Wednesday, September 30, 2015



Well, today we finally got rain.  It was what I would call ‘Tiny Rain’ but it was water from the sky and it really cooled the air.  Once again, we experienced the strange event of dry weather until we crossed over the bridge toward our house, and then rain.  Cue Twilight Zone music.

The ‘Easy Monday’ song was “Summer Breeze” by Seals & Crofts.  See if you remember this ‘Zany Day’ song from the 60s:  “One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small.  And the ones that mother gives you don’t do anything at all.  Go ask Alice when she’s ten feet tall.”  Clue:  It’s not the Easter Bunny.

The idea of standing in line in an orderly fashion, is not a common occurrence in these parts.  The banks got rid of lines by having ‘queue’ numbers and chairs.  Some businesses are totally unprepared when it comes to large crowds.  This morning we went to Big C again, and this time the AIS store had a huge crowd win a line that snaked around one end of the upstairs area.  Then they decided to reorganize the line and it turned into madness.  People began yelling at the woman who was shouting instructions.  She finally got them settled down and that’s when I went into Big C and caught up with Cat and Lisa.  I couldn’t take anymore (555).

The Edison Store used to be the major department store in Chiang Rai.  It’s downtown, near the Wancome Hotel where we lived during our first month here.  We used to go there to get ‘nice’ things.  Now they’re holding on, trying to survive the competition from Central Plaza.  Today we went there to get baby clothes for Khun Pay’s little boy.  The store smelled moldy, which is not a good sign.  We shopped there because they carry 100% cotton garments for infants.  

In the afternoon we went to the hospital and met our new friend.  The way the hospitals are set up, the father can stay in the room as much as he wants.  Khun Boy spends the night and helps Pay take care of the baby.  They are happy and the little one is very calm and serene.  New moms and their babies stay in the hospital for about 4 or 5 days before going home.  

There comes a time, in this technological age, when one feels like the machines are taking over.  I just had such an experience with my phone.   When my number was dialed, the caller would hear a DTAC commercial instead of the tone that is usually heard.  There is nothing in my phone that would allow me to change this, so we went to the DTAC store this evening.  It was done on their end and the service rep disabled it rather easily.  Imagine calling someone and hearing a musical commercial for the phone company.  What?  There is a service they have that plays  popular Thai music while the caller waits for you to answer, but I’d rather keep it simple.

Every morning Daku goes to the door of our room at 7:15am to listen for Natcha in the kitchen.  She comes in to make Blue’s juice drink and breakfast.  When he hears her, he hurries downstairs for what we call ‘The Breakfast Club’. He usually gets downstairs in time to great Blue and relax near him while he eats.  When Blue is done, Daku comes back upstairs.  

Time for a Wacky Wednesday.


“Generosity gives assistance,
rather than advice.”
Marquis De Vauvenargues

Tuesday, September 29, 2015



Although we had a forecast for a ‘thunderstorm around’, it turned out to be another sunny, hot, humid day.  

I guess the moon had some folks a little busy.  Here is the chorus for the ‘Easy Monday’ song.  I think this should be all you’ll need to get this one:  “__ __, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind.  (Repeat)”
Hint:  Two words describing ‘not quite wind’ in a certain season of the year.  

This morning the ‘Fantastic Four’ went shopping.  While we were at the Healthy Market we learned something new.  Lisa was buying some pumpkin and the woman told her it would be ‘Sow Baht’.  Cat understood what she was saying and we got a lesson in Northern Thai.  The phrase for 20 Baht in Thai would be ‘Yee Sip Baht’.  In Northern the word ’Sow’ means 20.  I guess we may have to learn our Northern Numbers.  Hmm.

Waiting for service at the bank is very different here.  Today I got a number and we sat down.  That is the difference.  No standing in line.  When Lisa told Cat about this she was impressed.  I remember the days of going to the bank and looking in, and leaving because of a long line.  Of course, it helps to go at a time when it’s not crowded, but it’s still nice to sit while you wait. 

In the past, I have mentioned a favorite expression that we hear when asking for directions.  ‘Not far’ is usually the answer given when asking for the distance to a destination.  That is often followed by ‘Over there’ with a hand wave in a random direction.  It’s easy to get lost in Thailand.

Our friend Nurse Pay had her baby today.  She sent pictures to Lisa via ‘Line’, a messaging system.  Pay and Khun Boy have a beautiful son.  We’re hoping to visit them at the hospital tomorrow.

Today’s photo was taken yesterday when Daku go his so-called tick treatment.  He hates baths, but has learned to endure.  The look on his face tells the whole story.  When he’s dry he looks like a much bigger dog.

Have a Happy Tuesday.


“Those who trust us educate us.”
~T.S. Eliot

Monday, September 28, 2015



If I didn’t know better, I might think we were in another drought.  It’s been many days since we had any rain.  Maybe it’s time for the cloud-seeding plane to come up our way.  

The ‘Old School Friday’ song was “Pledging My Love” by Johnny Ace.   Are you ready for ‘Easy Monday’?  “See the curtains hangin’ in the window, in the evenin’ on a Friday night.  A little light a-shinin’ through the window, lets me know everything is alright.  __ __, makes me feel fine…”  Hint:  I think you know this one.  It was 1972, a duet by two guys, tons of covers on this tune.

Sunday morning we went to Central Plaza right after they opened in an effort to beat the crowds.  On the main floor where they have rotating exhibits, there was a big BMW display, complete with an ‘office’ and test drive cars in the ‘car park’.  There was also a Ginseng root exhibit.  Actually, they were selling very old roots at very high prices.  Blue and I checked out some of them and noticed that there were small tables set up inside the exhibit, each with a calculator and pen and paper.  Hmm, the root in today’s photo priced out at a little over $5,000 US.

