Friday, December 30, 2016

Friday Funnies


I don’t know how the weather turned out in the L.A. area today.  When we left for the airport this morning it was cold.  When we arrived at Mineta Airport in San Jose it was even colder.  The night time in Palo Alto was the coldest.  

The ‘Zany Day’ song was “How Come My Dog Don’t Bark When You Come ‘Round?”, as sung by Prince Partridge  It was covered by Dr. John with great success, but this is the original hit.  For 'Old School Friday’, here’s an easy one:  “Sha la la la la, it’s not the way you smile, that touch my heart.  Sha la la la la, it’s not the way you kiss that tears me apart.  Uh, oh, many, many, many night go by, I sit alone at home and I cry over you.  What can I do?  Can’t help myself, ‘cause __ __ __.”  Hint:  It’s by a ‘Girl Group’ from the 60s, and she’s telling ‘him’ that he’s the one.

Flying on Southwest Airlines feels like a step backwards after our EVA experiences.  For starters, lining up like cattle before boarding the plane is annoying.  Listening to corny jokes and dealing with grouchy attitudes of the flight attendants is not what we pay for.  Rant over.

We just read that anti-burning laws are going to be strictly enforced in Chiang Rai from mid February to mid April. If this really happens, it would mean that we could stop hiding from the outside world.  Annual escapes to southern beaches wouldn’t be necessary, and children could play outside.  As some of you know, this has been a great concern of ours for years.  It still won’t stop the daily trash burning that goes on all year, but it’s a start.  

The Cousin lunch could have gone on longer than it did.  It was pointed out that I made a mistake in yesterday’s post when I said the gathering on Wednesday was my maternal grandmother’s family.  It was my paternal side of the family.  Cousins Eunice and Trudye read this message every day and had lots of questions on many topics.  As is  usually the case, there was plenty of laughter and lots of love.

Dinner at the Trellis was inside this time, instead of the beautiful roof-top with the grape vines.  It was way too cold.  Some of the crew remembered us from previous visits.  The food is always good at The Trellis, even when I was on my restricted diet.  The owner came to the table and immediately started talking about me and the potatoes I’d order.  He always takes good care of Joe and it’s really sweet.  Karen Jo shared photos of her grand-kids and we marveled at the passage of time (555).  This morning we’ll have our breakfast with Joe.  

Today’s photo is from The Wanderer.  I am fascinated by this tree and how a branch is wrapped around the trunk.  

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


Thursday, December 29, 2016



The daytime temps are climbing, but the nights are still very chilly.  Tomorrow we fly north to a colder climate.  

No one has guessed the ‘Zany Day’ song so there’s still time to be first on the block with the right answer.
“I got the baddest dog, he’ll bite anybody.  He bit my brother, took a chunk out of my ol’ sweet li’l mother.  He bit the mailman, he sees him every day; he takes one look at you, he wanna jump and play.  Now I ain’t got a clue as to what you puttin’ down, but __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __?”  Clue:  The absence of barking is involved.

Today we went to a family gathering of cousins from my maternal grandmother’s side.  We hadn’t seen some of them for over 30 years.  After a lot of catching up on our lives, we started recalling the stories we remembered from the past.  The stories about the history of the family, going all the way back to the plantation where the ‘line’ began.  It was a day to remember.

Denny and Sheila flew in from Colorado and after the party, we went to dinner together in Redondo Beach.  It was good for the four of us to have some time to talk about how we’re doing with the grieving process.  We got some new insights and also had some good laughs.  

This morning we fly to the San Jose airport, drive to San Leandro for the traditional Cousins lunch, then drive to Palo Alto for dinner with Lisa’s Dad Joe and her step-sister Karen Jo.  Friday morning we’ll have breakfast with Joe and spend time in his studio.  He has more new art to share with us and that’s always a treat.

Today’s photo was taken at Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK).  

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


“It isn’t enough to talk about peace.
One must believe in it.  And it isn’t enough
to believe in it.  One must work at it.”
~Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, December 28, 2016



Could it be that it’s actually warming up?  There was actually a bit of a warm breeze last night.  Hmm.

The ‘Easy Monday’ song was “Fixing A Hole” by The Beatles.  Moving on to our ‘Zany Day’ tune, who remembers this?
“Now you say you ain’t never met my wife, you ain’t never seen her befo’.  ‘Say you ain’t been hangin’ roun’ my crib; well here’s somethin’ I wanna know.  I wanna know what in the worl’ is goin’ down, __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __?”
Hint: There is an animal involved in the title.  

Tuesday turned out to be a very productive day.  The misadventures of Monday have been corrected and all is well.  It began in the morning with the most thorough eye exam I’ve ever had.  I learned a lot about my eyes and now I’m waiting for a new set of ‘super’ contacts.  

It was a ‘work day’ at EVA Airlines and we got upgraded to Business class for the 14 hour trip across the Pacific.  Nothing like being able to stretch out and actually sleep.  Not to mention the extra pampering (555).

We had our first lunch at Thai Boom and it was great.  Woody and Suni gave us a warm welcome.  Sharing a meal with our friend Linda is always a treat.  She has been our car rental connection since the beginning of this adventure.  There was a lot of catching up to do.  Kids, the baby (Neetchanon), dogs and family were all topics of conversation.  

I haven’t been taking many photos on this trip, so far.  Today’s photo was taken in 2007, before we started building our house.  This is the land before the dirt filled it in.  That’s me on the left, way out there.

