Thursday, December 31, 2015

Words

Hi,

There are many different kinds of ‘cold’.  We experienced two of them in as many days.  The cold in the San Jose/Palo Alto area was much more dramatic than the cold in Southern California.  Up north it was that ‘bite your face’ kind of cold.  There was ice on the car window on Wednesday morning.  This, I do not like.  

A few readers knew the song.  It was recorded by one of the oldest bands in R&R.  It’s OK if you don’t know.
“I shouted ‘who killed the Kennedys?’ when after all it was you and me… Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name…”  Clue:  The song is an historical overview from the perspective of the perpetrator of evil deeds.

The northern portion of our trip was a huge success.  We spent Wednesday morning with Joe.  Breakfast, a visit to his studio, a trip to the Stanford museum of art, and then lunch.  Good times with a great guy.  

We have been doing these ‘visits’ for 8 years.  There is one constant that we can depend on:  evening flights from San Jose to L.A. will be late in departing.  The planes have to come from another city, unload their passengers and then load the folks going to L.A.  For some reason, the plane is always late getting to San Jose.  Just one of those things I guess.

Riding around in Palo Alto was a very stark contrast to Chiang Rai, or even Culver City for that matter.  Strictly enforced laws, and lots of signs letting you know what will happen if you disobey.  Hmm, it certainly gets one’s attention.  We saw a ‘Google Car’, the one with the camera on the roof.  Sometimes you have to go for the cheap thrills (555).

Today’s photo was taken at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.  There are always amazing floral displays throughout the facility and this is a flower wall.


So, what are you doing New Years Eve?  Drop me a line, just for fun.  

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                 Peace,
                           Danny

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
and next year’s words await another voice.”
~T.S. Elliot

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bend

Hi,

I think it’s safe to say this cold business is not a spell, but a new ‘season’ for California.  Folks in the north are preparing for flooding if heavy rain comes.

So, the ‘Easy Monday’ song was “(They long to be) Close to You, by The Carpenters or Dionne Warwick.  Time to throw you a curve with the ‘Zany Day’ song.  “Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste.  I’ve been around for a long, long year, stole many a man’s soul to waste… Please to meet you, hope you guess my name, but what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game.”  A notorious tune by a notorious group about a notorious character through time.  The title is not sung, but is asking us to take pity on a scoundrel.  Hmm.

Tuesday morning we got up before dawn to get ready for our trip to the north.  Our flight was delayed due in part to cancellations in other cities because of the storms.  Are you with me?  Passengers who were on cancelled flights were given seats on other flights.  We finally got off the ground and had an uneventful flight to San Jose.  From there we drove our rental car to San Leandro.  

The Cousin Lunch has become an institution  over the years.  First cousins Eunice and Trudye and dear family friend and honorary cousin Skip make up the club.  There are more cousins, but we have been close since childhood.  We always have stimulating conversations, updates on family stuff, and a healthy amount of laughter.

Along the way we stopped in Fremont for coffee and some coffee cake.  I made a point of checking to see how much the coffee would have cost in Chiang Rai and it was pretty close. Money is one of those things that I have to prepare myself for when  we come here.  The bills are all the same size, regardless of denomination.  In Thailand, each denomination is a different size and color, making it much easier, in my opinion, to keep track of what’s in your pocket.  

Today’s photo is a familiar face.  It’s been a week and we’re missing him.


In the evening we had dinner in Palo Alto with Joe, Karen Jo, and her grand-daughter.  She is almost nine and is having a ‘cooking party’ for her birthday celebration.  We will be having breakfast with Joe and then a visit to his studio to look at his latest art projects.

Time for Wacky Wednesday.

               Peace,
                         Danny

“It is better to bend
than to break.”
~Scottish Proverb

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Peace

Hi,

Living in this cold weather reminds me of when we were on tour, traveling in the east in winter.  So many layers of clothing.  

‘Easy Monday’ was clearly a winner this week.  A lot of readers got this one on the first day.  Here’s more:
“On the day that you were born, the angels got together and decided to create a dream come true.  So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair, of gold and starlight in your eyes of blue.  And that’s why all the kids in town, follow you all around.  Just like me, (__ __ __ __) __ __ __.”  Hint:  There were two hit versions of this song.  Either artist will do.  The brother and sister team, or the diva, take your pick.

Driving around town today we made a startling discovery:  We could see inside peoples cars and they could see us.  In Thailand, most cars have tinted windows because of the heat.  When you ride around town, you don’t really see the people inside the cars and trucks.  Everyone has the windows up and the air/con going.

Yesterday was the day we made our trip to a The Ross store.  Every trip we make a point of going to our favorite discount store to see what we can see.  This visit was all about warm things, mostly.  Since we probably won’t take most of the warm things back to Thailand, we wanted to get things that might last a couple of winters.  Not that I’m hoping it will be this cold next winter, but who knows?  It was a success.

We went back to Emerald Thai for lunch.  We were to meet friends, but went a little early to hang out with our friend Nid.  We’ve known him for about 16 years.  He showed us pictures of his family back in Thailand and he told us of his plan to return home in two years.  It was a very warm, heart-to-heart conversation.  Our friends arrived and we were blown away.  Long-time friend Kerrina, who used to be our physical therapist, brought her three tall children we hardly recognized.  It’s been a few years since we’ve seen them.  It was great catching up on their lives and interests.  

Today’s photo was taken at The Big Brown House.  It’s a shot of our front yard from a different perspective.


As you read this message, we’re in travel mode, going to Northern California to visit Joe, Lisa's father, her step-sister Karen Jo, and the Oakland cousins.  More on that in my next message.

Have a Happy Tuesday.

                Peace,
                          Danny

“Looking for peace is like looking 
for a turtle with a mustache; 
you won’t be able to find it.  
But when your heart is ready,
peace will come looking for you.”
~Ajahn Chah

Monday, December 28, 2015

Generosity

Hi,

Well, it’s still cold to us.  There were times during the weekend, when the sun was bright and the wind died down, that felt rather pleasant, but that didn’t last.  Mid-morning temp in Chiang Rai was in the high 70s.  

