun evening of taking photos with the elephants, connecting with people we haven't seen, and discussing where the elephants will go on their 'tour'.  Our friends Stephan and Claire recently returned from a trip to America and had many stories to tell and that was also fun.  After the festivities we hung out with them in the Art Bridge restaurant.  

The photo for today was taken in our front yard.  These little orchids always surprise us since they just seem to appear.  We're glad they do what they do.

The possibility of rain has been forecast beginning on Sunday.  Notice how I phrased that.  We/they never really know until it falls from the sky.  If a whole city is wishing for the same thing, can it happen?  If it can, then Chiang Rai will get rain.

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


Thursday, March 19, 2015



Here in Chiang Rai it's sometimes difficult to determine what's really hot.  Looking outside, the day looks cool and gloomy, but once outdoors the heat wraps itself around you.  Hmm.

The 'Zany Day' song was right on the tip of a few memories.  Here's the last verse and more solutions to the problem.  "She said why don't we both just sleep on it tonight, and I believe in the morning you'll begin to see the light.  And then she kissed me and I realized she's probably right, there must be __ __ __ __ __ __.  Just hop on the bus, Gus, you don't need to discuss much.  Just drop off the key, Lee, and set yourself free."
Hint:  The first 'word' is a number.  It's about ways to make an exit.  

Living as an expat, one gets used to the idea of always having a copy of your passport, or the original, on your person at all times.  Passports don't last forever, they have to be renewed.  Since we have been living in Thailand we both have gone through the renewal process.  When U.S. passports are renewed, they have a new number.  This is where the drama begins.  That number is a big part of our identification and when it changes it means we may not show up in a database, or we have to verify that it's us and sign a bunch of papers.  This morning we wanted to get new account passbooks at the bank.  When we presented our passport copies it opened a can of worms that took one and a half hours to resolve.  Each book required at least six signatures on various forms, plus the book itself.  We got it done, but it took our whole morning.  The adventure continues.

Cat posted photos of Ling-Ling's induction ceremony into monkhood, and it opened up a new understanding on several levels.  The temple where it took place is in the village where he lives and there was a large crowd of family and neighbors present to celebrate.  Having one of their own become a monk is a very special thing and we could see the joy on their faces.  In some villages the initiate is carried through the village on the back of an elephant while everyone follows.  Ling-Ling was carried on the shoulders of a man, while another held an umbrella over his head.  In other photos we saw him in his orange robes, carrying an alms bag walking down a line of villagers.  This is the way monks get their daily food.  Every morning they go out and are greeted by locals who place food in the bag and kneel for a blessing from the monk.  It was an auspicious day for the family and the villagers.

This afternoon we had a crew from our TV provider come to the house to move the 'dish box' from the back house to Blue's room.  They worked hard in the heat trying to figure out how to do it.  I would imagine that climbing into the ceiling crawl-space was very hot.  They got it working and now Blue has a lot more choices of things to watch.  As the guys were leaving, one of them drank some of the water we gave them, but couldn't finish it so he poured the rest into a potted plant on the porch.  Very cool.

Today's photo was taken at dinner.  Daku and BamBam settled down and snoozed in a position they haven't been in since they were very young.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"Every child is an artist.
The problem is how to remain
an artist once we grow up."
~Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, March 18, 2015



Today Chiang Rai experienced more hazy skies, but cooler temps.  It is not uncommon to see face masks these days.  

The 'Easy Monday' song was "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor.  It's time for another pesky 'Zany Day' song.  
"The problem is all inside your head she said to me.  The answer is easy if you take it logically.  I like to help you in your struggle to be free, there must be __ __ __ __ __ __.... You just slip out the back, Jack, make a new plan, Stan, you don't need to be coy Roy, just get yourself free..."  Hint:  The singer is given advice on how to exit a relationship.  Hmm, so many ways, how high can you count?  

This morning was the second day that we have taken the dogs outside and not played our games because of the air quality.  They look puzzled by our behavior.  Where are the balls, why can't I run?  This translates into frustration in the afternoon.  Daku tries to get some kind of 'play' going in the house but he's too big for that.  For their sake, I hope we get some relief soon.