Last night we had Italian food at a restaurant that is part of a chain.  It brought back memories of dining at the Pasadena location with my mom.  We were joined by August and our friends Ray and Eiko. We usually meet them for coffee and it was nice to sit down and have a dinner with them. 

It’s going to be a Wacky Wednesday.


“Anxiety is the hand maiden
of creativity.”
~T.S. Elliot

Tuesday, December 27, 2016



Coping with the weather becomes a relative thing.  I am slowly adjusting to the cold that is colder than where this journey began.  The mind helps by reminding me that it’s colder somewhere else, and those who are in it are surviving.  Probably complaining, but still doing life.  

The ‘Easy Monday’ slipped by most of you.  I’m sure you’ll remember if you hum along to these lines:  “I’m painting my room in a colorful way, and when my mind is wandering, there I will go, ooh ooh ooh ah ah… I'm taking the time for a number of things that weren’t important yesterday, and still I go, ooh ooh ooh ah ah….”  Clue:  Repairs are in order.

This morning was about misadventure.  The ‘road trip’ to El Segundo, just south of the airport, was for a visit to EVA Airlines offices for an upgrade on the trip back to Thailand.  The offices were closed.  A drive back to Culver City, and what we still call the ‘Fox Hills Mall’, was to be for the purpose of an eye exam.  The crowds were already beginning to gather.  The earliest appointment wouldn’t be until 3:40pm.  We went home, then went to lunch at Emerald Thai, and a reunion with our dear friend Nid.  When we returned to the mall, the place was a mad house, traffic on top of traffic.  Inside, my name was not on the schedule.  What?

Someone asked me if I missed home.  Of course I do.  That’s why it’s home.  After over nine years I’ve become comfortable with the pace of life in Chiang Rai.  I’ve become fond of the simplicity, the little surprises that seem to come after all these years, the smiles at the vegetable market, the greetings at The Wanderer, and the relatively warm ‘cold season’.  Yes, I miss all of that, but I also cherish the relationships that still exist on this side of the ocean.  It is people that bring us back, in spite of the lengthy flight, the Jet Lag, the mind-boggling traffic and the little doses of culture shock.  

Today’s photo was sent by Natcha.  Here are two reasons I really miss ‘home’.

Our appointment book is starting to look like a schedule instead of blank pages.  Time to do what we came to do (555).  I guess we won’t be walking along the shore of the Pacific and feeling the sand between our toes on this trip.  I’ve never been a fan of cold sand.  Instead, we’ll sample some of the new additions to the landscape that is the west side.  

Have a Happy Tuesday.


“Nature never breaks
her own laws.”
~Leonardo da Vinci

Monday, December 26, 2016



I will dispense with the weather for the week with one word:  Cold.  Today there were occasional clouds, but mostly sunshine.  To put things in perspective, the daytime temps here in Culver City are the same as the night time in Chiang Rai.  By the way, Mr. Lag is here and he doesn’t mind the cold at all.

The ‘Old School Friday’ song was “Merry Christmas Baby” by Charles Brown.  For ‘Easy Monday’ I think you remember this one:  “I’m __ __ __ where the rain gets in and stops my mind from wandering where it will go.”
Hint:  Another gem from those lads from across the pond.  

When we arrived at LAX, the streets were wet and it was sprinkling lightly.  By the time we arrived at the Hertz rental lot, it was pouring rain.  Our car was on the far side of the lot and I had to walk through the rain to get to it.  Fortunately, it was an uncomplicated proposition to start the car. When we got to the house, it was still raining hard.  Hmm, welcome to California.

After doing a little research, we discovered that the mall opened early on Christmas eve, so we were able to get our new SIM cards for our phones.  These numbers will be good for the 3 weeks that we’re here.  The new plan is better for us, but means a new number every time we come to town.  

Danny’s number is:  (323) 274-9873     Lisa’s number is:  (323) 286-1945

Anna, C-Bass and August made an Italian seafood stew for dinner and it was delicious.  Sunday morning we had our traditional ‘brunch’ of turkey bacon, cinnamon rolls and coffee, followed by the opening of the gifts.  It was a fun time.  We’ve been doing this since the boys were tiny little guys and it never gets old.  They grow up, but they're still ‘The Boys’.  Tonight we had hand-made pasta that took August 5 hours to create, with sauce by Anna.  Another fantastic feast.  We’ve certainly been eating well since we got here.  

We’ve been getting lots of message from home and that feels good too.  Natcha has been sending photos and updates to let us know that everything is good at the house.  Today’s photo shows Gop (Natcha’s nephew) and Daku playing in the front yard as Natcha and Neetchanon look on. 

Have a Great Week.


“We all have to live together,
so we might as well live together
~The Dalai Lama

Friday, December 23, 2016

Friday Funnies


Here in Taipei, the temperature is in the mid 60s and dropping.  When we land here, as transfer passengers, we have to stay in one section of the airport.  It’s a very nice section, looking like any typical ‘World-Class’ airport.  We just can’t go outside.  Someday we’ll take a trip to Taipei as tourists and go outside.

The ‘Zany Day’ song was “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”.  I believe Bing Crosby was one of the early artists to have success with it.  That leaves us with nowhere to go but ‘Old School Friday’.  This is truly an ‘Old School’ holiday blues, recorded back in 1947, it went to #3 on the Juke Box charts.  “__ __ __, you sure did treat me nice. __ __ __, you sure did treat me nice.  Gave me a diamond ring for Christmas, now I’m living in paradise.”  Hint:  There have been many covers/versions of this song.  The title is pretty simple.

