Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Daily Life - Afternoons 2

The early-to-mid afternoons are sometimes spent shopping in the provincial capital of Nong Bua Lamphu, about eight kilometers east of us, on highway 210.

On special afternoons, I just say “the heck” with working and ride my tuk-tuk over to our largest farm. We still call it “17 Rai” for the amount of land it was, but now that we have donated the uppermost section of it, it is less than 17 rai; maybe 14 or 15.

At the farm, where my “writer’s retreat” was built last summer, I’ll hang out in unusual privacy and do some writing. I say “unusual” because although I’m in the Thai countryside and you would think I’d have more privacy, all eyes are upon me (and Thip, too; I guess by association). Mostly, Kon Thai are just curious about the falang in their midst. Living in a relatively small community (approximately 100 houses and 400 people), one’s lack of privacy comes with the environment and lifestyle. Most Westerners and many Thais who can afford it, mitigate the privacy issue by building fences across the front of their property and sometimes all around the rectangle. Often times, these fences and their gates are quite ornate and are looked upon favorably by everyone. No one would dare put up a bamboo fence to keep people out, though.

On rarer afternoons still, I’ll take Thip’s motosai into further reaches of the Thai countryside. I’ll start with an area I am familiar with and then work out into areas never ridden, having checked everything out via Google Maps and/or Google Earth even before starting out. I’m a map guy and I remember the first class I ever got an “A” in was geography… Anyway, these times of riding a motorcycle onto the dirt roads of the Isaan are times when I feel totally free physically and mentally. I’ll write more about these trips at a later time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Daily Life - Afternoons 1

The physical labor part of my day begins about 11 a.m. and goes to about 4 p.m. -- Yeah, I know. It's the hottest time of the day. Most Thai's are smart enough to stay in the shade during most of that time. What can I say? Our properties keep me pretty busy. Mostly it’s just clean-up, which can include burning, watering, digging, moving ground, fencing, weeding, trimming trees and bamboo and -- of course, brush cutting with my khun tat yah Honda GX-35 brush cutter.

Although it is difficult for me, at age 65 [in 2013] and not used to farm work, I try to stay active. The mid-days are not always physical challenging, but many times are. If I’m not on our own properties, I’m on temple grounds, attending ceremonies and helping out (usually cleanup, but also can involve helping set up tents and chairs for special ceremonies).

Thip is the one who’s really involved in the wat.

During the last Rains Retreat (Buddhist lent – Khao Pensa to Oh Pensa), Thip and I ran a once-a-week English conversation class for kids 8-14. Ajan Boon Long provided us space where desks were set-up and fans could be deployed. It was attended by an average of 25 children each week for three months.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Daily Life - Mornings 3

Additional random morning things:

Roosters start crowing about an hour before the sky starts lightening and then will crow on and off all day. It seems like one starts off and then another one in the distance picks it up and joins in, on and on down the line of distance, multiplied by nearer roosters who wake up later.

I now do some simple Hatha Yoga stretches before rising, especially for the upper leg muscles and back.

First thing I do when I get downstairs is to unlock the front double doors and move Thip’s motosai out into the front yard. I do this by straddling the machine and positioning it onto a homemade doorstep ramp and then gliding down over the front porch/patio onto the green.

I told you before, but I’ll say it again: sure is nice having hot shower water! I can’t believe Thip made it through last winter using only cold water. She’s tough!

Our Pooyai Bann (headman) is also a Gam Gnan (the headman of several other local headmen) periodically gets on the village loudspeaker system, but mostly leaves it up to his assistant Paisan to take care of. News important to the village is relayed in this way, beginning with and ending with some short Morlam or Luk Thung music played around sun-up, before Tak Baht.

A little later, trucks periodically go around the village selling vegetables, fruit, furniture, mattresses, brooms and etc. Not the same truck, different trucks.

Thip is big into donating to our temple. I estimate at least 30% of our food budget goes to the wat and our food budget is half of our total budget.

After gaming, there’s various Internet related projects. I’m still working on my most notable writings. That is, LEGENDARY SURFERS. However, I find that I’m writing far less than I thought I would be, in retirement. The only way I can explain it is that I think I’m more into the living of life than I used to be. Not that I wasn’t, before, but back when I was younger, I’d take the time to write it down. Not the same, today.

Other Internet projects include calls to family, monitoring our budget and financial assets, sharing things with friends via email and social networking sites like Facebook. Video projects in 2012 include:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Thip's Kitchen: Before and After

Summer 2012, Thip did a great job designing her new kitchen, utilizing the small space to the max and beautifying it by using ceramic tile that mimics the look of stone. Here's what the space looked like before work was begun:

Viewing it again from the living room doorway towards the back door, here's what the kitchen looked like after local craftsman Pong did the cement, plumbing and tile work:

View to the left, with Thip's massive sink towards the back:

View to the right, with refrigerator toward the back and the rear door furthest back. Note the use of glass blocks to help bring in natural light:

The proud homemaker:

Several months later, we had the room (along with the whole house) rewired. I'll post pics of that work later on... Here's a final shot of Pong putting in the PVC for the sink: