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Archive for the ‘Adventures with Hayden’ Category

I’m a hat guy. I don’t know why. Throughout my life, I have collected and worn hats. Every five years or so my hat collections have disappeared like all the other things I have collected whenever in a fit of despair or of some other absurdly irrational emotion, I have abandoned, given away or sold them all.

I have also worn many different kinds of hats from the elegant black Homburgs I wore 50 years or so ago whenever I would go to court on the day I was to sum up my case to the jury, to ascot caps, Australian bush hats, balaclavas, beanies, berets, boaters, bowlers, coonskin caps, deerstalkers, turbans, fedoras, ghutrahs, yarmulkes, Panama’s, Stetson’s, pith helmets, Santa hats, sombreros, Toques, Trilbys, and many others.

I should not have been surprised then when 14-year-old Hayden began wearing a hat regularly. It did begin to worry me, however, when this began to seem like the beginning of an obsession like mine.

It all began a few weeks ago. The early summer heat settled on the Great Valley. The morning’s springtime breezes began slowing beneath the light caress of the warming sun. It is a fine day. I was looking forward to a day of blissful indolence when I received a message from Hayden insisting I pick him up at the skatepark after school.

I became worried. He rarely demands my assistance. So, I drove off into the Golden Hills to find out what was going on.

On the way, I  stopped for lunch at an upscale Italian restaurant near Town Center that I had wanted to try for some time now. Its interior reeked of suburban elegance. and its menu was limited but expensive. The wine list, however, was extensive but overpriced. I ordered gnocchi in a squash and butter cream sauce along with a glass of prosecco. The meal was tasty but too heavy for my liking.

After lunch, I drove to the skatepark picked up Hayden along with his friends Jake and Caleb. As he was getting into the car, I asked him what was so urgent. He said, “I want to buy a hat for my trip this summer to Cozumel with Jake and his family. I picked one out at Tilly’s in Folsom.” 

So, off we drove to Tilly’s in Folsom to buy the hat. following which I drove them back to Dick’s house where, after warning them not to get into too much trouble, I drove out of the foothills and back to the Enchanted Forest.

Here is a photograph of Hayden in that hat:

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A few weeks later, I drove once again into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM after school and drive him home. It was the first day in about a week that the sky was neither mostly overcast nor actually raining. Instead, the sky was filled with big giant cottony battleships of clouds, floating on a sea of bright blue. It was warm — not the warmth of late spring, light and with a promise of warmth, but more like the warmth of autumn, sharp-edged and resisting the march of winter cold.

As he entered the car he told me he had ordered a new hat and was waiting for it to arrive.

“I thought you bought a hat when I drove you to Tilly’s last week,” I said.

“I did,” he responded, “But I wanted another one also.”

When we arrived at the house, we saw a package leaning against the front door. Hayden eagerly tore open the box and pulled out his new hat. Here it is:

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Being a hat guy myself, I liked it.

I pondered over H’s emerging fondness for hats and recalled several years ago when he was five or six years old, I had promised him that we would write a short comic book together entitled “Hayden Without a Hat.” Each evening thereafter he asked me if I was ready to write the story with him and each night I gave some excuse or another. Finally, being tired of my evasions and convinced I would never get around to it, he decided to write the store himself in a notebook and one evening instead of asking me again he handed it to me. The notebook contained the following (everything is as he wrote it including the punctuation, except for the quotation marks which I added). I promised him I would “publish” it. So here it is:

“Story for little boys, girls!

Hayden Without a Hat
Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Hayden Without a Hat.

“Oh, no!” says Grandpa Pooky. “Oh no!!!” Grandpa Pooky says “You need a hat.”

“A hat…” says Hayden, “a hat.” “Let me think. Hmmm, ok” Hayden says. “I do need a hat!!!! “Hey, we can go to the hat store.”

So Hayden picked out his favorite hat. It was just like Grandpa Pooky’s hat.

Remember kids always have a hat!!! And mom’s and dad’s.”

