something about good fences

early this year i took this photo of the view from our bedroom window.  such a nice palm tree, lovely mountain – so pleasant and peaceful.

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i might have taken time to enjoy this view more if i’d known it was going to disappear.  (that’s probably not true, but i like to think it could be.)

shortly after that photo was taken a “wall” was installed to divide the property we live on.  have you heard the one about good fences and good neighbors?  well, this fence pretty much sums up our neighbor situation at the moment.

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not that it’s not a perfectly lovely fence.  it almost leaves us a reasonable pathway to get behind the house to our washing machine and i think the weathered look is totally in right now.

soon after the fence went up this happened.

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that’s the beginning of the clearing of the other half of the property we live on.  they spent a week or so clearing that out.  nothing to obtrusive.  not too loud and only a few people hard at work.

within a few weeks (maybe 6) we had this going on.

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they were getting serious.  that’s like real construction – with machines and everything.  we still had a view of the palm tree, but pollution was hiding the mountain.  the pollution tells me this picture was probably taken in march.  they were maybe 2 months into this project at this time.  they had to wait for the big orange machine to be available and make it’s way here from bangkok.

this picture was probably taken in june and by this time there was a big crew working long hours.

progress

(the absence of workers in this picture probably means it’s midday.  they seem to hate working midday, unless it’s saturday or sunday and we’re home to enjoy it.)  you can still see the palm tree.  this is about the point where they started making steady progress.  and in order to make steady progress they took up residence in the neighborhood.

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it’s a little hard to see, but what you’re looking at is the evidence of 4 families living in the warehouse directly behind our house.  this allows them to work from sun-up until sundown everyday of the week.  with tools.  power tools and hammers seem to be their favorite first thing in the morning.  they are not our favorite.

but all that working has gotten them to this point.

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that’s the same view as the previous two construction photos and i haven’t zoomed in or edited it to make it look closer.  that is actually how close this new construction is to our bedroom.

and what about the view?

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that picture was taken from the exact same spot in our bedroom as the first picture of the view.  the mountain is no longer obscured by pollution, at least not that i can tell, because it is completely hidden behind the new building.  and again, no zoom.  i think we might be able to play patty cake with our new neighbors once they get moved in – if we are still living here.

 

 

 

again with the food

i’m not a food blogger, and i don’t really have a desire to be one. which might have you asking, “why another post about food?”  i’m attempting a little bit of psychology (or something like that) in order to get my blogging mojo back.  i figure if what i’m cooking is the most interesting thing i have going on in my life right now, then that’s what i’m gonna write about.  (it’s not just interesting, it’s also unusual.  cooking is not my default.)  so i guess i’ll just keep posting about food until i can find the interesting in the rest of my life.  my hope is that i will add a dash of daily life in with the cooking/food stuff and – eventually – it will become more and more daily life and less and less look what’s in my crockpot, but until then…  let’s go ahead and look what’s in my crockpot!

before i could head to the store to check off my grocery list i needed to make a trip to immigration for sam’s 90 day check-in.  it was due aug. 14, but they allow a grace period and i was within that time period.  except i wasn’t.  turns out the slip of paper that had the stamp that read -14 AUG also had a stamp that read -4 AUG. obviously (to all but me), the second one was the correct one.  i tried to explain it to the officer at the desk.  she agreed it had two stamps, but seemed to think i wasn’t too bright for assuming the one that was in the top corner, that showed without me having to unfold the piece of paper that was stapled in sam’s passport, was the correct stamp.  it’s very possible that they told me when they did this.  i tend to be stressed when i’m at immigration.  what with the waiting and the lots of irritated people and the waiting and the crowded room and the waiting…  not to mention the last time i was there for this purpose i was suffering with a wee bit of hip pain.  anyway, it didn’t appear that the officer was going to come around to my way of seeing things and she handed my passport to the officer next to her.  he opened it, saw it was sam’s, asked me if he was my son, and said, “mai pen rai.” (which is basically hakuna matata).  the first immigration officer agreed with him, but did remind me to be more careful in the future.  i was very, very appreciative.  i get to do it again for myself in just a few weeks.

my next stop was the grocery store and, as an added bonus, there was a downpour.  i still managed to get the shopping done.  i also got an umbrella-d escort to my car. once i was home, the first thing i needed to do was get the chickens ready for the best whole chicken in a crockpot. 

chicken

they needed 6 hours to cook, so i got busy making soup.  i might tire of the soup with some protein quick meal eventually, but for now i’m thinking i’m brilliant for coming up with it.  last week it was curried cream of broccoli soup and crockpot sweet potato basil soup.  this week i made a pot of creamy spinach and artichoke soup.

