Toks fruit stand

Tok is selling tamarinds and watermelons from a bamboo stand in front of the house.
there are a lot of thai tourists going to the mountains for new years. so she's taking advantage of the extra traffic to try to make a little money.
15 baht for a watermelon is 5   15 cents in U.S. dollars
(that's mama hanging out in the shade there)

permits from the city:  0$
permits from the county:  0$
permits from the health department:  0$
permits for business:  0$
taxes on sales:  0$

lack of government involvement on trade and entrepreneurship:  priceless


101128 Thaikarl - Loi Krathong time

the Loi Krathong festival this year was on Toks birthday: the 21st.  She sent me some photos.  they went to the temple in the village, and floated their Krathong on the pond next to the temple.  This is one holiday that we have never shared together.  I was in thailand years ago, and enjoyed the event when i was in phuket.  that time, they floated the krathongs on the ocean, and on a large inland lake.  the hot air balloons they release float high in the sky.  very beautiful to see a hundred flickering lights in the sky and on the water.  they don't seem to worry about them coming down and starting fires - which is the first thing people say in america when i tell them about it.

they are floating them on a small pond - they can collect the styrofoam floats.
traditional ones are made from bread (which disintegrates) or banana leaves.

Tok with Krathong

Teri launching Krathong on the pond

Hot air balloon lantern - up and away!


"Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom."    Soren Kierkegaard


101029 Thaikarl - Our new spirit house


we have a new spirit house!  after mama found a snake in bed with her in the middle of the night, the Long Som (spirit medium) told us that the ghost of the land wants a place to live.  (see the previous blog entry for the story) i sent tok some extra money to get us a spirit house.  she had to wait until after the recent buddist holiday to have the workmen come and install a concrete pad and tile.

and again mama had a nocturnal visitor - this time a centipede under her pillow.  don't know what kind of centipede it was, but they do have some big ones in thailand.  ones that bite and produce a painful wound that is easily infected.  they usually don't come creeping around the house.  i've never seen one on our property actually.  so the creatures visit is a little odd.   we're hoping that with the new spirit house installed, the local ghosts will be appeased with their fancy new digs, and stop bothering mama.  that's the principal, as i understand it anyway.

and old man from the village came out to dedicate our spirit house.  offerings of fruit, sweets and food were prepared:

 i wish i could have been there for the ceremony.  we now have a beautiful addition to the yard.

i found a explanitory article about thai spirit houses.  so many things to try to understand. 

100907 - Thaikarl - USA - The snake is a ghost (?)

the snake is a ghost (?)

my wife told me a story the other day when i called her.  my 77 ish old mother-in-law woke up in the middle of the night and discovered a snake in her bed. she slowly and carefully got out of bed and went downstairs. she got a flashlight and went back upstairs to look for the snake, but couldn't find it. odd that a snake would go all the way up to the her second floor room.

the next day they went to the Long Som (spirit medium - i still can't say it right, and am probably spelling it wrong) to see what this was about. the Long Som said that it was the ghost of our land. He wants a place to live. So we have to get a spirit house. My wife told me that we actually have to buy two houses - a larger one for the "Angel" and a smaller one for the Ghost. her dictionary translated all the thai words for what she was trying to say as "Angel" but i don't think it's and angel as we think of them in the west exactly.

we also have to have some of the old people from the village come to look around and decide where is the best place to put the spirit houses. i said we'd better go with the program and i'll send her a little extra money (3900 baht) to buy the houses, pedestals and concrete.

i'm never quite sure what is going on with such things. I don't "believe", but i don't dis-believe either. it's important to my family there, so i follow the customs- even if i don't fully understand them. my basic interest is that they don't just kill the snake. if they think that the snake is a familiar for a ghost and thus won't kill it, that's good by me. don't know what kind of snake it was - i'm going to show her pictures of thai snakes next time we skype and see if mama can pick it out. venomous snakes that could be dangerous need to be invited to live elsewhere. maybe the ghost won't need the snake after we get the spirit house installed. i'll post pictures when we have them.

amazing thailand.


100824 - Thaikarl - USA Friday Harbor, unitedstates, uh, yeah

back in the USSR, er, USA.  we departed canada by crossing in invisible line in the water yesteray.  came into Roche Harbor to clear customs.  uh, huh.  when we entered canada, we docked at the customs harbor on Pender.  mike got out, and made a phone call to customs, to thell them that foreigners were entering the country.  they asked a few questions on the phone- "any fruit, food, guns or explosives?", gave mike a number to post in the window of the boat, and we were in.  when American Citizens come back INTO america, well, i don't want to say anything.  Homeland INSECURITY might be listening.  lets just say it was a little more involved.

we're gonna hang out in the san juan islands for a few days, mikes wife might join us for a couple of days, and we're back.  "it's good to be alive"sings sheryl crow on  the music in the coffe shop here... i agree.

you see a lot if interesting boats out here.....

100826 Thaikarl - USA - Doe Bay, Orcas island - hanging out for a few days

posted a few now photos in the desolation sound gallery:  http://picasaweb.google.com/thaikarl/DesolationSound  scroll down to the picture of Errol at the bottom for the lates posted pix.  
we anchored at Doe Bay, Orcas island a couple days ago.  been hanging around, enjoying the resort facilities (for free :-)  they have a restaruant, mike got us in to play music tuesday night.  we made 36$ in tips, and got free pizza.  he got us in last night also, nother 38$ - i keep one dollar, the rest goes into the boat fund.  i don't know mikes songs, so i don't sing with him much, i fake my way thru the chords with him.  sometimes i can read them off his song book, otherwise i watch and listen and try to keep up.  fun to be playing in public again.

the resort has a spa - a set of hot tubs overlooking the little bay here.  we went up and sat in the hot water after playing last night.  nice.