We did a little math while waiting for the flight to Taipei and this is the 18th round trip to the US for us.  That’s a lot of air miles.  It’s the reason we don’t do a lot of traveling around Thailand.  There’s always something to make each trip a little different to break the monotony.  Changes in airports, lounge renovations, upgrades in planes all make it an adventure.

We’ve had several calls and messages with Natcha, including photos of Daku and Neetchanon.  They were playing in the kitchen.  Well, she was playing and he was watching.  We are so fortunate to have such a loving family taking care of us and our house.

Today I made a new friend on the way to the EVA lounge (555).

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.   Merry/Happy whatever you celebrate.  If you’re looking for something to celebrate, celebrate life.       Now, the ‘Funnies’.  


Thursday, December 22, 2016



If the weather continues being mild, we may not have a real ‘cold season’ this year.  The current range is quite livable.  

Now that some of you are in the holiday spirit with this ‘Zany Day’ song, here’s a little more for the rest of you.
“He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.  He knows if you’ve been good or bad, so be good for goodness sake.  You better watch out, you better not cry…. __ __ __ __ __ __.”  Hint:  It’s supposed to be a happy song of anticipation (555).  This guy sounds a little creepy to me.  Hmm.

The hour is late and the packing is almost done.  It just struck me that the hardest part of packing is, at least for me, what to pack.  What to pack depends a lot on how much faith I have in the local weather forecasters.  If I believe what they say, I should pack the warmest clothes I have and prepare to be cold.  If I base it on Chiang Rai forecasts, I should take what I wear over here and relax.  A compromise was struck and I’m done with the whole thing.  

Our last day in town was a busy one.  We spent time with our friends at Work@Home, had lunch and hung out with Cat, had a service call for our air/con, went to a birthday party, and capped it off with an art exhibit opening at 9 Art Gallery.  

Today’s photo was taken yesterday at the nursery.  They just got a shipment of ‘Terra Cotta Kids’.  Some people put these statues in their yard ‘as is’, while others paint them.  No, we won’t be taking one home.

I will write to you from Taipei, where we have a few hours before the long flight to the States.  We won’t have phone numbers until the 24th but you can reach us on the internet.  Stay tuned to this channel for further updates.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


“Be kind whenever possible.
It is always possible.”
~The Dalai Lama

Wednesday, December 21, 2016



Just as all the street vendors start selling warm coats, the weather gets warmer.  It’s not summer, but you can stroll the Night Bazaar in the evening without a coat.  Meanwhile, in Southern California, it is cold.  

Our ‘Easy Monday’ song was “Here, There, and Everywhere” by The Beatles.  Time for a ‘Zany Day’ holiday tune:
“You better watch out, you better not cry.  You better not pout, I’m telling you why.  __ __ __ __ __ __.  He’s making a list and checking it twice.  He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.  __ __ __ __ __ __.”  Hint:  It really should have been an ‘Easy Monday’ song.  That means I should hear from everyone.  Somebody is one their way to somewhere.

I have neglected to keep you up-to-date on the state of the dirt next door.  Since I last told you about it, there still hasn’t been any movement on the site.  Not a truck or a tractor, and we couldn’t be happier.  Just thought you’d want to know (555).

Lisa went to lunch with a friend of ours and discovered a new area to explore.  I saw part of it once, with friends, but Lisa got to see the view of Chiang Rai from the top of a hill.  There is a lake and places to eat.  When we return we’ll have to check it out.  

Even though we’re leaving The Kingdom in two days, we went to immigration to see if we needed to perform the 90-day check-in, since it was time.  They said yes, stamped our passports and it was done.  Staying current is very important when it comes to staying ‘legal’ in any country.  From the beginning we understood the concept that we are visitors and have to do what we’re told.  

Last week we were telling Sandy and Ady about Neetchanon trying to open the kitchen cabinet.  Sandy suggested cleaning out one cabinet and putting things for her to play with inside.  Today we went to the local ‘Everything store’ and got little buckets, plates, utensils, etc.  Before dinner, Gong had already introduced her to most of it and had her sitting in a bucket with a little alphabet book.  When she decided she’d had enough, she just stood up, ready to get out.   That’s our photo for the day.

Tonight we made one final sweep of the Night Bazaar for last minute items.  In the process, we said goodbye to some of our ‘buddies.'  The traffic in the aisles was getting dense and visitors were buying things.  We like seeing our local friends having a good season, since it sometimes has to carry them for a long time.  

When we returned home this evening, there were gift-wrapped boxes at both of our places at the table.  They were from Natcha and Gong and contained warm pajama pants, earrings for Lisa and a toy Tuk-Tuk for me.  What a sweet gesture.

Feels like a Wacky Wednesday.


“Wanting to be someone else
is a waste of the person you are.”
~Kurt Cobain

Tuesday, December 20, 2016



Blue skies with puffy white clouds.  That was the weather today.  I started in a sweatshirt and jacket, but ended up in a T-shirt for the afternoon.  Nice.

The ‘Easy Monday’ song has had one response.  I know you know this tune.  You’ll be kicking yourself tomorrow.
“There, running my hands through her hair.  Both of us thinking how good it can be, someone is speaking, but she doesn’t know he’s there.  I want her everywhere and if she’s beside me I know I need never care, but to love her is to need her everywhere, knowing that love is to share…”  Clue:  The title is four words.

