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Posts Tagged ‘Chiang Mai’

From Irwin:

wow! was i taken aback by your (today’s) photos of the street scene outside your home. the scenery is not what i had imagined. seems open space is at a premium there as well as in parts of the usa. i guess i had pictured something more “exotic” whatever that means….perhaps trails, lots of native vegetation, smelly dead bodies on the side of dirt roads with lots of flies and the like. but no matter. if you are happy i’m happy; well, that is, i’m happy for you!! i suspect that the “open space” is outside the subdivision as you mention farmers and “stubble” which is i assume not referring to peasants’ beards. what do they plant in their rice fields when they are not planting rice? given the tropical nature of the country i assume that there are lots of fruit trees, banana, etc. growing in the wild as well as in cultivated areas run by the local farmers’ collective (“kibbutz”).

i see you have picked up some new readers. i’m guess that the “bill gates” is not the bill gates. maybe soon you will need a meter program to see exactly how many people read your email messages. while i don’t update my blog(s) very often i do subscribe (free) to a program which keeps track of head count but as to accuracy i’m not sure. the problem with my “glowing man” blog is that i haven’t tied it to any distribution program so i have to send out an email to recipients (i keep a list) telling them that i have updated the blog – somehow this process doesn’t sound as my being very up-to-date with the 21 st century but i have my excuses;namely that i don’t read manuals or other forms of written instructions and consequently if the task isn’t something i can learn by trial and error I can’t learn it at all, or rather won’t try. i suspect (doing a lot of that lately) that because i use “blogger” which is the free google blog program i told you about instead of some hosted blog program which charges a fee that i suffer the distribution problem.

here the rain has stopped however i still can not see clearly. i was going to have cataract surgery on my left eye last year but postponed it to take care of the cancer. now i really don’t much care and the thought of any type of invasive treatment to my body leaves me cold – although a lobotomy might be rewarding. no, i don’t mean the dance. today’s photo from me is a photo i took of the “la la la lady” who sings (“la la la la”) as she walks along los jardines east. she may be thai. she is definitely asian – do the thais in your part of the world sing while they walk? maybe it’s an ethnic trait like jews hoard money (wish i had some. no, not jews. money!).

if you look up in the sky right now you might see a vapor trail of the satellite which was sent up this morning. i have fixed my scanner and am listening to the nasa frequency. the man said that it is now over japan and while i know that japan is not near thailand maybe it’s not that far away. actually, “fixed” is not the right word. the scanner wasn’t broke i just wasn’t receiving the station i usually listen to ( it’s a ham station where notwithstanding fcc guidelines and standards obscenity and indecency is foremost with several of the regulars bordering on the mentally incompetent and definitely socially cruel and gross. my kinda’ people). every once in a while i accidentally touch one of the buttons on the scanner and it goes out of wack to where i can’t receive any transmission from anywhere. thus comes into play my excuse of not reading manuals. so i spent a good fifteen minutes this afternoon pushing all of the buttons on the damn thing one after the other and finally by a stoke of luck it is now tunable to some frequencies where i can hear the voice of real people – my last wife lives upstairs and i downstairs so we seldom exchange a word except when i wander up the stairs to inquire what time i should have dinner ready. the timing never works out. she’ll say “one hour” and the next thing i know i’m back up the stair saying “it;s been more than an hour” and she isn’t downstairs yet. it’s little things like that which cause my misogyny to grow at an increasing rapid rate. by the way before i leave the subject of radio transmission you might enjoy having a short-wave radio given the location of your domicile. you haven’t written about tv coverage so i don’t know what you receive beyond bangkok bugaboo, the bbc and al jezeera. then again after having four wives, three children, being eighty thousand plus in credit card debt and building that palatial estate on world cup i am not certain how much baht you have left(i understand that one baht is equal to 0.03 c american) and may not be able to afford such luxuries as a $ 100 +/- radio. some day when you are in your cups and in a talkative and sharing mood i hope you tell me about your finances and how you pulled off this coup of yours which permits you to retire debt and work free in thailand. in exchange i might buy you that radio. i could purchase it on ebay and leave it to them to figure how to deliver it to you without having to hire an elephant and mahout.

yesterday, as is traditional, i was not invited to any superbowl party. so i stayed home and had a superbowl party for one. not being a football fan i did not know who to root for. i did not have chips and dip but i did consume some raw cashews and sparkling mixed berry flavored water from trader joe’s…..@ 89 c a bottle or 29.6 baht. i don’t know that the trader joe’s on brookhurst and hamilton in huntington beach will take baht but i guess i could ask on next shopping trip.

afternotes:

i’m not sure what she is carrying in her bag. usually the people here who carry bags on their walk are walking their dog(s). i can think of nothing much more than disgusting than picking up dog shit with a plastic bag (well i guess using one’s bare hands would be more revolting) which is why, among other reasons, we do not have a dog. my eldest son has two and i have never figured out where he got the unfulfilled desire to have a dog when he had his own household. he has told me that his kids are of the age to play with puppies but i have never seem my grandchildren go near the dogs. my youngest son, who is quite strange, also has a dog which i have never seen as i hardly ever see him – although we are suppose to go together to lucha va voom on thursday night to see mexican wrestling and if we are lucky they will also have the midget female stip tease ladies. i wonder if what they say about their genitalia is true.

in case the news hasn’t made chaing mai yet, michael jackson’s doctor is being arrested today for involuntary manslaughter. i thought you and yours might want to know that being such big fans of the deceased singer/pedophile. i confess. i did buy the thriller casette when it came out years ago and i had the (1989) oy1mobile which had a casette player unlike the more contemprorary (2004) oyonemobile which has a cd player. you will note the difference in spelling. i couldn’t bring myself to put the license plate (“oy1”) from the caddie, now deceased and crushed by the state of california, onto the olds and thus the plate on that reads “oy one”. the last time google came around to take street view photos i still had the cadillac: .http://maps.google.com/maps?

by the way. last night i had a vision of me opening a store in chaing mai where i would sell photos and a limited food menu. do they have business licenses in thailand and/or would i have to hire you to bribe a public official?

if you start a blog you could label it “re thai r ment” instead of “this and that…”.

i need a drink.