the wind blows thru the strait of jan de fuca, hits widbey island and blows north thru rosario strait - right at us.  the boat was rocking and rolling all night again.  nice way to get to sleep, being rocked and bumped around.  errol was sleeping up on deck, hanging in the mayan hammock suspended by lines and halyards.  i went up late at night to see what was rolling around making a banging noise.  errols hammock was swinging back and forth like a flag in a storm.  the kid slept thru the whole thing.  except when we was being banged into the mast!  we're going to play music tonight at the open mic and probably head south towards seattle tomorrow.

the weather has turned cold, windy and somewhat cloudy.  summers over i guess.  nice while it lasted.  we got a text saying it was pouring rain in seattle.  wah! when i get back i'll make a google map of our travels.

the adventure continues

100810 - Thaikarl - CANADA - Chilling out for the day in Maple Harbor

we pulled into maple harbor today.  nice marina.  rustic, with numerous nautical decorations around the property - old ships engines painted red and white old propellers etc.  store, pub, laundry... laundry!  my wife was consternated when i told her i've been wearing the same pair of jean for two weeks (..."put honey, i change my underwear...") mike decided to pay moorage, so we'll hang out for the night.  shore power to charge up all the batteries things.  errol has a nintendo DS, there's a DVD player machine, i've got batteries, cell phone and camera to charge, computers, there's the GPS etc etc.  you get real attentive to charging things when your 110v options are limited.  we have a 12v to 110v inverter, but it drains the anchor and house batteries so we have to limit the use of that.  at least the adults think about charging things.  errol just uses them til they die.

traveling by boat sure is different.  i have no idea how you would DRIVE here.

onward - back to the san juan islands this week.

100816 - Thaikarl - Canada Millions of jellyfish, and wonderful sun

we're having a wonderful time up her in British Columbia.  the internet connection here in Campbell River marina is weird proxy thing.  i'm trying to upload photos.  goto my picassa gallery  http://picasaweb.google.com/thaikarl and look for an alblum called "Desolation Sound".  i'll upload as many photos as the connection will allow.  we're heading up around Quadra island today.  headed for Octopus islands and more.


100808 - Thaikarl USA - greetings from canada

greetings from bedwell harbour, south pender island, British Columbia.  Canadian customs station check in.
we left seattle on the armadillo - mikes 50 foot sailboat on friday around 7pm.  motored up north into the setting sun and oncoming darkness.  i had been going full bore the last few days, so i went to my bunk around midnight.  we got in to some rough water alongside whidbey island, where the sea is open to the ocean thru the straigt of juan de fuca.  difficult to sleep with the boat banging around, bouncing up and down on the bunk, things falling down and clattering in the cabin.  i just got to sleep at 3am when nathan woke me to go up and take down the sails.  we hoped to sail, so we'd put them up, but not enough wind to make a difference, so we were motoring,  but the sails were making steerage difficult, so we hauled them down and went back to bed.  mike was driving until 5am, when nathan awoke me again to anchor up in burrows pass.   we slept a little while motored into anaortes to top off the fuel tanks.

we motored over to friday harbor in the afternoon, went grocer shopping and nathan and i took land showers.  a friend of mikes lives on friday island across from the harbor.  we mored over there, visited a while and anchored up in the south anchorage of friday harbor, because the fog rolled in and it wasn't a good idea to go any further.

mike set the crab pot before midnight.  this morning, mike hausled up 15 crabs, 6 of which were males big enough to keep.  crab feast tonight!  motored up here to check into customs.  we're in funny money land now.  woo hoo!!!!


100806 Thaikarl - In the USA and off again


returned to the USA.  what a shock.  but, after so many trips, it's as expected.  been really fortunate to have lots of work come my way.  which means i'm just enough ahead to take off again.  going to desolation sound in canada on mikes 50 foot sailboat.  we're out for three weeks.  yeeeee haaaaa!

more will be revealed...


100702 Thaikarl - thailand is behind, korea is now, USA is before... me

the internet cafe next to our hotel in bangkok is no more, so i didn't post before i left.  i'm in korea now, on 10 hour layover.  so i took the subway trains into town.  going to drop off a book to the couch-surfing.com contact i have here, and goto a korean bath-house.  the subway system here is a trip.  it's a giant puzzle.  you have to know how to read maps and spatial diagrams, search out the english words mixed in with the korean characters.  i got it sorted out, mostly.  when i went to leave, my travel card that i bought from the machine didn't work to let me out the gate.  buzzes went off, and barriers wouldn't open.  i went to various machines, up and down stairs, to multiple exits, studied all the maps looking for an office of some sort.  couldn't find a worker to help me.  finally a young guy helped me... he just took me through the handi-capped gate.  doh!  don't have a clue what when ary.  maybe i fried my card?
raining here, but warm.  bought a cheap umbrella cause it's warm, and i was getting all steamy.  with a little help from the guy at the desk, i got online in a "PC-BANG", internet/game room, down in the basement of a building.  going to the bath-house for a few hours next, then back to the airport. and try some mystery food.
and from there... i dunno.



100625 Little things happen all the time


getting down to the departure time next week.  wah.  but life still going on here.  i've added a few pics to the picasa galleries
for Misc Life and Thai Bugs.  go there and scroll down to the new photos.

A lizard appeared on the tamarind tree behind my shower.  he was nice enough to hang out there until i could finish my shower and run for my camera.  beautiful color on his head. 

i showed him to tok and she was like "meh"  she said they are common in thailand, they see them all the time.  i explained to her that we don't have these commonly in the states- depending on where you live. and not in seattle.  i guess it would be like somebody coming to seattle and taking pictures of pigeons all the time.  we'd be like "they're just pigeons, what's the big deal?" my earliest memories were from the time we lived in victorville california.  out in the desert at george air force base.  lizards were part of a boys life then and there.  specially "horny toads".  i liked lizrds then, like 'em now.  she asked me what animals are common in seattle.  i had to think about that one.  birds of course, dogs cats, sometimes raccoons, dead 'possums, squirrls, rarely a snake.  that's about it. had to google up photos of most the raccoons and possums for her, she'd never seen one.

