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September 17--Avocado Toast Points

Holy cow! It's been almost a month since I last posted. Kind of interesting, as I had an entry all ready to go right after the last time, and for some reason, just never got around to writing it. I don't even remember what it was about, other than it would have had some pictures from Thailand. I also wrote the first half of a short story I was going to share here, but have never gotten around to writing the second half, though I still remember how it ends.

I haven't taken a lot of pictures lately, other than a wedding I photographed a few weeks ago. That was a lot of pictures, and I am still going through them. I have to turn them over this coming weekend, so the pressure's on. I love photographing weddings, but hate editing the pictures after. The money is good, though.

I'm in my evening class, watching the students take a test. There are only 8 students in this class, so it is kind of a nice switch from my daytime class of 30 students. Tuesdays, when I have both, are long days. I got here at 5:45 this morning, and will not be done until about 8:30 this evening. I did go home for a few hours after lunch and caught a nap, so I'm good to go.

hello kitty

What have I been doing? Working a lot. I have all these projects I am juggling, and it was a busy start to the semester. I finally finished one big one--writing the curriculum for a new program we are starting next year. That took two years, and I finally submitted it to the curriculum committee last week. That takes a lot of the pressure off, and now I am looking forward to going to the hospital with my students and just being a teacher for a while.

We are getting regular updates on the Thailand house, and it is coming along nicely. We were fortunate that we paid and had everything delivered just after we left, as the big rains finally came, and washed out one of the bridges on the road from the city. They have gotten a lot done--painting, floor tile, bathrooms, windows, and are now working on the trim.

tile

Here's what the tile looks like, going down the big hall toward the back of the house. Nim, our photographer, tends to not see "the big picture" and mostly sends us pics of piles of stuff, or a corner of a room. I am curious to see what it all looks like.

We will go back just after spring semester ends in May and spend at least a month there. Everything should be done by then, other than furnishing the house. I can't wait.
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Meme-ish

1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth? A sip of orange juice.

2. Do you sleep naked? not completely.

3. Worst physical pain in your life? A tossup between a busted toe and some undefined abdominal pain.

4. The 1st bone ever broken? Some toe.

5. Favorite place you have ever been? Not sure. Maybe Paris, or Moorea.

6. How late did you stay up last night? 10:15.

7. If you could move somewhere else, where would it be? Probably somewhere along the Oregon coast.

8. Which of your LJ friends lives the closest to you? - gracegiver!

9. When was the last time you cried? On the airplane ride to Thailand, while watching the Freddie Mercury movie.

10. Who took your profile picture? I did. I still have those balls somewhere around here.

11 . What's your favorite season? Fall.

12. If you could have any career what would it be? Well, I have loved my nursing career, but if I had become a photographer when I was young, I would have loved to have tried that as a career. The thought I have associated with this is that if I had become a newspaper photographer, I would probably have been laid off in the past few years, with no time left to do anything else.

13. What was the last book you read? The Caine Mutiny. I had seen the movie, but never read the book. It was excellent.

14. If you could talk to anyone right now, who would it be? My grandpa.

15. Are you a good influence? Mostly, though I have my moments.

16. Does pineapple belong on pizza? Yes, as long as it is paired up with some ham or Canadian bacon, or something like that. I had a pizza in Thailand that had pineapple and prosciutto, and it was delicious.

17. You have the remote, what channel will you be watching? No particular channel. I am not a bit watcher of tv.
18. Last concert you attended? Jason Isbell and Father John Misty at the Greek Theater in Berkeley.

19. Favorite type of food? – Italian, or Italian-influenced.
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August 23--School Daze

My jet lag is pretty much under control, as long as I am ok with waking up at 4 am. Which I am. I am almost back to my school year waking time of 5, and actually can do a lot with that extra hour. The downside is that I am falling asleep at 8 pm, just like grandma.

I started back to work on Tuesday, and it has been full time the rest of the week. Normally I can ease into the week before classes start, but not this time. It has kind of forced me back on a regular schedule.

Yesterday I spent about 6 hours presenting our proposed major curriculum change to the rest of the nursing faculty with my faculty buddy. We were surprised and amazed when everyone jumped on board with it, and we actually got a lot of the preparatory work done that we needed to do. It will be a busy next couple of semesters.

