Food Fight – 18th May 2023

A starving cycle, a luxury trap
The fight for food for generations
These are anxious times to live
Constantly making preparations
Adapted gut, adopted aches
Too late to repair our mistakes

Today I’m feeling:

Fairly positive and upbeat. I enjoyed being around the students this morning though still left at 10am as there was nothing specific for me to do. But everyone is in a fairly good and relaxed mood, teachers and students both.

Today I’m grateful for:

The second 20 baht shop I went to that had some cheap nasty leather gloves that I want to use to pull up the grass around the cactuses as the gardeners will just smash all the little hidden ones with the cutter. I don’t feel comfortable asking them to pull out the grass first even though that’s kinda what I’m paying them for. It’s a little annoying task I can do to help the cactuses grow and make me feel good. The gloves are badly made and uncomfortable on the pinky finger but they’ll stop me from getting spiked I hope!

The best thing about today was:

Pretty much everything was enjoyable today. I feel quite happy. I’m still a little guarded when I write that as I still feel that I have no right to be happy.

What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?

In our teacher’s room today we were introduced to Ren, a new university student teacher on placement. Kru Mai said he likes to cross-dress and cosplay. George started saying why do we get these strange or ugly student teachers and why not get some hotties instead and then Kru Mai talked about another one (female) starting this week that was cute. I bit my tongue and left.
I know it’s just gossipy shit talk but George is often saying things like that. I used to play along and I’m not averse to working with attractive people but it’s usually the weird and unattractive ones who have the best personalities and are more enjoyable to work with.
It’s not nice to complain about the lack of beauty in our co-workers and if it’s not sincere then it’s a bad joke.

Something I learned today?

I watched a short documentary about kids speed-cubing, solving Rubic cubes as quickly as possible. Not life-changing but a little interesting. I’m still more impressed by the young Chinese boy who solved 3 cubes whilst juggling them, in under six minutes. When I see crazy feats like that I wonder what more meaningful achievements lie ahead for people like that, or if they expended all their brain power on this inconsequential feat.

What is a decision I need to make?

I can’t decide what to write. Right now, it’s a decision about whether to read a little or just go to sleep.

I took these pictures because this is about as close as these decade-old companions ever get to each other. Still putting my Kim Chi love into these two so taking lots of pictures of them.

Hands Cave – 16th May 2023

Can you say hello for ten thousand years?
Can you see these words in twelve thousand and twenty-three?
What does it mean when the writing is on the wall?
Leaving one’s mark for the whole world to see
Were your dreams as big as mine today?
Staring at a sky only minutely adjusted
It’s a blink of an eye for those held on high
And in whose words were once trusted

Today I’m feeling:

A little dizzy and unsure which way things will go. So I’ll push myself in the direction of happiness as best I can.

Today I’m grateful for:

The two bloggers who click on the like button to almost every single thing I post. I’m reminded about this today as I had a quick look at their posts too and liked a few back.

The best thing about today was:

Getting home before midday after going to school, hanging around, having coffees and going grocery shopping. Taking advantage of this chill week before getting into the classroom.
Also seeing Mee, Yok and Petch at school again as they didn’t come yesterday. We were all happy to see each other again.

What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?

Nothing except minor inconveniences that were acceptable to my current state of mind.

Something I learned today?

I saw a nice story about Taiwanese and HKers travelling to a mainland Chinese city to celebrate a local south china festival of which I forget the details but the point is that despite all the supposed tensions between these places the average people in the street just want to get on with their lives.

I took this picture because I spied this visitor after coming home. I’m chasing other cats out from our place now as I don’t want them disturbing the harmony for our two boys.

Random Access – 8th May 2023

I am a stupid computer
An unsteady machine
Each morning rebooted
Memory wiped clean
I make the truth
Out of evaluations
Processing external data
From multiple sensations
I am a dumb animal
Programmed to suffer
Reset in sleep mode
Emptying my buffer

Today I’m feeling:

I woke up before my alarm, my brain already switching on and into work mode. It was also 30 degrees at 6.30 am and the fan wasn’t doing enough to keep me cool. Now, I’m a little tired, though my mind is active and busy planning for this coming story.

Today I’m grateful for:

Chatting online with a teacher from last semester that left for a new school to get a better salary. She was always nice to me and approachable for a chat. We wished each other well.

The best thing about today was:

Figuring out I could watch the Swans replays through the computer but connected to the TV. Now I can watch us lose in widescreen.

What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?

I was informed today that I will be a homeroom teacher’s assistant this semester and given a little idea of what might be required of me. This may disrupt my morning coffee plans but I’ll wait and see next week. It is likely that actually I won’t be required to do much or anything. Either way, I’ll make the best of it. I want to do my best.

Something I learned today?

I found out various things today so it seems I did learn some bits and pieces (see above). I also just received an email from Sharon answering my question about when our grandparents passed away. As I’m trying to piece together various parts of my past it helps put a little bit of order back into the chaos of memory.