Joe’s response:

Cuzin,

Your emails and blogs are the best. I am jealous. Mine are like lumps of wood compared to your living trees. Some times I do not respond for days while thinking about them. They make my day. God you’d think I was going to ask you for money with all this flattery. Maybe I will. After all, living exclusively on social security while girlfriend #1 (Hayden’s mother) tries to drain me of every last baht leaves me sinking in debt as always.

Thailand is no different than any other country where if you want to see the exotic and picturesque of the brochures you have either to leave the cities or go to a museum. What Thailand does have near to hand everywhere is massage and sex.

You have now asked me twice how is it that I do whatever it is that you think I do. That can be answered in one word, “RUN”. When the going get’s tough, Joey runs. I would rather die a thousand deaths given the alternative. It is those who stand and fight that die.

I now at this advanced age live in a world of three dooms. I love that word doom (words are such Hos, they will do anything for anybody at any time and for free). Dooooom. Stretch it out and it is one of the essential sounds emanating from the bowels of the cosmos like the Maharishi’s ohm. Any way my three dooms: First is the doom of retirement. I always believed that we (men at least) are held together by stress and fear gifted to us by our jewish caveman ancestors. Stressed because our hunt for food may fail and we and our families may starve to death. Fear because some woolly mammoth may emerge from the bushes and step on our head. If we stop to smell the flowers some saber-toothed tiger will immediately bite our sorry ass. Then about a hundred years ago they gave us “RETIREMENT” and for a brief moment the fear and stress we think disappears, then we die.

The second doom is the “REAL DOOM”. Earlier in our life death was some remote possibility, so we planed and dreamed (most (all) of which failed to occur). Now it is an onrushing certainty and planning at best means for that day and dreams are what happens (if we a lucky) in our sleep.

The third doom is what I call my personal existential doom. I live here in this place at the sufferance of my greedy, mostly insane ex-lover in whose name I stupidly placed the deed to the house. At any moment I can be out on my ass. And then what will I do? Run, I guess.

On that note, ciao for now.

From Irwin:

wassup?! i just returned from a rain-drenched trip to (a) the bank (nsf); (b) cvs drugstore (metamucil for me and protective undergarments for mom); (c) the liquor store to buy $10 worth of lotto tickets(“listen you oriental bastard sell me a winning ticket this time or i’ll cut off you f_____g pigtail!); and (c) bi-rite meats to buy fresh salmon for tonight’s dinner(i broiled it in pepper, dill and melted butter). i did take an umbrella when i left however the damn thing broke when i tried to open it up so my clothes are somewhat damp at this moment. fortunately for me a few hours earlier it was only cloudy and not raining so i did the 1 ½ mile walk routine but since it was cold outside (not dressed properly to face the fierce elements of fountain valley) i walked rather briskly which is what i am told one is to do for health reasons – perhaps it makes the heart beat faster but then again in my case so does sex (as i remember it) and fear.

today’s photo is not one of natural vegetation on the outskirts of the subdivision as there isn’t any natural vegetation since 1967 when the area was graded by george holstein – i always thought the name of that builder was somewhat ironic because prior to the residential development the area was either strawberry fields or dairies, the latter of course having “holdstein” cows. anyway both george and the cows are long gone. the photo shows some tangerines overhanging a neighbor’s back yard wall. i figured since i could reach them they must be public property and i did use the hooked end of my walking stick to secure one tangerine which i pealed and ate as i walked along. it was juicy but somewhat tart – i never ate a tart in spite of having dated a few in my day.

as far as my prose is concerned thanks for the complement but don’t underestimate the quality and worth of your literature. it’s meant quite a lot to me in the short time which you have been sending emails to the states. reading your exploits in a foreign country is exhilarating without my having to buy travelers checks or pack a bag. then too, please remember that i am a habitual plagiarist and have not an original thought, phrase or word in my head. having something to do as in responding to your emails has kept me from suicide as has the fact that i don’t have a license to buy a gun and furthermore think it’s a crime to have to spend $400 for a revolver to blow oneself away when for the same amount of funds one can buy a good italian dinner and a quality bottle of gettanera (sp?). if you want to seek some comfort about personal writing attributes see today’s new website http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters.html. so far i have read about five of van gogh’s letters to his brother theo and am still searching for some special artistic or aesthetic quality which set it apart and above from, say a letter i might write to my aunt edie were she still alive today. i guess it’s like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. or then again, maybe because the originals of the letters may be in dutch or french neither of which i have a firm grasp.

funny you should mention “social security”. earlier today i composed a letter to the social security administration expressing my curiouisity as to why my mother’s monthly social security check is ten dollars less than mine. shouldn’t it be a lot less? i have to believe that i worked longer and made much more money than did she and my step-father combined. i am hoping that i have been substantially underpaid by the federal government but my suspicions are that i have not and that my paltry #1298 bucks a month is just the nature of things. perhaps working for local government for eleven plus years is the cause of my financial displeasure, astigmatism and beaten brain.

i think you are right-on with this “doom” thing! in fact i think you are overlooking an opportunity to make a bundle. you should create a (men’s) board game (e.g. monopoly) titled “doom”. i can imagine some of the squares now as i roll the dice and watch my life being fucked before me with my very own eyes. somehow i think it’s also tied in with that story-joke i emailed to you earlier today about the “husband store”. the funny part about that joke is i believe it to be 100% true which is why, i guess, it is so funny and i think the male “doom” is because we gave women the right to vote.

it would seem that we both suffer from the same malady of attaching ourselves to women who are smarter and trickier than we are. this is obviously our downfall. why couldn’t it have been women who just liked sex, have money and drink beer instead of being analytical and clever; although i personally find it unattractive to see women drink from a beer bottle or to use one for that particular obscene act although i have seen worse in tijuana.

fino alla prossima volta,

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Last night we had an East Coast style thunder-storm, full of lightning and end of the world cracks of thunder. The lights went out and we rushed around the house closing all the windows. What fun. Then, as quickly as it began, it ended except for some deep rumblings in the mountains that reminded me of Rip Van Winkle and his little men bowling nine pins and drinking beer in the Catskills. I suppose a more Thai related analogy would be appropriate. Like, the screams of the King of the Naga as it rises from the depths of the Mekong, all nine heads of it, to do battle with Rama or the Monkey King (I forget which). I prefer old Rip’s tale. By the way, did you know that the giant catfish of the Mekong can weigh up to a ton?

