making plans, dragging feet

time marches on.  it just won’t stop and i’d like it to.  i’d like to pull back on the reigns and say, “whoa” and have time stop.  and wait until i’m ready for it to move forward, but it won’t.  it just won’t.

right now i count the days by the thens.  michael’s in indonesia right now.  he’s been gone for almost 2 weeks and has another week to go.  then he’s home for a little less than a week.  then he’s in africa for approximately 2 weeks.  then he’ll be home for close to a week.  then he’s in america for 4 days.  (yes, he’ll spend almost as much time traveling for that trip as he will actually be there and he’ll spend way more time recovering from that trip than he will be there.)  then he’s home.  and for some reason that’s when time really starts for me.  time starts in april.  not sure what my mind thinks happens between now and then (mid Feb and early April), but for some reason it doesn’t feel real.  it doesn’t feel like progress.  about the same time michael returns from america family starts arriving.  aly (i cannot wait to see her, it’s been so long!!!), her boyfriend (we’ve never met him), my mom, and my aunt will all come to chiang mai.  and i’m crossing my fingers and hoping against hope that chan will also be coming (that feels like a bit of a long shot, but also not impossible).  we’ll have two weeks of family and tourist stuff and songkran and time not stopping.  overshadowing everything is the weight of “this is it”.  this is good bye.  this is our last smokey season (miserable, but we’ll miss it).  our last hot season (miserable, but we’ll miss it).  our last songkran (not always miserable and something i will definitely miss).  and i think what makes it harder is that it doesn’t feel like there are any firsts to come.  it isn’t our first time to live in america.  it’s not our first time to live in colorado.  it’s not even our first time to live in the house we’ll be returning to.  it feels like too much.  but it can’t be stopped.

so, we make plans.  there are the we need to sort this plans, the we need to do this plans – the logistical stuff that comes with moving.  those are sort of easy (easy to see, not necessarily easy to do.)  but then there are the we have to do this plans.  and they aren’t the same for all of us.  michael is ticking off some of his through work.  i know with each trip he makes he’s saying goodbyes.  and it’s not easy for him.   the hardest plan of all is the final how do we leave chiang mai plan.   figuring out how to do goodbye isn’t easy.

it’s much easier to say late july is forever away.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


(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.


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.


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?


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.




what’s cookin’?

sam and i spent the day taking a thai cooking course.  he’s never done one before, but i have.  you might have read about one of them here or here or possibly here.  there are tons of cooking schools in chiang mai and my experience so far says they are probably all pretty good.  i imagine they all try to do something unique to set them apart, but in the end you’re going to visit a local market to get up close and personal with the ingredients you’ll be using and you’re going to end up cooking lots of thai food and eating it.  today we went to siam rice cooking.  i picked it because sam wanted to learn to make khao soi and they don’t all offer that.


cooking schools also provide a ride to and from their location.  we were the first picked up followed by 2 more families – a family of 5 from israel and a family of 4 from holland.  there’s been no kids at any of my previous cooking school experiences and it was kind of nice to have 6 teenagers in the group.

when we arrived at the cooking school we were greeted by our teacher for the day, aim.  she had us sit down and pick what we wanted to cook.  there were 7 categories and at least 4 dishes to choose from in each category.  sam and i decided to divide and conquer.  we never chose the same dish because we wanted the opportunity to make and try as many of the dishes as we could.

the first course was the soup course.  sam made hot and creamy soup and i went with chicken coconut soup.  both good choices.


next up were the noodle dishes.  i made fried big noodles (pad sii ew) and sam took on the drunken noodles which provided some cooking excitement.  (no worries, no eyebrows were damaged.)




by now i’m pretty sure i’m full, but also very aware we’re no where near done.  i manage to soldier on to the curry dishes.  sam chose khao soi – no surprise.  i went with green curry.  it’s one of my favorite thai dishes, but i always think it could be just a little big spicier.  our first task was to make curry paste (curry paste was the third dish).  this was my chance to bring the spice.  i thought 8 peppers was brave, but sam goaded me into 10.  once we had the paste made we were ready for the curry.  (curry was the fourth dish.)



khao soi on the left. green curry on the right.

after the curry round we had a bit of a rest.  just a few moments to let things digest and prepare ourselves to tackle more food.

after our rest we knocked out dishes number 5, 6, and 7.  number 5 was the appetizer dish.  (i know, it seems a little late to be taking on the appetizers.)  sam made spring rolls.


i made papaya salad.  which went into a to-go bag.  i couldn’t bring myself to eat anymore.


dish number 6 was the stir fried options.  cashew chicken was my choice.  sam’s was sweet and sour vegetables.


after my cashew chicken made it into a to-go bag we still had to tackle dessert.  the final course.  sam made mango sticky rice and i made sticky rice with young coconut.  which i ate.


then we graduated.





6 years

i missed our 6 year arrival in thailand anniversary – or rather i missed documenting it – so i’m taking a better late than never attitude.

what changed during our 6th year here?