The internet in Thailand is making big news these days.  Since 2006, the single portal in and out of Thailand was deregulated.  This meant that web traffic came into the country through multiple 'gateways’.  It was recently disclosed by the current government that they have a new plan for a single gateway that would allow for closer monitoring of content and also blocking content.  With the multiple gateways, speeds have been faster and Thailand has become an IT hub for the region.  As one might imagine, this new plan is being met with great opposition.  It has been dubbed ‘The Great Firewall of Thailand’.  This name is a nod to the protocol in China where the internet is censored.  More will be revealed, and if it happens, the VPN marketeers will have a field day offering work-arounds.

This morning we tried another tick remedy.  This one was a spray, scrub, and rinse affair.  It didn’t lather like the label implied and this evening we’re seeing ticks without even trying hard.  Back to the spray that got rid of two out of three of the varieties.  I don’t like the cold season, but that seems to be the time when the ticks go away.  The funny thing is, most of the time Daku doesn’t seem phased by it at all.  Hmm, that’s because he’s a dog. 

The farmers behind us have become a nuisance these days.  They have been burning plant waste for the last four days.  We’re a long way from the burning season, and most people apparently take the local smoke in stride.  It’s just what happens.  Today we were in the pool, doing our laps in the nice warm water when the smell of smoke hit us.  We got out of the water and went into the house.  It was a shift in the wind and we figured that maybe we could go back in a few minutes.  It only took 5 to 10 minutes for the nasty air to pass and we continued our swim.  Lisa suggested that we should have big fans that would blow the smoke away from the yard.  I like this idea.  With the push of a button, giant fans would rise above the wall and clear the air and then settle out of sight when not in use.  This will keep me awake tonight for sure.

Have a Great Week.


“It is better to take many small steps
in the right direction than to make a 
great leap forward only to stumble backward.”
~Chinese Proverb

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Funnies


Regardless of what the various weather sites tell us, we’re in another dry spell.  There are always pluses and minuses with the dry bit.  The van stays cleaner, but we have to water plants tomorrow.  Life goes on. 

That ‘Zany Day’ song the so many of you knew was “Do You Love Me (Now that I Can Dance)” by The Contours.
That brings us to ‘Old School Friday’.  This one is from 1955 and I totally understand that a lot of you will not know it, but it’s a great song and some of us may be old enough to remember.  “Forever my darling, my love will be true.  Always and forever I’ll love just you.  Just promise me darling, your love in return.  May this fire in my soul dear, forever burn.”  Hint:  It’s like a declaration.  The title is not sung in the lyrics, but it’s three words.  The singer’s last name is the same as a playing card.

This morning we went to the flower mart and the fruit stand to pick up some things to take with us to Boot’s house.  We went over to visit with her and BamBam and Rudi.  We haven’t seen her since our last trip to the states and it was time to get together.  When we arrived, BamBam came running towards the van, barking.  When Lisa got out, BamBam came up to her and had a puzzled look on her face.  Then, when she recognized Lisa, her face changed and she became very excited.  When she settled down we went into their little house and had a very nice visit.  BamBam is quite fat these days and we cautioned them about overfeeding her.  It was so funny, she sat on the couch between us like a little person.  Boot is working, but doesn’t really like the job, and let us know that anytime we needed her help, she would be willing to work for us again.  Hmm.  We’re very happy with the current situation, but thanked her.  We caught up on the ‘have you talked to’ and ‘how is…’ portion and it was time to go.  BamBam came out to the van like she was going with us.  They told us she has a couple of dog friends in the complex where they live and that’s good.  

When we left the house we didn’t realize that the spray man was coming today.  When we got home, Natcha had dealt with closing all the windows and bringing in the shoes.  These are part of the ritual of getting the yard sprayed.  Today they sprayed the lawns along with the usual perimeter work.  Here’s hoping it curbs the ticks for awhile.  That’s another reason it’s good the rain didn’t come.  Maybe the spray will have a chance to work.

After lunch, Cat, Blue and I drove up the highway to see a Chinese herbalist that Blue wanted to check out.  Cat got directions on the phone and it turned out to be a real classic.  “Turn into the small Soi before Makro, turn right again at the first little Soi and go down until you see a big tree.  After the big tree there is a purple house.  Across the street from the purple house is the clinic.”  We got a little confused, didn’t see something we should have and had Cat call again.  We finally made it and Blue had a good appointment with the doctor.  The adventure continues.

Right now I’m hearing the thumping sound of the music across the river at the ‘Friday Night Fair’.  Cat and her friend Pawn are over there taking it all in.  Tomorrow they’re going to the waterfalls to relax.  Sunday she’s giving a speech to a group of Junior High kids, about her life.  She was invited to do this by her public speaking teacher from a few years ago.  It’s being a busy senior year.

Today’s photo was taken at the Dusit D2 in Chiang Mai.  I love the artistic oasis they created on the second landing, looking down into the dining room.

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.    Time for the ‘Funnies’.    Oh yeah, Formula One is in Japan this weekend.  Zoom.


Thursday, September 24, 2015



We had a day with some promising clouds, but no rain.  A few miles north of us, in Ban Du, it was raining.  So goes the weather in Chiang Rai.  

I was a bit surprised at how many of you knew this ‘Zany Day’ song.  Here are a few of the dances he’s learned.
“I can mash-potato (I can mash-potato).  And I can do the twist, (I can do the twist).  Now tell me baby (Tell me baby) do you like it like this?  (Do you like it like this?).  Tell me, (Tell me), Tell me.  __ __ __ __?… Now that I can dance.”  Clue:  The intro was the only real lyric in this song.  The rest is basically a list of all the popular dances of the day.  Get your dance on while it’s looping in your head.  