So remember, it’s still Sunday night and we’re winding our way to Ajarn Nakorn’s house.  The path leads us to a very large, open area with a big wooden table with settings for five.  We have arrived at the dining area.  Our host appears and promptly directs us to our assigned seats.  Aey and Lisa are on one side and John and I are seated opposite, with Nakorn at the head of the table.  We had told him ahead of time about my food things and his staff had adjusted my dinner menu accordingly.  From what the others tell me, the whole meal was delicious.  My salad and soup were good.  The conversation covered lots of territory, and we discovered that our friend is quite a character.  He had us all laughing with his observations of life in Chiang Rai.  The person we usually see as a stoic, controlled gentleman has a wonderful sense of humor and is a lot of fun.  The next morning John and Aey came over for coffee and that was really nice.  Aey and Lisa had talked about plants the night before and she brought 4 little coffee plants and beautiful flowering plant for our garden.  

The only time we left The Big Brown House on Monday was to go to the Night Bazaar for one last ‘fling’ before leaving town.  We said goodbye to some of our friends as we braved the High Season crowd.  This year there are more visitors than in the past.  The fun thing about the season is all the new stuff that hits the streets.  Not only new items at the Night Bazaar, but new enterprises that spring up, hoping to take advantage of the influx of shoppers.  
Today we had lunch at The Wanderer with Eric and Brenda.  Among the conversations, Eric told us that ‘Blue’s Tree’ has been taken from the ground and will be ready after the first of the year.  The week after we return he will supervise the planting.  That brings on a wave of emotions.  It will probably be a ‘thing’ for a while, talking to the tree, keeping memories in the front of my mind.   

It’s official!  We’re really going on a long trip.  The bags are on the bedroom floor and clothes are being contemplated.  Daku has been pretty mellow about it so far.  

Have a Happy Tuesday.


“When we quit thinking primarily
about ourselves and our own 
self-preservation, we undergo a truly
heroic transformation of consciousness.”
~Joseph Campbell

Monday, December 19, 2016



The weather is still dry.  Cold one day, warm the next.  Winter is still being held off by some kind of pressure somewhere.  We seem to be in a warm phase this week, which will only help to make our arrival in SoCal more dramatic (555).

The ‘Old School Friday’ song was “Drown In My Own Tears” as made famous by Ray Charles.  Time for an ‘Easy Monday’ tune.  “To lead a better life, I need my love to be here… Here, making each day of the year, changing my life with the wave of her hand, nobody can deny that there’s something there…”  Hint:  1966 from across the pond, on something that goes ‘round and ‘round.  

We had quite a busy weekend.  Saturday morning we went to a lecture presentation on the Mae Kok (our river) given by a friend from Chiang Mai.  She has lived in the region for most of her life and her well documented history of life around the river was very interesting and educational.  I now know what the ‘Pillar’ is.  You may recall how puzzled I was when I saw the sign on the highway referencing the Naval Pillar.  Well, a Pillar is a monument that signifies the place where a city was founded, and is the center of it all.  When Chiang Rai was formed, King Menghrai  let his elephant wander around.  The story goes that wherever the elephant of the king decided to rest would be the center of the Kingdom.  Menghrai’s elephant found a mango tree at the top of Doi Tong, ate all the mangos and then relaxed. That’s where the pillar is and it’s not far from our house so we’ll have to pay a visit.  

Saturday afternoon we went to a birthday party for three year old Dylan, daughter of Sandy and Ady.  The street was blocked off and the center of attention was a giant bouncy castle with a slide.  There was also a trampoline.  The kids had a blast.  We met some new people and had some adult conversations.  It was a fun time.

Lisa was invited to be one of 99 artists to contribute a painting about The King, for a new meditation center east of town.  Sunday, after lunch, we went to Art Bridge, where she was interviewed about her work and her inspiration for the new painting/collage.  Unfortunately, the opening is on 25 December, two days after we leave.  When we return in January, we’ll have some catching up to do since the annual ‘Artists Exhibition at Art Bridge opens on the 24 of December.  

Sunday evening we were invited to the home of Ajarn Nakorn, who is the curator of Rai Maefarluang Park.  He also invited John and Aye, a couple we met at the park a few weeks ago.  Just walking into his property at night was an adventure.  From the street, we never would have imagined we were entering a ‘wooded wonderland’.  Flood-lights at the base of the larger trees cast an eerie glow on the rest of the grounds as we walked along a path that snaked towards the house.  Today’s photo is of one of the trees that Ajarn Nakorn planted.  It is 30 years old.  I will tell you more about the evening tomorrow.

Have a Great Week.


"Love of beauty is taste.
The creation of beauty is art.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday Funnies


Believe or not, we had a tiny rain today.  The Big Brown House didn’t get completely soaked, but water fell from the sky.  While driving this afternoon, I had to use the wipers to get through the heavy mist (555).  It’s trying real hard to rain.

The ‘Zany Day’ song was “Lipstick On Your Collar” by Connie Francis.   So, now you know.  As if that wasn’t enough of a throw-back, it’s time for ‘Old School Friday’.  The thing about ‘Old School’ is that I like to make it a history lesson of sorts.  Connie and company was not ‘Old School’ even though it was back-in-the-day.  “It brings a tear, into my eyes, when I begin to realize I cried so much since you’ve been gone.  I guess I’m __ __ __ __ __.  I sit and cry just like a child, my pouring tears are runnin’ wild.  If you don’t think you’ll be home soon I guess I’ll __ __ __ __ __.”  Clue:  This 1956 hit by a legend was first recorded in ’51.  Since the ’56 hit it has been recorded by numerous artists.  I figured we needed an easy one today.