Makro is a giant store with 'fresh air' for ventilation.  This means that inside is no better than outside.  Many of the employees were wearing masks in the store today.  We should have worn ours but didn't think it would be so bad.  Now we know.  The rest of our morning shopping we wore our masks and it does make a difference.  We stopped at Browney's Pet World and it felt a little odd to be talking to the helpful employee who was smiling, and realize that she couldn't see our smiles.  

This was the day that 'Ling-Ling', Cat's nephew, became a 'baby monk'.  We saw photos of him having his head shaved, reading vows, and receiving gifts from his mother.  This all happened at the temple in his village, so lots of family and friends were there.  It put us more in touch with the fact that this is a different culture.  This 12 year old boy is now going into a world much different than the one he has known so far.  Many monks began their spiritual life at the same age and continued on the path for the rest of their lives.  Time will tell whether 'Ling-Ling' will go past the three years he has committed to.

Nature is a very persistent force.  Even with the hot, dry weather, and the smokey air, things are still blooming around us.  Today we saw a bright green rice field and at the Big Brown House, orchids are appearing.  Today's photo is the first 'pool orchid' of the season.

It's time for Wacky Wednesday.


"What we call the beginning is often the end.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.  
The end is where we start from.
~T.S. Elliot

Tuesday, March 17, 2015



The slightly cooler temperature today did not change the intensity of the dirty air.  There is a forecast for rain next week, but we all know that forecasts can change.  Life goes on through a fuzzy lens.

This week's 'Easy Monday' song got some quick responses.  Maybe the second verse will help you remember.
"Won't you look down upon me Jesus, you've got to help me make a stand.  You've just got to see me through another day.  My body's aching and my time is at hand, and I won't make it any other way.  Oh, I've seen __ __ I've seen __.  I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end.  I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I'd see you again.... Thought I'd see you, __ __ __."  Hint: One of the words in the title is what causes the smoke, the other is what we hope for.  It's easy.

A few days ago we got an air purifier for Blue's room.  It really made a difference and we realized we needed more.  Today we returned to HomePro and got one for Lisa's studio and one for the kitchen.  The air is the talk of the town.  Today was not as hot as it's been, maybe due to the haze blocking the sun.  Without wind or rain, the smoke just hangs and has no place to go.  We didn't run the dogs this morning, but just let then walk around a bit.  Too bad they can't wear masks like we do.

Today's photo was taken as we left HomePro.  What caught our attention was the chicken cooking on the grill as she drove down the road.  I'm sure one of you can think of a great caption for that.

This evening, during dinner, we had a conversation about all of the people in the north who have to live and work in the open air.  The most common type of business in Chiang Rai is situated in a 'shop-house' which has an open front.  That means that all of the bad air is inside the business, all day long.  The majority of restaurants are either open on one side, or the whole thing is outside.  I can't imagine trying to eat while sitting in smokey air.  People do what they gotta do.  We gotta stay inside.

Have a Happy Tuesday.


"The starting point of all achievement 
is desire."
~Napoleon Hill

Monday, March 16, 2015



Chiang Rai is experiencing a very hot and smokey March.  Today there were ashes falling from the sky.  We could really use some rain.

The 'Old School Friday' song was "Drown In My Own Tears", originally recorded in 1951 by Lula Reed.  The most notable recording was in 1956 by Ray Charles.  Later the song would be recorded by many artists.  That's the 'Old School Scoop' on that one.  Extra Cool Points go to Cousin Trudye, who knew the Lula Reed recording.  Now it's time for 'Easy Monday'.  "Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone.  Suzanne, the plans they  made put an end to you.  I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song, I just can't remember who to send it to.  I've seen __ __ I've seen __.  I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end.  I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend.  But I always thought that I'd see you again."  Hint, the title is in three words, two of them are found in nature.

Saturday evening we went to the opening of the Art Bridge Art Supply Store.  It was a lot of fun, partly because we got to spend a bunch of time with the elephants.  There was a large white board that was divided into squares and artists were asked to paint a small picture in a square.  One of the art supply vendors was selling brushes and canvases at a big discount even before the doors were opened.  After a few speeches, it was time to open the store.  Everyone was distracted from that by four young women wrapped in white sheets, walking away from the door carrying a large piece of material.  What happened next was a big surprise.  Small buckets of paint were brought out and anyone who wanted to could paint on the four models.  That turned in to an enormous photo shoot, lots of laughter, and lots of paint.  When they were covered with paint, one of the prominent artists volunteered to be painted by the models.  He took off his shirt and they went to work.  After that there was lots of food, drink and music.  We always seem to leave before it gets loud and crazy, but we also missed the group photo.  Oh well, we had a good time.