Our morning adventures began with a trip downtown to the Thai Airways office.  Cat is going to Hua Hin next month for a weekend ‘camp’ to learn more about the airline/travel program at the university there. This will be Cat’s first time on an airplane. She will be flying Thai Air on her return trip and we couldn’t purchase it online.  Lisa is going to fly with her to Bangkok, help her get the bus to Hua Hin, and give her the 'dime tour' of the airport.  

The next stop was Big C for supplies.  Across from the entrance we saw a very large crowd gathered in front of the A.I.S. (Cell phone provider) store.  It turns out A.I.S. recently got access to the 3G network and was offering a SIM card exchange.  Each customer has to turn in their present SIM and have a new one encoded.  The provider we use already has a 3G network so we know the joys (555) of having fast internet when it’s needed.  Today’s photo shows a bit of the crowd.

Thailand is one of the largest users of Facebook and other social media in Southeast Asia.  Of the 30 million active users per month, 66% login on a daily basis, and 28 million are active on mobile devices.  That’s just a brief overview of the activity.  No wonder the crowd was so anxious to get onto the 3G network.  We have had to invoke a ‘no phone at the table’ rule at The Big Brown House.  

This afternoon the couple that cleaned our curtains returned.  They hung everything and told us that the price was less than the estimate.  Hmm, how often does that happen?  They also brought a new shade for our shower room.  They were very efficient and friendly.  At one point, the wife commented that Daku was a very lucky dog, not having to be out in the heat.  Daku agreed with her.  Now we can close out the night.  Cat is also very happy to have her curtains back, since one complete side of her room looks out on the backyard.  Without the curtains it felt like a fishbowl.  

It was such a hot day, we just knew the pool would be perfect for swimming, but it was not to be the case.  We had a cool night last night and it never got enough direct sunlight today.  There’s always tomorrow.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


“Be the reason someone smiles today.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2015



We got a new forecast today.  It called for ‘Drenching Rain’.  Hmm, interesting, but it never happened.  Just what does that mean?  We did have a light shower around lunch time, but that was it.  Maybe tomorrow we’ll get drenched.

The ‘Easy Monday’ song was “Ooh Baby, Baby” by The Miracles.  ‘Zany Day’ is next with a real live ‘dance’ tune:
“(Spoken) 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)….”  Clue:  He learned to dance to win her love?  The group name is synonymous with shape.  

Even though we had a long list of things to do in the street, we stayed home today.  This afternoon we got our yard ‘touch up’ and it looks pretty good.  When I took Daku out, he didn’t think it looked good at all.  He’s like, ‘Where’s my munching grass?’.  

We recently learned something about driving in Thailand that we weren’t aware of, at least we’d never seen it written down.  I have fussed about people turning in front of me when the light turns green.  Well, the rule of thumb is, when someone is in a hurry, it’s acceptable.  What?  So, does that mean that the line of 6 cars that turned in front of me the other day were all in a hurry?  I think not.  One must go to the ‘Happy Place’ quite often.

The field next to us has another crop of corn sprouting up from the earth.  I guess the extended ‘rainy’ season offers an opportunity to do a little more absentee farming.  Basically it’s plant the corn, walk away, spray for bugs, walk away, pick most of the corn and then plow the rest.  The couple with the farm behind us just finished cleaning up from their corn harvest.  Unfortunately, they chose to burn the waste today.  I wonder if it’s time for them to start with their vegetable farm again.  

Based on the amount of vegetables we consume in a week, the thought entered my mind to grow some of our food.  Well, that was a flight of fancy.  If we were truly going to become self-sufficient we’d need several plots for veggies, three or four laying hens, and someone to maintain if all.  It did give me another idea though.  In some neighborhoods there are trucks that visit daily with various foods.  I have seen a vegetable truck, a fish truck and a meat truck.  They pull up to the house, ring a bell or sound a unique horn and their customers come out to the street and get what they need.  If we could find someone in our area that could come by several times a week it would be pretty cool.  The ‘chain of custody’, as Blue calls it, would hopefully be pretty short.  If they get it from the farmers, then that would be perfect.  

Today’s photo shows some of the hand-sewn garlands in the flower market, up close.  

Feels like a Wacky Wednesday.


“We must overcome the notion that
we must be regular… it robs us of the chance
to be extraordinary and leads us to the mediocre.”
~Uta Hagen

Tuesday, September 22, 2015



The weather in Chiang Rai today was very hot.  The 2pm thunderstorm never made it our way.  We swam at 3 and the water was perfect.  So much for forecasts.  It’s time for things to get watered so some rain would be nice.

There was a big response to this week’s ‘Easy Monday’ song.  This mid-60s ballad is a classic with many covers. 
“Mistakes, I know I’ve made a few, but I’m only human.  You’ve made mistakes too, I’m crying.  __ __ __, __ __ __.”
Clue:  It’s by one of the earliest singing groups on a label in the motor city.  This tune was recorded when they were still going by their group name.  There are many covers, but the first is the one we’re humming.

This morning Lisa and I tackled Makro.  The zucchini is back on the shelves, and celery seems to be in abundance.  One thing that seems to happen a lot is crops of avocados that are harvested too soon or have been frozen.  They are like baseballs.  Sometimes there will be one or two in a whole bin that are edible.  Oh well.  When we entered the meat department I saw an American that we met years ago at a wine tasting at Le Merdien.  He remembered us and we had a conversation about Chiang Rai being home.  He teaches at the International School and works with other projects dealing with Thai children.  It was nice to reconnect with someone who enjoys life here the way we do. Normally, when we buy coconut milk, there is only one option.  Today the large size cartons were all some kind of aromatic, flavored coconut milk.  We declined and got the next size down.  Somebody stocked the whole shelf with this new stuff, as a promotion.  Hmm.