Enough of that stuff.

Cows

These are some cows who live down the road from our house in Thailand. As is the custom, the owner takes them out to whatever grassy areas there are, and lets them chow down. You see a lot of cows along the highway doing this as well, and always hope they decide not to walk out in front of your car.

neighbor

Our neighbor who lives at the farm to the north of us. That road that the cows are on runs north-south, and ends one farm south of our house. I'm not sure how far it goes north, but on my walk that day, I went about a mile. It's all rice and cassava farms.

This woman, who I have met before, was out digging up some sort of mushroom. she showed me how she found them. They look like rocks in the ground to me, but she can spot them from a distance. She knew Malida's dad, when they were kids together in the village.

I walked up further and met another woman who called me over to her land and showed me her water buffalos. She had six of them in a kind of dark manger. It was too dark to take pictures. Everyone seems to know who I am, and they are pretty friendly. I look forward to exploring more when I am there next time.

late afternoon sun

The late afternoon sun comes in through the western window in the living room. There's glass in that window now, and I am curious about how the light looks coming through it. I drew most of the windows pretty big, so we could look out and see the green. Of course, the green only lasts part of the year, and the rest of the time it is brown and fairly ugly. Fortunately, the green time corresponds with my summer break.

Time to get ready for work. Today is Convocation--the official start of the semester, and a day full of listening to people talk. Whee!
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August 20--Home again, home again

Well, we're home again after a fairly busy trip. I didn't have nearly as much leisure time as I usually do. Normally I will get up, and not do much of anything until about 11 am. This time, though, we were up and out taking care of stuff by about 9 am.

We got a lot done. We selected the tiles for the floors, designed and ordered the kitchen cabinets, designed the bathrooms, had the windows made, selected the paint, and picked out the ceiling lights. We spent many days at the various home depot-type stores.

It is kind of frustrating--you can select something, agree on a price, and order it, and then they call and tell you that it is out of stock and to reorder it will cost more. I guess this happens all the time. Sard, who is building the house for us, just kind of shrugs whenever that happens.

When we weren't at the Home Pro, we were driving out to the house to get measurements on things, meet contractors, and take care of the million small details. One day I spent about 3 1/2 hours measuring every possible surface that could be measured, in anticipation of having to make decisions about how much tile to order, etc. I'm not sure why it was me that did this, as I have absolutely no skill in this area, but I mostly figured it out.

measurements

I was able to fairly accurately determine how much tile we would need for each room, which amazed me. The blotchy areas are where I sweat over this. It was kind of hot and humid. Once this project is done, I will be able to say I designed it, which is something I never thought I would or could do.

window guy

The guy who is doing our windows is also a police officer. He did measurements before we got there, and asked Sard if he wanted him to pad the numbers so they could split the extra money. Sard said no, and when we arrived, the officer assured us that the numbers weren't padded. This is how things work in Thailand.

We spent a couple of days in Bangkok before we came home, mostly doing nothing. There is a huge new shopping mall next to our hotel, and we spent some time there. We had a nice dinner along the river with Malida's niece the night before we left.

sunset

Sunset along the Chao Phraya. I love staying near the river when we are in Bangkok. I've gotten to know the neighborhoods near where we stay pretty well, and things are familiar.

I have all sorts of other observations and lots of pictures, but will save them for later. I have to go to work this afternoon, and I am still in the throes of jet lag. Interestingly, I decided to make yogurt yesterday, for the first time. It turned out great, and I am off to have a bowl of it with a bit of the 4 kg of muesli I brought back with me.
  • Current Music
    Sade--Why Can't We Live Together
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August 6--11 days left!

We are at the halfway point in our trip. We have gotten a lot of what we needed to get done done, but still have some stuff to do. We have managed to do some sightseeing too, and are having a good time. I sound like a postcard!