For those who may have some interest in the various head coverings I have chosen to wear recently, here are a few:

PART_1530998105460IMG_5960IMG_5682IMG_E3966IMG_3430IMG_0358IMG_1704IMG_1777IMG_20140802_110758_575IMG_1377IMG_20141220_121344_999 - Version 2IMG_20141107_111135_32810748954_10152813713040242_111201243_nIMG_9403IMG_20140601_203833_712IMG_20131129_114117_299IMG_3856DSCN1143DSCN1101DSCN0654

 

And one not so recent:

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Halloween came and went with Hayden dressed as “the Scream” and me handing out candy to whatever goblins and ghosts might ring the doorbell.
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While Hayden went out trick or treating, I manned the home candy dispensing duties alone. I was quite anxious, fearing that no one would come begging at the door. I could not face the humiliation of failing at the simple task of providing children something to rot their teeth and endanger their health. I kept jumping up and down from the sofa and running to the door to see if anyone was coming.

Finally, a shy tiny little blond girl dressed all in bandages showed up. Overcome with excitement and with a big nervous and an undoubtedly scary smile on my face, I held out to her the bowl of candy. She hesitatingly reached into the bowl and timidly plucked out one piece and dropped it into the bag she was carrying.

Interpreting her hesitation as a rejection of my sincere efforts to corrupt the innocent, I shouted “no,” stepped suddenly toward her and in one quick move dumped the entire contents of the bowl into her still open candy bag.

With a surprised squeak and eyes so wide I feared they would fall out of her head and follow the candy into the now almost full bag, she turned and ran off into the darkness.

I spent the remainder of the evening wondering if I was going to receive a visit from the police and questioning whether Halloween candy maven was a suitable career choice for me.

In the days following the trauma of Halloween, I returned to my role as a nanny and in my spare time threw myself into my newest career as URB.im’s Bangkok Bureau Chief. That impressive title requires me to write four posts a month about those who believe they are saving the world by interfering in the lives of the poor and destitute of Thailand.

My pay would be barely adequate to keep a homeless Bangkok street beggar in two bowls of rice and broth a day. It was suggested that, as soon as possible, I find someone who otherwise is unemployed to take over the job, preferably a young local woman living at home with her parents since that was the usual situation of the other Bureau Chiefs. My new employers seemed dubious about entrusting their important work to some overweight broken down old attorney ex-pat who in his dotage would likely slip into some hole in the sidewalk and disappear into the city’s sewer system leaving them without their man in Bangkok.

My first assignment is to write about organizations providing parks for squatters living in tar paper shacks perched on stilts over the same sewers it was expected that I would fall into.

On Saturday I drove to Cameron Park for Hayden’s first Taekwondo tournament. I believe it is one of the functions of the elderly to assume periodically the role of the chauffeur of children and relieve parents of that obligation. God knows, it is not that we (the elderly), have so much else of interest to do that we cannot spare the time.

I was somewhat anxious on the drive. This was my first time driving my charge to a tournament. I worried I would get lost and he would be disqualified (I did, but he did not).

Taekwondo is one of those Asian so-called martial arts that makes one less competent in a street fight than if you knew nothing about it. At least if one were ignorant, he would not believe throwing long distance bombs would help him against a stronger opponent but instead would grapple with him in hope that he could pin down his opponent’s arms before having his lights punched out. The martial art seems to be a cross between an athletic sport and dance; the quick controlled explosiveness of most athletic endeavors coupled with the grace and formalism of dance.

Hayden whose athleticism and technique leaves a lot to be desired, surprised me with his aggressiveness, chasing one of his opponents all over the gym to win 5-0. After the bout, the other boy dropped to the ground and started to cry. H. went over to him and told him he should not feel sad because he, Hayden, had a secret. He explained that his Pookie (that’s me) told him that as soon as the referee signaled the bout to begin he should rush his opponent and hit him as hard as he can. “Now,” that you know the secret,” Hayden continued, “I am sure you’ll win your next bout.”

Flushed with excitement and with H clutching his medal we drove back down the hill, ate a pizza lunch and went to the movies to watch Wreck-it Ralph attempt to redeem his life in 3D animation.
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One day, I drove into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM and his friends and drive them wherever. HRM told me he broke up with his girlfriend Camille. He said that he had to call her every day and other things but preferred to hang with his friends. “When I get older I can pay more attention to girls and girlfriends. Right now, I like what I am doing,” he added.