At the Healthy Market we noticed one whole section was closed for the morning.  There were tarps over the vegetables.  I suppose it’s difficult to maintain a 7-day-a-week business like that.  Also, the woman next to the fruit lady was gone, as in moved out.  We don’t know what happened to her, but I’m sure we’ll find out in the days to come.  Right after I ordered our fish, I went into the street, on the flower side, and snapped a photo of an arrangement like we got for Cornelis.  

One of the special classes Cat has been taking this semester is Ballroom Dancing.  The school wants the students to learn ‘couples dancing’ for their prom at the end of the school year.  Today, Cat had to partner one of her friends, since she has been learning the boy’s parts because of her height.  I guess there are not enough boys in the class or something.  It reminds me of my youth, taking dance classes for a cotillion.  

Tomorrow we’re getting a touch-up on the yard.  A small crew will come and cut the back lawn and portions of the front, and also cut down more bananas.  Our coconut trees have been dropping fruit lately so that needs to be dealt with.  One would not want a stray coconut falling on one.  That could cause serious damage.  

Hanging out in the pool always causes a bit of yard appreciation.  Today we realized just how big some of our trees have grown.  We have some giants in the back.  The tallest was swaying gently in the afternoon breeze, adding to the relaxing atmosphere.

Have a Happy Tuesday.


“We are limited, not by our abilities,
but by our vision.”

Monday, September 21, 2015



I’m beginning to grow tired of this seesaw weather pattern.  We’re in the not enough rain segment right now.  It’s been predicted that we will soon be in the ‘whole lot of rain’ portion of the season.  How about sunny days and rainy nights?

Our ‘Old School Friday’ song was “The Twist” by Chubby Checker.  Where did that memory take you?  Time for ‘Easy Monday’, and a song that a lot of you have known in the past.  “Ooo, la, la, la, la, I did you wrong, my heart went out to play, but in the game I lost you.  What a price to pay, hey I’m crying.  __ __ __, __ __ __.”  Hint:  Two of the three words are the same.

Saturday morning we went out and canvased the pet supply stores on our side of town to see if anyone had the one tick spray we think was effective.  No one had it, but our vet’s store is ordering some for us.  Here’s hoping they get it soon.  Our nightly grooming of Daku yields way too many bugs these days.

Sunday morning we went to Big C.  We got there a little late and the place was crowded.  In a way, it’s kind of fun because there’s so much to see.  It’s a great time to see a cross-section of the community doing that basic thing.  Sometimes I check out their carts to see what they’re buying.  I know they look at ours to see what we eat as well. There’s always lots of little kids and they're fun to watch.  

In the afternoon we went to the flower mart to get a basket bouquet for Cornelis’s opening.  There is an older couple who have a little stand and we like to shop with them.  They always make sure all the flowers are ‘right’ before we leave.  There was one rose that had some browning on the petals and the owner quickly got a fresh one, plus another one for good measure.  The whole thing cost about $4.50 US.  Hmm, we should buy flowers more often.

The plan for the evening was to pick up our friend Brenda at the CondoTel and then go to Art Bridge.  Cat didn’t go with us because she had plans to go out with her little ‘crew’.  There are five of them and they’ve been doing things together.  Saturday night they went to Walking Street again, and Sunday they had planned to go to a big concert across the river.  When they found out the concert cost 100 Baht ($3.00), they decided to go to Happy Street instead.  Oh well.  

The start time for the presentation of the exhibit was set for 6pm, which is dinner time for a lot of people.  As a result, the audience trickled in, but grew to a nice size.  There was a speech by the chair of Art Bridge, words from the artists, and a short talk by the presenter, the Vice-Governor of Province.  We all got a big surprise when the automatic door swung open after the ribbon cutting.  There was live music in the gallery, provided by the Chiang Rai Youth Orchestra.  Moving about the exhibit was fun, we kept running into people we knew that we hadn’t seen for awhile.  We took pictures, had our picture taken, and had a few deep conversations about the exhibit and art in general.  When we left, we all felt good.

Since it was past our dinner time, we went to The Bistro at CondoTel and had our usual Sunday dinner.  During dinner, Brenda mentioned that she had their drapes cleaned by a service in town.  We have been looking for such a service and she gave us the number.  Natcha called them this morning and they came to the house at 3pm today.  They took all the drapes and curtains and Cat acted as our translator.  It all worked so perfectly since she was off school today.  This is exam week and today was a study day.  It’s little strange having so many bare windows right now.  Looking out, it’s very dark outside.  

Have a Great Week.


“Great opportunities to help others
seldom come, but small ones surround us
every day.”
~Sally Koch

Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday Funnies


Today it rained off and on all day.  Nothing heavy, but mostly a steady, medium downpour.  Daku was not amused.  His morning run was cut a little short.  Friends in Pattaya had heavy rain and some flooding.  We’ve been spared most of the rainy season dramas this year, so far.

The ‘Zany Day’ song was “Back in the U.S.S.R.” by The Beatles.  ‘Old School Friday’ should be familiar to most.
“Come on baby, let’s do __ __.  Come on baby, let’s do __ __.  Take me by my little hand and it goes like this.  Ee-yah, baby, baby __.  Ooh yeah, just like this. Come on little miss and do __ __.”  Clue:  This is a silly dance song from around 1962 that swept the world.  It was sung by a slightly overweight gentleman.  It was first done by a band that paved the way for what is now Rock and Roll.

With the exception of a trip to the main road for eggs, we spent the whole day at home.  It was quite nice.  We did some cleaning, bulb changing, and that heroic task of turning the mattress over.  It’s a big mattress.

Daku is still going through the tick, hotspot miseries.  We have been limiting his time outside, and spraying his feet and legs with a non-toxic repellent but it only seems to work sometimes.  To make matters worse, we discovered that his ‘hood’ has been irritating his neck so we have to leave it off.  That means we have to monitor him more closely.  He tries hard to cooperate.  He understands when we say ‘No lick’ when he’s licking a spot that we’re trying to heal.  I guess it’s good that he likes to sleep a lot (555).