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and cream of mushroom soup.

creamofmush  i’ve got some pork from last week and the chicken from this week to mix in with these.

once the chicken was done, i removed the meat and threw the bones and other bits and pieces back into the crockpot.  i added a few vegetables and some water and tonight while i’m sleeping my crockpot will be making overnight chicken stock in the crockpot.

broth

the beginning of the end of an era

today is the first day aly’s last year of high school.  and – if no one in my family changes their mind – it’s also the first day of our family’s last year of traditional school.  i’m finding dealing with both has me feeling all kerfuffle-y.  it hasn’t been all that long since chan went through his last year of high school and i still remember how raw it was.  how all year long the coming change felt so close to the surface.  i’m trying to not protect myself from those feelings this year.  i want to fully experience this whole year with aly (appropriately, of course, i have no plans to go to prom).  i don’t want to fall into a been there done that attitude, either.  this is her experience and while it will have its similarities to chan’s it won’t be the same at all.

aly

at the end of the last first day of high school.

she and michael were in the states this summer and she toured college campuses.  she even found one she wants to apply to.  she also wants to apply to a college in japan.  so much change to come.  so little time to savor and no way to stop the clock.  i wouldn’t really want to.  she’s gonna have an awesome year.

along with her last year of school is our family’s decision to not send sam back to school this year.  over the past few years it has become more and more apparent that traditional school is not the best for sam.  we’re taking the road less traveled (so to speak).  he’ll come out of it with a high school certification and he won’t be shutting any doors he might want to walk through in the future, but for his well being – and the well being of our family – this is the best path we can find.  we are very thankful that the school will allow him to audit drama this year and that they have left the door open should he decide the classroom really is where he wants to be.  it’s scary for me.  i’m a rule follower and this isn’t how high school is supposed to be done.  (this is a little funny because we homeschooled our oldest two for several years, and that’s not how elementary school is supposed to be done.  even better?  it was my choice to do it.)  i also think it’s good that we live abroad as we are making this decision.  not that there aren’t plenty of people who support homeschooling in the states (i think that’s what you would consider what we are doing).  at this age it feels like it’s more sam schooling with a some parental oversight.  many of the non-american westerners around us have been very encouraging of our decision.  they’ve told us it’s not uncommon in their countries for how a kid is educated to change at this age.  it seems only us americans have a one size fits all attitude when it comes to education.

so big changes ahead for us and i’m just holding on to the knowledge that we’ll come out okay on the other side of all this.

plan b

the family returns tomorrow morning (aly and michael) so tonight is the last night for our scheduled food blog.  we decided on italian and made our way to boutique della pasta.  it had good reviews on trip advisor so i thought we should give it a try.  i checked out their facebook page, found their hours (we weren’t going to make the mistake of arriving early again) and we made our way there.  when we arrived we discovered they were closed today.  this was not disclosed on their facebook page.  i found that slightly annoying because it seems to me that a quick status update letting folks know you are closed seems sort of an easy thing to do.  but what do i know other than they aren’t the only italian restaurant in the game.  so we headed to pulcinella da stefano.

pulcinella

we went ahead with the appetizer to share routine that we’ve gotten so good at.  we ordered the panzerotti.

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it was puff pastry, stuffed with cheese and mushrooms and fried.  not sure you could mess that one up.  we both agreed it was good and that it was a pretty substantial appetizer, even when shared.  sam thought it would make a great entree.

for my meal i ordered the gnocchi alla crema di asparagi e ricotta (gnocchi with asparagus mousse and ricotta cheese).