The ‘Old School Friday’ song was “Frosty the Snowman”.  Time for a real ‘Easy Monday’.  “Why do birds, suddenly appear every time you are near?  Just like me, (__ __ __ __) __ __ __.  Why do stars fall down from the sky every time you walk by?  Just like me (__ __ __ __) __ __ __.”  Hint:  Really?  The part in parenthesis is part of the title, but you know the line.

Christmas morning we woke up very early, just like every morning so far.  When I was a kid, it was to take a peak at what Santa left under the tree.  Now, it’s because our old friend said it’s time to wake up.  Bah, humbug.  At a more civilized hour, we went into the main house and we had coffee and cinnamon rolls, which has become a tradition.  Anna played Santa or Santa’s elf and passed out the gifts from under the tree.  There was lots of laughter and joking as the gifts were opened.  The dogs, Peaches and Lola, got into the act, sniffing around and finally receiving their stockings.  At one point, Peaches had her whole head inside her stocking.  

In the evening we all went to Pasadena for dinner with my mom, her sister, my brother and his family, along with the Karp family.  What a great time.  We dined at the Pasadena Hilton and after dinner, that’s when I discovered an amazing dessert.  It was called ‘Deconstructed Lemon Merengue’.  It was the inside of the obvious, with no crust, just graham cracker crumbs around the edges.  Our waitress brought extra spoons, knowing everyone would want a taste and she was right.  I asked my brother, who lives in Colorado, how he liked the cold weather in Southern California and he told me it wasn’t cold.  Ha.  They get cold when it reaches around 30 degrees.  Oh.

Saturday our Culver City family had dinner at Emerald Thai, one of our favorites.  This time last year I couldn’t eat there.  This year was totally different and I thoroughly enjoyed my meal.  Our friend Nid was very happy to see us and it felt like old times.  Lisa and I will go back and visit with him in the afternoon one day so we can talk about Thailand.

The mechanism of home delivery of food is quite different here in the U.S., compared to Thailand.  Over here we see cars with a sign on the roof, designating them as a delivery vehicle.  When you order pizza, for instance, you call the store near you and they deliver.  In Thailand, there is a 3 or 4 digit number that connects you to the order desk.  When the order is ready it is sent out on the vehicle in our photo for today.  Quick delivery.


We now move into the ‘visiting’ phase of our journey.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner and coffee will be the focal point for the next few weeks.  The adventure continues.

Have a Great Week.

                    Peace,
                              Danny

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

Friday, December 25, 2015

Friday Funnies

Hi,

I can’t believe the weather in Los Angeles actually gave us a break yesterday.  Our first day ‘in the streets’ wasn’t as cold as I imagined it would be.  Maybe the Chamber of Commerce wanted to make a good impression.  Whatever the reason, the bulk of the daylight hours were not as cold as I thought they’d be.  Good job L.A.

The Christmas ‘Zany Day’ song was Ms. Eartha Kitt singing “Santa Baby”.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFMyF9fDKzE  (there is an ad in the beginning)  Now, for ‘Old School Friday’ we’ve got another holiday favorite.  “__ __ __ was a jolly happy soul.  With a corncob pipe and a button nose and two eyes made out of coal.”  Hint:  The title of the song is a name, sort of.  This ‘person’ loves the cold weather, simply dies in the heat.  Bonus: You get to pick from the many artists who have performed this song through the years.  

It’s seems funny that we would travel eight thousand miles to run errands, but that’s exactly what happened.  I will say this, it’s a good thing our gift gathering was over, I don’t think I could have handled the obvious crowds that must have been trying to do their last-minute shopping.  

Driving down Washington Bl. yesterday morning, and later on Venice, we made a point to notice the new businesses, the ones that were gone, and the ones that are still active.  A few landmarks from our past have given way to progress and or new businesses.  It must be something about the size of a city, that eventually certain old-school things just go away. 

In the afternoon we were hanging out with The Family and Anna made a joke about the frequency with which I mentioned Jet Lag in the past.  If all goes well, this may be the only mention this year.  Yesterday we fought the urge to let Mr. Lag win.  We kept busy and he just sat in the corner, moping.  I realize that today is another day, but yesterday we were triumphant.  

The night before Christmas we gathered around the dining room table for a feast.  Anna worked her magic on a roasted chicken that was delicious.  She and Lisa prepared a meal that was a joy for me.  I know a few places in Thailand that need the recipe for the chicken dish.  

Our photo for today was taken at Browney Pet World, Chiang Rai, Thailand.  Notice the big bones in front.


Tonight we will go to Pasadena for a Family dinner.  

Hope you all have a WonderFilled Day.       On to the ‘Funnies’.

                   Peace,
                             Danny


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Learn

Hi,

Here in Los Angeles it’s cold.  At least it was when we landed last night.  Our plane touched down at 7:30pm and it was 59F.  

Before we go on, here are the numbers:  Danny (310) 494-1179     Lisa (310) 227-2351

The ‘Zany Day’ song this week is a holiday favorite around here.  The singer is a legendary singer and actress with a very sultry delivery.  “__ __, a ’54 convertible too, light blue.  We’’ I’ll wait up for you, dear, __ __.  So hurry down the chimney tonight, yeah.”  Hint:  Our singer has very expensive tastes when it comes to gifts.  

Our long journey into the night was rather uneventful.  I ended up eating fruit at every meal and sleeping through the mid-Pacific stretch.  We’re so glad we took our own snacks.  When the plane is dark inside and it’s dark outside, what else is there to do?  For the first time in all these years, I did not watch a movie.  I did, however, get almost up-to-date on a TV show (555).  

Landing at LAX on December 23 was very surreal.  The basement of the international building, where Border Control and all it’s divisions are based, was packed with travelers.  It looked like we’d be trapped there for hours.  Thanks to the new machines, helpers, and stripped down efficiency, it didn’t take long.  We got help with our bags from the same guy who helped us last summer.  He told us what planes had arrived and how many on board and it was mind-boggling.  There were over 1500 passengers arriving at the international gates within one hour.  That’s who we were standing with in the basement.  

You know it’s cold when you step outside and your eyes begin to water and you feel like your skin is frozen.  Welcome to L.A.  Driving to our Culver City family home, I remembered which side of the road to drive on, although I did hit the wipers a few times while changing lanes (555).  After our traditional Pollo Loco food stop we had truly arrived.

There are no words to describe the feeling of walking into our home-away-from-home.  Instant warmth and caring were very apparent.  There were lots of little touches and surprises that made us smile.  Anna, Jeff and ’The Boys’ made this a memorable Winter visit and it’s only the first night.  

Today’s photo was taken in Chiang Rai, in front of a variation on the ‘Everything Store’.  Who wants to play ’Santa’?


Joke of the morning:  Lisa’s U.S. SIM did not work, meaning no telephone service.  This morning she said we had to go to DTAC and get her phone working.  I started laughing and she said, ‘What’s so funny about that?’  Well, our local provider is T-Mobile, DTAC is for Thailand.  

Time to get out there and join the madness in the streets.  

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                 Peace,
                           Danny  

“Learn to let go.
That is the key to
happiness.”
~Buddha

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Can Do

Hi,

At this very moment, 3:54am Los Angeles time, we are 720 miles from Taipei, traveling 935mph at an altitude of 37,000 feet. When we land I will put some finishing touches on this message and then send it to you.

This week’s ‘Easy Monday’ song was “Daddy’s Home” by Shep & The Limelights.  The Heartbeats, who sang “A Thousand Miles Away” are the same group that sang “Daddy’s Home”, just a little name change.  Melodically, the songs are very similar also.  Here are both songs, in order: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nldzaJouG8  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJMeqjJBr9s     ‘Zany Day’ would not be complete this time of year without this tune: “__ __, slip a sable under the tree, for me.  I’ve been an awful good girl, __ __.  So hurry down the chimney tonight.”  Hint:  After all these years you should all know this song.  The first name of a jolly guy is involved.

Daku had a very confusing morning.  First, we woke up at a time when he usually ‘stirs’, but goes back to sleep.  He knows that Cat gets up at 5am and that’s his initial start of the day.  When we got up and turned on the lights he was surprised.  Not long after that he had his breakfast, which was very early.  When Cat didn’t come out of her room it just added to the confusion.  Cat has the flu and is very sick.  She thought she could go to school, but that thought quickly faded.  Her sister came over to take her to the doctor and then to her place to take care of her.  Daku was not used to having company that early in the morning.  What a way to distract him from our exit.

Today’s photo is our new, improved, smaller collection of ‘things to drag though the airport’.  Rudi took us to the airport and just as we were almost there, Lisa realized we had left the little cooler bag with the home-made bread and brownies for the trip.  Since Rudi was taking the van back to our house, he picked up the cooler, got on his scooter and came back to the airport.  It was a marvelous plan.


At the check-in counter we learned that we could send out bags all the way to LAX through a new program Bangkok Airways has with EVA and other airlines.  It also meant that we were now considered ‘International’ clients and they sent us to a different immigration room.  We had never seen so many people at our little airport.  Once upon a time we might see one or two airplanes on the tarmac at any given time.  This morning there were three planes loading passengers.  Chiang Rai airport has really grown up.  Our separate, international check-in was totally painless.  Our passports were inspected, departure cards stamped, and we were done. 

Our layover time in Taipei has been shortened because we left Bangkok later than originally planned.  We don’t mind since it’s our least favorite lounge to hang out in.  We’ll have a little over an hour and then it’s time for the big flight over the Pacific.  

Definitely a Wacky Wednesday.

                 Peace,
                           Danny 

“Alone we can do so little;
together we can do so much.”
~Hellen Keller

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Voyage

Hi,

For the second day in a row, we encountered heavy fog in the early hours, followed by bright sunshine and a very warm day.  What happened to the rain?

Our ‘Easy Monday’ answer song got a bigger response than the song it answered.  Hmm, oh well, here’s more:
“How I’ve waited for this moment to be by your side.  Your best friend wrote and told me you had teardrops in your eyes.  __ __, your __ __ to stay.  I’m not a thousand miles away.”  Hint:  It was recorded by the same group with a different name.  

Today’s message will be shorter that usual due to last minute packing and a late start on everything.  We got invited to a surprise birthday dinner for our friend Nukoon.  It was held at a new restaurant that is operated by his son and nephew.  In English, the name means Rose Garden.  There are over 400 roses on the grounds of this riverside spot and the smell at sunset was wonderful.  It was a gathering of ‘The Family’, the folks who helped us get started here in Chiang Rai.  We met Nukoon in 2001 on our first visit to Thailand and we’ve been friends since then.  The menu was all Thai food and it was a good feeling to be able to not have to decline eating because of this or that.  We all had a fun time.  There was also a trio playing music that we really enjoyed.

Our new back-up fridge was delivered and is filled with food.  It feels good to know Blue, Cat and Daku will have things to eat while we’re gone.  It’s not everything, but enough to set our minds at ease. 

The photo today was taken in the village of Ban Du, a few miles north of us.  We had stopped on the Super Highway at Dr. View’s office, she’s one of Daku’s vets.  The image in the center is of several birds' nests constructed on the telephone wires.  There were many nests up and down the lines.  No worry about predators in this location.


Tomorrow we rise at 5am to get ready for our journey to the U.S.  It’s another one of those 26-hour things that seems like it will never end.  Knowing it does end is great consolation about 3/4 of the way (555).  

Have a Happy Tuesday.      I’ll write to you from Taipei. 

                 Peace,
                           Danny

“The voyage of discovery 
lies not in seeking new vistas,
but in having new eyes.”
~Unknown

Monday, December 21, 2015

Love

Hi,

Cold has been the topic all weekend.  Everyone is cold and talking about it.  Actually, today it warmed up a bit, but as the big burning ball was producing an incredible sunset, the temps were slowly dropping.  