This photo was taken on the road to Immigration.  I was curious about the decorations around the school sign.  We have never seen anything like it and can’t figure out what the Thai connection is.  There are deer in Thailand, but not in Chiang Rai.  Oh well, it’s fun to look at.

On Sunday we’re going to the Art Bridge opening of an exhibit by our friend Cornelis.  He makes collages using photos from magazines.  Each piece uses lots of copies of the same image glued into amazing patterns.  He and his partner Anoi have become very good friends and Cornelis has been helpful and encouraging when it comes to the art world.  He has lived in Thailand for over 20 years, and is originally from Belgium.

I’ll be setting the recorder this weekend so I can watch the Formula One race from Singapore.  They go all out in Singapore for this evening street race.  Check it out, if only for the spectacle. It’s something to see.

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.          It’s time for the ‘Funnies’.


Thursday, September 17, 2015



The forecasters missed the mark again today.  The only rain we got was a brief cloudburst in the late morning.  It was just another hot, cloudy day in Chiang Rai.  

“Been away so long I hardly knew the place.  Gee it’s good to be back home.  Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my case, honey disconnect the phone.  I’m __ __ __ __ __ __ __, you don’t know how lucky you are boy.  __ __ __ __ __ __ __.”  Hint:  I’m sure this was a big hit with the comrades.

This morning, after a trip to Big C, we went to The Mantrini Hotel for a coffee visit with a friend we met through Art Bridge.  She and her husband are from Holland, and they come to Thailand often.  The last time they were in town she came to the house and she and Lisa discussed art.  Today we talked about the charm of Chiang Rai and the indescribable feeling one gets just being here.  Blue has been to Holland many times, and they compared notes about certain cities.  We had a wonderful time.

Today’s photo was taken next to the Healthy Market.  I have seen this man for many years, moving about town on the frame of a Samlor.  There is a working Samlor in the background.  You will notice that the frame has no tires on the rims.  This guy just ‘walks’ his trike around town.  I’m not sure if he can actually walk or not, but he sure gets about.  An example of determination, humility, and innovation.

This afternoon we returned to Immigration to retrieve our passports.  They had to keep them for final approval of our visas.  Our ‘friend’ at the counter was joking with us and having a lot of fun while he did his paperwork.  One of the other officers asked about Blue, and whether he needed to renew his.  It was such a contrast to the early days when we dreaded going to the Immigration office in Mae Sai.  It was very impersonal, almost cold.  When we left, the officer ‘wai'd us first, which normally never happens.

One of the problems with the irregular rain is the burning that happens.  When it doesn’t look like rain, people burn their trash while things are dry.  There are many corn fields that burn the waste after the harvest and that just adds to the problem.  Fortunately, the farmers around us are plowing most of the leftovers into the ground and replanting.  We’ve had a few fires, but they weren’t the massive field burnings.  More rain would be nice so they can’t burn anything.  Oh well, most of the time it’s fresh breezes and we like that.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


“If you want others to be happy,
practice compassion.  If you want to be happy,
practice compassion.”
~The Dalai Lama

Wednesday, September 16, 2015



The weather in Chiang Mai this morning was mostly clear.  The entire trip was like that, including our ride home today.  Of course, there were forecasts of storms, but none appeared.

The ‘Easy Monday’ song was “Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful.  It’s ‘Zany Day’ time once again.
“Oh, flew in from Miami Beach B.O.A.C., didn’t get to bed last night.  On the way the paper bag was on my knee, man I had a dreadful flight, I’m __ __ __ __ __ __ __.”  Hint:  The last four dashes are initials denoting a location.  It came from across the pond.

I would have to say that our little Chiang Mai adventure was definitely not a vacation.  If you consider that we had to wake up at 6am both days, that makes it a ‘work day’.  Our bus was scheduled to depart at 8:15am so we had to pack, eat and get to the bus station.  That was our morning.  On our return trip the bus was a newer model, with nicer seats.  Sometimes you notice the little things.  I got a chance to listen to a few tunes from the album I discovered in the hotel dining room, and we watched more Star Trek.  The bus attendant put on a movie that lasted about half the trip and though it was in Thai, I managed to follow some of it for awhile.  Before we knew it, we were back in Chiang Rai.

We got home in time for lunch and a big greeting from Daku.  Not long after lunch it was time to go to Immigration for the renewal of our Retirement Visas.  With that annual mission accomplished, we headed for the fruit lady at Healthy Market.  We were about to go home when I suggested we get the van washed. After tea and coffee at Work@Home we walked back to the car wash.  We were stopped by an artist friend on a bicycle who told us about an exhibit later this month.  It was good to be home.

During our stroll of the Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai we happened upon a shop full of carved wooden objects.  Most of the work consisted of Buddhas and elephants.  It’s the kind of shop that could draw one in for hours.  

Why is it that a three hour bus ride can leave you feeling tired?  I think part of it has to do with the fact that riding through two mountain passes and compensating for the leaning of the bus uses a certain amount of energy.  Blue mentioned the noise of the bus and how that can have an effect as well.  Whatever the reason, we’re feeling it.

It’s time for Wacky Wednesday.


“The best revenge is to 
have enough self-worth 
not to seek it.”

Tuesday, September 15, 2015



I’m writing to you from Chiang Mai, Thailand.  The weather was great all the way here, and it was hot but bearable in this big city.  

