120314 Thaikarl - Laundry man, me?


since my wife is out working very hard to buy and sell tamarind i'm left at home most of the day.   i try to do a few things to lighten the load on her.  she usually takes care of all the household stuff, cooking, cleaning, plants, shopping, laundry.  well, i can't cook, i can clean some, mama usually handles the plants, i don't know what to shop for.. that leaves laundry.

of course, when i'm in the states i do laundry in the classic masculine fashion.  automatic machine, but in detergent (what ever is near the machine), dump in ALL the dirty cloths in, none of this sorting out light/dark stuff i've heard about, set temp to hot and warm (i still don't believe that cloths can get clean in cold water.  how is that supposed to work? detergent is detergent, how did they magically make it work in cold water?  my mom never washed in cold water.) set on regular cycle- don't know about all this 'permanent press' and 'delicates' stuff, let it run, put everything in dryer, them dryer sheets etc smell weird, don't need them either. power up the machine.  at the ding! take it all out jam into a sack.  done.

its a little bit different here.  Tok ran me thru the procedure, and after the first go, she never asked me to wash cloths again.  it's not like patching drywall or putting in an electrical outlet, which i totally can do, so i must used the wrong method.  somewhere. 

today i was out working on my underground wiring for the front gate lites and it started raining.  had to stop that job and do something else.  the cloths basket was overflowing so i did the wash.   we have this ancient washing machine.  the machines they use here have an agitator side, and a spin-dry side.  the spin dry is busted (i guess, cause she never uses it.)  so you tun on the tap to fill with water, and turn off tap when the level is right.  put in the detergent, cloths and spin the dial to 8 minutes.  there is a plate in the bottom of the washing well that spins one way, stops, and spins the other way.  your cloths swoosh around, stop and swoosh the other way.  machine dings.  take out, hand wring, drop in bucket and take outside, put in another load.

The National "Super Jumbo Deluxe" washing machine

outside i'd prepared the three rinsing basins on the sidewalk.  you fill them with well water.  you have to plug in the pump, wait for it to flow, and filter the water thru a little aquarium fishnet, cause green flakes of whatever come out in the stream.  the basins are usually upside down on the walkway when they aren't in use.  today when i flipped them over a billion tiny black ants freaked out and ran around in full tilt panic.  when their scouts thought under the bins was a good place to set up a nest, they got some bad  intel.  in seconds there was hundreds of them running up my legs and all over my arms.  fortunately, they aren't the stinging/biting variety of tiny black ant, they just tickle a lot.  i gave them a few minutes to grab as many larvae as they could and head for safer ground.  the pump started getting a head of pressure going, so i had to get the hose.  washed thousands of them off the walkway, off the bins and off my arms and legs.  sorry about that, little guys.

the freshly washed cloths need to be rinsed in each of the basins, theoretically getting most of the detergent rinsed out.  the last basin gets some blue stuff poured in- fabric softner i think (?). you have to ring them out some by hand between each basin.  after the last rinse they go in the basket.

bucket, rinse1, rinse2, rinse3, basket...

then you take the basket to the other side of the house, under the extended roof of the shed, and hand the cloths on hangers, bamboo rods and lines between the posts.  then go back to the washing machine, which should be done with 2nd load, and carry on.  did three loads today.

hang 'em high, hang 'em low, don't let 'em touch the ground

of course, when Tok or Terry do the wash, they can squat down flatfooted to rinse and wring the cloths thru the line.  white men like me can't squat, so i have to teeter on the balls of my feet, or just bend over.  i'm feeling those muscles now, hours later.  when Tok does the wash, and brings the dry cloths up to our bedroom to put away, they are always inside out.  i never knew why. a bit annoying to reverse anything you want to put on, but i have other issues that are really more annoying then that, so i save my energy for the really annoying stuff. (like electrical cords that automagically tangle themselves up for no damn reason and will NEVER just let you drag one out... etc) I finally asked Tok the other night why the cloths were inside out.  "so when they dry in the sun, they won't get lighter color on outside" she says.  duh.  that totally makes sense eh?

i hope the suns back out tomorrow, i want to get on with electrical work, PVC piping, cement... things that make sense to me.  she did smile when i told her i did the wash and told me "Good Job!"

ain't love grand?