The ‘Old School Friday’ song was “A Thousand Miles Away” by The Heartbeats. Our  ‘Easy Monday’ song should be easy for some.  It’s what was called an ‘Answer Song’ back in the day.  I think you know.  “You’re my love, you’re my angel, you’re the girl of my dreams.  I’d like to thank you for waiting patiently.  __ __, your __ __ to stay.”  Hint:  Well, it is ‘Easy Monday’ isn’t it.  Think about it.

Before I forget, on behalf of the household of The Big Brown House, we’d like to wish you all:


Today was the day we finished everything on our lists.  It’s now time to pack, or at least decide what we want to take to stay warm.  We go into it this year with smaller suitcases, but with the knowledge that we can always get something warm at Ross (555).  

Daku got a bath today, much to his dismay.  In the past, he has had no love for hair-dryers.  Today Lisa managed to calm/distract him with some kibble and start the drying process with the machine since it was chilly this morning. 

With two nights left before we leave, many things race through our minds.  There are the things we want to have in place on the home front, and things we anticipate on our journey.  It becomes obvious after a bit, that control is an illusion and things will work out with a little guidance.  We still don’t have our main refrigerator back.  It may come sometime next week.  Meanwhile, the house needs food (555).  A new junior size is coming tomorrow and will serve as back-up in the future.  We’re also hoping Natcha’s baby waits for us to get home before making her debut.  These are a few of the thoughts that can surface at any given moment.

Sometimes I wonder if I could possibly travel the way some friends do, with just a backpack.  What?  Maybe when I was a kid, but not today.  It doesn’t really matter how I travel as long as I’m comfortable getting there and being wherever ‘there’ is.

Though we will miss the opening days of the annual flower festival, I asked Cat to post photos so I can pass some along to you.  Hmm, something to look forward to.

Have a Great Week.

                Peace,
                          Danny

“Love is the light that dissolves
all walls between souls, families, 
and nations.”
~Paramahansa Yogananda

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Funnies


Hi,
Well, it rained off and on all night and into the morning.  It has been cold all day.  If you’re living with snow then it’s not so cold, but we went from mid-80sF to mid-50s.  We’re allowed 5 days of whining.

‘Zany Day’ was “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da” by The Beatles.  This week’s ‘Old School Friday’ should be very familiar.
“You’re __ __ __ __ bu-u-t I still have your love to remember you by, oh , my dar-ar-ar-arling, dry your eyes.  Daddy’s coming home soon.  On my knees every day-ay all I do is pray, baby, just for you.  Hope you a-a-a-always want me too.  Daddy’s coming home soon.”  Hint:  There is a great distance in the title.

We were all set to take Daku out for his morning run when the yard crew showed up.  They were early and ready to work.  As a result, Daku had to spend the day inside, with the exception of shorts breaks outside on a leash.  Not his idea of fun.  So much to smell when the gardeners are here.  

Last Friday night, on our way home from the Night Bazaar, I stopped to finally get photos of the BBQ van that sets up business on the corner of a lot each night.  The name is ‘SanFran Burgers & Beer’.  They cook on open grills and do the prep inside the van.  They don’t serve anything we eat, but it must be good judging from the number of customers.


This afternoon Lisa and I went to Overbrook Hospital to get flu shots.  The main reception area had a carnival atmosphere.  There was a woman walking around with a wireless microphone describing some kind of hair styling demonstration.  The volume was enough to run us out, but we made our way to the other side, in search of Khun Pay, our contact for medical needs.  She was off today and since it was so crazy, we left .  It felt good to get out of the loud room.  
Our errand running led us back to Central Plaza Mall for a few things.  Friday afternoon at the mall is a real crush.  We passed a new food stand that was called N&B Pancakes and the smell was delicious.  The only things was, they weren’t selling pancakes, but things wrapped in pancakes, like hot-dogs and other food.  What?  The mall is becoming headquarters for all kinds of fusion foods.  MacDonald’s is now selling salmon burgers.  Hmm.  Every store we went into was having big sales.  We weren’t really there to ‘shop’ but I did get a warm shirt for the trip to the States.  The range of ‘warm’ is very limited, which is to be expected for a region that only requires warm clothes for a short time.  

We just returned from dinner with our good friend Supaluk, who owns the big art supply store in town.  Her son Pete, his wife Jeab and their 3-year-old son Charles made it a party of seven.  It was a lot of fun for all of us.  Lisa and Supaluk exchange messages every day on Line, sending each other photos of beautiful things.  Supaluk is learning English and is one of Lisa's art fans.  Little Charles charmed everyone in the place, while Blue, Pete and I discussed and laughed.  Next time, Pete wants to cook for us.  Looking forward to that.

The change in the weather caused us to put the big down comforter on the bed last night.  All of the warm clothes are quickly making their way to the front of the closet (555).  

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.       Time for the ‘Funnies’.

                 Peace,
                           Danny 



Thursday, December 17, 2015

Light

Hi,

As the song says: "There’s been a change in the weather…”  This morning it rained.  It also got very cold and remained that way all day.  When we drove into town it was dry, but later the rain showed up.  Feels like winter just might have arrived.  Brrr.

This week’s ‘Zany Day’ tune is not heavy at all, just a simple love story.  There is nothing to be learned from the title (555).  “Desmond takes the trolley to the jewelers store, buys a twenty carat golden ring (Golden ring?).  Takes it back to Molly waiting at the door and as he gives it to her she begins to sing:  ‘__-__-__, __-__-__ life goes on brah, la-la how the life goes on….”  Hint: There are no words.

All around town, people were in jackets and the conversation of the day was the weather.  We were out on the town with our list, getting things done.  Sometimes that might seem boring, but it can be the excitement for the day.  We never know what we’ll see when we go into town.  Today we were on Bus Station street and while I sat, double parked, I watched the progress on the rebuilding of the bus station.  A few days ago we realized they had completely demolished it.  What?  Yes, it’s totally gone, yet the buses keep running, coming and going from the tiny parking lot that was barely adequate to begin with.  It’s amazing to watch giant buses pull into the driveway and somehow unload their passengers and baggage, reload and leave amidst what could be called organized chaos.  