‘Easy Monday’ was very easy for a lot of you.  It even brought back some memories.  Here’s a little more:
“But at night it’s a different world.  Go out and find a girl.  Come on, come on, and dance all night, despite the heat it’ll be alright.  And babe, don’t you know it’s a pity that the days can’t be like the nights in the __ __ __ __, in the __ __ __ __.”  Hint:  Hey, it’s ‘Easy Monday’.  Work with the lyrics.

The bus ride from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai was pretty smooth.  We passed the time watching a few episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation and gazing out at the jungle in the mountain passes.  The VIP bus has a cabin attendant and ours was very nice.  Cold water and cookies on take-off, and hand wipes before landing (555).

Our visit to the Consulate was made very memorable thanks to the courteous staff.  We don’t mind going there because we are always treated with respect and smiles.  Even the security guys are friendly and non-adversarial.  This time we took only what we needed in our bags.  The reason for this is because when you enter, you give them your stuff.  While you’re inside doing business they take phones, sharp things, etc. and put it into plastic bags.  You get the plastic bag back when you leave and have to pack it all away.    

There is a young woman who works in the restaurant at the hotel who remembers us each time we visit.  Today we asked if they could make up a special meal for me and she took care of it.  While we were eating I heard some music that I liked and she went and found out who it was.  I love this place.   Today’s photo was taken in the lobby.  We walked in as some of the staff was doing their daily ‘2pm Dance’.  Needless to say, it’s a very happy staff.

When it was time to go out and browse at the Warowot Market, a huge complex of shops and booths, I went to get into a Tuk-Tuk and didn’t realize it had an extension on the rear of the roof.  I got a cut on my forehead and the hotel staff raced to get a first-aid kit.  It’s not very bad, and Lisa cleaned it and we were off to the market.  It wasn’t a very fruitful adventure since a lot of shops were closing for the day.  Maybe next time we’ll find interesting things.

The D2 Hotel is on the big road that becomes the Night Bazaar each evening.  We cruised that on our way back to the hotel.  In a shop full of pashminas and bags we met the owner.  He is from Kashmir in Northern India and is very interested in art.  When I mentioned that Lisa was an artist we got into a big conversation.  Now we have a new friend in Chiang Mai.  He had his assistant give us his ‘Thai discount’, which was very cool.  More about our trip tomorrow.

Have a Happy Tuesday.


“All journeys have secret destinations
of which the traveler is unaware.
~Martin Buber

Monday, September 14, 2015



This weekend we had a mix of weather in Chiang Rai.  There was sunshine and rain, major heat one day and cool temps the next.  There was also a mall experience.

Well, the ‘Old School Friday’ song was “Georgia (On My Mind)” by Ray Charles.  That brings us to another episode of ‘Easy Monday’.  “Hot town, __ __ __ __, back of my neck getting dirty and gritty.  Been down, isn’t it a pity, doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city.”  Clue:  A song many can relate to during this time of year in the metropolis.

Saturday morning Lisa, Blue and I went to the mall, after making a fruit/veggie run at the Healthy Market.  I had been told at the iSight shop (the Apple Service Center), that they could replace the camera in my phone. They said it would take about 2 hours.  We were there when the doors opened at 10am.  I had backed up my phone the night before and reluctantly handed it over.  There is new ownership at the shop and the staff is great.  Our plan was to return after lunch.  The next stop was the Apple store to get a new iPad Mini.  The one we were looking for has not been released yet, so we asked for the latest one available.  ‘No have’, was the response we got.  Then Blue and I walked across the main aisle and found exactly what we wanted at Banana, an I.T. store that has the same stock as the Apple store.  What?  On the way out of the mall we stopped at iSight to give them a number to call when they finished, and they told us my phone was done.  Yea.  The afternoon was spent putting my phone back together (555).  It’s like a new phone, since everything got wiped and a new operating system installed.  Hmm.  

Sunday we had dinner at The Bistro with our friends Brenda and Eric.  The five of us had some fun conversations, told stories and laughed a lot.  Dinner with friends is always a pleasure.

Somewhere in all that we did, we got our tickets for the bus to Chiang Mai tomorrow morning.  We will leave on the 9am bus and return on Wednesday mid-day.  While waiting in line I noticed a very important sign.

After our appointments at the Consulate, we will have a whole afternoon and evening to find things we can’t get in Chiang Rai, see some of the city in the process, and relax at our favorite hotel.  ‘Off Season’ is cool because we can stay at The Dusit D2 and it’s affordable.  It’s a small, modern/hip place with a vibe of it’s own.

The ticks are back.  The last two nights we have discovered tons of ticks on Daku.  All of our theories are flying out the window.  We thought they lessened with the rain, that the low-cut grass would help, but they are still here and attaching themselves to the dog.  I guess we still need that cedar oil compound that isn’t allowed in the country.  Hey, maybe they’d give us a livestock permit if we showed them Daku.  (555)

Have a Great Week.


“When you arise in the morning, think of 
what a precious privilege it is to be alive-
to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
~Marcus Aurelius

Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday Funnies


The well-timed rains just keep on coming.  When we left the house this morning we realized it had rained last night. 
Today we just had hot.  As for the rest of the night, I really don’t know.  It’s anybody’s guess, but the grass is growing, and Daku is munching again.  Those of you who are going through high temperatures in other parts of the world have our deepest sympathies.  Drink lots of fluids and try to stay cool.

The ‘Zany Day’ song was “Subterranean Homesick Blues” by Bob Dylan.  Here’s an easy ‘Old School Friday’ for you:
“__, __, the whole day through.  Just an old sweet song keeps __ __ __ __.”  Hint:  The full title is four words, but one will do.  It’s a fond remembrance of a place.

Today was what might be called a ‘Tech Day’.  We had lots of things to do regarding things that plug in.  Each item was handled while keeping calm and it made the day easier.  It turned out that Cat’s computer didn’t need a battery, our iPad couldn’t have a new battery, and our local iSight shop could put a new camera in my phone.  Oh yes, then there’s the refrigerator.  The guy came again this week and ‘fixed’ it again.  Guess what?  It’s still leaving a puddle on the floor.  Oh, this modern world.