It is warm and humid this morning. As it is the rainy season, it's kind of expected. It has been overcast the entire time we have been here, but not a lot of actual rain, except at night. There hasn't been a lot of rain this season, and that worries the farmers.

first meal

We had our first meal at the new house over the weekend. It was a lot of fun, and good to see the family there. We had it in the living room, and there was plenty of room for everyone. We spent some time with Malida's uncle going over what we have to do next, and will do that stuff this week.

wide hallway

I took another look at the wide hallway. Someone suggested bookshelves, and I think that is a good idea. We will put them on the wall to the left here. The wall to the right will be a photo gallery of my pictures. We also decided to put some pictures of the places we like to visit around here in the bedrooms, so that people who visit can have an idea of what to see. I re-measured the small bedrooms, and it turns out they are bigger than the room we have here in Malida's mom's house, so they should be fine.

After our little party, we headed back to the city to drop off Malida's mom. Nim came along so she could see her big sister, who is now living here in MaMa's house while she goes to the university. After dropping them off, we headed up to Khemmarat to meet some friends and visit the night market.

night market

Khemmarat sits along the Mekong. It has a night market and festival every Saturday evening. Our friends Jun and Jan (dancing in the picture) are from here, so know where everything is. After the market, we went to a local hotel and sat out by the river, drinking beer and listening to an excellent Thai folk singer play guitar. We stayed overnight, and had a nice breakfast in the morning.

We drove home along the river, and stopped at a bunch of places along the way.

sam pan bok

The area is called Sam Pan Bok, and is really interesting. I had been to the area north of here once when the river was lower. Our guide was the boatman's 9 year-old daughter, Manao, who was delightful.

manao

Manao sits in the boat.

We got home around 5 and went for some delicious pizza, at one of my favorite places here.

Today we head to the Home Mart again to design our kitchen.
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July 31--The Buffalo is in the Montana

Internets has been kind of spotty until we finally got a sim card for the phone, and now we have a wifi hotspot, and can internets to our hearts content.

We left Amphawa and set out on the road to Ubon. It was a long drive--more than 8 hours altogether, but we stopped overnight along the way. I did most of the driving, and am now quite comfortable behind the wheel here. The drive was not all that interesting, other than stumbling across a Tuscan village, complete with leaning tower of Pisa, out in the middle of nowhere.

dragon

We saw this guy in the mud flats along the river. He was at least 5 feet long.

pisa

The leaning tower of Khao Yai.

We rolled into Ubon Ratchathani at about 4 pm. Malida's mom and brother were happy to see us. We got all settled in. The next morning we drove out to the village to see the house. Malida wasn't feeling well, so we didn't visit with anyone there--just looked around for a while and came home.

house

The house mostly looks like we expected, with a few exceptions. The hallway is really wide--probably about twice as wide as it needs to be, and the bedrooms are a bit smaller than we thought. The bathrooms are huge--about as big as the bedrooms. Since I planned this thing, and her uncle followed my directions, I own it. It will be fine--we can put some cabinets in the hall and use it for storage. Everything else looks pretty good.

living room

This is the living room, with the front door on the left, and the first bedroom and hallway on the right. I like the size of the living room. It's roomy, and has big windows that look out on the fields.

home mart

Today we went to the Thai version of Home Depot to pick out floor tile, paint, toilets, etc. It was an interesting experience. Unlike the stores in the US, there are about a million clerks waiting to help you here. We had 5 people following us around--one to explain, another to help explain, someone to take notes, someone to watch the note-taker, and another random person who just stood there. We decided on most of what we needed to, but got tired, and deferred the lights and the kitchen stuff for later.

Tomorrow we will go back to the village and see everyone. I will practice my Thai language skills.
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July 29--Amphawa Floating Market

I'm sitting out on the big open area where they serve breakfast, having a beer, and watching the river flow by. It's humid, and about 84 degrees, with a slight breeze. I can hear night creatures making night creature noises. I hear a bullfrog in the distance.

We landed in Thailand at about noon yesterday and found our friend right away. We went around Bangkok and picked up her sister, then headed out of town to Amphawa, which is on the northwestern part of the Bay of Bangkok. We are staying at a place along the river, just up from one of the many floating markets. Yesterday was a sort of holiday--the birthday of the King, and so the area was packed with people. Most of them went home today, and tonight we have the place to ourselves.