With the streets of Southern California about a week away, I am constantly reminding myself that I cannot drive there like I drive here.  It’s just not done (555).  I will have to park the car and probably put money or a credit card in a machine rather than hand a nice lady 4 Baht after she helps me park.  No double-parking or turning in front of slower traffic for 3 weeks.  On the bright side, I tell myself that cars will mostly stay in their lanes, people will wait for the green light before driving into the intersection, and I will not have cars turning in front of me (hopefully) as soon as the light turns green.  I am also getting ready to be patient in traffic, real traffic.

Today’s photo was taken by Lisa in our front yard.  The little elephant and the orchids welcome us home.


After dinner we went to the dentist and got our teeth cleaned.  Then it was off to the Night Bazaar for what may be the last time before we leave.  All of our friends were bundled up (it’s all outside) and talking about how cold it is, with big smiles on their faces.  Bus loads of visitors were cramming the aisles on a Thursday night, which may be good news for many vendors.  

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

               Peace,
                         Danny

“Nothing can dim the light
that comes from within.”
~Maya Angelou

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Today

Hi,

The forecasts called for rain tonight.  Some dark clouds came by during dinner, but it’s still dry outside.  The van got washed today so it will probably rain in the next few days (555).

The ‘Easy Monday’ song for the week was “Sailing” by Christopher Cross.    It’s time to get zany with the ‘Zany Day’ song.  This week we’re going zany with an English twist:  “Desmond has a barrow in the market place, Molly is the singer in a band.  Desmond says to Molly, ‘Girl I like your face’, and Molly says this as she takes him by the hand: ‘__-__-__, __-__-__ life goes on brah, la-la how the life goes on…”  Hint: Title is sounds, not really words.  You know those crazy boys across the pond.

This morning, after an uneventful trip to Big C and the fruit market, we noticed quite a few police officers gathered in the Clock Tower area.  They were dressed in their best uniforms, busy with walkie-talkies.  That’s a sure sign that something is about to happen.  A block later we saw more and we hoped we would be out of the area before whatever parade was coming.  Just as we passed the Chinese Cultural Center a truck came out of the driveway, loaded with young men in Lion Dance costumes, leaving a trail of exploding firecrackers.  We don’t know what the occasion was, we just know that we barely missed something that would have blocked the traffic.  

Today’s photo was taken at Central Plaza on Sunday.  The three young women are playing instrumental music that resembled the sound of The Gypsy Kings.  The instrument on the right is a Khim, traditional in Thai music.  It has brass strings that are played using flexible bamboo sticks with leather tips.  It’s the first time we’ve seen a group like this, playing non-Thai music in this fashion.  They stepped outside of the box.


When living in Thailand, one thing that is certain is the Immigration Service.  Regardless of one’s status, there is a certain relationship that must be maintained.  By that I mean you have to do what they require or you can be asked to leave.  We went there today for Blue’s 90-day check-in.  There are people here from various countries who do not check-in, or renew whatever visa they have.  They have come under scrutiny in the past few years and been given the title: ‘Over-stayers’.  They are asked to leave, and depending on how long they overstayed, their reentry is banned for different lengths of time.  Harsh stuff, but everyone knows the penalties.  

One more week in The Kingdom and we fly to America.  The time has really flown by.  There are still things to be arranged, dealt with, and resolved, but next Wednesday morning we will be starting our three week Winter visit.

Time for Wacky Wednesday.

                   Peace,
                             Danny

“Today is the tomorrow you worried about
yesterday.”
~Unknown 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tightrope

Hi,

A cloudless sky tells us there is no rain coming.  The warm days tell us that it’s not really winter.  The cold nights tell us that it’s coming soon.  

This week’s ‘Easy Monday’ song seems to have most of you stuck.  I think the generous clues will help you out.
“__ takes me away to where I’ve always heard it could be.  Just a dream and the wind carry me, and soon I will be free.”  Clue:  If you have a boat with no oars and no motor, yet you’re moving across the water with the wind, what might you be doing? 

It was a quiet day at The Big Brown House.  Lisa met with a long-time friend of ours for coffee, and that was the only trip outside the compound.  To give you a better understanding of the day, Daku was bored.  For some reason he wanted to either play, or go outside and just cruise the yard.  Running up and down the stairs, keeping the dog happy meant that I got lots of exercise, but I can think of better ways to get it.  He finally settled down after the whole dinner ritual.  When we go upstairs and he’s asked, ‘Where’s your toy?.  He dashes over to his collection and fetches the toy that gets filled with kibble.  After he shakes all the food out he gets his ball for tug-of-war, then he dozes.

The home team lost their final match of the ‘football’ season last night.  Chiang Rai United FC lost 5-0.  I only tell you this because it’s a big deal here.  It won’t dampen team spirit though.  Today’s photo was taken at the team store at Central Plaza, where they sell all the team ‘stuff’.  The tree knocked me out, considering that as a Buddhist country, Christmas is not a holiday/celebration.


With the absence of rain, some plant-life around town is looking a little brownish, but many of the trees and flowers are thriving.  It’s flower time in the north and the local promoters are gearing up for various shows.  We will miss the opening days of the Chiang Rai Flower Festival, but it runs until February, so we’ll have a chance to enjoy it when we return.  In our region there is also a large Coffee & Tea Festival, which I’d never heard of before.  Many communities are doing things this year to show off their local beauty and attract visitors from far away.

Have a Happy Tuesday.

                 Peace,
                           Danny

“Being on a tightrope is living;
everything else is waiting.”
~Karl Wallenda

Monday, December 14, 2015

Gratitude

Hi,

Beautiful weather in Chiang Rai these days.  The overnight cold is gone pretty early and then it’s moderately warm.  From what we’re reading, we will encounter ‘weather shock’ when we arrive in Los Angeles.  Brrr.  There is a mountain top in Chiang Mai that had frost on the ground.  