the kids came by with a crazy bike they put together.  check this thing out:

cow skull handlebars... now THATS COOL! (there's another picture in the picasa gallery) little scooter wheel in front, regular wheel in back, and lots and lots of rope.

we've had a "bad cat" coming around harassing our cats for a while.  poor August comes in all scratched up, missing patches of hair.  one day mama caught the "bad cat".  there was a bunch of hollering (in thai of course) teri came out with the basket and a lid, the put the cat inside, tied down the lid jumped on the motorbike and drove away.  i was concerned they were going to throw it in the river - i don't know what they do in such situations.  15 minutes later, tok and teri came back, minus the cat.  they didn't drown it.  just took it to the next village and let it out.  let them deal with the monster.  banishment i can handle.  it was likely a feral cat, not somebodies pet.  here's August:

we fixed a few things around the house today - i put up a shelf, re-strung the ropes on the rain shades, took off the cement board over the steps.  trying to get all the little things done while i'm still here.  i've been following Cliff Maas's weather blog since i've been home.  i see the folks in seattle have had worse than usual crappy weather.  but it just might be real summer when i get back.  that will be nice.  easier to adjust to.  but 75 degrees F will seem cold, as usual.

i made a panorama view of the mountains to the west of our house.  it is nice, isn't it? (click here to goto the view page)

gorgeous the life in amazing thailand,


100621 Thaikarl - what IS happening now anyway?

friends, one of my readers wrote and me ans asked the timeless question: what's happening?  here's my reply:

oh, i'm just hanging out, enjoying my last days here.  lots of thinking time, speculating, dreaming, conceiving, fretting, calculating, wondering, regretting, inventing, designing, proposing, accepting, rejecting, feeling, observing, analyzing, worrying, deducing, pondering.... lots and lots of "ings"  all within my own skull.  when you are surrounded by people who don't speak english, you don't get diverted into conversations about anything really, so almost all of your talking is in your own head.  a running monologue that gets meandered and guided by voices from the past present and future.  reading books and listening to music, swurfing the internet, watching videos on youtube, provide a modicum of focused distraction, but the ever present voice and running movie in my head is merely attended to, not silenced by such stimuli.

it's a brief interlude into the life of the idle rich.  rich, because i have everything i need, idle because i don't HAVE to do very much of anything.  but it has a strict span of time, this leisure, the income stream stopped when i got on the plane, and the bucket of funds i brought with me is leaking out the myriad of holes.  the bucket will need refilling, but that is later, this is now, and now is pretty damn good all in all.

it's perpetual summer in thailand.  you aren't bundling up to protect yourself from the cold, hiding inside to keep warm, turning on lights in the middle of the day cause it's so dark under all the clouds.  when it rains, you just get under cover, you don't have to go inside, you don't have to go get your coat.  and the rain never lasts that long. sometimes the heat is oppressive, and you welcome a cooling breeze or a chance to go in 7-11 where the aircon is always set to imitate the arctic summer.  it takes a lot of energy to keep warm.  i don't have that cost here.

it's a brief interlude into the life of the idle rich.  rich, because i have everything i need, idle because i don't HAVE to do very much of anything.  but this interlude has a sharp span.  the income stream stopped when i got on the plane, and the reservoir of funds that runs the powerplant is getting down to reserves level.  the reservoir will need refilling, but that is later, this is now, and now is pretty damn good all in all.  refilling the bucket just means i won't be so idle, but i'll still be rich.  i have a home in paradise, and i carry that with me always.

years ago i had an apartment. it was the first apartment that was completely mine. i called it "the Oasis".  it was a refuge in the desert, a place to quench your thirst, regain your power.  i had a business sized card made up that said this:

Everybody needs an Oasis.
If you don't have one, make one.
If you can't make one now,
Use somebody else's until you can.

i've made a new Oasis for myself here.  and i enjoy it while i am here. i carry it with me, everywhere.
that's what's happening.


what is that horrible noise??

the world cup soccer championship is on.  know how i know?  because every tv that has it on has this horrible, grating, obnoxious noise coming from it.  i detest it.  this is a sound i would use to drive teenagers away from my  7-11.  this is the sound i would aim at rioters.  it makes me care even LESS about soccer.  and of course, because it is so f****g annoying people think it's really cool.  yeah.  like hemorrhoids are cool.

read more than you wanted to know at http://www.urlesque.com/2010/06/16/vuvuzela-world-cup-2010/



100612 Thaikarl - a few random bits


here's a photo of the sky above my shower, taken a few nights ago:

not much to see except stars, a bit of the tamarind tree, the the trunk of the betal nut palm that's had its head removed.  and that is EXACTLY the point!  the row of glaring, orange sodium high pressure lamps on the big road in front of our house have been silent for a week now.  it's wonderful!  it's dark... wow, there was just now a powerful swirl of wind around the house.  the bedroom shook on it's pilings, and the trees and bushes are whipped around.  a big bubble of hot hair just broke loose from the ground and rose up into the sky.  that means a thermal is going up right over our house, and a cloud will form when it gets high enough to cooler air.  and now it's calm again. anyway, as i was saying; it's dark around the house at night this past week.  when i go out to take a shower before bed i'm surrounded by dark shapes of the trees and houses.  lightning bugs fly thru the air.  a quiet, steady light, the color of white LED's wandering thru the dark.  how do they see where they're going?  there was lightning in the sky the other night.  awesome.  quick flashes of brilliant light illuminating everything like a ginormous camera flash.  it started to rain, and i stood there in the stream of water from my pump shower, deeply enjoying the experience.

there is usually a haze in the air in our valley.  moisture and dust in the atmosphere soften the bright sunlight, and blurs the ridges of the mountains and the edge of the horizon.  today it is very clear.  the kao koa peaks to the north west stand out sharply, the green of the trees on the slops is bright and variegated.  the sunlight is sharp on your shoulders.  not too hot today.  very pleasant.