Yesterday I practiced driving on the wrong side of the street. I got tired of waiting for the driver for every trip to the mall I had to make to buy some toothpaste or the like. The insanity of a 70-year-old man learning to drive on the wrong side of the street and braving the impossible Thai traffic in order to go to the mall is appalling. After all, this is Thailand and one expects elephants, tigers in the bush, secretive mountain tribes deep in the jungle, dope smugglers staggering under their loads on narrow mountain paths, white sandy beaches, and elegant hotels and so on. Instead, here I am living in a subdivision with a bunch of fundamentalist Christian missionaries, the remnant of the “faith initiative”, the vanguard of the Armies of Armageddon, and loving every minute of it.

Today’s photo: me having my morning coffee.

I nope everyone is doing well.

Joe..

—————————————————————————

FROM MY JOURNAL:

January 22 2010.

Noon
Let’s jump to today. Tai called. Said the baby has been in Hospital since Tuesday. He could not keep down the milk and has a fever. Said she was at Hospital all alone. Mother not in BKK. The doctor said baby ok just a typical problem at one-month-old.

Said she did not return to my hotel because baby was throwing up and she went to Hospital. Tried to call but did not get through. Did not get note I left on her email. Needs money.

Belief??? It was Sunday night that she did not show up.

Started email correspondence with Irwin. Am enjoying it so far.

Began novel with Story Mill, first task. Stymied on second task. Cannot figure out disaster events.

Supposed to go downtown today. Natalie last night said she would call driver for 10 o’clock. At 11:30 after some communication difficulty with the maid she called someone whom I assumed was the driver. I asked him to come right away. He has not arrived yet.

He arrived as I wrote the above.

8:00pm
Went to Big C got 25,000 baht from ATM. Went to Central, ate lunch at McDonald’s. Tai called. Located BKK Bank sent her 10,000 baht. Went to Nokia shop bought Phone. Spoke with Tai again. Bought a Thai flower identification book and one for orchids. Waited for the driver. He did not come. Found taxi driver who charged 150 baht. for the same distance as airport driver charged 100 baht. Went to Hayden’s school and walked home.

Gave Hayden long thin bamboo type stick and we pretended to fish the canals. Stopped to watch two men who had spread a net in the large canal but caught only two fish.

Identified Tulip tree, Spider Lilly and a few other flowers from the book.

Hayden went bike riding with Leo and his father while I napped. Natalie arrived with driver. She seemed to be in a relatively good and friendly mood. Driver gave me the wood restoration oil spray can. Nat said it was not the right kind. Dithered to put her off.

Hayden returned, Went to restaurant in a street end in subdivision run by a 73 year old shriveled woman who had been the wife of a mayor of Chiang Mai. Ate a good but very spicy dish made from vegetables and herbs grown on site and drank a herb wine made by the woman from unknown herbs and fruits. Quite enjoyable chilled. Two of Hayden’s teachers arrived. We paid for their meals and ours. About 8 American dollars for all five meals plus wine.

Went home and now I am in bed. G’night.

January 23 2010.

2:39 am
Awoke, cannot get back to sleep. Do not feel like doing anything. Practiced typing.

10:00 pm
Waited for Cordt. Gave me the phone number of fixer for a visa. Went to the same restaurant.

Earlier went to Central. Withdrew 20,000 baht. Gave Natalie only 15,000 baht for “hot water” repairs. Got haircut. Played with Hayden constructing a new Leggo set Natalie bought for him. Used the spray can on the wood foot stool and a few other wood items. Looked pretty good will get more after Nat leaves.

Frank called. Things are looking worse for him.

Nat gave Hayden a time out. Not sure why.

Monday January 25 2010.

2PM
Natalie left at 11 AM to catch a noon flight to Bangkok. I do not know if she told Hayden she was leaving. Nikki is scheduled to arrive tomorrow.

Worked on my novel. supposedly a one paragraph synopsis. I have written about five so far and am not finished. Should go back and condense.

Tai called. Needs money. Maid called driver. No answer. Called Tai told her I will try again tomorrow.

Wrote long email to Irwin.

COMMENTS:

From Ruth Galanter:

At the risk of seeming pedantic but out of loyalty to the legend, I have to remind you that it was supposed to be Hendrick Hudson’s men bowling. Same region as Rip van W, but slightly different story. But I have the same association with thunderstorms.

I must say I’m glad I’m not driving with you while you practice driving on the wrong side of the street. Drive carefully, as “they” say.

Nice photo, but I miss the beard.

Joe’s Response:


You are right. Irving had the bowlers as H. H.’s men’s ghosts. They did drink beer though. I was recalling an illustration of the story showing the bowlers to be definitely on the short side.

I made it to the mall and back.

From Ruth:

What are you doing in the middle of a community of Christian missionaries? It’s interesting how much religions may differ but homeowner associations don’t.
Send photos from the jungles!

Joe’s Response:


They moved in after I built the house. They, of course, are all staunch Republicans.

I do not know if all religions are so different. The “People of the Book”, Jews, Christian and Muslim, appear to me mostly male centered and authoritarian. The Jews at least were forced to adopt independent interpretation as a result of the first century dispersion. The far eastern religions at least avoided the Western hard edged authoritarianism by encouraging their devotees to look inward and submit to secular autocrats instead .

More democratic style institutions appear alike because of their inevitable focus on short term minutia.

Will send pictures.

I had a back yard (or in my case a front yard) barbecue last night.