The ‘Old School Friday’ song was “I Can’t Get Next To You” by The Temptations.  Time for ‘Easy Monday’ and a song from 1979.  “Well, it’s not far down to paradise, at least it’s not for me.  And if the wind is right you can sail away, and find tranquility.  Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see, believe me.”   Hint:  To do what the titles implies, one needs a special vehicle.

I have not heard the official count yet from the ‘Bike For Dad’ but based on today’s photo, it must have been over a thousand here in Chiang Rai Province.  What you see in the photo is just the first wave.  The photo was taken from that annoying helicopter.


Sunday morning we got really brave and went to Central Plaza.  We got really lucky with the parking, and had a productive time with our ‘list’ of things we needed.  All through the mall people were wearing their orange and black Chiang Rai United (local football/soccer team) shirts.  Sunday evening was the last match of the season and there was an air of excitement all over town.  We still haven’t been to a match yet, maybe next season.  While we were in Robinson, the anchor department store, we saw our friends Towan and Katai from Work@Home.  We seem to run into them a lot when we’re out on Sundays.  We had lunch at the mall, something that used to be impossible for me, and as we were leaving we noticed a black Porsche Boxster in the VIP parking.  First we were thinking, ‘Whose is that?’, but then we remembered that it was Towan’s.  Not many of those in Chiang Rai (555).

Every year there seems to be an increase in decorating around town.  Christmas trees, Santa suits, and even a gift-wrapping table at Big C.  I call it Western assimilation, or something close.  The really big celebration happens on New Year’s Eve.  We’ve never seen it because we’re always in the States, but we’ve seen photos.  Clock Tower street is blocked off and a stage is erected.  Bands play, a massive audience parties, and it’s like a mini-Times Square.  Hmm, someday we’ll have to come home early and experience the magic.

I have often commented on how we can become used to certain foods and not realize their uniqueness.  Spicy comes to mind.  A close Thai friend of ours had to stop eating spicy food.  Now her friends tell her ‘Oh, it’s not spicy’ so she tastes it and it’s spicy.  She used to laugh when I would decline some food she thought wasn’t spicy.  I feel mildly vindicated and not so ‘delicate’ (555).

Have a Great Week.

                  Peace,
                            Danny

“Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts
to finding peace of mind and happiness inside.
No matter what’s going on outside of us,
there’s always something we could be grateful for.
~Barry Neil Kaufman 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday Funnies

Hi,

Chiang Rai had another beautiful day.  We are definitely in a pattern.  The forecast is still calling for colder nights, and I think I’m prepared (555).  

The ‘Zany Day’ tune was “Stranded In The Jungle” by The Cadets.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4h9PbMucPXU  Now it’s time for another chapter of ‘Old School Friday’, and a song by five guys who each had lead vocal lines in this production.  “I can turn a gray sky blue.  I can make it rain, whenever I want it to.  Oh, I can build a castle from a single grain of sand.  I can make a ship sail, uh, on dry land.  But my life is incomplete and I’m so blue, ‘cause __ __ __ __ __ __.”  Clue:  I’m tempted to tell you more than I should.  The regret in the song is the inability to get a closer proximity to the object of his real desire.

This morning, on our way to Bus Station street to run errands, we noticed a lot of bicycle riders wearing their ‘Bike for Dad’ shirts.  Today was the big day for the massive ride all over Thailand.  The actual ride would not begin until 3pm, but people were already making their way to the Government building on our side of town where the ride would begin and end.  Many were trying to get early registration numbers so they could be closer to the front.  As we passed the government building on our way home, traffic was building up and the grounds were humming with activity. All morning, (in fact all day) there was a voice talking about it over a P.A. system.  A little before 3pm our local ‘Huey’ helicopter began circling the area at a rather low altitude.  Some passes sounded like it was going to land on the roof.  This continued for over an hour.  For those riding the long course, it was 30 kilometers.  

While we were napping, almost, a small dove flew into the glass doors of our bedroom.  This has happened before and they are usually stunned and then fly away.  This time the little bird stayed longer.  Daku was focused on the bird for over an hour.  I tried closing the curtains but he just nosed them to the side.  He wanted to know what was happening with the bird.  The little dove didn’t make it and I had to wait until Daku was having his dinner to remove it.  Life in the Wild Kingdom.

The drama of the bike ride continued when Natcha called to say she would be late getting home to make dinner because of the heavy traffic coming toward our street.  We decided to go out for dinner, leaving in the opposite direction.  Little did we know what Friday evening traffic looked like in our quiet little town.  It’s crazy, and we were right in the middle of it.  We changed our destination and went to ‘Melt in Your Mouth’ and had a very enjoyable meal.  It’s a beautiful house that was converted into a restaurant.  The menu has expanded since we were there last year and it made for a better dining solution.  

Today’s photo was taken at Browney Pet World.  Based on the name of this food, it might not be the best thing if you want a calm, laid-back pet (555).


Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.       Time for the ‘Funnies’.

                  Peace,
                            Danny


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Courage

Hi,

What we thought was the beginning of the cold season was not.  We’re having cool nights and warm days.  Some areas, outside of town are getting very cold nights.  If we miss the cold season it will be alright with me.  Just send some rain.

The ‘Zany Day’ song has a few friends out there.  Here’s the chorus and another verse:  “Meanwhile, back in the states:  Baby, baby, let’s make romance.  You know, our old-time lover hasn’t got a chance.  He’s __ __ __ __, as mad as he can be.  So, come on pretty baby, just you and me.  And meanwhile, back in the __, the boys in the __ had me on the run, when somethin’ heavy hit me like an atomic bomb.  When I woke up and my head started to clear, I had a strange feeling I was with cooking gear… That’s when I found out they was-a cookin’ me.  Great goo-ga-moo-ga!  Lemme outta here!”  Clue:  This last verse should give you a better clue as to the location of our wayward singer.  