we had planned to go to the Phe Tha Kon ghost festival in Dansai next week.  except the websites that had next week as the dates were wrong.  tok saw on television that the festival is *this* weekend.  we're un-prepared to go now.  tok has to go to work early monday morning, and the bus doesn't get back early enough.  if we went tomorrow, because of the bus schedule, we would only be able to be in Dansai for a few hours, so we might cancel that plan.  our budget for extras like that is pretty slim this late in my time here.  there have been packs of motorbikes and motorcycles going by on the big road all day and night since yesterday.  they are going to Dansai.  i'd like to go just to see all the cool motorcycles and motorbikes.  maybe we will.

we bought recessed lights for the bedroom, so i have another wiring/install job to do this week.

i received some information late last night that made me really sad.  a friend of mine, a guy i've known for 25 years, decided to start drinking again.  he'd been clean and sober the whole time i've known him.  he said it's fun now.  but that won't last.  and his taking the next step - to serious drugs- is one more bad decision away.  i don't drink or get high because it was revealed to me that i'm one of those people who went over the line.  over the line past "recreational use"  i was offered a path out of that darkness, i took it, and i'm still on that path.  my world is much better illuminated since then.  i've lost many friends and many acquaintances over the years. that's their choice. just makes me a bit sad to hear about this one, as he and i have a long history together, and i have strong feelings for him to go with that.  oh well.

mama is spending the day under the house cleaning the shells off tamarind fruits.  man, she gets things done.  she 'hangs out' a lot more than she used to, as her health is a bit weaker, but she just keeps at it.  she sat in the yard for four days, on a little wooden stool, poking at the weeks with a digging tool.  covered the whole yard.



100610 Thaikarl - Party times!


it's been party time the last couple days.  monday night we went to a party, given by a family of a young man who is going to become a monk.  most thai males enter the monkhood at some time in their lives.  even if it's only for a few weeks.  it's a very big deal for a family, a 'rite of passage" of sorts, and they often throw a party to celebrate the event.  some parties are small-  a few neighbours, some food and drinks, a stereo playing.  on up to big bash's, with tens of people, mass food and drink and hired entertainment- usually "Coyote Dancers" and singers and a giant set of speakers.  they typically rent plastic chairs, folding tables and put up awnings in case it rains.  they serve a lot of food, and every table has a bottle of whisky, bottle of coka cola, water, ice and glasses.  after the eating and drinking, some people of course get a little loosened up, and they start dancing.  it's great fun, the food is usually good.  people are very friendly to me, especially after some of the alchohol starts to work in.  they smile at me, talk to me, or try to, as i never understand, so they turn to tok and she answers for me.  if they know a little english, they will try it out on me.  i get offered drinks alot.  which is awkward, because they just want to be friendly and have me join in. i usually pat my stomach, then throw my hand quickly away from my mouth.  they seem to get that pretty well - if i drink it goes to my stomach and i'll throw up.  in the past, i've poured a little coca cola in my glass of water, giving the water a slight brown color- which passes for whisky/water, they see i have a drink and are good with it.  but then people tell tok that they were sure they saw me drinking, and my little deception isn't worth it so i usually don't resort to that trick.

the party night before last was very nice.  some of the singing was good, some wasn't.  there were a whole table of people there who are toks friends.  i usually sit and eat, sit and drink soda water on ice, sit and look at eveybody.  i always get invited to the dance floor.  never really a floor actually, since these are always outside parties and the 'floor' is usually dirt.  so i smile, and dance and sit, eat, smile some more.

last night we took the motor bike to Lom Kao, about 28 km away to Henke's gas station, where he was having his birthday party.  he bought a motorcycle this year, so most of the people there were bikers, with a row of big motorcycles parked along the hedges.  more food, drinks, talking, smiling.  one of the guys there was a thai/american from florida.  living here now on disability after a truck accident in the states.  we met Henke and his wife at the waterfall last  year.  great guy, good energy and very welcoming.  tok had to be at school for work very early this morning so we didn't stay very long.

today was "teacher appreciation" day at the school. tok was there almost all day. and she said there was a party at the school also.  three days, three parties.  she went to bed at 8pm tonight.  i'm still  up, as usual, working on the website and surfing the web for details.  i finally finished the wiring for the new bedroom ceiling light.  



100603 Thaikarl - wonderful poetic translation - about a snake

there is a snake living around our house.  everybody else wants to kill it, i want to save it from them. trying to identify it, i did some googling, and emails back and forth.  one of the pages with pictures came up on a thai website, which i ran thru google translate.  down the page in one of the comments was this entry:

กลัวค่ะ กลัวมาก  Fear ค่ะ very afraid.
แค่เห็นในบล็อกนี้  Just saw this blog.
ก็ขน ลุกแล้วค่ะ  It horrible Out!.
ไม่ กล้ามองงูเลย  I did not dare look snakes.
แต่ อยากจะอ่านมาก  But I want to read more.
ว่าคุณ จะช่วยชีวิตเค้าอย่างไร  You could save him how
เห็น ด้วยค่ะ ว่าไม่ควรไปฆ่าเค้า ค่ะ  not agree that to kill him.
เวลา ช่วยชีวิตสัตว์ได้  Time to rescue animals.
รู้สึก ดีมากนะคะ  I felt great คะ.
เพราะ เคยช่วยจิ้งจกที่มันเกือบจมน้ำช็อกโกแลตตาย  Because it almost always helps lizard chocolate drowned dead.
ตอนแรก บีโกรธมันที่ทำให้อดกินเลย  At first angry, it makes B อด eat it.
แต่พอ เห็นมันพยายามเงยหัวให้พ้นน้ำช็อกโกแลต  But when I saw it lifted my head to try to spray chocolate
แล้ว จ้องมาที่เรา  Then stared to us.
สงสาร มันขึ้นมาทันที  Pity on it immediately.
เลย ต้องหาอะไรมาเขี่ยมันออกจากถ้วย  What I find to poke it out of the cup.
พอ ช่วยมันได้ก็ดีใจค่ะ  I'm glad it helps enough ค่ะ.
แต่นี่ คุณช่วยงูตัวใหญ่กว่าตั้งแยะ  But here, you help the bigger the snake amply
บุญ เยอะเลยนะคะ  I คะ much merit it.