Our afternoon nap was interrupted by a phone call from a delivery man, telling us he was at the gate.  It was our order of ‘Black Seed Cumin Oil’.  This oil is supposed to be very good for many things, especially the immune system.  It is also one of the nastiest tasting and smelling things I have ever put in my body.  Yuck.  Blue has it twice a day and I have it once.  It’s use dates back to ancient Egypt, but it was found in a pyramid so we’re not sure what that means (555).  It was hard to get back to sleep after that.  A little later we went for a swim.  That’s something we haven’t done in a long time.  It was very spontaneous.  Lisa was out with Daku and happened to check the water since it was such a hot day.  It was cool on entry, but felt great after that.  I guess the rains have been warm.

For the Friday Foto we return to Chivit Tamma Da, and a close-up of some tiny, beautiful flowers photographed by Blue.  They were starting to bloom all around the grounds.

It looks like we’re going to have a mellow weekend.  No big events on the calendar, just a trip to the mall tomorrow. Cat is going to her village to help celebrate a good friend’s birthday.  The party will start in the village and end in town at Walking Street.  Sounds like a full day.  

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.       It’s time for the ‘Funnies’.


Thursday, September 10, 2015



The weather is in a new pattern.  We had overnight rain, and this afternoon we had a heavy downpour.  At some point the winds came up and blew some of the big leaves from across the road onto our front yard.  It’s a mess.

The ‘One-line Zany Day’ song had two readers who knew it.  I will leave you with the last line of the song.  It should jar you just enough to say, ‘I know that’.  “Don’t wanna be a bum, you better chew gum, the pump don’t work ‘cause the vandals took the handles.”  Clue:  The artist was considered a ‘Folk singer/poet’ in the beginning of his career and shocked his fans when he went electric.  He has sung about the wind, tambourines, and war.  

Today was the day we went to Immigration for our annual renewals.  Well, that was what was supposed to happen.  We learned that they only do renewals on Monday and Wednesday.  For good measure, the officer offered to look over our papers to make sure everything was in order.  It seems that they need a notarized letter from the U.S. Consulate stating how much we get in Social Security every year.  Hmm, that means we have to go to Chiang Mai to secure the document.  We will make the trip next Tuesday and renew on Wednesday.  It’s never as simple as imagined.

After we finished at the Immigration office we went back to the post office with the partially eaten pink notice.  As of this writing they are looking for whatever it was regarding and will call us if they find it.  Hmm.

We are fortunate to be having the kind of sporadic storms that are dumping on Chiang Rai.  In other areas, the rains come more often and flooding becomes a problem.  Here, it rains hard, soaks in or runs into the river, and by the next storm the ground is ready for more.  I would imagine that it’s better for some of the construction projects as well.  When it rains all day work has to stop.  

I found another interesting vegetable the other day at the Healthy Market.  I can tell you that it’s a bean pod about a foot long and the beans are used in a local soup.  I had never seen anything like it.

Speaking of veggies, my old friend Mr. Zucchini is back in town.  We’ve only found it in one store and we bought a bunch.   Yum.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


“Take the attitude of a student:
never be too big to ask questions,
never know too much to learn
something new.”
~Og Mandino

Wednesday, September 9, 2015



We had a day without rain.  At times it looked like it was about to happen, but never did.  There was talk of thunder and that was delivered, but that was all.  

The ‘Easy Monday’ song was “On Broadway” by The Drifters, featuring Ben E. King and also by George Benson years later.  Let’s see if this ‘One-line Zany Day’ song rings a bell.  “Johnny’s in the basement mixing up the medicine, I’m on the pavement thinking ‘bout the government.”  Hint:  The title, if I’m translating properly, has to do with underground yearnings for an earlier time in life.  Or not.  The artist has been known to easily confuse the listener with his poems.

Yesterday I found a pink notice from the post office inside our mailbox.  It had been there for a long time and was partially eaten by who knows what.  This morning we went up to Ban Du to our main branch to see if we had a package.  We forgot the pink notice and they were unable to find anything but our current mail.  In the early years we never got mail.  Now we get things from Art Bridge, various stores where we shop, and the occasional ‘letter from home’ (555).  We’ll go back with what’s left of the notice and see if they can figure it out.  There was a snail sitting on the notice, which led Blue to observe:  'The real meaning of Snail Mail’.  

This afternoon we met our friend Atom at Chivit Tamma Da for a visit.  The place was jumping and they sat us in the solarium.  It was nice having the feeling of outside without the heat and the breeze off the river.  We spent over an hour talking and laughing and having a great time.  In the course of conversation, Atom told us about something called a ‘Cat Coffee’ shop.  There is an area inside the coffee shop with lots of cats and you order your coffee and then play with the cats.  She said they have them in Japan, where many people are not permitted to have pets in their small apartments.  Hmm, I’m very allergic to cats and I would die in a shop like that.   Oh well, it’s not like Chiang Rai doesn’t have any coffee shops (555).  Atom is going to give us some seeds to grow an edible flower that is very popular here in Thailand.  The petals are purple and are used in making everything from desserts to omelets.

Today’s photo was taken by Blue while we were outside at Chivit Tamma Da.  You can see that the river is not very deep, since the fisherman is standing on the bottom.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already time to book our flights back to the states for our Winter Visit.  Even booking this far in advance, we didn’t get the seats we wanted on the long flight over the ocean.  We like to have the two seats on the window side of the plane so we can ‘camp out’ without neighbors.  It’s possible that we can change them at the airport.  As to who got all the rest of the seat is anybody’s guess.  The answer from the airline was vague and puzzling.  We think the travel agents get an early priority.  It doesn’t stop the show, just makes it different.