After sitting up for 24 hours, it was soooo nice to finally lie flat and get some good rest. I slept 9 hours, and woke up feeling refreshed and back to normal. I always acclimate quickly here. I woke up at 7 am and came down for some coffee and pork soup.

We met another friend this morning after breakfast, and went out to one of the less touristy floating markets, and spent a few hours there drinking coffee and wandering around. I took pictures.

floating market

There were quite a few of these boats, which are a sort of floating food truck. They set out a few tables along the side of the river, and make food for the people who want it. Other boats come along and sell stuff to the cooking boats.

boat noodle lady

One of the boat noodle ladies. These are real authentic boat noodles, cooked on a boat.

I wandered around a bit to see what I could see. I practice my Thai on a few people, who generally laughed, but good naturedly. Not sure "naturedly" is actually a word, but you know what I mean. People are friendly here, and always have a smile for you. The land of smiles

smiling eyes

She's smiling--you can see it in her eyes.

amphawa cat

A cat peering at me over an abandoned umbrella. I don't think the cat is smiling, but I'll bet he wants to. We saw a couple of cats today. I always love the Thailand cats.

After the floating market, we visited a guy who makes coconut sugar. My understanding is that they collect some sort of sap from the coconut tree, and cook it up until it reaches a certain consistency, then cool it and form it into disks. Or something like that. It is delicious, and we bought a bunch of it to take back to Ubon with us.

sugar man

This guy is 72 years old, and works for the government most of the time. He showed us the entire process of making the sugar. I got a million pictures, and will share more down the line when I have nothing else to talk about. It was pretty cool.

We had a nice lunch and then came home and rested for a while before coming down to sit by the river. This evening we took another boat ride along the river to see the fireflies, and now everyone else is upstairs, probably sleeping as I finish my beer and write this.

Tomorrow we head out on the road to Ubon, which is where Malida's mom lives. It is about an 8 hour drive. I've never taken a road trip across Thailand, so I'm looking forward to it. I'm supposed to do most of the driving.

Note to self: don't forget to drive on the wrong side of the road.
  • Current Music
    Gillian Welch & David Rawlings--Down Along the Dixie Line
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July 28--Are you have disease? No! I am the Beatle!

beatles

The Beatles wave bye-bye to us at the San Francisco Airport last night.

We're now in Taiwan, at the "premium" lounge, which is an airport lounge service you can buy for $30 for three hours. We would not normally buy this, but after our next connecting flight, someone is picking us up in Bangkok, and we are going on a road trip, so no chance to rest and clean up after the flights. The main selling point for the "premium lounge" is clean showers and an espresso machine, both of which were welcome when we arrived at 5:30 am local time (mid afternoon yesterday, back home).

We've had our showers, and our espresso, and Malida had a bowl of noodles. Now we are waiting for our next flight.

The flight here was pretty uneventful, which is always what I hope for. It took about 12 1/2 hours. I slept about 3-4 hours, on and off. While not trying to sleep, I listened to music, and watched two really good movies--Bohemian Rhapsody and The newish A Star is Born, both of which I really enjoyed. Both were kind of sad stories about music people. I seem to recall someone here not really liking this version of A Star is Born,, but I am a fan of Lady Gaga, and thought she did a great job.

I had loaded up my book reader with all sorts of books, audio books, and podcasts, but didn't even take it out of my bag. I'm sure there will be time to read down the line.

I'm also keeping a paper trip journal so I can keep track of all the stuff I usually forget about, such as flight times, what time is a good time to get to the airport, what pants to wear on a long flight.

There is this pair of pants that are perfect for a long flight--soft, roomy, good pockets and so on, and I keep thinking I wore them "last time", and now can't find them. I looked everywhere for them. Malida finally dug out a pic from our flight last year, and was wearing my usual jeans, so I think those travel pants don't actually exist. But they should. So I am journaling to keep track of that kind of stuff.

I haven't kept a paper journal for about 12 years, so it was kind of nice to be able to write a bit. I bought a light blue Sarasa gel pen, which was always my choice for my paper journals. My handwriting hasn't improved over the years, but it really hasn't gotten much worse either, probably because I no longer have to hastily scribble nursing notes.