HRM, Big Jake, Little Jake, and Caleb piled into the car. I dropped little Jake off at his house and the rest of them at Dick’s place warning them not to get into too much trouble. I then went to have a hot dog and a root beer float at A&W. As I was finishing up my gourmet lunch H called me and asked me to drive them around again so I returned drove Big Jake home and HRM and Caleb to Caleb’s house where H would spend the weekend.

On the way, H told me a story. At school that day, his Language Arts teacher told the class that the teachers have the right to award detention to anyone who comes even one-second late to class and then asked if there were any questions. H raised his hand and announced that he thought that would be very mean for someone to do that if the person was only a second late. She accused him of calling her a mean person. He said he was not accusing her of doing something like that but that he was only expressing his opinion that anyone who did that would be mean. While I was happy to see him stand up for what he thought was right and told him so, I was not sure how wise it was.

I am not certain what is happening with him as he grows older.  He used to be the teacher’s pet and every year he usually won the annual prize for deportment and behavior awarded by the school. Suddenly, he has become more outspoken in class and seems to be the spokesman for student’s rights and no longer well behaved quiet student that his teachers loved. That’s ok I guess. We all grow. Perhaps a brief fall from grace as an adolescent is not so bad — or is that just wishful thinking.

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HRM and Jake

One day recently, Hayden (HRM) asked me to pick him up at the EDHI Skatepark after school. At about 2PM, I drove to Skatepark and waited. At about 2:20, HRM and his friend Big, Tall, Long-haired Jake arrived and piled into the car. They asked me to drive them back to HRM’s house, there to wait a while for them to do something mysterious and then take them to Jake’s house in order to drop off the clothing HRM would need for Saturday’s trip to Kirkwood for a day of snowboarding. Thereafter, they asked that I drive them to the home of their friend Caleb, where they planned spend a few hours doing whatever teenagers today do.

On the way to the house, I said to them, “You know, now that you are teenagers, the role of us adults change. All we really can do now is drive you around, provide for your subsistence, and now and then upset you by telling you to do or not do something that appears to us more important than it does to you. It is up to you to keep yourselves out of too much trouble”

Jake then spoke up. “You also give us wisdom,” he said. “That’s right,” HRM added.

I am not so sure I felt good about that. My often silly and fatuous nostrums I suspected would not pass the wisdom test. Nevertheless, I guess that being considered wise by two adolescents appealed to my ego. .

At the house they disappeared into HRM’s room and I busied myself going through my mail my mail. I discarded most of it, drank some water and entertained myself with my phone until Hayden said it was time to go.

I dropped them off at Caleb’s house and then drove into Town Center to have a late lunch at the newly opened Italian themed cafe that replaced the restaurant I had liked so much. N had eaten there and said the food was not very good. I tried the pappardelle in bolognese sauce. It was very expensive and not as good as its price warranted.

I then drove home and took a nap. Before falling asleep, I wondered if this was what the life of someone almost eighty years old was all about. I decided I did not care, or better yet, it did not matter what I thought. Perhaps that could pass for wisdom.

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One afternoon, we arrived home to find our fully decorated Christmas tree lying on its side amidst a splatter of broken ornaments and spruce needles. Dick the engineer hypothesized that the tree, despite out heroic endeavor three days ago to balance it properly, was, in fact, unbalanced and it took the tree this long to realize it. So, we lifted up the tree, rebalanced it, placed additional weights on the bottom, redecorated it with the remaining unbroken ornaments and hoped for the best.

On Saturday, a day of horrendous rain and fog, HRM happily announced he was going out to play in the rain. Noticing one of the eyelets in his boots was detached he decided to reattach it with superglue before flitting about in the rain. As misadventure would have it, rather than attaching the eyelet to the boot he managed to glue both his own eyes shut. HRM, Dick and I, then spent the next eight hours in the emergency rooms of two separate hospitals where the doctors worked to unstick his eyelids. One of the doctors, who was quite amused by it all, took me aside and asked, “We see this a lot, where children [usually in the 3 to 6-year range] glue one eye shut with super glue, but we have never seen anyone who managed to glue both eyes shut. How did he do this?”

“HRM,” I replied, “is a very special child.”

WWE blew in from SE Asia in concern for the welfare of her progeny and then promptly refused to accompany him to the ophthalmologist claiming she had more important things to do.

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One day when he was about eight-years-old, Hayden and I were watching television. Rather he was watching and I was playing with my computer. Someone on the show he was watching was crying. Hayden turned to me and said, “He is crying because his grandpa died. Pookie, I don’t want you to die. When are you going to start getting younger?”

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Today’s photograph–me at the coffee shop. Sorry about that but I am running out of local points of interest since my days so far have been limited to exploring the route from my house to the coffee shop.

There were no chickens on the road today nor for that matter very many people. I did however notice the huge number and variety of orchids festooned to the trees of everyone’s yard as I walked by.

The houses along our walk range from one that I call the Thai Hearst Castle to a row of small mostly rental units. I consider my house the second best in the subdivision, second only to Hearst Castle. Second best, I prefer to call it penultimate. It sounds more like you have won something.

One good thing happened yesterday. I met my driver. He is Laotian and speaks no English and I speak no Lao or Thai so I have not yet figured out how to get him to go where I want.

I promise never to write again with so little to say.

Have a great whatever you want.

Joe…

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EMAILS WITH NIKKI REGARDING HAYDEN:

Joe’s email to Nikki:


I walked with Hayden to his school this morning. I spoke with two of his teachers. They told me Hayden is much better behaved since I arrived.
The principal said, “Natalie must be very brave, I could never leave my child the way she has”. Enough said.
She was supposed to come to Chang Mai yesterday. She called and announced that she was too busy and would come today. We will see.

Look forward to seeing you.

Nikki’s response:

OK this is a good start and things are going to be even better in the future
the boy is realizing the meaning of a stable school and life and thank to your tuitition he will improve his english reading and other things.
After we are ok with that we can start working on his sport life like put him on a soccer team or a karate class the neiborough is nice lots of people just he need to be social .
I hope u settle ok in the house maybe u need an office or a desk, when i will be there i ll drive u around and we can start to fix the house put a cable tv and a wifi line and other things we need.
try the new little restaurant close to the house is cheap and good thai food ask hayden he knows where is it
see u guys soon

From Nikki:

Ok joe
i am back safe in italy last development is that She is planning to leave again around the end of march or beginning of april.
i was firm to not make the baby travel again and she mention to leave by herself
moneywise she diddn’t put anything in chang mai yet
i payed the eletric and the food plus 2 thousand bath for food so all the new request of money is for her private expenses
the rationale here is that u should not giving her nothing unless is a verified bill with a valid proof of payments otherwise the money will go to her trough the maid
talk to geery about the security bill and the cost of the water
also tell her that i opened an account with bangkok bank to cover all the bills and food and baby needs so she don’t have to pay nothing in chang mai and will see what she come up with by the end of month i have to pay the school and i will send u the money
if she want she can stay in chang mai to eat and survive i am not gonna feed another mouth in bkk
let me know what Geery said about the water and ur visa deal
tomorrow i am busy for the all day so send me an eamil
ciao kiss to hayden

EXCHANGE OF EMAILS WITH IRWIN SHATZMAN:

From Irwin:

how far away is the coffee shop and don’t you have a kitchen at home? what is the significance of the orchids? and here’s a solution for dealing with your driver: draw some pictures ahead of time (i.e. like an airplane when you want to go to the airport, or a beach scene when you want to go surfing. as for f_____g i’m sure you can figure out some type of diagram). actually you can probably download pictures from the internet showing a market or downtown – how you are connected i am not sure as my imagination has you living in snake country awaiting the arrival of islamic militants.

i.

Joe’s response:


You are either up very late or very early.
It is a 20 min walk.
Yes, I have a kitchen and a maid also, but she does not make espresso.
Filling up space.
Thanks for the advice. I wanted him to drive me to the massage parlor. I will enjoy searching the web for appropriate pictures. Any sites that you recommend?
I am in the north of Thailand, few Muslims but there are a lot of snakes, drug wars, white (brown) slavers, corrupt police and of course elephants.

By the way, how did you sent up your blog? You did a great job. I am pleased that the recent postings are optimistic. I am happy for you.

Joe….

By the way, Hayden calls me his Pookie. Should I be embarrassed?
PS: I just turned on my spell check and it suggested: “Statesman” as a replacement for “Schatzman”. I always knew you were bound for great things. I suppose the next time it will suggest “Nobel”.
Petrillo on the other hand usually turns up “petrol” or “petrel”, black ooze or a damned bird.