This was day three of the saga of the missing dump trucks.  Aside from the dirt, the only thing they left behind was a blue plastic chair.  Hmm.

Browney’s has two locations, and today we went to the original store on Bus Station Street.  I stay in the van because the ‘cat vibes’ bother me.  We have had a friendship with the owners since the BamBam days.  Lisa and the wife always have some kind of communication and she gives us a discount.  This morning Lisa gave her a catalogue from the current art exhibit and she loved it.  She puts posters for the exhibits on their wall and is a real fan.  

We actually did some shopping on the main road downtown today.  Maybe the cool weather gave us walking energy, but whatever the reason, we covered a lot of territory.  There is something to be said for walking in a dense business district.  You get to see things you might miss driving by in a car.  The shops change frequently and the walk was a way to see what’s new and what’s gone.  There used to be a shop that carried all kinds of electronic parts.  They had everything from screwdrivers to mixing boards, and now they’re gone.  I wonder what happens to the people who ran the shops that disappear.  Did they change location?  Did they just quit?  I’ll never know I guess.

This afternoon we did more walking at the mall.  We discovered the ‘sweet spot’ for entering the mall is around 3pm, when the lunch crowd is gone and it’s way before dinner.  On the main floor they were selling Mitsubishi cars and trucks.  I found out that when dealers bring in cars for showing, they also have the same models in the inside lot for demonstration rides.  That’s pretty slick. While we were going from place to place, we saw friends from Bangkok who are visiting and that’s always fun.  

Today’s photo is the mystery lot next door.  This is what they’ve accomplished in a few days of dumping.  They have a long way to go before they’re finished.  If they don’t, I have a good deal on some slightly used dirt.

After dinner, Neetchanon found my face to be a source of giddy laughter.  She would reach out to me and as I approached, she’d touch my face and crack up.  This happened over and over (you know how little ones love repetition).  Earlier, she and Daku had a playful time together.

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.         Time for the ‘Funnies’


Thursday, December 15, 2016



The cold air is slowly creeping into Chiang Rai.  Today was cooler than yesterday and the morning ‘bite’ was noticeable.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a lot cooler.  Hmm, just like last year, we’re in training for California. 

So far, two readers have named the song.  There’s still a chance to join in the fun.  There’s a massive hint in there. 
“You said it belonged to me, made me stop and think.  Then I noticed yours was red, mine was baby pink.  Who walked in but Mary Jane, lipstick all a mess.  Were you smoochin’ my best friend?  Guess the answer’s yes.  __ __ __ __, told a tale on you…..”  Hint:  You get the picture?

There are many lists of things to do as we prepare for next weeks departure.  One of the lists is titled ‘Daku’, and it’s one of the longer ones.  We went up the highway to Dr. View’s office.  She’s one of Daku’s vets and is the toothpaste connection.  A stop at Makro for, among other things, food for the boss of the house.  Browney’s was on the way home and on the list.  The dog needs his stinky fish treats and his chicken-free kibble.  It’s amazing how much chicken is used in dog food and the little treats.  The problems with hotspots decreased when we stopped giving Daku chicken.  His list is almost done and now we can take care of the people (555).

For a second day there was no activity next door.  No dump trucks, no tractors, no nothing.  Say, maybe they called the whole thing off.  It’s not uncommon to see projects that get started and then suddenly stop.  Piles of dirt, pillars of concrete, windowless monoliths are all part of the gamble that is sometimes taken.

This afternoon Cat came over to copy papers in preparation for a trip to the US Consulate in Chiang Mai.  She has a visa appointment next week.  The plan is for her to go to the States this summer.  This requires lots of paperwork in addition to an interview.  We had dinner together and had time to hang out.

Today’s photo shows Neetchanon the explorer.  She was very interested in the texture of the terrazzo on the staircase.  A gate across the stairs is coming very soon.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


“In the depth of winter 
I finally learned that there
was in me an invincible summer.”
~Albert Camus

Wednesday, December 14, 2016



Tomorrow’s forecast is a high of 84F and a low of 66F.  Contrast that with the Culver City forecast of 65/57 and you see the challenge when choosing what clothes to pack for next week’s trip.  

“When you left me all alone at the record hop, told me you were goin’ out for a soda pop.  You were gone for quite a while, half an hour or more.  You came back and man oh man, this is what I saw:  __ __ __ __, told a tale on you.  __ __ __ __ said you were untrue.  Bet your bottom dollar, you and I are through, ‘cause __ __ __ __ told a tale on you, yeah.”  Hint:  Somebody’s got some laundry to do.  

There must have been a dump truck holiday today.  There was no parade of trucks all day.  It was nice and peaceful.  Maybe they ran out of money already (555).  Wishful thinking.  They’ll probably be back tomorrow with all their sounds and dust making.  

We lunched with Sandy and Ady at The Wanderer.  I tried two menu items for the first time.  The chicken Panini was good and I’ll probably have it again.  The last time we were there, Khun Noot told us about all the fruit she had to cut up to make her fruitcake.  I just had to try it.  It was delicious, and not at all like I remembered from childhood.  Oh yeah, there was no rum in it.  I shared the memory of watching my grandmother make fruitcake.  That was a long time ago.  Every time we get together with Sandy and Ady, we learn a little more about life in other parts of the world.  It’s one of the things we enjoy about the diverse group of friends we have in Chiang Rai.  