the english translation reads like some gonzo, stream-of-consciousness tone poem.  in fact, i'm inspired to turn these words into lyrics and make a song out of it.  and like thai songs, it won't rhyme.  stay tuned for that.

this is the translate page:  http://translate.google.com/translate?........  the comment above is found down the page.  our snake is just like the one in the photos:  It's a Xenochropis flavipunctatus - Yellow spotted Keelback.  not very poisonous.  it would have to chew on you for several minutes to get enough venom into the wound.  thanks to Vern at thaipulse.com for help identifying our little friend.  i hope i can ketch him and convince him to live in the ditch out front of the property, and stay away from the house, or he's gonna end up dead.
Xenochropis flavipunctatus, with shoes

Amazing Thailand.  everyday!


100601 Thaikarl - Swimming lessons and more creepy brain pictures


my step-daughter, Toey wants to learn to swim.  tok asked me if i could teach her.  my brain said "NO".  my brain usually says "NO" to everything, then i have to kick in the "conscious override" program and when it works, i can get my mouth and vocal chords to say "yes".  if it doesn't work the first time, it defaults to silence, so the program has a loop that says "IF 'reply' = silence, restart mechanical "yes" routine.  do loop until 'reply' = "yes".  sometimes even that routine fails.  in this case, i finally said "yes, i can teach Toey to swim".  nothing happened for a few weeks, then a few days ago, we were off to the market to buy swim cloths.  found one for me, but not for Toey, so i won a reprieve.  but, persistence paid off on toks part, toey had he swim suit, i had mine, we'd already been to the swimming pool one evening and got the hours and layout in place.  it was time to go.

i've never taught swimming, but i know how to swim.  so i reached way back into the memory banks and came up with some starter objectives:  blowing bubbles to get used to having your face in the water; floating on your back, kicking with your feet.  Toey was game to learn, but since i have to tell her in english, there was a bit of a communications problem.  i would demonstrate, she would try it out.  she has a habit of starting to inhale before her face is out of the water, so she sputters and coughs a lot.  but, with the encouragement of her friend sitting by the pool, see kept on, and was getting the hang of it.  her friend timed her floating, and she got up to 3 minutes and 27 seconds.  pretty good for the first day.

she had to take the motorbike to take her friend back home, while i waited at the pool.  there are some music rooms at the front. tok told me they were there, but i didn't understand what that meant when she told me.  inside a windowed room were a full set of drums, a couple of guitars and a bass, amplifiers and a microphone set-up.  while i was waiting for Toey, i was watching a guy playing guitar.  a women came over and invited me to go inside.  this was cool.  the guy inside said hello, "guitar??" and i pointed at the bass. he turned it on and we played a bit. he was really shy about playing, and deferred to my playing bass.  he said his name is Mun, he lives there at the pool.  this was pretty cool, i've been itching to play with others for a while now.  been along time since the band(s) folded and i miss playing bass.

the next day i was up in the bedroom working on the website in the late afternoon. Toey came up and said "Swimming!"  brain said "no" mouth said "yes" and we went off.  Mun was manning the desk at the pool, so we didn't go in the music room.  Toey came back with her friend again and we got in the pool for more practice.  she totally forgot how to float and we had to start over.  there was a man teaching five or so little kids in the middle of the pool, and i was taking cue's from him about instructions. suddenly there was a man yelling and pointing at the middle of the pool.  i looked around, trying to see what he was excited about. there was a shadow under the water in the middle of the pool.  the instructor man went over and hauled a young boy up from underwater and carried him to the side.  the boy was limp and lifeless.  not again.  the pool people came running, the father ran over, the kids all gathered around.  i went over to see if i could help, but the pool ladies started CPR, with chest compressions and breaths.  water spilled out of the boys mouth, which they drained to the side and kept up the CPR.  the boy still wasn't responding, but they kept it up.  the hospital is a block away.  i couldn't see, because of all the people in the way, but there was a change in the demeanor of the people around the boy, and i thought maybe some signs of life had re-appeared.  the father was sitting at the boys feet, keening in a high voice.  the other little kids were right there watching the whole thing.  the hospital guys ran in, and they carried the boy away.  in a couple of minutes, people started coming back, smiling and talking, so evidently the boy was revived.  later the pool women talked to me, and i understood when she said "sabai dee" which means "comfort good" - so apparently the boy was okay.  he wasn't breathing for a few minutes, so hopefully there wasn't any damage.  jeez.

so we went back to floating, kicking and face in the water lessons.  now i have another set of grim pictures in my brain of a small boys life-less face.  funny how those things stick so well in ones mind.

two days at the pool, two adventures in addition to swimming.  i told tok, "i wonder what will happen the next time we go swimming?"

there's a few new photos in the picassa gallery. scroll down to the picture of the blue guitar and click on it, and keep going from there.  there's a few new pictures in the bugs and critters gallery also.  scroll down to the praying mantis on the back of my hand picture, click on it, and go from there.

amazing thailand!


100528 Thaikarl - a shower with a view

one on my friends said i must have a great view from my shower.  i'm sure there are much better ones, but my view is mine and i enjoy it everytime.  especially in the moonlight.

left to right:  corn in the fields, tamarind tree, neighbors house, our kitchen and back of the house


100526 Thaikarl - american ingenuity. loses again.


i use my outdoor shower behind the house.  i like it out there.  we didn't have village water when i built it last year.  i put a piece of cement board on the corner of the shower and put my shower stuff on that.  my organizational wife got me a basket for my things.  but when the wind comes, my razor, toothbrush and such gets blown off behind the wall and i have to go retrieve the stuff.

so i got all fired up when i found three and four-way PVC fittings at the shed market.  bought a bagful of parts, and a long piece of 1/2 inch PVC, found another basket in the shed, and built myself a stand to hold the basket and my shower things.  quite please with my ingenuity, i showed my wife.

her comment?  "why you not get two nails and nail the basket to the wall. not spend all that money on pipe?"