From Ruth:

You’re right, the religions differ only in superficial ways and I think the Jews may not hate as virulently as some of the others. the differences among religions sometimes remind me of the politics of academia–the less that is at stake, the greater the hostility

I am hoping one day to get my yards (front, back, and side) fixed up. I got a rain barrel through a city demonstration program, now will get a free consultation on how to do yard for optimum water conservation. Every time I look at a “water feature,” all I can see is the ticking of a meter. Same with “decorative lights” and those horrible little lights on appliances. I paid a lot of extra money to get a stove that doesn’t have a clock and little lights telling me things–unless something is on. And I’ve got my dishwasher (which I finally justified as “resale value”) plugged into the circuit designed for a garbage disposal (which I didn’t get) because otherwise it has a whole array of stinking little red lights on all the time. I know they don’t use “much” juice, but I can’t think of a reason to use any unless I’m actually using the appliance. When I left the city, one of my gifts from DWP was a desk lamp made from an old electric meter. It still works. Turn on the lamp and watch the meter chug along….the water side of the dept gave me a clock made from an old water meter, but it’s on a battery. I’m the first person not directly involved in the water services branch to have received one. Since then, I’m told, several officials have “demanded” them.

Joe’s response:

Your garden plans look like they will keep you busy for a while. I do not have any idea how green my landscaping here is. We have a pump that moves water from a well to the house. It has been suggested that we water are garden from the canal behind our house. However when I look at the putrid water in the canal it does not look so appetizing to spread it on the grass.

All male dominated organizations that rely on the unverifiable (e.g. Religion, patriotism, etc.) are authoritarian ( maybe women dominated also but we have little recent experience). Except for the fundamentalists (and maybe the Mossad), thanks to Hillel and his brethren, the jews escaped most of it.

I have imagined that the religions in their constant wars for dominance expected their opponents to feel the same way “”convert or die” and felt it was the natural way of things. Imagine when they met the jews. “what do you mean you do not want to force us to adopt your belief and in fact do not want us in your club at all unless we can show our maimed membership card. That is unnatural and therefor you must be wiped from the face of the earth.”

That’s the problem with being taught by Jesuits. You never lose your fascination with what you do not believe.

From Irwin:

joe- my walking stick and i are now going for our morning walk, completing the circuit of los jardines east to where it meets los jardines west and back to where it again becomes los jardines east (“road trip”). we will pass the 21 acre green valley park, the north pool (home of the green valley dolphins swim team), the adult pool (not heated in winter) and the family pool and center (don’t think the pool is now heated). i also pass two elementary schools which one or both of my children attended. as perhaps a forewarning about the ethnic makeup of the community, one of the schools was named after the first japanese american (from this area) to die in wwII. at that school i also had planted a tree in memory of a friend who was from turkey but killed in a car crash in laguna beach. while a cup of espresso is not on the tour i will be within say one hundred feet of a pho shop which i have yet to try – it’s two doors up from nick’s pizza which is an abysmal place which we only went to once in all of the years we have lived here. it had, as i recall, lots of spaghetti and bad red sauce plus plastic grapes hanging from the ceiling. i suspect rumors of alleged anti-semitism also helped to discourage frequent visits. after i return i shall take a nap; if i am lucky i will sleep until three when i can go visit my mother or buy a lotto ticket or goods for dinner – there is the possibility i may go to the mall and have garlic and cracked pepper french fries with a draft root beer all for under five dollars. i will also be stopping at the mail box to insert a letter to my psychiatrist in which i express my dissatisfaction with the psychiatric services i have/have not received from kaiser permanente for over forty years and explaining that i took and anti-depressant for over ten years and see no reason to take another (which he wants me to do) if he or one of his fellow wizards won’t give me the psychotherapy which i think i need in order to rid myself of deep seated emotional issues and weekly co-pay. seems their current practice is to prescribe drugs and see the patient bi-monthly to checke how the drug is working or to place the patient in a cognitive therapy group consisting of fat or ill-dressed women and one older gay guy who is having a crises because his long-time live-in is expressing discontent about something the gay guy won’t face. then there was the woman who was shacked up with this guy who was talking marriage until she passed the bar and then decided not to practice law upon which (duh) he stopped talking marriage. i need to be with mentally ill people if i’m to be in a group again.

today’s photo is of our neighbor “felix the cat”. i am far from being a cat fancier, however there is something unusual about felix i think he is a reincarnation of someone i once knew but can’t remember. here he is sitting on an old stool outside my french door in the computer room. he knows better than to poop in my yard which my gardener jose jimenez would have to ignore as he does most everything else that should be done.

From Irwin:

j.d.salinger died. aside from being notable for his writing (i.e. catcher in the rye) he was also famous for not wanting to be famous and lived in isolation for the last fifty years.

i have wanted to be famous for the last fifty years and now am living in isolation. for this i am not notable.

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For those who have not been here, below are a view of the house from the road and a picture of me in the “Sala” with the Bocci court in the background.

The House from the Road
Papa Joe and the Bocce Court

I apologize to those like me who find despicable people who force their experiences on others through things like this email, as though the recipient’s own experiences are so lacking they require a vicarious infusion of excitement. To those, please let me know and I will stop sending it to you or wait awhile and my tendency to abandon things when I tire of them or find some other shiny object to pursue, will solve the problem.

Anyway, while walking home from my morning coffee, I saw walking along the road toward me a disheveled little chicken with magnificent tail feathers like a Bird of Paradise (for those who may be interested the chicken was first domesticated in Southeast Asia).

Although this is only my second day of retirement, I am pleased that I have managed to schedule myself so completely that I am already falling behind. I feared that since vegetative is my normal default state, I would become covered with a mantle of moss and disappear as an insignificant mound in the corner of the garden.


FROM MY JOURNAL, January 20, 2010.

1:30am


Awakened by the phone ringing. It was Verizon calling Jason for payment. My first reaction was to get angry at Jay because I suspected that he and Anthony had done little about selling the things that I left behind and were not using some of the proceeds for payment of the phone bill and car insurance. I thought of Blackie’s email and assumed they have not yet contacted him and also that they probably had not yet emptied the storage unit. I then wondered whether or not my emails to Hiromi have even gotten read. My agitation at all this and the potential loss of my things and the money their sale would bring meant that I could not get back to sleep. So, I fiddled with my computer until I calmed down, which I have and so will try to go back to sleep.

9:30 AM


Just returned from my morning walk (Hayden to school etc.) Resolved to get tree and bird identification manuals so that Hayden can have a learning experience while we walk to school.

Spoke with the teacher-principal of the school (Chotirath Lambert–Leo’s mom). She explained how she developed the school and gave me a tour, including the site for new classrooms.

She expressed her pleasure that Hayden now has a family member around. She was concerned that the absence of family and the constant moving about has interfered with his socialization and education. We watched Leo and Hayden playing together. She remarked that they looked so alike and played so well together that many people thought they were brothers.

I spoke with Peter one of the teachers. He said that Hayden tended to “rile” the other students up to do things they should not, while he did not participate and was amused when the others got in trouble.

Ms. Lambert pointed out that Hayden has gotten the least number of “stars” in his class (interestingly Leo got the most).

I left the school and walked to the cafe. The barrista remembered my order from yesterday. Why she assumed I would order the same thing today, I can only speculate. Nevertheless, I am a sucker for anyone who acknowledges my existence.

On my walk home I contemplated the many things I would write to the group in this morning’s email. It embarrassed me. So, I resolved to write the diary first to purge myself.

S0ME COMMENTS TO ORIGINAL POST:

From Irwin Shatzman:

well, if this true, oh mantle of moss, i wish you a happy retirement!! god knows i longed for one but saw fit only to capture one as miserable as was my working life, if not more so. by the way, i like chickens; mine was roasted this evening along with some carrots, celery, tiny onions and fingerling potatoes.

keep in touch, vagabond.

cuz i.

E-MAIL EXCHANGE WITH NICOLO REFFO:

From Joe:

Nikki,

I will try to get a phone today if the driver shows up and drives me downtown.

I went to Hayden’s school this morning and spoke with the principal and one of the teachers. We were right to get him into a stable environment when we did.

The principal was quite concerned that Hayden had no stability in his life and felt abandoned. She said that he lacked socialization with other children and it was beginning to show in his behavior and in his schoolwork. In her opinion, Hayden should stay in the school for at least on uninterrupted year. She showed me a chart in his classroom that pictured the “stars” awarded to the students for good work. Hayden had the least amount of stars in the class.

The principal’s son is Hayden’s friend Leo. They play together a lot. She told me that many people think they are brothers.

His teacher Peter told me that although Hayden was doing well he tended to get the other students “riled up” to do things they shouldn’t then would laugh when the other students got in trouble.

Please do not mention to N what I wrote above. When you get here you and I will discuss what to do.

One funny and sad thing happened yesterday. We sent email messages to Natalie and to you and me. After sending off the letters to you and me, Hayden said “You and Nikki are my fathers. Do I have any other fathers anywhere that I should send an email to?”

See you soon,

Joe…

Reply from Nikki:

I know but what we can do if the mother instead of taking care of him abandon him with a laos maid alone without comunications?
she is guilty instead to being a mother she is dating in bkk i read her e mail one guy just went see her from usa and spend a sex weekend together than she find an excuse to be busy with the pub and bullshit with a backup of her brother and sister
She is immature to grow a child and really she deserve to have the custody removed but i don’t want to do that now is gonna be a mess and hayden will pay the consequences
anyway i am glad u be there at least with time the boy will improve his grades and behaviour
is normal to be wild in this moment of his life he is confused and i am counting on u right now to shape him up
the money is not an issue i send enough to survive and live well there but she use it for her purposes so i got to stop that and open an account that u can manage to go directly only for school and the baby needs.
when she shows up finally play cool don’t mention anything let her go back to bkk when she want we don’t need her in this moment
talk to the boy and he will improve for sure we just need to wait a couple of months don’t spoil him too much he needs to understand the authority of his tutor
Let me get my stuff done and i will fly there directly asap
waiting news from u and a phone line
good luck and try to fix the boccie field i want to play with a nice cigar and a glass of wine like the DONS did in italy

ciao

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The following is a letter I sent to friends and relatives in January 2010. It is followed with my Journal entries for the period described in the letter. 

My first full day in Chiang Mai. The house that I had built, for those of you who have seen it, is in pretty good shape. The landscaping has grown in well.

This morning I walked Hayden to school. As befits the dawdling scholar, he took absolutely the longest way possible, stopping to examine every hole in the ground, viewing from both sides each muddy mosquito infested canal that passed under the road and insisting on discussing the wonders of each thing he investigated.

Joe…

PS: Below are photographs of the grounds of the house in which I now live. I apologize for the mawkishness of this e-mail. I am composing it at the local coffee shop that I realize may, in part, along with the house and the school circumscribe the limits of my life here in Chiang Mai.

——————————————————————-

FROM MY JOURNAL: January 19, 2010

Walked Hayden to school this morning. He said he knew the way, since I did not. It was a boy’s map, full of turns to visit points of interest (friends houses and residences of selected and named canines). We also explored any interesting holes in the ground and had several discussions about my walking stick among other similarly engaging and important topics. We stopped at all of the muddy weed choked and mosquito infested canals that crossed beneath the road on which we walked, first to one side and then the other searching for ways to get down to the water (me of course counseling against it).

A car stopped driven by a woman who I believe lives in the house across the road from ours. She offered us a ride and over Hayden’s objection, I accepted.

At Haden’s school, “Sunshine Kindergarten” we were met at the gate by an attractive young Thai woman. And of course, even in my dotage, I preened.

The school contains a main building and several small attractive adobe like out buildings.

After seeing him off I searched for the cafe for a latte. At first I went in the wrong direction but retraced my steps and found it. I ordered a cafe latte and an orange juice and played with my computer answering some emails and trying to set up my calendar.

I left the cafe. As I walked towards home I passed a group of buildings that I recalled were either a school or the subdivision office but were now mostly derelict. One building in good repair contained a restaurant. I went in and ordered pad thai and an iced tea. Mediocre. The other customers were Europeans of whom there is a lot in the subdivision. I left and walked home.

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For the past week, I have been forced to forgo my normal writing schedule (emails, novels, journals) and succumb to pressure to complete a number of children stories by next week when Hayden returns from Bangkok.

I got started on this because I ran out of children’s books to read to Hayden at bedtime. When my daughter Jessica was a child, often before bedtime I would make up stories to tell her. Unfortunately, long before the story was finished, much to her dismay and amusement. I would fall asleep. In order to avoid inflicting that trauma on another child, I decided to write down the stories so that we can read them together. I chose to use Google Images to illustrate the stories with cartoons and photographs to add interest. Once it got out that I was doing this I began to receive demands and deadlines to produce new stories, not from Hayden or other children who could care less, but from their parents. I am under the gun to finish one of the stories by Thursday of this week for parental review.

One group of stories are a series of detective tales staring Hayden and his stuffed animal friends “Snaky the Snake”, “Buddy the Bear”, “Whitey the White Tiger” and other creatures of his bedroom menagerie. Also appearing in the stories are some of the creatures living in the gardens and empty lots around the house. They include “Feral Kitty (one of the feral cat pack that lives in the lot next door), “Boo-blue bird”, “Francis the Fraidy Frog”, “Clarence the Cross-eyed” the king of the cobra’s living in the lot next door (yes, we have cobras as neighbors in the lot that I have dubbed the “Wild-lands) and in Bangkok “Ratty the Great, King of the Rats, the 10347th of his Line” and others. The humans in the story include me “Pookie the Old”, Nikki the Pilot” and “Pi Newan.” Pi Newan is the name of the maid and is usually the heroine of the adventures while Nikki and Pookie prove to be pompous and mostly useless. In addition to the Prologue, the first three tales are, “The Case of the Missing Breakfast”, “The case of the Monster of the Wild-lands” and the Case of Close Encounters of the Rat Kind”. The latter I have to finish by Thursday or suffer the consequences.

Tomorrow is Hayden’s 5th birthday. Today’s photograph is of the small party we held before he left for Bangkok.

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My Home in Chiang Mai Thailand in 2010

It has been and interesting last few days, at least for me it has. On Saturday my sore throat and coughing had gotten so bad that I had to seek medical assistance. So, I went off to the doctor who prescribed antibiotics, anti-congestion medicine, and some little red pills to suppress my cough reflex. The package seems to be working. It cost me $9 for the doctor visit and $33 for the medicines (That’s the Farang [white people] uninsured costs); not as good as Medicare, but not too bad either. They also call me to ask how I’m doing and if I am taking my medicine.

Everyone must know by now my feelings about the American fundamentalist missionaries inhabiting the neighborhood. Of course it was destined that Hayden would make friends with the son of a missionary couple. They (the parents) have become as close to friends as I have here. I comfort myself with the delusion that they are the proletariat of the missionary class. Those that labor in the fields of the lord so to speak.

He, (I will not give their names to protect them from the risk of an Auto-da-fe) and she are employed by the Southern Baptist Convention and come from the US South. Her father is an ex-hippy guitarist now survivalist who retreated into the mountains around Eugene Oregon (where else) after having spent his best years in good old SF during the 60’s fathering an impressive number of children including our missionary.

He is assigned to brave the murky Muslim-Hindu waters of Bangladesh teaching modern emergency medical care to the inhabitants of the remote villages and picking up the odd soul here and there to add among the elect.

We try to avoid theology and instead meet in the “gosh ain’t it awful” field of human communication with our mutual antipathy for hierarchy.

It seems there is a developing rift between the “Mythologists” as he calls the workers in the field and the administrators and seminarians. The Mythologists are pleased whenever they locate someone who recognizes a similarity between their tradition and the so-called “Peace” message of the New Testament. The “Seminarians” appear to be only interested in the number of baptisms for that quarter. The wife added “and we don’t agree in buying baptisms either.” I immediately could see where they were out of the mainstream of American theological thought and needed the protection of anonymity.

He then told me that one of his students went back to research the Vedas and found passages that indicated that the supreme deity or Poo-bah (A Hindu word) indicated that he would send someone to bring peace to the land. I agreed that was a terrific insight and suggested that we create a new religion where we jettison the Old Testament and its dyspeptic homicidal god and replace it with the Vedas and the New Testaments as the revealed books. My suggestion was ignored.

He did come up with one item if information that I appreciated. I had gone off on my rant about the evils of hierarchical organizations, whether public or private, that reward those in management who produce little of value to the organization when compared to the laborer (white-collar or blue) and suggested management positions should only go to those willing to take a pay cut. He pointed out that his organization pays everyone at the same rate, increasing it only based on seniority. “How un-American, socialist, and unchristian” I thought.

My missionary friend told the story that he had asked some Bangladeshis how it was that Muslim would kill Muslim as they did during the revolt of Bangladesh from Pakistan.


They explained that the Pakistani soldiers were told they were killing Hindus and therefore they had no problem. However, when the soldiers lifted the tunics or whatever of the dead they found they were circumcised. They then realized that the people they had killed were not Hindu but were either Jew or Muslim men (women did not matter) and while it was all right to kill them if they were Jews it was definitely a no-no if they were Muslims. In either event, they understood that they had been lied to by their leaders and refused to fight anymore. And that is how Bangladesh became the independent, economic and social basket case it is today.

Anyway all this kumbya was ruined when he mentioned that since it was Sunday he had to get to a church service. To my annoyance he invited me to come along. He said it would be a unique and unusual service in that they would sing a few songs, then read a few verses from scripture and discuss how they apply to their lives. There would be no minister but the most knowledgeable there would help the individuals in their self-analysis. I told him It sounded a lot like Hill-el developed 2000 years ago when he and his followers created Rabbinic Judaism. His smile turned into a grimace. “Maybe next time” he said, picked up his guitar and piled his family into their SUV and went off.

As Hayden and I walked home, I wondered why the mere mention Judaism would produce that sort of reaction. After all, unlike the other people of the book, Christians and Muslims, who run around the world-beating each other on the head and demanding join each other’s men’s club (and men’s clubs they are) or they will kill you, Jews don’t even want you to join their club and certainly do not want to join ours.

When I got home and took my nap and had a biblical dream that I will not relate here for fear of offending everyone. However if anyone would like to hear my revelatory dreams drop me a line. They are titled “Successful camel breeder and brewer forms new mens club and almost kills son in process” and “Oh my God” squeal the women of Jerusalem as Jesus of Nazareth tips the scales on Paul of Tarsus”. Needless to say I woke up in a cold sweat.

That night I invited my missionary friends, Jerry the New Zealander and his wife Choti who is the principal of the school, two New Zealand taxi drivers and their girlfriends who were visiting Jerry, Mac’s father, whose name is Oo by the way and the 4 and 5-year-old children of the various guests. We ate at the outdoor street end restaurant run by the shriveled up lady that I mentioned in a previous post. The total meal for everyone cost me $30 half of which was for the beer and wine.

The mysterious building pictured in my previous post is a crematorium. It was in use today as I passed. It looked like a Thai biker gang was sending off one of its members into the joy of re-incarnation. The superstitions of the Thai’s fear of ghosts depressed the prices of the land near the crematorium enabling Choti, the principal of the school to get the land on which it is built, at a low price.

Entrance to the School
The School Yard

.


FROM MY DIARY LEADING UP TO POST:

FRIDAY MARCH 19 2010 3PM

Hot again. Lying on bed sweating. Rain brought a morning’s respite from the air pollution but my throat is feeling its return this afternoon. No exercise, just lying in bed. Typing at times, sleeping mostly.

SUNDAY MARCH 21 2010, 9:30 PM

Interesting few days. Went to Hospital yesterday for relief of my sore throat and coughing. Dr cost about $9 and 6 day antibiotics, decongestant/expectorant and cough suppressant $30.

Hiromi deposited $2766 Tax refund into my account. I removed about 20,000 baht. Deposited 12,000 into Thai account (What Happened to the remaining 8,000?).

Last night Hayden told me some interesting things that I relayed to Nikki. See email.

Spent morning with Micah’s parents. Southern Baptist Convention Missionaries. Husband spends most of his time in Bangladesh teaching emergency first aid and trying to convert muslims. Wife daughter of hippie father. Conversation mentioned a Bengali telling H. Veda seemed to suggest need for a JC. I suggested that maybe that is a good reason to throw out the old testament.

H. invited me to attend a what he termed an unusual Sunday service in a house to discuss bible passages and their personal meaning. I mentioned that it sounded a lot like a traditional Jewish service.

When I got home and took my nap I dreamed of something like this:

I saw old Abraham in his tent drunk on fermented camel’s milk surrounded by his sons. Outside the tent his wives, concubines and slaves tended the cook fire and drew lots to see who would sleep with the smelly old bastard that night.

Old Abe was raving about the rejection of his application to join the Babylon Men’s Camel Dung Rolling Club. That’s when he realized the truth. “O my God I must be Jewish”.

“Why would I want to join their damned club anyway” he shouted “they could not be very exclusive if they would allow someone like me living in a tent join”. And with that antisemitism and jewish humor were born.

“I will form my own club and will not let anyone join. I will show them real exclusivity”.

Isaac, a pimply faced overweight adolescent, feared this could lead to the end of his sneaking out of the tent at night after the old man passed out for some action with the sweet-smelling Babylonian girls leaving him only with the camel herding women his dad preferred, protested. “We can’t do that we don’t have a membership card or anything.”

Abe stared at Isaac who he dislike and surmised was probably gay. He thought “maybe I should kill him now before he gets a chance to breed”.

“We will make our own membership cards”. “Clay tablets” Abe announced.

Everyone groaned. “No you’re right, too heavy. It will break the line of our tunics. Tattoos” he exclaimed “No, everyone’s got tattoos nowadays”. “I’ve got it” he exclaimed “We’ll cut off the ends of our dicks. Nobody will have membership card like that”.

“You got to be kidding” cried Isaac.

With that Abe grabbed his knife jumped over the fire grabbed Isaac by the shirt and said “I’ve had enough of you, you little shit, prepare to die.”

In good biblical tradition Isaac thought quickly and lied. ” Wait” he said “I see the hand of God what’s his name staying your hand from killing your son because he and all your sons submit to the will of what’s his name”.

With that Abe relented killing Isaac. Instead he cut off the end of every male present’s dick. At the moment of initiation each one screamed “Yowee that hurts”.

When it was all over Abe rested. He looked at all his sons writhing in agony on the floor of the tent and said, “You know, I like that. Up to now whenever the guys hung out talking about their gods it was always Ishtar this and Baal that. They would all laugh when I mentioned the god whose name could not be uttered. From now on in recognition of this event whenever we utter we shall utter that the name of our all-powerful creator, “Yowee”. What do you think?”

In my dream I wondered how they were able to identify one another as member of the men’s club. Groping under each others tunic was a little more obvious than a Masonic handshake Maybe they originally had their meetings in the health club shower.

Anyway my dream fast forwarded to 33 AD (although they did not know it at the time, thinking it was 3000 years or something since god rested) and the throng (We no longer throng today, we crowd, what a loss) was pressing forward to enter the temple on the sabbath, the day people thronged to the temple, a building that replaced the health club showers .

The guard at the gate of the temple in Jerusalem stopped one of the throng who happened to be Jesus. “Hey you. Only Jews allowed to enter the temple. You Jewish. You don’t look Jewish with that fruity double-pointed red beard”.

“My good man”, said Jesus (he was a Rhodes Scholar and had studied in England) “of course I’m Jewish, I speak Hebrew as though I never learned Aramaic”.

“Anyone can learn Hebrew” responded the guard. “Whip it out and put in on the table.”

Now Jesus had no problem with whipping it out given all the time he spent with the ladies and all that lying of the head on the breast and that sort of thing and he was quite proud of his membership card. So he whipped it out and everyone getting a look at it exclaimed “Oh my God”.

“That’s right” said Jesus, “Now all of you get out of my fucking temple”.

Now where Jesus was quite proud in his membership in Judaism, Paul was less so. Where they all marveled at Jesus Membership ,they all laughed when Paul whipped his out. So Paul went to the Apostles (Jesus’ biker buddies) gathered in Jerusalem (Apostles “gather” they do not “throng or “crowd”)and said to them “This membership card thing isn’t working. It’s too hard to get anyone to join and tithe. Since we’re the new guys (and guys we are) we need a new card. Besides aren’t you all a little tired of having to show your card every time before you give a sermon”

“Good thought Paul” said Peter who although not afflicted by the results of being kicked by a horse on the way to Damascus as was Paul, was a shy man. What should the new membership card be?”

“Faith shining through their eyes” said Paul.

“How would anyone know” questioned Peter.

“We will know. Besides if the light shines through everyone’s eyes what difference would it make”.

And the rest is History. And I awoke

11PM

Earlier today I went to the Bank withdrew 30,000 baht from BOW acct. Deposited 20,000 in BKKB pers. acct. Kept 10,000.

Hosted dinner party with missionaries, Choti and Jerry two NZ tourists and Thai girlfriends, Mac’s father and assorted children 950 baht. About $3 each including wine and beer.

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Thai-Date-Motorbike-300x200

I am called Pookie and although I am an American citizen, I currently live as an expatriate in Thailand at a beach resort city named Jomtien Beach where I rent an apartment in a large complex I dubbed “Paradise at the Beach.” Every day, I walk along the strand or swim in the pool, eat at one or another nearby restaurants and more or less blissfully enjoy doing the nothing that I had been looking forward to for many years.

One day a Thai woman I have known for a long time but had not seen for a while called and suggested we have dinner at a nice little Italian-Thai restaurant located adjacent to my apartment complex. I arrived early, sat at the bar and ordered a gin and tonic.

As expected, she arrived late.

She explained that she had just come from divorce court where she finalized her divorce from her Australian Husband. We sat down at the table and ordered dinner. She told me about her domestic travails as we ate. She said that she was feeling sad and to demonstrate the veracity of that statement she periodically teared up and cried. Eventually, she mumbled that she felt she needed to get away from it all for a while. She then brightly suggested we drive togeather up to Chiang Mai, that wonderful ancient walled city situated in the foothills of northern Thailand where I lived for a few months before moving to the sea-shore.

I thought it was a good idea since, being a bit bored myself, a trip up-country with an attractive woman would cure me of any creeping ennui I may have been experiencing. We agreed to leave in a few days.

I called some friends in Chiang Mai to arrange to visit them during my stay. Unfortunately, my intended traveling companion then disappeared. When I tried her telephone number, the recording indicated that the phone had been disconnected. So, I had to call my friends again and cancel the visit.

About two weeks or so later, she called me explaining that she had been in the hospital and could not contact me. Whether she was there to cure some malady or to dry out from drinking too heavily, I never got straight. Nevertheless, she again suggested that we go away together for a few days; this time not to Chiang Mai but to the nearby Island of Koh Samet where she and I had spent a lovely weekend a few years back.

Since my usual weekly massage was to be on Thursday rather than my normal Friday that week, we agreed to leave at 8 AM Friday morning. I planned to spend a day or two with her on Koh Samet then move on to Koh Chang or one of the other islands the area I had never visited but always wanted to.

On Friday at eight thirty in the morning she called and said she would arrive by about 9:30. There being no sign of her at that time, I took my suitcase and went to breakfast to await developments.

At about 10:15 she arrived. I invited her to join me at breakfast. She said she had already eaten and was not hungry and took my luggage to her car. When she returned, she told me that some friends and family would be going with us. I was annoyed because when a Thai woman tells a Farang (“Foreigner” in Thai) that friends and family will join them, it usually only means one thing, the Farang pays for all.

When we got to the car I discovered three young men in the back seat. Being Thai young men, to my Western eyes, they could have been anywhere from 17 to 35 years old or more.

One, seated in the back to the far left, clutched what appeared to be a well-worn large orange teddy bear. I was later to realize instead of a teddy bear it was a stuffed ox or water buffalo complete with large horns, but it was too late. Having failed to catch his name, I already started calling him Teddy Bear Boy in my mind.

The second, who spoke English fairly well and was sitting in the middle, I recognized. He  worked in a local upscale restaurant called Mata Hari as a waiter or bartender. He I named Mata Hari.

The third was a sullen-looking young man wearing a “S.W.A.T” T-shirt who said little during the entire trip.  I called him the Sullen One.

I got the impression that the Mata Hari and Teddy Bear Boy were gay. It would be a mistake however for a foreigner to take anything about a Thai at face value. This is not because it is the so-called inscrutable orient, but just that different cultures give off their own cultural signals. I learned this in Italy when I lived there during the late 60’s. What I thought were facial and gesture signals that would signify no in America, actually to my great embarrassment indicated consent among the Italians. But, that is another story.

Now with the three young men sitting behind me and being annoyed already, I became even more annoyed and a bit uncomfortable as we took off, not down the coast as I expected, but into the rural areas behind Paradise by the Beach where, for long stretches, the paved roads disappeared and every now and then a new subdivision named something like Grand View or Hillside suddenly loomed out of the jungle vegetation. For some reason, I pictured in my mind that scene in Godfather II where Clemenza sat in the back seat of the automobile behind Michael’s sister’s errant husband as they drove into the Meadowlands.

Finally, we came to a large barn-like building that in the US would be called a Roadhouse. We pulled into the gravel parking lot.  My friend drove to the far end of the lot and  backed up to the edge and parked so that we faced the entrance to the building looming in the distance black, shadowy and wavering in the heated air that rose from the parking lot.

She then reached down into that space separating the front seats where usually the change and cup holder reside. Instead of coins, she picked up a handful of large bullets that I had not noticed before. The casings were shiny brass and the blunt points, bright copper.

My first  thought was that since I recalled that she often engaged in producing crafts that she would then sell, she had acquired these to make some sort of strange jewelry.  As a little child, she would make those flower arrangements that are sold on just about every street corner in Thailand.

The image of the little 5-year-old flower girl quickly dissipated, however, when she then reached down  beside  her seat next to the door and pulled up a very large and very mean looking 45 caliber pistol. While admittedly it was not yet a Holy Shit moment, there was a sharp intake of breath on my part.

Then, with the gun placed next to her ear and pointing straight up towards the roof of the car, she shouldered the car door open and got out with what appeared to me to be a look of grim determination on her face. At the same moment, the rear doors flew open and the boys in the back scrambled  out and disappeared somewhere behind the vehicle.

I did not look for where they went because I was too fixed on watching her stride resolutely, gun in hand, now down by her thigh, across the gravel parking lot, up the two wooden stairs leading to the entrance of the building and then disappearing into the darkness.

I thought, “for a morning that started out so unpromising, it may turn out to be an  interesting day after all.”

Stay tuned…….

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