This morning Cat went to her village to help her sister.  Cat's 12 year old nephew, Ling-Ling, is going to become a monk on Wednesday and lots of family members are arriving for the ceremony.  I asked if he was going to be a summer monk and she told me he is going into the monkhood for at least three years.  I'm sure we will learn more about this later.  

Today's photo was taken at Doi Chaang Coffee.  This fish lives right inside the front door and likes the company.  I took his picture because of the markings on his side.  They almost appear to be Japanese script.  

Down by the river the temporary structures are going up in preparation for the Songkran Festival next month.  They are made of bamboo with thatch roofs and will house food vendors and other things that will sustain the many people camping by the river for at least a week.  Today people were hanging out on the bank of the shallow river, some wading out to the middle.  Before long, the long-tailed boats won't have enough water to navigate parts of the river. 

Have a Great Week.


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

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday Funnies


Welcome to Friday the 13th.  Doesn't mean a thing here.  Maybe it doesn't mean a thing.  We continued with the hot weather and saw more people (including us) wearing masks today.

The 'Zany Day' song was "Rockin' Pneumonia & The Boggie Woogie Flu" by Huey 'Piano' Smith.  'Old School Friday' is next and I think you all know this one.  Extra Cool Points if you name the original artist.
"It brings a tear, into my eyes, when I begin to realize I've cried so much since you've been gone.  I guess I'm __ __ __ __ __.  I sit and cry just like a child.  My pouring tears are running wild.  If you don't think you'll be home soon, I guess I'll __ __ __ __ __."  Hint: Even 'Georgia' knows this one.  When tissues aren't enough and you need a life raft.  Hmm.

This morning Boot came to the house to do some work.  She had told us she was willing to come and help out until we found someone else.  The dogs were very happy to see her, and I suspect it will give BamBam a sense that she's coming back.  This evening my phone rang and BamBam jumped up, thinking it was Boot calling to say she was home.  It's going to take time.

Cat, Lisa and I went to the Farmer's Market today.  There was a larger crowd than last week, so I guess the word is spreading about the fresh vegetables and fruit.  Some of the prices are pretty amazing too.  It's always nice when Cat comes with us because we can get questions answered.  Today Lisa spotted some honey and there were different bottles.  With Cat's help we learned that some of the honey was from flowers and some from fruit.  Good stuff to know.  I got some coconut water from a vendor who opens them at his stand, pours the water into a cup and then shaves some of the meat into the water.  It makes for an odd looking drink, but it's all edible and they even give you a spoon to eat the meat.  

We always knew that Boot did a lot around the house, but having to do what she did gives a new perspective to it all.  I'll say this, it can keep one busy.  The sooner we find a replacement, the sooner life will return to 'normal'.

Tomorrow evening we're going to the opening of the Art Bridge Art Supply Store.  This will be great for the artists who sometimes have to have paints and other supplies shipped from other cities.  Next weekend is the one night only Elephant exhibit.  You can see photos of some of the elephants with their artists at:  https://www.facebook.com/ArtBridgeChiangRai  There are at least two posts that show lots of photos.

The photo for today is an ocean of motorbikes parked in the bus station lot next to the Night Bazaar.  As you can see, it's still daylight.  These are early arrivals.  

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.         It's time for the 'Funnies'.    Oh, Formula One begins this weekend.  Zoom.


Thursday, March 12, 2015



It's March in Chiang Rai, it's hot in Chiang Rai.  The nights are getting warmer, which means the pool is getting closer to swimming temps.  

It would appear that the 'Zany Day' song is still in some of your minds.  Here's more, see if the hint helps.
"Call some other's 'baby' that ain't all.  I wanna kiss her but she's way too tall.  Young man rhythm's got a hold of me too, I got the __ __ __ __ __ __ __."  Hint: Originally recorded by a man whose middle name is the instrument he plays.  His illnesses have musical names.

The last few days we have been plagued with odd cell phone outages.  Lisa, Cat and I have all had problems making or receiving calls here at home.  Blue's phone seemed to be immune from whatever was going on.  Today, while I was waiting for Blue and Lisa at Maefahluang U. Clinic, I decided to see if my phone would work.  It worked fine and I was able to make a call to the U.S. with no problem.  Then, when we got home I had no service.  What?  This afternoon we made our third trip to Big C and found out that they were working on the signal in our area.  This evening at dinner Cat got a call from customer service telling us it was all fixed.  This makes us all very happy.