Frpm Irwin:

You are either up very late or very early. i get up about 8:30 am, take breakfast at the computer and stay on the keyboard until noon, mostly reading non-personal emails (i.e. ny times, la times, food blogs, etc.). then either about 12:30 pm or 1:00 pm i take a nap and stay in bed until around 3:00 pm. i go for a walk around the subdivision (1.5 miles) no chickens, or elephants but lots of dogs, and crows; i take a walking stick with me to beat off the asians. after that i go to the market, dry cleaners, bank or visit my mom in the retirement care facility. then at 5:00 pm i start watching tv and make diner, after dinner i watch basketball on tv and then a violence movie or maybe i’ll read until midnight. once a month or two i try to get together for an uninspired lunch with former political operatives and we laugh at old tales. all of this is boring.

It is a 20 min walk. kaiser permanente say’s one should excersize for a least thirty minutes a day at least there days a week. i think it has something to do with releasing endorphins in your head or is a scam to encourage people to buy nike shoes. i never believed in it but its something to do and it’s the only time people on the street say “hello”. also i can use it against the doctor when i tell him i follow his advice but still feel like shit.

Yes, I have a kitchen and a maid also, but she does not make espresso. did you ever think about buying an expresso machine and giving the maid something to do. does she like make youe meals? what does she make and is it all spicy? last night i watched a movie bancok dangerous with nicholas cage. in a scene he was eating spicy thai food and had to chew some green leaves to cool off. the other scenes were better..he was killing people, but he didn’t score with the chick.

Filling up space. it’s the hardest thing you will ever have to do. i usually listen to a 24/7 opera radio station on the internet http://www.radiotower.com/player.php?channel_id=7366 and/or to a ham radio repeater station where they talk dirty. if i’m lucky the opera is italian, my favorite is puccinni, and not mozart although i beleive him to be one of the best composers of music.

Joe’s Response:

Thanks for the advice. I wanted him to drive me to the massage parlor. I will enjoy searching the web for appropriate pictures. Any sites that you recommend?
on the search bar just enter “image of a….” and spell out what the image is that you want..

I am in the north of Thailand, provide me with the name of the locale and address so i can google it and see the location on a map, few muslims but there are a lot of snakes what’s the difference, drug wars, white (brown) slavers, my favorite corrupt police my kinda’ guys and of course elephants.dumbo?

By the way, how did you sent up your blog? it’s all free and fairly easy. go to google.com and set up a name and password. then once in, click on “more” then click on “even more” and then click on “blogger”. i suppose you might just do a search for “blogger”. once in, everything is explained and you just have to experiment. the main thing i haven’t figured out yet is how to notify people of a new post without sending them a separate email which is what i do. if you haven’t all readyYou did a great job. I am pleased that the recent postings are optimistic. I am happy for you. thanks. thanks but i am not more optimistic i am just more realistic and have begun to face reality which is the wonderment of anxiety, depression and dispair within which i have lived and will for the remainder of my life. i fully believe that my physical/mental disabilities.infirmities are genetic and that the most i can do is alleviate the syptoms and recognize that that there is no cure. instead of avoiding the draft i should have joined the marines…maybe they would have made a man out of me.

Joe….

By the way Hayden calls me his Pookie. Should I be embarrassed? i’d be flattered. i think “pookie” was a positive character on the soupy sales show but i don’t remember what kind of character he was. not a dog like “white fang” or “black tooth”. although maybe “pookie” means something in thai! better get a dictionary.
PS: I just turned on my spell check and it suggested “Statesman” as replacement for “Schatzman”. I always knew you were bound for great things. I suppose the next time it will suggest “Nobel”.unlikely. i was once chased by a man in israel who came after to me to tell me that my name, which i had just signed on a guest book, meant “spokesman for the people”. usually, schatzman refers to a “dear man” or someone like a “treasurer: the word “dear” meaning worth something like money or jewels, i suppose i could have been at least a contender but was burdened instead by listing to the little guy on my shoulder carrying a pitchfork telling me that, “It’s all good, no one will know, you can get away with it.” But that little guy on my shoulder didn’t tell me that in the real world, you don’t get away with it because even when you are the only one who knows, that is enough to destroy you. It just will happen from the inside out.