FAIL.  i had no answer for that one.

  (but it is cool eh?)


100524 Thaikarl - new ceiling in the bedroom house


at long last we have a new ceiling in the bedroom house.  the ceiling before wasn't a ceiling at all, it was the bottom of the roof tiles.  a common trait of many thai country houses.  problem is, the sun bakes the roof, the tiles get hot, and the heat radiates from the bottom of the tiles into the room.  and because the there is an open space between the top of the walls and the ceiling tiles, the dust gets into the room much easier.  Tok is sensitive to dust, so it's not a good thing for her.

we'd already spent our "home improvement" funds on other things, but tok decided that she would use the savings she has and get it done, since the weather has been so hot.  and i promised i send her extra money to replenish her savings over time.  we had do do a little shopping for the wood, insulation and nails.  then a friend of hers who is a builder came over with a few guys and they did the job in two days. 

looks nice eh?  and it is cooler up here in the daytime.  10mm hardwood sheets of plywood were 850 baht each (26$ USD), we used 11 sheets.  plust labor 4000 baht (123$ USD) and incidentals, the whole job came out to 19,000 baht (585$ USD)


100521 Thaikarl - Snake - Toad - Termites - Cat

friends, what do all those words have in common?  they are all in the video i just posted to youtube:

the other day i saw the snake three different times on the same day.  each time on a different side of the house.  when it slide into the woodpile on the east side, i hope to get a better look at it.  i poked a long piece of pvc into the pile lengthwise.  heard it move a couple of times.  he even stuck his head up and gave me a threatening gaping mouth glare, like i was really annoying him. which i was. so i stopped.  if the neighboors see it they'll kill it, so if it shows up again, i'll try to suggest to it that it goes out to the fields to live.  it'll be safer out there... till they start harvesting the corn.  but it can run away.  i hope.

didn't see any fangs, but still couldn't get a good enough look to take a photo and identify it.

the toads and the gekkos have a feast on the bug blooms, which usually happen after some rain.

yesterday, the Tokay gekko suddenly appeared out the the corner of the ceiling and ran along the top of the door over toks head.  it stopped on the wall beside the cabinet.  i ran and got my camera, but it took off as i brought the camera up to take a picture.  beautiful animals!  this one is about 14 inches long.  tok is annoyed with him because he drops his crap on the floor in the bathroom and she has to clean it up.  i was wondering what those were.  kind of looked like little slugs.  tokay turds. hmm.

amazing thailand!


100517 Thaikarl - the dentist is in - and a ghost story - tok got a job!


went to see my dentist today.  he replaced a crown that had fallen off.  it fell off months ago, but i waited until i got here to have it stuck back on.  in that time, my teeth moved around, so it didn't fit.  my dentist took an impression and had a new one made.  he put it in for me today, and fixed a stain in the veneer in one of my front teeth.  total cost:  42 USD.  the crown was on a back molar. dentists usually charge more for work on back teech.  you know that have to reach alll that way back there and all.  he had it made from a high-level alloy of some sort.  gold would have cost way more because of the ridiculous gold bubble we're in. seriously, you can come to thailand, have all your teeth fixed, have a vacation, and return to the states for LESS than it would have cost you to have your teeth fixed in the states.  i'm going to be organizing dental trips to thailand next year.  so if you are facing a huge dental bill, need things like bridges, crowns, veneers, implants and your dental insurance won't cover it - you have dental insurance don't you? all american enjoy such wonderful comprehensive healthcare don't they? - keep in touch with me.  even if you're travel shy, i'll get the details set up for you- hotels, transport, a choice of dentists, and some sightseeing if you like.  stay tuned!

tok and mama and i were sitting around the table eating dinner last night.  i got tok to ask mama a few questions about her life.  i was wondering what mama wanted to be when she was a little girl.  answer: farmer.  she doesn't read or write, so she knew that farming, or selling food was the only future for her, so she never thought about anything else. i asked her to find out why she had only one child - tok, my wife.  she said that it was difficult for her to have children.  this was pre-pill days, so there was nothing inhibiting the process.  tok said that her mother had been married ten years before she had her.  mama went to some special place and asked the ghosts to help her get pregnant.  mama had a dear friend who was pregnant at the time.  her friend promised, that if she had twins, that she would give one of the babies to mama to raise.  the friend had her babies but one of them died.  soon after, mama became pregnant.  they believed that the ghosts caused one of the babies to die, so that the spirit of the dead baby could enter mama.  that baby was tok.  so tok is indeed a special, and very much wanted child.

tok got a job!  the school called her and asked her if she would teach thai dancing at the school in village.  we talked about it a month or two ago when it first came up.  she went to see the director today, and got the job.  starts tomorrow.  three days a week, 7 hours of teaching.  but in the strange thai fashion, she is supposed to be at the school all day, even if she is only actually teaching 2 or 3 hours per day.  she has to be there at 8, and can leave at 4.  un-defined what she will do with the other 5 hours of the day.  i've heard this from the english teachers also.  if you are teaching english, you have to be at the school 8-4 every day.  40 hours a week, even if you are only teaching 17 class hours.  some of the non-class hours you will spend making teaching plans, but from what i understand, after you teach a few round, you can re-use the lesson plans you made last term, so you are sitting around, looking busy.  she will earn 27,000 baht for a 5 month term.  that's 834 USD.  she's somewhat excited about it, cause she can save the money. she really really wants to have a car.  nothing fancy, just a car.  with air-con. and dry when it rains.  used cars in thailand are not that common.  i don't know where they go, but you just don't see old cars around here.  and the used ones they do sell, go for big money.  i'm looking for another van (had my friend sell mine after i left) so i'm checking craigslist from here.  she is amazed that you can get a used car for 1000 USD.

but what this means, in the short term, is that i get to be on my own three days a week.  have to get my own lunch (awwww, i can hear yall moaning for me from here) and keep myself amused.  she'll be taking the motorbike to school, so i won't have transport either.  wah.  yeah right.  i'm over the half way mark of this visit.  so i'll just have to make due.  muawwwwww!  it does mean that the couple little tips we were thinking about might not happen.  we were thinking of going to chang mai and chang rai up in the north west part of thailand.  there's a temple up there i really want to see, and they are supposed to be a nice cities.  up in the mountains.  whull see.  phi ta khon is in the end of june, just before i depart, but it's only a few hours by bus from here. so we'll make that.  if tok skips out of school early on friday :-D

gorgeous the life!

neighbors hanging out at sunset.  everybody here is related.



100514 "Lawn" the word of the day is "Lawn"


there's a word i hear frequently these days - especially today. it sounds like the english word "Lawn".
it means "Hot" as in "it's hot now" what ever the rest of the phrase is people might say to me, but when i hear "Lawn" in there, i know they are talking about the weather. i usually reply "nit noi" which means "little bit" it was 110F up here in the computer spot yesterday afternoon, probably get there again today.

my frustration with trying to learn thai comes and goes. i'm not saying i can't learn, i am saying it's going very very slowly. i've worked on a number of "learn to speak thai" programs - including rosetta stone. unfortunately, they teach phrases that i don't use like "he is riding a bicycle" and thus, i don't remember them.

not remembering, that's the problem. for some reason, my brain just isn't tuned to recalling the sounds of thai language. i ask tok for a word, perhaps for something i like like a food. she'll tell me, i'll write it down, transliterate it, say it over and over, make associations and mnemonics. practice it for a couple of days. a week later, i look at the food and say "_____"? gone. not there. hello, brain. what is the word for that. no answer. come on brain, you filed this away somewhere. brain finally answers with "you know, you have never seen anyone water skiing in thailand. thanks brain. thanks alot.

not hearing the tones is a big problem. listen here to someone saying the word "mai"
doesn't sound to hard does it? except each of those sounds is a very different word

* ใหม่ or "MAI" is new ( low tone )
* ไม้ or "MAI" is wood ( high tone )
* ไม่ or "MAI" is not ( falling tone )
* ไหม or "MAI" is silk ( rising tone )
* ไม - this word does not exist ( mid tone )

(taken from: http://www.thaiworldview.com/langue.htm )

so depending on how you sound the sylable, you are saying new, wood, not, silk or a nonsense sound. so if you don't sound it correctly, thai's generally don't understand you.

if i pointed to a pond, and said "beautiful buck" you would wonder what i was talking about. because i said "Buck" instead of "Duck". buck and duck are two different things, two different words. if your native language doesn't have a "B" or "D" sound, they will sound the same to you, and you might not learn the difference.

super simple example.
Lawn means "hot" if you want to make a question you add MAI (falling tone) to the end - you say "Lawn Mai" meaning "hot ???" except in english, we inflect questions with a RISING tone at the end, so if i say "Lawn Mai (rising at the end)", to a thai person i have just said "Hot silk". no wonder they look at me with blank looks when i say things like that.

and as you can see from the thai up above, the different meaning of Mai are SPELLED differently in thai language, but then you have to learn to read thai, which is another whole box of "huh?????

even still, i'm picking up words here and there. some stick, most don't. one way to live in thailand for up to a year on a clear visa is to get an educational visa - you have to goto school, but i could take thai lessons. but oh, wait. you can't work on that visa and have to have a way to live...

more circular problems. i think i'll go have an iced red bull and take a shower now. it's just now noon. and not the hottest part of the day yet.



100513 Thaikarl - home to languid heat and soft days


it was good to get home again, tho i did enjoy our little holiday.  back home to our full moon house, hot days, light winds and occasional relief from a little rain.  after a few days of laying about, i'm back on beam to get a few things done.  i have to wire up an outlet up in mama's room, another switched light in our bedroom, make a stand for the fan we bought that will set on the headboard inside the mosquito net.  and work on the website for products, and and and.  i have a bunch of photos to sort thru for posting from bang chang, chantaburi and bang fai.  when it's 40 degrees tho, you tend to move at a slow pace dripping in sweat.

tok really really wants to put a ceiling in our bedroom house.  it's just exposed rafters and roof tiles now, and when the sun heats the tiles, it radiates into the room below.  the fan just stirs the hot air around.  but, the building fund was depleted paying off the phone company.  so it has to wait.  owning a house and all the attendant repairs, improvements and projects is something new to me.  the land isn't going to do it.  we are the landlords!  i used to be the guy they hire to do this stuff, now i'm the one to spend the money, and do the work. or at least order it up, as the locals can do the job so much cheaper than i can even doing it myself.

i chatted with a friend of mine i met in india a few years ago. he lives in england now, has a rather important job there, british counsil or something lkike that.  when i met him he wa a young guy running his fathers paan shop in maduri india.  he's come a long way, but in spite of that, he rues the loss of time, family and dreams that the dedication to work has taken from him.  i understand.  i've taken the opposite track in my life- time, family and dreams came first, materials and assets were acquired as necessary, and just as easily disposed of or taken away.  such is life.