Today’s photo was taken returning to The Wanderer from the river.  It gives an idea of the denseness of the ‘woods’.

Several times today I heard the phrase:  We leave a week from Friday.  Oh my, it’s getting closer.  The annual ‘Winter Trip’ has become a part of our lives.  It also means that we miss two events every year.  The annual ‘Flower Show’ begins on the day we leave this year, and the Art Bridge ‘Artist Exhibition’ opens the day after we leave.  Nothing to be done but say, ‘Oh well’.  There will be tons of photos of the flowers on Facebook and the exhibit will still be up when we return.

In other news, there are some window stickers from China that are making their way to Thailand and they’re creating a stir.  They go on the rear window of the car and are only visible when bright lights shine on them.  The images appear to be ghostly faces floating in the window.  This causes drivers to back off and not follow so closely, but the Thai police are warning that there will be a fine for anyone using the stickers.  In a land of superstition, the stickers can cause more harm that just a warning.  Hmm.

Feels like another Wacky Wednesday.


“Service to others is the rent
you pay for your room here on earth.”
~Muhammad Ali

Tuesday, December 13, 2016



Rather than repeat myself, I’ll just say that the weather was.  See, that saved you a lot of redundancy.

The ‘Easy Monday’ song is really easy.  That’s what the response tells me.  Here’s another verse just in case you got distracted:  “The time to hesitate is through.  No time to wallow in the mire.  Try now we can only lose, and our love become a funeral pyre.  Come on baby, __ __ __.  Come on baby, __ __ __.  Try to set the night on fire, yeah.”  Hint:  Something about setting something or someone ablaze.

Lisa noticed a new toy on Daku’s mat in our bedroom.  It was one of Neetchanon’s stuffed animals.  The same little bear that he chose when he was checking out the play area a few days ago.  He decided he wanted that toy and brought it ‘home’.  The bear is back where it belongs and Daku seems to have let it go.

Last night we went downstairs to do our evening prep for the morning.  Just as we were finishing, there was a little knock at the door.  It was Natcha and Neetchanon.  The little one had taken a late nap and was wide awake at 9pm.  We all ended up on the floor, with Neetchanon trying to open a cabinet door.  I finally leaned against one side and foiled her attempt, but she kept on trying.  She stands up when she wants to now.  We started baby-proofing today.  Before long she’ll be all over the house.  

This seemed to be ‘get things serviced’ day.  This morning I took the van for it’s routine check-in.  They change things, check things, and then wash it.  Even though it’s out of warranty, it’s nice to know everything is right.  There is a chain that does similar service and someday I’ll probably use them, but for now I’d rather stick with the folks that put it together.  This evening we got our six-month teeth cleaning.  During my treatment I listened to our dentist go on about the repaving job in front of his office.  It’s been going on for months.  They did the same thing last year because someone got a budget.  He told tales of merchants losing business because of all the road work.  In the end, he gave us a photo of The King.

On a recent trip to Chivit Tamma Da, I snapped this photo of two giant pinwheels on a small island in the river.  Interesting installation.

The ten day countdown begins tomorrow.  Time to start conditioning the mind for the long journey, driving on the other side of the car on the other side of the road, and three weeks without Daku.  Wait, what?

Have a Happy Tuesday.


“Listen to silence,
it has much to say.”

Monday, December 12, 2016



Chiang Rai had another beautiful, cooler, rainless weekend.  It’s that time of year when trees begin loosing their leaves and the grass stops growing.  Nights are like Culver City, CA days and days are a bit warmer.  

The ‘Old School Friday’ was a mid-50s favorite by The Spaniels, “Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight”.  Congrats to all of you who knew it.  Try this on for ‘Easy Monday’:  “You know that it would be untrue, you know that I would be a liar, if I was to say to you, girl we couldn’t get much higher.  Come on baby, __ __ __  Come on baby, __ __ __.  Try to set the night on fire.”  Clue:  Performed by something you walk through, something you shouldn’t play with.  Easy.

The wedding we attended on Saturday morning was quite an event.  There were about 250 guests seated under a giant Rain Tree on the grounds of Le Meridien Resort.  A 20-something quartet played jazz arrangements of standard love songs and lots of selfies were taken before the ceremony.  The first announcement before the wedding was that no photos or movies be taken during the ceremony.  There was a very busy photo crew documenting the whole event from every angle.  They even had a drone in the air to capture the scene from high above.  A luncheon followed the vows, in the ballroom.  We sat with people we really didn’t know and probably won’t see again, but it was fun.    

Sunday morning a dark cloud appeared over The Big Brown House in the form of dump trucks emptying their loads in the lot next to us.  This could mean only one thing:  Someone is going to build something.  Horrors!  We had planned on that lot being empty for at least another 10 years (555).  After much thought about what it really means, the worst thing will be the drainage of the front yard when it floods.  Right now it goes into the neighboring lot through two pipes.  Now we have an engineering dilemma as to how to get the water out.  Oh well, we have until next rainy season.  Questions remain as to what will be built.  

Today’s photo is a gathering of the dump trucks after a day’s work.  It looks like the trucks are hanging out talking trash, but really it’s their drivers (555).  They all went home and returned the next day at a decent hour.