Petrillo on the other hand usually turns up “petrol” or “petrel”, black ooze or a damed bird. no. i think petrillo comes from the name peter which is derived from the greek word for “rock”. you know like stong like a rock. wasn’t that a song by bob seger?

Irwin’s response:

what i really want to know before i die is that you had to pay for four wives. three children. were $80k in credit card debt and are now living in a palacial estate in an exotic country with a maid, chauffer, and god knows what else at your disposal. how was this managed?

the weather gauge is turning red and we are allerted by radar that torrential rains are anticipated within the next two hours. we have now had rain storms daily for three days. last night i noticed that my feet got damp when i stood on the carpet next to the french door in the computer room. my last wife, who sleeps upstairs, woke up this morning a head full of wet hair and a spot on the livingroom ceiling is brown and water has dripped down the wall. my backyard isn’t large enough to build an ark…i won’t complain, at least its not a tsunami coming over the back wall.

we are doomed i tell you but at least we maybe don;t have to deal with al gore anymore.

i.

Joe’s Response:


In my subdivision, I use my walking stick to beat off the Europeans. Today I will try to get the driver to take me to the Mall. From there I think I can find my way to the massage parlor.


My evenings so far are spent with Hayden.

The maid makes my breakfast and my dinner. Lunch I fend for myself. Breakfast is bland and dinner spicy. She is not a very good cook but she cleans the house, tends the garden and and washes my clothes.

I prefer watching the the young attractive barristas and waitresses to watching the maid who is kind of square shaped.

I always cry at the final aria of Co Co San in Madame Butterfly. Thanks for the site. I will try it tonight.

I am midway between the city of Chiang Mai and the village of Hang Dong (if you can believe it). I tried google maps but they are not very good for Thailand.

I have to go. My driver has arrived. Will write again later.

Joe…

From Irwin:

how far are you from Chiang Mai and how far is that from bankcok? i see that apartments in chiang mai are $13 us a night so i am beginning to understand how you might be able to afford a house – but it looks like you are in the middle of nowhere;hope you don’t need a doctor in the middle of the night. well i’m still in semi-civilization
and about to leave for the kosher butcher.

Joe’s response is missing.

From Irwin:

worldclub lane is not a very exotic name. who were the subdividers, people from the uk?

it’s now 6:30pm here (sunday) what time (and day) is it there? any palestinians?

if orchid’s grow on trees in one’s backyard what flowers do high school girls wear for a corsage at their prom?

irwin

Joe’s Response:

  1. It is exotic to the Thai’s. The developer is Thai. I think he was hoping that Chiang Mai would host the World Cup or maybe the Olympics. It has a huge indoor-outdoor pool in the health club that is now an American Christian high school. The school, I hear is being booted out for being assholes.

This is a strange subdivision. As near as I can tell there are virtually no zoning, health or design controls. As a result it now contains at least two pre-schools and an elementary schools, a pretty good convenience store in someone’s garage, a martial arts studio in someones house and a couple of restaurants. One of the restaurants is run by an old lady who is the widow of one of the City’s ex-mayors (The current one a woman, has just been caught in a notorious sex scandal). Anyway the widow lives on adjacent to a stub-end street that she closed off and now uses as an open air restaurant that she services from the kitchen in her house. She also grows most of her vegetables and herbs on the open area at the end of the stub-end. She also makes herbal medicines and a wine made from some fruit no-one can name or show me and mysterious herbs. The wine takes three months to “mature”. It begins as a rose’ and at “maturity” turns deep red like a burgundy. It actually does not taste bad, a little like a retsina. You get sort of a mellow drunk with a lot of giggling and no appreciable hangover. We think the one of herbs used is ganja.

My corner of the subdivision is the upscale section, with big houses with elaborate gardens and imposing walls and gates. Most of the occupants are corrupt Thai politicians and businessmen and a few Europeans. In other sections one sees enormous houses filling up the entire lot. On some lots, there are more that one house on others someone will develop a few row houses. It the low rent district there are about 50 row houses. These were the first and probably built for the athletes that never came

2. If it is 6:30 PM in California on Sunday, it would be 9:30 AM monday here.

3. The next time I take a teenage Thai girl to her prom I will ask.

Joe…

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