Today was Constitution Day.  Yes, another holiday and kids were out of school.  We noticed the traffic when we went to Big C.  Inside the store there were lots of kids of all ages with their families.  The actual store is on the second level, with the lower level featuring a few restaurants and a lot of counters selling things like donuts, cakes, and soft ice-cream in a cone.  That last item was a big seller this morning.  All through Big C, kids were eating chocolate cones.  I guess that’s a perk of the holiday (555).  When we passed the Central Plaza Mall it was 10:50am and it doesn’t open until 11am, but there was a steady stream of cars and trucks going onto the property.  
This was clearly a special day for shoppers.

Check writing is not very big in Thailand.  People mostly use cash, or the services of an ATM machine.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone write a check in the eight years we’ve been here.  We do a lot of money transfers if we buy something coming from out of town.  It’s a way of dealing bank-to-bank in an instant.  When Cat was applying to the various universities she had to send them fees by way of the transfers.  She knows most of the banks by the colors of their ATMs.  This is something I hadn’t focused on, but it’s interesting.  Our bank’s ATMs are dark blue and orange.  The range of colors goes from bright green to purple, and yellow to hot pink.  Today’s photo was taken at Maefahluang University, where a little bank branch is hard to miss.


An article about the environment mentioned how Finland had planted a bunch of trees in order to help produce more oxygen.  Lisa figured that our tree collection was at about 50.  This morning while we were exercising Daku, I started doing a rough count and I think it might be over that number.  It’s amazing what you can accumulate over time.  There are a lot of trees in Chiang Rai, jungles in fact, but we filled in a blank space and that makes it very satisfying.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

               Peace,
                         Danny

“I takes as much courage to have tried and failed
as it does to have tried and succeeded.”
~Ann Morrow Lindbergh 



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Life

Hi,

The morning weather in Chiang Rai made it look like a good day to travel.  Slightly overcast and not too hot.  The weather in Mae Sai was much different; sunny and hot.  It was a good day on both ends of the trip.

The ‘Easy Monday’ song was “It’s Too Late” by Carole King.  For ‘Zany Day’ the novelty goes back  a few years:
“I crashed into the jungle, while trying to keep a date with my little girl who was-a back in the states.  I was __ __ __ __, afraid and alone, trying to figure a way to get a message back home.  But how was I to know that the wreckage of my plane had been picked up and spotted, and my girl in Lover’s Lane?  And meanwhile, back in the states….”  Hint: The title is about a circumstance in a particular location.  

Our adventures in Mae Sai began with the drive up the Super Highway.  The name makes it sound like something where you might set cruise control and zoom up the road.  This highway has many obstacles that impede cruise control.  Things like cross traffic, u-turn lanes, road construction, and two lanes in both directions.  I think it's  called ’Super’ because it runs the length of the country from north to south.  Today we encountered road work that moved us to the other side, so there was only one lane in either direction.  This happened off and on during the trip while they worked on re-paving.  

When we arrived at the Customs office we learned that our package was not there.  They told us it was probably in Bangkok.  Finding out its status was going to be up to us.  This changed things a bit, but didn’t darken our mood since there was a whole world of ‘stuff’ to be discovered in the dense shopping lanes of Mae Sai.  

The district we went into is like another world.  It has a culture of its own and the whole thing is centered around commerce.  Whether it’s selling fresh-roasted chestnuts in the aisle or imported cashmere, it’s all about moving product.  There are lots of duplications, and many variations on the same theme.  Some vendors sell anything with batteries and plugs, making their shops look like Radio Shack on steroids.  There are loads of knock-offs of brand name products, but more often there is no name.  It’s much safer when you enter with an agenda and stick to it.  Today we did that for the most part.  After the primary purchases were made, as we walked through the maze of lanes, it became an adrenaline rush.  We were too deep into the zone to just walk out.  One has to hike out, passing way too much interesting ‘stuff’.  
 
Today’s photo is one of the busy lanes in the Mae Sai shopping district.


After a simple lunch we started for home.  The plan was to stop at the big Makro, but a lot of energy had been expended already.  We did stop on the highway on a stretch where the pineapple sellers were out in force.  They were selling the tiny little version of the fruit that is very sweet.  There were a lot of changes noticed as we drove the highway.  New coffee shops, restaurants and more apartment construction.  It’s still mostly farm land and that was nice to see.  In some areas, as far as we could see, it was farms.  Lots of rice, corn and things we don’t know.  In the foothills a lot of tea is grown.  

Time for Wacky Wednesday.

                  Peace,
                            Danny

“Life might be able to be understood
backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”
~Unknown

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hello

Hi,

The sky was a mixture of textures today.  At one moment it was clear, and within an hour there were rain clouds and the light breeze that usually means a storm is coming.  Then it would all be gone.  ‘They’ say showers are coming, but several of the predicted hours have passed with nothing happening.  Still waiting for rain.

‘Easy Monday’ really is easy.  In case you weren’t one of the many who responded, here is the chorus of the song:
“And __ __ __, baby, now __ __ __, though we really did try to make it.  Something inside has died and I can’t hide and I just can’t fake it.”  Clue:  Something has run out of time.  It’s from the early 70s.

We found out today that our refrigerator has been sitting at a shop, and has not been repaired because they don’t know how to repair it.  Our friend Sutheera rattled some cages and found out that it’s still under warranty with Hitachi and our friends at Sinthanee can repair it at no charge.  It’s been a month since it stopped working.  We have been very grateful for the use of a small fridge loaned to us by Caty.  Today’s photo shows one of the mysteries that can unfold when you least expect them.  There is no door on the freezer compartment, so when the egg tray in the door was filled, one of the eggs made contact with the ice and this magical thing happened.  The floating egg.