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it was a nice dish.  very much what was described.  it would probably fall in the comfort food category.

sam had the calzone.

calzone

he said it was good, but it was a little heavy on the spinach and mushroom for his liking.  we probably could have made two perfect calzones out of this one.  i would have taken all the spinach and mushroom and he could have had the meats.

i think we would both say this was a good meal from a restaurant that is probably pretty reliable when it comes to serving good food.

i think it’s possible we will continue our food blogging, but we’ll have to see where our commitment levels fall before we know that for sure.

a lazy saturday lunch

butternut was recommended to me more than once when folks heard i was looking for new places to eat.  i figured it was a good option for a lazy saturday lunch – since it’s not too far from our house.
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it’s a cute little restaurant located on a soi on the outside of the east side of the moat.  (just like having a map, i know.)

i went with the mediterranean plate – hummus, falafel, two kinds of tahini, and a tomato salad served along with some soft pita bread.  all the flavors were fresh and bright.  i’d definitely go back just for this.

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sam had the grilled cheese.  it was a panini with cheese, bacon, and tomato salsa.  it was as good as it sounds.

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we’d also ordered an appetizer.  it came out last, but that’s not uncommon here.  potato croquette.  fried balls of mashed potatoes?  nothing wrong with that.

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pizza pie, oh me oh my!

i have a long haul drive to get to my physical therapist’s office.  it’s way on the other side of town.  i mean it’s a serious commitment.  but it comes with some perks.  there’s the massage, the heat packs, the rehabilitation, and there’s also being on the same side of town as pizza n pasta.  so pizza it was for dinner.

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sam wanted hawaiian pizza and i wanted sausage and mushroom.  the pizzas here come in big, bigger, biggest, and most biggest ever – all of them are too big for one person.  i’m not sure what size i ordered, i just know it wasn’t the most biggest ever.  went 1/2 and 1/2 with new york crust and new york sauce.  other choices are thick or thin crust and there were two other sauce choices.

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we haven’t sampled all the pizza in chiang mai, but we’ve had a lot of it and both of us agreed this was the best we’ve had here.  and, bonus, we had leftovers.

i’ve also discovered that not being able to burn the calories while increasing the intake of calories is not good math.  the rest of the family (or at least the rest of the family who is returning to chiang mai) are home in the next week and a half, how much more damage can be done in that amount of time?  it’s think i might need to reinvent myself as a health and fitness blogger.

 

 

 

 

fancy food

saturday night sam and i headed out to the restaurant that is currently ranked the #1 restaurant in chiang mai – according to trip advisor.  dk david’s kitchen at 909.  i had been warned that it was pricey and it was, sort of.   it was special occasion, excellent meal, great ambiance,  wonderful service pricey.  which i think translates to it was totally worth it.

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i called ahead and made a reservation for 2.  they asked if it was a special occasion and i made sure to tell them it would be my son and me.  i didn’t want to embarrass him any more than a 14 year old might already be embarrassed to be out for a fancy meal with his mother.

they had a set menu, which looked wonderful, but we went ahead and ordered a la carte.  we started with the crab bisque soup and the pomelo salad.

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the soup was sweet and creamy, but not at all heavy and the salad was a great balance of tart and sweet, with just a hint of heat.  both dishes were a very nice start to our meal.

after our soup and salad we were served a lovely little lime sorbet palate cleanser.

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for our mains sam had the lamb shank.

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it was extremely tender – it fell right off the bone – and the mashed potatoes were perfect.  i don’t have a quote from sam for this dish, but when he took his first bite of the lamb his face lit up like he’d just witnessed the most amazing magic trick.  i don’t believe he’s ever had food of this caliber before, at least i know i’ve never prepared anything this good.

i had the beef cheeks.

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i confess to not being 100% certain of just what part of the cow the beef cheek comes from and i wasn’t too embarrassed to ask.  turns out it is the actual cheek.  i had no idea there was that much meat on a cow’s cheek.  or that it would be that tasty.  again the potatoes were perfect and the sauce (i think it was a red wine sauce) was such a great complement to the whole dish.

by this point we were full.  but when dessert was offered we both agreed that we might regret not having it since everything else had been so wonderful.

sam ordered the chocolate soufflé and i had the banana flambé.

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and we were right.  they were divine.  so much better than the pictures.

the only thing that would keep me from ordering any of the dishes we had during this meal would be my desire to try everything else on the menu.  i cannot imagine there is anything on offer that would be less than amazing.

i would definitely categorize this as a special occasion restaurant and i’ve already started looking for excuses to celebrate more special occasions.  isn’t there a saying that every day is a special occasion?