We are heading to an area called Amphawa today, which is outside of Bangkok--it is on a bunch of canals, and lots of good stuff to see and photograph. Last time we had a cabin right on the water, but they didn't want to stay there this time so we shall see.

amphora sunset

The sunset from our room 4 years ago. We shall see what this time around brings.

I miss my bed.
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July 26--Cubism in the Postmodern era.

Today's the day! Sort of. We are leaving for Thailand this evening, though our plane doesn't actually take off until 1 am tomorrow. So sort of the day. We are all packed, and repacked, and pretty much ready to go.

I woke up at about 3 am, in what will be the first of about 4 weeks worth of disrupted sleep patterns. I'll probably take a long nap this afternoon so I can stay awake for the flight. Hopefully I will be able to sleep on the plane, but that's always hit and miss.

packing cubes

My neatly packed bag. I have added a couple more cubes to it, but it remains one of the finest examples of packing I have ever seen. I brought a lot of clothes this time, with the intention of leaving most of them there. Mostly the stuff I only wear in Thailand.

Malida and I went out for lunch on Sunday, and were surprised to see two of my nieces sitting in the restaurant, getting ready to order. We joined them, and had a nice visit. I see Harley fairly regularly, but Hanna lives in Arizona, going to eye doctor school, and I hardly ever get to see her.

nieces"/

This was before I cut my hair way short and shaved off the beard the other day. It's too hot and humid in Thailand for lots of hair.

My former mother-in-law called on Wednesday and asked if I could come over and take her blood pressure and look at her medications. It has been a while since I visited them. She has been somewhat of a hypochondriac for years, but now she is fairly frail and does have some real health issues. Her blood pressure was fine. It was good to spend some time with them.

family

That is Bernadette, one of Arlina's sisters, in the back. When she heard I was visiting, she came over to bring me something to eat. So I ate. It was pretty good.

About an hour after I got home, though, I started throwing up, violently, and kept it up for about the next two hours. I felt kind of sick for the rest of the day, but by the next day I was pretty much better. I am fine now.

land

This was our land the last time we were there, a year ago. Now there is a house there that I am excited to see. And people too. I made a bunch of prints yesterday of the folks I encountered last time around, and will give to them when I see them. For me, that's half the fun of taking pictures over there--bringing them back and sharing them.

Ok, that's it until we are in Taiwan and I post something about Hello Kitty.
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July 21--Corn Dogs!

As planned, we went to the state fair the other day. It was a perfect day for the fair--not too hot, not too crowded. It was seniors day, so I got in for only $10! I love this whole senior discount thing.

We saw the usual things--cows and goats, guys hawking fancy knives ("it slices, it dices!"), the agricultural exhibits, etc. Malida got a bit worn out toward the mid afternoon, so we skipped the photography and art exhibits. I'm planning to enter something next year, so we won't skip it then. We had some yummy fair food.

artichoke

A flowering artichoke at the farm exhibit. Back in 1985, when I was struggling to put my life back together, a friend took me to the fair. I started crying in the farm exhibit, because everything was so beautiful, and my life seemed so shitty at the time. It was, actually, but I remember looking at the flowers there and thinking that maybe it didn't have to be. That was true too.

Shawn Wrangler

Shawn Wrangler performing at the fair. His name is actually Brandon, and he is one of my former students, who just graduated in May. While we were watching him perform, two other of my former students came by and sat with us for a while. They have all passed the NCLEX licensing exam, and are on their way. I love running into former students.

Malida at the fair

Malida at the fair. She is doing good, and went back to work yesterday. She has two more work days, and then we are off to Thailand.

I received the packing cubes I ordered and started packing yesterday. I love packing cubes--it makes everything so organized. I will leave most of my Thailand clothes there when we come home. I'll fill my suitcase with Lao coffee, Swiss muesli, and Be Nice body wash.

I have a meeting this evening with the people I am doing wedding photography for when I get back from Thailand. I don't really like doing wedding photography, but it is good money, and will go toward the camera I am saving up for--the one I should have gotten in the first place, but bought the Olympus instead. I like the Olympus, but it just isn't as good as Canon.

corn dog

And finally, a corn dog, because if you don't have a corn dog at the fair, it's as if you never even went.
  • Current Music
    Stoneground--Get Rhythm