We had a ‘Wild Kingdom’ episode right at our back steps this weekend.  Saturday evening, as I brought Daku back to the kitchen door, he stopped and began sniffing intensely at a sandal on the shoe rack.  He pushed his nose a little more and a tiny little mouse ran to the corner of the house.  Daku was on the leash, and it was all I could do to keep him from knocking everything over to get to the mouse.  Later that night he was totally obsessed with the mouse.  The next morning we used another door, but he hadn’t forgotten.  When Lisa took Natcha to the door to explain, the little mouse was sitting on the soft door mat, looking cute.  We instructed Gong to move it away from the yard without hurting it, but when he went back, it was gone.  Either it found a way out or the lion next door got it. Daku is still looking for the mouse that got away.

Have a Great Week.


“Feel the fear
and do it anyway.”

Friday, December 9, 2016

Friday Funnies


Cold nights and cooler days should be the forecast.  Then they’d be right all the time.  It’s beginning to feel like the cold season.

The ‘Zany Day’ song was “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane.  ‘Old School Friday’ is next.  This one comes from way back in 1954.  “__, __, well, it’s time to go.  __, __, well, it’s time to go.  I have to leave you but I really must say, __, __, __.  Well, it’s three o’clock in the morning.  Baby, I just can’t treat you right.  Well, I hate to leave you baby, don’t mean maybe, because I love you so.  __, __, well, it’s time to go……”  Hint:  At parties, this might be the last record played.  Some DJs used it as a sign off tune.  

This morning we had to leave the house dressed in layers.  By late morning I was still wearing a light jacket as we sat by the river at Chivit Tamma Da.  We met our friend Atom there for coffee and the place was very busy.  For some places, the High Season is busier than ever, and Chivit is expanding their facility to accommodate the crowds. One part of the expansion is a pub.  Joakim, the co-owner, participated in the auction of a British pub and now has authentic furniture for his new addition.  I’m sure that will mean something to someone.

We went to dinner with our friends who own the major art supply and stationary store downtown.  Supalak, the matriarch of the family, son Pete and his wife Jaeb and their son Charles made for an interesting dinner party.  The conversation was a mix of Thai and English and we did pretty good at keeping up.  Lisa and Supalak had a whole little visit in Thai.  Pete and Jaeb spent time in Manchester, England working on advanced degrees in economics so they are fluent in English.  Sometimes they would translate for Supalak, whose English is limited.  Every morning Lisa and Supalak exchange ‘Line’ messages that include photos of beautiful things from nature.  She also has three of Lisa’s works in her collection.  We all had a good time and plan to do it again when we return from the States.

Today’s photo was taken at The Wanderer before dinner.  The waterfall is finished and I think you can get the idea, even without the sound of the babbling water.

Tomorrow morning we’re going to a wedding at Le Meridien Resort.  The son of our friends Susan and Noy is getting married and it should be quite an event.  It will be our first ‘dress up’ occasion without wearing black.  

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


Thursday, December 8, 2016



Most of the day looked like rain might come any time.  There was that dark, cloudy feeling that said ‘run for cover’, but it never rained.  I guess ‘they’ were right.

A few of you were quick with the answer to the ‘Zany Day’ song.  For those still thinking about it, here’s the last verse of this song:  “When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.  And the White Knight is talking backwards, and the Red Queen’s ‘Off with her head’.  Remember what the door knob said, ‘Feed your head, feed your head.”  Hint: The title is a character from the classic story the song is based on, and the performers are taken with flying machines.

This morning we hung out at The Wanderer, sipping coffee and studying our Thai vocabulary.  The new indoor waterfall is almost complete.  The water is flowing down glass sheets, creating a very calming sound, but it doesn’t translate as a photo.  Khun Noot and Kwan went to buy ferns that will be placed vertically along side the two sheets of water.  When it’s done I’ll make a video clip for you to enjoy.  

During our Thai lesson today we learned some interesting things about northern Thailand.  In ancient times, all of the cities of any size had a king.  King Mengrai is credited with being the father of the north, having fought back invading armies of Monguls.  Chiang means city, so Chiang Rai is named after Mengrai.  Later, he also founded Chiang Mai, in this case, mai means new.  The word Chiang only applies to the north.  Now we know more than we did yesterday.  

After dinner, while Gong and Natcha were cleaning up the kitchen, Lisa and Neetchanon hung out on Daku’s bed.  This always creates a struggle for attention by Daku, but finally he gives in when he knows he can be close.  Today’s photo was one of those moments when the two ‘kids’ made calm eye contact.  

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


“No matter how many mistakes you make
or how slow your progress, you’re still way 
ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.”
~Tony Robbins

Wednesday, December 7, 2016



We woke up to a cold morning today.  All the weather reporters said it was 67, but we knew it wasn’t that warm.  By mid-day it was the normal comfortable level, but cooler.  You know it’s cooling off when you don’t run the air during nap time.

The ‘Easy Monday’ song was “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson.  So, here’s a ‘Zany Day’ tune that could easily be an ‘easy’ one as well.  “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.”  Hint: The title is not sung in the song, but it’s two words.  

This was one of those stay at home days.  Lisa worked in her studio, I shopped for holiday gifts, the spray men did their thing, and Khun Naa cleaned the pool.  Just another, typical Wednesday at The Big Brown House.  We have been plagued with the smell of smoke for two days now.  It’s not the plant waste kind of smell, but something more sinister, like plastic and/or rubber.  This usually doesn’t happen until March, but nothing seems to be as it was these days.  In the middle of the night, when I was wide awake, I imagined a massive march of locals from our village, and children from around town, all converging on City Hall.  We were demanding clean air by way of fines for those who pollute.  I’m told that there are ordinances in place, but not enforced.  Hmm, I really couldn’t sleep after that.