The air quality is a hot topic of conversation in Chiang Rai.  Threads on expat sites are giving information on proper masks to buy, and suggestions for staying healthy during this period.  It's hard to believe that some folks are outside riding bikes and jogging when the visibility is so bad.  Many locals apparently just take it in stride.  It's just what happens in March.  What really makes it 'interesting' to me is the fact that it comes from something other than industry and vehicles.  It comes from burning crop waste, trash and occasional forest fires.  It's another chance for us to experience the evolution of a culture.  I remember growing up with an incinerator in the back yard before they were banned.  That was a long time ago and it makes me wonder how long it will take before more strict enforcement of burning laws will be implemented.  Until then, stay inside and run the air filter, or put on the mask.  OK, end of rant.

While we were sitting in traffic on the Super Highway today we saw a procession of six pick-up trucks carrying four to six young men each, sitting in chairs in the back of the trucks.  They were all dressed in white robes and their heads were freshly shaved.  Cat explained that they will be monks for the summer and this is a way of telling people.  We had never seen this before, but she said that it's done every year.  

BamBam is still going through a period of adjustment since Boot's departure.  Last night every time she heard a sound, she would go to our bedroom door, look back and wait for us to react.  She was sure it must have been Boot or Rudy.  She finally settled down, but at 4am she started pacing.  At 5am she barked.  I only remember hearing Lisa tell her 'No bark'.  We are hoping she will sleep all night tonight.  She's trying to behave, but dogs are creatures of habits and patterns and hers have been changed abruptly.  Hmm, so have ours for that matter.

Tomorrow we will post a job notice at the government employment office and start calling friends and letting them know we are searching for a housekeeper.  The adventure continues.

Today's photo was taken when we visited our friend in the government hospital.  This waterfall is in an outdoor corridor that was full of sick and injured patients.  In an atmosphere filled with pain and sadness it's a wonderful oasis for contemplation or distraction.  While I was taking the photo, two little girls were leaning on the rail, just staring.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"Gratitude is not only the greatest
of virtues, but the parent of all the 
~Marcus Tullius Cicero

Wednesday, March 11, 2015



It was another gray day in Chiang Rai.  Not cloudy gray, hazy gray.  Today was also a rather monumental day for The Big Brown House as you will soon read.

This week's 'Easy Monday' song was "Blackbird" by The Beatles.  Actually, it was written by Paul McCartney and is on the Beatles 'White Album'.  It was written in the '60s when the civil rights movement was at it's height.  The blackbird was a symbol for a Black woman.  The word 'bird' in England meant young woman.  The lyrics are about rising up and taking flight, to freedom.  Now you know.  It's time to get a little crazy.  'Zany Day' is next.
"I wanna jump but I'm afraid I'll fall.  I wanna holler but the joint's too small.  Young man rhythm's got a hold of me too, I got the __ __ __ __ __ __ __."  Clue:  The singer has a double set of maladies.  Hmm.

After almost 7 1/2 years, Boot's stay with us is over.  Yesterday she decided it was time to move on.  We have benefited greatly from all her service through the years, as well as a relationship we never expected.  There will be major adjustments in our lifestyle until we find a replacement, but between the four of us, we will carry on and be happy.  BamBam is staying with us, which is good for Daku.  It will be difficult for her though, since Boot was like her mom.  She will get used to sleeping in the big house.  We hope Boot will be happy in her new life.

It was a rather busy day for us with a trip to Makro, and two trips to Big C.  I spent time dealing with my phone being cut off while Lisa shopped.  Cat was with us and I couldn't have worked things out without her, since no one in the office had any English.  The phone office in the mall has a better staff, but it's closed until later this month.  Some days life can be rather challenging, but there's always a solution.

Today's photo was taken in Chiang Mai.  What you're seeing is a giant screen with six smaller screens from traffic cameras at a major intersection.  It's a fascinating way to spend a red light, but I wonder how much of a distraction it is for some drivers.  Hmm, I would have looked even if I had been moving.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"Kindness is more important than wisdom,
and the recognition of this is the beginning 
of wisdom."
~Theodore Isaac Rubin