100509 Thaikarl - Bang Fai was a blast!


woke up this morning to what sounded like jets flying over. it was Bang Fai launching - a few km away at the park site.  woo hoo!!!! we got ready, took a pedal-cab out there.  same scene as last year, zillions of people, umbrellas held right at my eye level watching the rockets roar into the air.  the big rockets are made from 10 foot sections of 150mm PVC pipe with a long long bamboo or spliced banana tree tail.  packed with black powder rocket fuel, they haul them up one of the three launch towers, rope them in, light smoke, and run away.  tok just told me that the announcers would tell everyone to "go away go away" and all the thai people would leave the launch area, but there would still be a falang in the trees, taking pictures.  when they launch, they ROAR!!! smoke pours out, and they take off into the sky trailing white smoke, up, up , up!  the big ones were piercing the clouds later in the day.  awesome!  the champion rocket stayed airborne for more than 300 seconds... 5 minutes of airtime. This year there was a group of rocketeers from japan. they had these fabulous complex rockets. after they launched, they shot colored stars from the stems as they went up, ejected  parachutes and colored cloth and at the apex, they blew apart into color stars, parachutes and smoke streamers.  tok said that a delegation of thai rocket men will go to japan for their rocket festival to exchange experiences and enjoyments.

it was very hot today, sunny and dry.  there are speakers shouting everywhere - from the launch announcers, from the snake tents, from the vendors, from music stages- over load.  even for me.  we watched 15 or so launches, went to the tents where they  prepare the rockets.  drank a couple of liters of water.  i knew tok was having a difficult time in the sun- but she didn't complain and when i asked her if she wanted to go back she says "up to you"  what a sweetheart. so we came back mid afternoon and took shower and napped.  we upgraded to an air-con room yesterday. noisy thing, but tok likes the coolness. and we could actually snuggle when we slept - something we rarely get to do except in the winter season.

tomorrow we bus back to home.  i can upload pictures and video then.

Upwards on a tail of fire and smoke!
Nu and Tok

(p.s.  my blogsite http://www.thaicountrylife.com is still being hijacked by some nefarious Chinese code breakers.  they get in thru some weakness in the blogger code, or in the "gadgets" that are on the side of the page.  i'm having to delete things, change the layout etc to try to eliminate hole they are using.  VERY annoying.  those of you who get these postings from my email list, but readers on the blogsite only will get the crap - redirecting to some money-making internet scheme crap-ola.  if you read online, try subscribing to the RSS feed. that may avoid the hi-jack code entries.)


100504 Thaikarl - Bang Fai - first day

we got here early! sorta.  there wasn't much going on today (friday) except for setting up of the stages and more food and vendor booths. so we lounged around the hotel room and i napped some.  i twisted my lower hip somehow, so i'ts painful to get up and down, which is a real drag. slows me down alot. we walked the main road after dinner.  the rocket crews each have their own stage set up.  big concert size stages.  with sound systems that could fill an arena with sound.  tok even bought ear plugs.  your guts jump around when you walk in front of the stages.  jeez. but there are lots of dancing girls, singers, and just crowds of people on stage dancing.  the bang fai floats are at the far end of the road, ready for the parade in the morning. they are enormous, covered in gold painted thai traditional designs on layers of skrim.  very beautiful.

the keyboards in this cafe are awful, i can't stand to type on them more than a few minutes, cause you have to bang the keys. and too slow to upload pictures.

tok just told me there are 5 bang fai (rockets) from japan here for the launch day tomorrow.  wait.  i got that wrong. tomorrow - saturday - is just parades and dancing.  launch day is sunday, the day after.  that happens alot. i only *think* i know what's going on.  what's 'really' going on and when is usually different than what i think it is.  thus i get the joy of surprise all the time.  actually it is part of what i enjoy about being here.  things aren't always  'normal', 'usual', 'regular'... as soon as i think i have it figured out, i find out it's different than i thought to a greater or lesser degree.  amazing thailand.

gorgeous the life!


100507 Thaikarl - Bang Fai time in Yasothorn


we got up at 5:00am  yesterday - even before the 'crack of dawn', got stuff together, motorbike taxi to the bus store.
14 hours on the bus later - with one 20 min lunch stop, we arrived in Yasothorn, in the Issan area of thailand.  it's flat, dry and hot here.  Bang Fai started as a way to request good rains in the coming rainy season, by shooting giant bamboo rockets into the sky.  the higher the better.  and of course it's evolved into a big event.  and the big rockets are made with blue plastic PVC pipe not bamboo anymore.

i'm looking forward to the launches tommarrow.  tonight it's one big giant dancing contest, with one whole street lined with big stages, HUGE sound systems trying to over-power each other and tons of dancing girls and singers. lottsa food, games and booths.  cool!!!!!

onward! to the sky!

100429 Thaikarl - roadtrip time!


we're going on a little get-away.  taking the bus down to Ban Chang to visit our other house, picking up the motorbike from the post office, going to chantiburi for the weekend, and next weekend is Bang Fai up in yasathorn!  Rocket Festival!  woo hoo!  then back home to dong khwang.

i'll be stuck with internet cafes along the way.


100505 Thaikarl - Active day wot?


yesterday went like this: we got up and ate, went to town to buy fruit, witness the remains of a motorbike/truck accident (dead people), set out fruit for the ghosts, took a nap, took a song toews to sattahip, took another one to pattaya, took another one into town. walked, walked walked.  bookstore was gone. internet cafe to find another.  another song toew, to bookstore, eat food, two more song toews to sukumvit (the main road) song toew to sattahip, song toew to ban chang. got the bike, went shopping at the meeting market and tesco lotus.  bike had a flat. got air. flat again. got a new rear tire and tube (15 USD including labor), went home, then went to the beach and i went swimming in the ocean in the dark  under the stars.  home to snack shower and sleep.

whew.  but it was fun, except for the accident.  just to clarify, the drive made a u-turn at the light, didn't see the truck and pulled right in front of the truck and was literally run-over.  sad thing is, the truck just kept going. and disappeared.  i understand that happens frequently if there's an accident.  people don't stick around to get in trouble over it.  motorbikes, cars, flying, climbing ladders... all dangerous and always the potential for death and injury.  i know this.  but i like riding a motorcycle, drive a car, fly in planes, climb ladders.  i'm careful, but feces occurs you know.  i'm just as eligible as the next guy to not see the on-coming agent of my death and drive out onto the road in it's path.  but i dearly try to avoid that.  i didn't want to go into the gory details, but i've recieved a few very concerned and caring emails and i do acknowledge them.

besides that, late night swims in the ocean are great! especially when the water is warm, the air is warm, the sky is clear...

onward!  by bus to Yasatorn tomarrow for Bang Fai rocket festival