Only sixteen days until we fly out of here for our Winter Trip to the States.  It always seems like there’s loads of time and then, Wham, the day arrives.  I always think every year will be different, more planning, earlier preparation, blah, blah.  We’re doing great, right on schedule if there was one (555).  But seriously folks, a few more lists and we’ll know for sure just how it’s going.  A lot of what we do is make sure things can run smoothly on this side of the ocean while we’re gone.  So very grateful that we have two adults and a dog looking after the place, taking care of business.

There are signs, and then there are signs.  Sometimes the spelling of the words doesn’t matter as much as the thought that gets conveyed.  The translation doesn’t say what was meant, but it works for me.  Here is such a sign:

It really is Wacky Wednesday.


“It is by going down into the abyss 
that we recover the treasures of life.  
Where you stumble, there lies your
~Joseph Campbell

Tuesday, December 6, 2016



Weather: same as it ever was.  Actually, we had some wind today and that was different.  

I’m happy that some of you remembered the ‘Easy Monday’ song.  “__ __ is not my lover.  She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one, but the kid is not my son.  She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son.”  Hint:  The title is a name.  It’s a song of possible seduction and denial.  I smell a soap opera.

Learning to speak a little Thai can be a tricky thing.  On one hand, you can communicate what you want or need to say.  On the other hand, some people assume that you will understand what they say to you.  Today, at the fruit market Lisa asked for two bottles of honey, in Thai.  Fruit lady was in a happy mood and started rambling something about what if she wasn’t there and Lisa forgot the words and had to describe what she needed.  Then she made this buzzing sound and waved her hand around, imitating a bee.  They both laughed, Lisa looked at me and shrugged her shoulders.  We think that’s what she was saying.  And so it goes.  You say something and hope they don’t give back too much too fast (555).

While having coffee and tea at Work@Home, Katai and Thowan brought up dinner plans that we’d talked about and suggested tonight at Boon Rawd Farm.  Being the loose, independent, live for the moment types that we are (555) we said yes.  We met them out at the farm, which is about a 30 minute drive in afternoon traffic.  On the long, winding road up the hill to the restaurant we saw fields of wild flowers, then long rows of tea plants pruned like hedges.  Once we arrived, the next thing for me was to see if there were dishes I could eat.  Northern Thai food is generally spicy.  The menu had a BBQ chicken that met my needs and I was set.  We also had a bowl of their deep fried tea leaves, a specialty of the house that is hard to stop eating.  Time flies when you’re with fun friends, good food and common experiences across cultural lines.  

Today’s photo was taken Sunday night near the Night Bazaar.  The new location of Cat ’n Cup gets more traffic and also seems to have more cats.  In this photo we counted 9 cats, but there were more running around.  Obviously, I took the pic from outside.

Have a Happy Tuesday.


“The time is always right
to do what is right.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, December 5, 2016



Warm days, cool nights, with no sign of rain.  That seems to be the story of Chiang Rai weather these days.

The ‘Old School Friday’ song was “Two Lovers” by Mary Wells.  Time for ‘Easy Monday’.  “She was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene.  I said don’t mind, but what do you mean I am the one who will dance on the floor in the round.  She said I am the one who will dance on the floor in the round.  She told me her name was __ __, as she caused a scene.  Then every head turned with eyes that dreamed of being the one.  Who will dance on the floor in the round.”  Hint: I think you know this one by ‘ The Gloved One’.  

December is turning out to be a very busy month for us.  We’re looking forward to all of it and things started with a party Saturday night.  We knew a few people there, and as is usually the case, met a whole bunch more.  There were people there that we met over 8 years ago, some we haven’t seen in months, and some we met on our Thai language road trip.  We had fun and sampled some delicious food.  

On our Sunday lunch at The Wanderer I spotted what looked like a big dog cage and took a peak.  Inside were 8 little goslings.  They are going to grow up to be the new ‘protectors’ in the woods.  Khun Noot told us that geese keep the snakes away.  We learned something new.  

Last week I ordered some contact lenses.  Trying to deal with progressive lenses was getting too frustrating.  Sunday I got a call that they had arrived.  I used to wear contacts years ago so it wasn’t too hard to put them in at the shop.  I felt very naked without my glasses as we strolled into the Night Bazaar for dinner.  So far they’re working out fine.  I still have to use reading glasses, but that's easy compared to the others.  

This morning it was dark when we got up.  The days are really getting shorter.  I looked outside and saw Gong sweeping the deck, wearing his ‘head light’.  He had explained to Lisa that he had to leave early and go to Mae Sai to help the family with the rebuilding of the home there.  All of his sisters went also, which meant Natcha was at home alone with Neetchanon.  Lisa helped with the little one at lunch, and I spent some time with her before dinner.  She had a great time crawling around in the living room.  She can stand up by herself when she thinks about it.  It’s time to start baby-proofing the house.  She’s moving faster on her knees, and when she gets the walking thing together, well, you can imagine.  
On our return from shopping this morning we couldn’t help but notice that the oncoming traffic had stopped.  The lead truck was almost in the middle of the road so I stopped too.  Then we saw the reason.  A big snake that looked to be about 4 feet long moved across the road and into the cornfield.  We learned about the respect for animals on our 2001 visit to Thailand.  Our van driver slammed on his brakes while driving in the hills.  A moment later he turned around and just said, ‘Snake’, and we continued on our way.  

Have a Great Week.


“Wisdom begins in wonder.”