  1. we’ve goodbye-d our oldest.  i know i’ve documented this already, but it was our biggest change this year so what’s one more mention.  both michael and i have managed to see him – i went to dallas right before thanksgiving to attend a crossfit kids certification course (which was conveniently located pretty close to where chan’s attending college) and michael had a grad school class to take in texas that occurred during chan’s winter break.
  2. michael started grad school.
  3. aly started 11th grade.  it sort of feels like it’s the beginning of the end of high school for her.  college talk and plans that involve the great big world outside of chiang mai make me uneasy, but at the same time it’s so exciting!
  4. sam started high school.  something about that makes me feel so old.  and he’s now 1/2 a head taller than me.  (1/2 a head is a legit measurement term.)
  5. i did not start school.  i even took a year off from involvement at the kids’ school.  i don’t know if this is the kind of thing that is frowned upon, but it’s been very good for me and the school seems to be functioning just fine – or maybe better – without me.

those are the big things.  i’m sure there are many day to day things or even monumental things that i’ve temporarily forgotten.  like the trip michael and the kids took to singapore, or the adventure race i ran, the construction job that is happening in our side yard, etc, etc…

we’ve recently gotten our visas extended so we know we’re good for at least one more year (many more we hope).

it’s flooding in thailand

our first stop on the compassion sponsor tour – if you don’t count the hotel – was to a project in the nonthaburi province, just outside of bangkok.  it’s an area that is flooded – it has been for weeks.


the purpose of our visit was to learn more about this particular compassion project and to provide a little bit of relief to the project workers by helping them cook and package up meals for those who are house bound due to flooding and to deliver the meals in the local flooded area. (that was one long sentence.)


when we stopped and offered food to this lady she was prepared.  she stretched the cane out to us.  we loaded the food on and stretched it back to her.  she’d obviously had practice at this.

the water’s not going any where any time soon and when faced with such a desperate situation it seemed that people just chose to get on with life.



this neighborhood is right along the chao phraya river.  as we talked to the folks who live here they said they are used to floods.  that it floods every year.  but it has never stayed this long.  and disrupted so much.  they are more than ready for the water to go.

murky, muddy, muck

we ventured home today.  and not a moment to soon.  i don’t say that because we were just dying to get to cleaning, i say it because as we were at sitting at the hotel we had a view of this

this was a paved drive last night.  the flood seems to be coming after us.  time for us to get moving anyway.  plenty of work waiting for us at the house.

i left a little before the rest of the family so i could detour by big c to pick up bleach and sanitizer and mops.  and when i arrived home our househelp, jim and khao, were already in the process of moving mud.  i joined them in a squeegee brigade.  jim pushed the muck to khao, and khao pushed it to me, and i pushed it on out towards a drain or a door.  and when the rest of the family arrived they joined in – and they were pretty chipper about it.



while the work continued on inside there was plenty to be done outside, too.



gade from the compassion thailand office stopped by to lend a very much appreciated hand.  i let her know that from now on when the office calls and asks if we need anything i’m going to answer, “i don’t know, you tell me.”

one of the things we did need today was water.  which we didn’t have.  the tessebaan shut off the water to our street this morning and it was late afternoon before it came back on.  that makes cleaning out the mud a much more challenging feat than it has to be.  but we got a lot accomplished and we’re all now exhausted.

michael’s now on his way to america.  a14 and i are going to be bunking together for at least tonight, my room is still in pretty bad shape, but it’s first up on the to-do list tomorrow.  and the boys are lounging and too tired to move from the prone positions they’ve managed to get themselves into.

the reports are that the typhoon has gone north and will not be causing more flooding for us.  that’s a worry off my list and makes the cleaning up seem like it’s not futile after all.

do the kids have to make up flood days

it has flooded.  people kept talking about it.  saying it was imminent.  or saying it wouldn’t reach us.  we weren’t sure who to believe, but we knew who we wanted to believe.  we did all the flood prep we knew to do.  and then we waited.

i went down to the bridge nearest our house and checked out the water levels.  they were definitely rising.  but the whole atmosphere there was so festive that it was hard to take it seriously.  food vendors were out vending food.  people were out playing in the first of the flood waters.  there were so many people gathered taking pictures and chatting and not being at all serious that it made it easy to for it not to feel “real”.


i made several trips out to check on the progress of the flood.  and while it was inching it’s way towards our house, it wasn’t inching in a way that was convincing to us.

and then it started on our street.  and then it started at our house.  and it kept it up at our house.  and we started feeling like the flood was a real threat.



and then the morning came and we woke to this.


yes, that is our car.  the tan one, not the black one.  but it’s good that the black one is in the picture so people can see we weren’t the only ones to not move our car to higher ground.

we tried to figure out what to do.  we had no idea.  we moved some of our already moved stuff around.  and then the cavalry came.


our faithful househelp.  i’m not certain it was wise to drive the motorbike all the way down our street and nong patty, their daughter, seems to not be certain that even getting out in the flood is a good idea (smart girl).  they helped us move the fridge to higher ground and the washing machine.  then they noticed things that we overlooked.  and then they noticed something we didn’t see at all.


the snake is trying to swim out on michael’s side of the window.  if you could hear what’s happening right now you would be deafened by the squeels and screeches of jim and myself.  luckily, michael got the window closed so it couldn’t escape.

khao killed the snake.  first he stunned it by whacking it with that stick several times.  he broke the screen doing it.  he did ask permission to break the screen, i thought a no longer living snake was a good trade for a screen.

a second after this shot was taken the back wall was splattered with snake blood.  that smack made sure it was good and dead.  and that snake convinced me that i’m not the kind that’s made of the stuff to wait out the flood in our flooded house.  that and the fact that the toilets would no longer flush.  that just makes for all kinds of ookeyness.

our rescue came from the compassion thailand office.  they sent a fantastic crew of guys out to help move us to a hotel.  luckily, they’d just had 2 days of disaster relief training.  little did they know they’d get to use it so quickly.

michael and i made a trip to the house this morning to check on the dogs.  things were definitely better.


tomorrow we will be returning to start the big clean up.  we’ve located a power washer to borrow and have the family on board.  we might regret not getting to it today, but the amount of water just outside the door made it seem a bit of a daunting task.  

there’s a typhoon headed our way and rumor has it that we should be under water again by tuesday.  i’m choosing to continue with my optomistic ways and think it won’t happen.  maybe i’ll change my mind before the water’s lapping at our front door.  but, hopefully, it really won’t happen.