In the time we have been in Thailand I have learned that sometimes you have to listen beyond what it said.  Today Khun Nung came to do some fixit stuff and change some light bulbs.  He kept mentioning that he finished in the chicken.  After the second time I realized he was referring to the ‘kitchen.'  He has ‘some’ English, which makes life a lot easier for us, but sometimes harder for him.  The language thing works both ways.  We each assume that the other person knows more than they do, and we start to rattle on and leave them two sentences behind.  When you get that blank look, you know you’ve gone too far too fast.  I learned that the light sockets (a word he didn’t know) are mostly made in China and are not of high quality, and that’s why we keep having to change them.  I still can’t get him to understand that I would like him to get some high quality replacements.  We’ll have to have this conversation when Cat is at home and can translate.

Just when we thought we had a new system for getting some of our vitamins here in Thailand, it all fell apart.  The company in Thailand orders the product from the U.S.  We discovered that the package is sitting at Customs in Mae Sai.  Vitamins are no longer allowed to be shipped into The Kingdom.  The last time this happened, we had to drive up near the border with Burma and negotiate with the Customs man.  Maybe it will be the same tomorrow.  We’ll make the best of it by stopping at the fairly new and improved Makro while we’re up there.

Have a Happy Tuesday.

                Peace,
                          Danny

“Saying ‘Hello’ to the unknown takes faith.
Saying ‘Goodbye’ to the familiar takes courage.”
~Unknown

Monday, December 7, 2015

Song

Hi,

The cold season is upon us.  More clothes are required in the mornings when we go outside.  It warms up during the day, and then drops again when the sun goes down.  It’s a little warmer than the Los Angeles basin, so I can sympathize with those facing winter.  Now we know what to bring to stay warm.

The ‘Old School Friday’ song was “Donna” by Richie Valens.  This week’s ‘Easy Monday’ song really is an easy one:
“Stayed in bed all morning just to pass the time.  There’s something wrong here, there can be no denying.  One of us is changing, or maybe we’ve just stopped trying.  and __ __ __, baby, now __ __ __….”  Hint:  No way.

The Saturday celebrations honoring The King’s birthday were a lot quieter than we expected.  There was the sound of gongs in the morning.  Two different temples were ringing them, creating a very eerie atmosphere.  The large gongs have a very deep tone with a long ring to them.  In the evening there were some fireworks, but nothing excessive like during Loi Krathong.  During the afternoon we decided to make a run to Big C for a few things.  Oh, did we forget what day it was?  There were so many people going to Big C that they were parking their cars on the Super Highway.  The back-up was so far from the store that we decided to try the mall instead.  We found a place in the mall and only went to the market, avoiding the throngs that were probably upstairs.  

This eating thing is getting better every day.  Sunday we went out for lunch.  This time we went to the River House Resort.  Once again, I had a nice meal with no side effects.  Blue noticed a banana plantation on the property next to the hotel.  Trying to imagine what it will be like when they all have fruit boggles the mind.


We went back to the Night Bazaar for dinner and some final shopping before our trip.  Everyone was commenting on the temperature drop.  When we eat dinner at Sawadee Restaurant we have a perfect view of the Night Bazaar.  I noticed that there is a new generation of children ‘growing up’ amongst the vendors.  When we first moved here there were some little boys who spent their evenings running around together, making up games and doing what kids do.  Last night there was a group of girls doing the same thing.  The little boys are older now and we don’t see them.  What an interesting ’neighborhood’ to grow up in.

Today was the national holiday for the King’s birthday and it was pretty quiet around here, except for a few very large, window rattling explosions that were not fireworks.  They sounded more like something the military might set off from a cannon.

There was no party across the river this weekend.  Hmm, maybe it’s getting too cold for carnivals.

Have a Great Week.

              Peace,
                        Danny
 
“The brook would lose it’s song
if we removed the rocks.”
~Unknown

Friday, December 4, 2015

Friday Funnies

Hi,

The rain has come.  It’s just a trickle, but it’s water from the sky.  We had a little last night and again tonight.  

So, the ‘Zany Day’ tune was “Charlie Brown” by The Coasters.  Oh, you shoulda known.  It’s time for another chapter of ‘Old School Friday’.  In keeping with this week’s pattern, this song title is also a name.  “I had a girl, __ was her name.  Since she left me I’ve never been the same.  ‘Cause I love my girl, __ where can you be?  Where can you be?  Hint:  Art Laboe is probably still playing this one.  This goes way, way back.  I think it was one of the first R&B Hits by a Latino singer.  

This morning we went to get our eyes checked.  My eyes are the same as last time they were examined.  That’s pretty strange but cool.  The only parking was a block from the eye shop so we got to experience part of the business district on a Friday morning.  It’s so different to actually walk along and peak in on the various shops, watch the routines and hear the chatter.  I especially got a kick out of the magazine store that is also the distributor for local newspapers.  Bulk packages are dropped off, then broken down into smaller bundles and they are labeled and taken to news stands around town.  It reminded me of my childhood days of the paper route.

We learned more about Cat’s trip to Chiang Mai.  The students are spending 5 days studying the subjects that will be on the entrance exam, and learning how to pass the test.  Hmm, sounds familiar.  This seems to be the direction of education in many parts of the world.  Hopefully, something will be learned in the process.  

This evening we broke ‘training’ and went to the Night Bazaar for dinner.  It’s been almost a year since we’ve had a meal at our favorite spot, Sawadee Restaurant.  They were very happy to see us and it was mutual.  I had my old favorite, Sweet and Sour shrimp.  It was also my first taste of rice in a year.  Blue mentioned how nice it was to smell the various aromas as they rose from the plate.  It was a bit of a celebration.  It looks like I can eat with the ‘Big Kids’ again.  

After we ate, we strolled a bit and that’s when I took this photo of a Hill Tribe woman weaving a scarf.


Tomorrow is the King’s birthday and the field where they’re having speeches and presentations is getting rained on, and it’s all dirt.  That’s going to be one messy field by morning.  Monday will be the official holiday, when things are closed.  Later in the month there will be Constitution Day, another holiday.  Time to order more fireworks.

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.       On with the ‘Funnies’.

                 Peace,
                           Danny