120308 Thaikarl - before, after, or in-between


these are some rolling days, one flows into the next and the next and the next.  far to quickly i'm afraid.  really begining to feel the tension of departure.  sux.
Toks tamarind business is keeping her quite busy.  she drives off early in the morning, usually by 9:30 am, and might not come back until dark, around 6:30pm.  she goes out looking for and buying processed tamarind, and takes it to the various buyers.  some nights when she gets back, she has a whole truck full - one metric ton or more (2,204 lbs) in 10 kilo bags.  some nights we have to repack everything, especially when the workers used odd or whatever bags, and didn't put them in exactly 10 kg packages.

i spend my day while she is gone hanging around the house, running errands, shopping, internet, playing guitar and working on my projects.  today i took the motorbike into town, paid the land-line bill, went to try to straighten out a bank problem, moved cash around, bought more 16x26 bags for the business, went to the post office and bought some food.  when i was motoring back, something beside the road caught my attention, i saw a boy running quickly in the opposite direction beneath a walking overpass, just a flash, and i saw a motorbike on its side on the ground, and another bike parked next to it.  i was moving right along at 70 kph or so and quickly was far past the scene.  something about it didn't seem right, maybe there had been an accident, or maybe something fell off the kids bike and he was running to retrieve it?  i stopped beside the road and looked back, but it was hundreds of meters away by then and i couldn't see anything out of place or notice any activity back by the flyover bridge.  i would have had to turn around and drive the wrong way on the road for that distance to go and check, that didn't seem prudent.  but it still had me puzzled 'cause i felt something was wrong with the picture.  so i carried on, dropped off my shopping stuff at the house, and rode to the other side of the village to take some photos.  i'd burned up the remaining gas in the motorbike on my travels, so i decided to head back north, past our house to the gas station and fill the tank. the gas station is right across the road from the flyover bridge. this is what i saw there:

lottsa people, police, emergency truck.. There had been an accident, likely moments before i passed the place and saw the boy running.  i felt pretty bad, i was right there, but it was not obvious at the time that an accident had occurred, it was just a flash of activity that seemed peculiar.  i saw the results of a traffic accident last trip, and it was really traumatic for me.  i'm not interested in repeating that vision.  if i was first on the scene, and people needed any kind of help, i'd be right there, but if it's afterwards, and there are already people responding and taking care, i don't need to "just have a look" Tok and i were sitting on the porch a couple months ago, she was applying some stuff to her face and we heard people hollering up on the big road.  we went down to the gate, a ways down the road to the north i could see a dark shape - a body, and nearer to me, a bicycle on it's side in the far lane.  that's all i needed to see. there were 10 people up there already, and more coming, so i knew there was nothing i could do, and i started to have that whirlpool feeling in my belly again, like last year.  Tok went up to see what was going on, i stayed back in the yard.  when she came back, she said the man was dead, hit by a car as he was riding his bicycle home.  the man rode 7 km into town and back every morning, to have breakfast at a restaurant in lom sak.  the car vanished, as they usually do.  the next morning, Tok told me that at that same spot, a pickup truck ran into the median late in the night and flipped over... fatality.  I asked her if it bothered her to see the bicycle man, she said no, she'd seen such things many times, and it doesn't bother her.

accidents and death aren't all hidden away here.  accident scenes aren't all taped off so you don't see anything, there's not usually police directing traffic away.  when someone dies, they keep the body at the house (in a refrigerated casket) and everyone comes to the house for days.  funeral processions aren't lead by a smoke glass limousine at the front and a line of cars with their headlights on, the body is in a colorful casket, on an ornately decorated platform in the back of a pickup truck, music plays over loudspeakers as they drive to the temple, and the body car is followed by more pickups, cars, motorbikes and even farm trucks.  i'm sure it's different in the metropolitan areas, where people live in apartments and condo's, but we live in the country, and the process is very visible.

so many times in my life i've left situations just before something bad happened, or i arrive after it's all over.  today it was in-between.


Footnote added 120312:  one of my readers replied and had this to say:

The other sane reason, though far from a human one, yet a very practical point as life as a gaijin or farang in a far off land, is not to further involve yourself in something where you are not already. If I was there and at that moment could do something significant to aid or help out, then by all means I'd be the first to jump in and sacrifice to help out without any concern for my own well-being. But after the fact, with others and local competent people around, nothing to be gained from that kind of samaritanism than to further" implicate" yourself as the foreigner or outsider or different or "other." We have to be constantly vigilant of that fact, as much as I enjoy a laid-back lifestyle it's a somewhat necessary reality of life abroad. All it takes is a moment failing to concentrate, not paying attention, or brief lapse of judgement for the system to come crashing down and attack and eat one of its contributing members. Not to sound overly negative but I've read enough about horrible things happening to otherwise good-intentioned, forthright people. Particularly in asia. This world is still very much Darwinism in action and the powers that be will tear you to shreds for practicing your humanity. I'll still be the kindest person I can be, but I'm always cognizant of this perceived reality.

Something to keep in mind when your better angels are tugging at your heart-strings.
I was very glad to get his message.  and i do agree with him.  i am usually quite aware that i am a guest in this country and it's only a stamp in my passport that permits me to be here at all.  i can't risk having that stamp revoked by my not paying attention to this fact.


120306 Thaikarl - video of lom sak market street

friends, we were getting our hair done at the beautyshop in the late afternoon.  while i was waiting for Tok to get finished up, i stepped outside.  this kind of public activity and commerce just isn't seen in the parts of america i have lived in.  it is endlessly interesting to me, even though by now, i've seen it many times.  there is always something new to notice.