What three things do I need to accomplish this week?

I need to get my body clock back in sync with work hours.
I need to knock out as many lesson plans as I can for my classes.
I need to get as much information as I can about timetables, homeroom teachers and getting information sent out to my student’s parents to help me.

I took this picture because the cats are melting into the floor.

No Path To Power – 22nd April 2023

It’s just another Jarrow Crusade
Ignored by those in power
Backed by a whole class of people
Whose life has gone sour
The change will slowly come
Too late for those affected
The masses’ message manipulated
Ignored and rejected
The power is not with good people
Whose members swell the ranks
But held by the precious few
Who own the guns and tanks
As your protest heads down the street
Always remember your way home
Before that’s taken from you too
And you’re left to seethe alone
You’re either with us or against us
Left conquered when divided
Along the path of least resistance
Your own future will be decided

Today I’m feeling:

A little more positive today. I’m liking that I can’t remember what day it is but that will all change soon.

Today I’m grateful for:

Electricity. After 4 hours without it last night I thought it wasn’t too bad but then realised I was still able to use my phone and iPad as they still had charge. If they had run out I don’t think I would’ve been so happy.

The best thing about today was:

Almost finishing the flashcard sorting. I could’ve finished it but as I find this kind of task enjoyable I want to stretch it out one more day. Next, I have to integrate their use into my lessons and hopefully, the students find them useful.

(I couldn’t resist and finished them off so now the island in the dining room is relatively clear again.

What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?

First thing this morning I stepped on Amy’s thin folding mattress on the floor and under my foot was wet. Argh! It felt like a full bladder of piss had been dispensed. I picked it up and hung it outside in the sun, having to also take the rug too as it had seeped through to that as well. Good morning!

Something I learned today?

In some street interviews, many young Chinese people assumed America has high-speed rail because it’s America so they must have it.

Write about a memorable experience from this past week.

The coming of the rain and the destructive storms. The rain was good, the destruction not.

I took this picture because this was the result of the storm last night. I threw some more breeze blocks up there and climbed up and tried to get the sheet back in place but that wasn’t possible. Even though it was only 10 am everything up on the roof was already burning hot. I was also nervous up there as there was a lot of flex in the frame in the middle of the roof. I did my best and placed the six blocks strategically but I think it still may not be enough if the wind really whips through again.

Once Around The Sun – 20th April 2023

It would’ve been your birthday
You would’ve got my call
Wishing you more happiness
No matter how small
I guess it still is your birthday
You’re just not here to see
I miss you more each year
And one day it will be me

Mum would’ve been 88 years old today.

Today I’m feeling:

Similar to yesterday, though a little tired due to not sleeping until about 2am but still trying to wake up early. I’m trying to get up at 8 am but didn’t make it until 9 this morning.

Today I’m grateful for:

Surprise messages from my students Nam and Anchan, Anchan asking me for advice on love.  Unsure if I’m the best to be asking for advice I think I said it well.

She asked:”Do you think age affects love? For example, there is a kid in middle school. And the person he talks to or likes is in college. Do you think it’s possible?”

I took her meaning to be that it is her in middle school (she is 13) and is interested in someone older (maybe 18 or 19).

“Yes, I think age affects love.

As we get older and have more experiences we get a better understanding of it’s meaning. But only if we learn from our mistakes and don’t keep repeating them.

We learn what deep unconditional love means. We also learn the difference between love and sex.

At your age, you are curious about both, love and sex. I advise you to be cautious. Learn about the person you are interested in before committing your heart or your body to someone.

You are smart and more mature than others of your age. This makes you attractive to older boys. But without experience, it may also be easy for them to manipulate you into doing something you may regret. So, take it slow. You have lots of time, more than you realise.”

The best thing about today was:

A storm! Finally! After almost hitting 40 degrees again, the afternoon skies darkened though it still seemed likely this would be another apparition. Then came the wind and eventually peals of thunder rolled over the mountains bringing precious rain.

What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?

The storm picked up and the tall cactus fell over in its pot. The wind was now going sideways and the roof over the entertainment area rattled its objection until finally part of it ripped free clapping against itself as loud as the thunder. I ran to it and tried to hold it down when the wind switched around and blew it flat again but my weak fingers were no match for the power of the storm. As I was grabbing at it my fingers slammed against the metal frame and cold water poured down my arms in the channel my grip was making in the roof. After a couple of minutes of the roof ripping out of my hands, I found a breeze block and pushed it on the frame and part of the roof that was still secure. How was I going to get it on the roof to hold it down though? There was a tiny gap about my finger’s width, if I pulled the roof down again and then I could inch the block over slowly. This took a couple of attempts and it finally seemed to be working. The wind was also dissipating and I caught my breath investigating further damage. The papaya tree was uprooted again, this time in a different direction than last year’s uprooting. The garage gutter reminded me of its dodgy joins leaking over everything in the shed but that was not so unexpected. As the rain trailed off the thunder continued rattling the windows of the house and I came indoors shivering wet, pants completely soaked, covered in leaves and bleeding at the wrist. I did, however, feel invigorated, much like the visit to the waterfall. I took a shower and threw my wet clothes in the washing machine.