It feels like a Wacky Wednesday.


“Enthusiasm is the most 
important thing in life.”
~Tennessee Williams

Tuesday, September 8, 2015



Chiang Rai got the full range of weather today.  We started with hot sunshine and slowly slipped into dark clouds with sprinkles. 

The ‘Easy Monday’ song was a snap for a bunch of you.  Here’s the rest of the first verse.  Hope it helps.
“…They say there’s always magic in the air.  (__ __)  But when you’re walkin’ down that street, and you ain’t had enough to eat, the glitter rubs right off and you’re nowhere, (__ __).”  Clue: There are two notable recordings of this song.  This time either artist will do, although the original is always cool.  It’s about life on a boulevard in NYC.

Last night we discovered something very interesting.  Our call-forwarding number from the U.S. was going straight to voicemail.  I checked the number on this end and it was set up correctly.  After several tries, Lisa discovered that Thailand numbers need to begin with 8 or 9 for my international call service.  My recent number change begins with a 6.  There are so many cell phones in Thailand that they had to begin a new number series.  We changed the forwarding number to Lisa’s phone and it worked.  Oh, these modern times.  

For those of you who are interested in seeing the Small Works from the exhibit, they have been posted on the Art Bridge Facebook page.  The link below will give you a look at all the variations of style and mediums used.  To the right of each photo you can see the title (sometimes in English) and what medium was used.

We’ve always known that Daku was a smart dog, but lately he seems to be showing us new awarenesses.  When Natcha calls us for lunch of dinner, he jumps up and heads for the door.  He will wait at the top of the stairs or on the landing until we appear, looking up as if to say, ‘Are you coming?’.  His sense of time is still quite amazing.  He will wake up during the night and just look around, not disturbing us.  When 6:30am comes he’s up, with a toy in his mouth pacing.  If I don’t get right up, he comes over and pushes his toy in my face.  That usually does the trick.

When the yard crew came last week we had them cut down some of the bananas and coconuts.  In today’s photo you can see part of the mini-harvest.  We always send some of the fruit home with the workers and give some to Gong and Natcha.  

This week we will be renewing our Retirement Visas, which means copying documents, going to the bank, and then to the immigration office.  Now that we have done this for a few years (555) it’s not as intimidating as it used to be.  We know now that if you go ahead of the deadline, if there are any changes in the process, there is time to deal with it.  Our friends at immigration are always very helpful, so it should be another routine visit.

Have a Happy Tuesday.


“Outside show is a poor substitute
for inner worth.”

Monday, September 7, 2015



Chiang Rai has had a very rainy weekend.  We endured a couple of ‘Storms of the Century’ along with some weird stuff.  Even with all of that, we had a great weekend.

The ‘Old School Friday song was “Heatwave” by Martha & The Vandellas.  ‘Easy Monday should be a snap.
“They say the neon lights are bright __ __.”  Hint:  Oh, seriously?

Saturday we braved Makro in the morning.  It still boggles our minds when we see the carts of the shoppers for their little stores.  They are filled to the brim with all the stuff one buys at a convenience store.  Some use the flat-bed carts that they fill with cases of beverages along with several carts.  We filled our cart and managed to luck out at the check-out.  All day, we were watching the sky for signs of rain.  As long as it wasn’t storming in the evening, we were determined to go to Art Bridge.

The Small Paintings Exhibit was a major success.  The turnout was large, and the 255 pieces of artwork were almost overwhelming.  Someone asked me which one was my favorite and I told them I couldn’t limit it to one.  It had been two exhibit openings since we’d seen a lot of our friends and it was nice to be missed.  We plan to return when the gallery is empty so we can really absorb the entire exhibit.  

Not far from our house, there was a very large corn field that was recently cut down.  Looking past that field I noticed a grove of trees that I’d never seen before.  I finally took a photo and asked Cat if she knew what they were.  The next time you have some tapioca pudding, remember these trees, for they are tapioca trees.

When the yard crew came on Friday, they cut the lawn down farther than we like it.  They chopped the clover close to the ground and the whole thing looked like it was dead.  We know it will grow back quickly, but it was a bit of a shock.  I suppose it was a good thing in terms of allowing the water to run to the drains easier.  Daku was not amused by the absence of grazing grass.  He looked a bit confused when he first went out on the new turf.  With all the rain we’ve been getting, it will be back to ‘normal’ very soon.  

Sunday evening, just as we started getting ready for dinner at the hotel, it began to rain.  Lisa, Cat, and Claire were going to ‘dress up’ unless it was raining.  Instead, they dressed for the weather.  By the time we reached Le Meridien, the rain had slowed to a sprinkle so we stayed dry.  We had another evening of stimulating conversation on numerous topics, laughed a lot, and learned new things.  

When we arrived back at the Big Brown House we were in for a surprise.  The water pressure was very low downstairs and nonexistent upstairs.  What?  Lisa and I went outside with flashlights, looking for possible leaks, only to hear the whine of the pump motors and the beginnings of water going into the tanks.  Blue suggested that maybe the storm had knocked out some element of the ‘City Water’ as it’s called.  We kept hoping for the best, because there was nothing else to do.  Much later that night, the water was back, the pressure was strong, and evening showers could be enjoyed by all.  Whew.  

This morning we were treated to another big rain.  The various ways people adapt in the rain is still fascinating.  We saw everything from rain-coats to trash bags keeping people dry.  Vendors with their sidecar kitchens were especially clever, with plastic sheeting covering their stoves and food until they got to their next stop.  Then the covers became curtains.  Life goes on, even in the rain.

Have a Great Week,


“You must stick to your convictions,
but be ready to abandon your assumptions.”
~Denis Waitley