Something I learned today?

The proposed 300 baht arrival tax in Thailand has been delayed because wants the money but has been trying to get the airlines to do the work. Rightly, they said it was impossible. Next, the idea was for the hotels to do it. Rightly, they told them to shove it!

What is something I am grateful to have learned recently?

I have been reminded of the tragic lesson of death. I don’t feel grateful for its tap on the shoulder right now but perhaps I will in the future.

I took this picture because P’ti was looking all relaxed and handsome here, as ever, by the door at Utopia. He is fascinated with what is through the window. At what is only briefly accessible. P’ti is about the same age as Kim Chi and we once brought Kim here on the way to the vet where they met each other for a moment. I hope P’ti lives a long life and brings more happiness to the world he inhabits.

Broken Isn’t Bad – 14th April 2023

Broken isn’t bad, here we are again
It’s our destiny, what we’re made for
There’s no hiding from our inner pain
For some, it’s what they’re paid for
Scabs are formed around scrapes and cuts
Dizzy heads are spun amongst the stars
Feeling cheated and going nuts
These deeper wounds will form your scars

Today I’m feeling:

A little flat and a little bored. Missing that crazy cat.

Today I’m grateful for:

Free time. Netflix. YouTube. Books and comics. It’s a lazy day.

The best thing about today was:

Watering the garden whilst on a video call with Amy. It got me up and about instead of lounging around and napping.

What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?

I couldn’t keep my eyes open this afternoon so had to succumb to a quick snooze. I’m not motivated at all today. That’s ok. I know there are days like this and things will pick up again.

Something I learned today?

I watched a video about the cost of living in Bangkok and was shocked at comments saying they thought 200,000 baht a month was about right for someone single in their 20s or 30s. I know that’s not my demographic but to compare I live on less than 30,000 baht per month and the locals are getting around 9,000 for many jobs.

What is my favourite way to relax?

My favourite way to relax is after working hard. Right now I’m relaxing from one relaxing thing to another and it’s not my preference. I need the juxtaposition between effort and rest.

I took this picture because I’m having to pour my love into Cap and Tig. Cap loves to be close by though usually just out of arms reach. Though he’s usually lazing around he rarely seems to be in a deep sleep.

Kick The Can – 9th April 2023

Kick the can down the road
It’s a problem for someone else
Put the cap back on the bottle
Leave it to settle on the shelf
Sweep the dirt under the carpet
Until there’s someone else to blame
Well-versed in this deliberate tactic
To put one’s enemies to shame
If it ever comes back to bite
Just retire and get out of the way
Admit that mistakes were made
And it’s someone else’s turn to pay

Today I’m feeling:

Tired but a little better than yesterday. It took me a couple of hours to get going though due to lack of sleep. 

Today I’m grateful for:

The wind that came today and helped to clear some of the smoke. No doubt it will be replaced by new smoke by the morning. Everyone is hoping and waiting for rain. It’s forecast every day but never eventuates.

The best thing about today was:

I enjoyed watching the football today despite the Swans losing. It was a good game. My mood is slightly improved today.

What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?

Being unable to get to sleep was difficult and that made it hard to get up when morning came. When I did get up to feed the cats I wanted to sleep more but found I couldn’t properly and just tossed and turned and lucid dreamed for an hour or so. When I did get up I felt exhausted but awake, not sleepy again. I’m getting sleepy now in the evening and hope I can get a good night’s rest tonight. I want to go to the city tomorrow to renew my licences, do a little work at House and maybe do a little bit of shopping.

Something I learned today?

I feel like perhaps I didn’t learn anything that I didn’t already know. Some days that’s ok but I prefer to feel like I’ve learned something new even if it’s fairly inconsequential. I shouldn’t trap myself into a cycle of just seeing, reading and hearing things that just reinforce my beliefs despite how comforting that can feel these days.

What problem do I need to solve this week?

I need to get beyond this grief and sorrow. I know it’s coming slowly and things I have read have been helping. For example:

When you see anyone weeping for grief, either that his son has gone abroad, or that he has suffered in his affairs, take care not to be overcome by the apparent evil; but discriminate, and be ready to say, “What hurts this man is not this occurrence itself,- for another man might not be hurt by it, – but the view he chooses to take of it.” As far as conversation goes, however, do not disdain to accommodate yourself to him, and if need be, to groan with him. Take heed, however, not to groan inwardly too.

Epictetus, Handbook 16

I am the one weeping for grief and I must accommodate myself. Another is not hurt by the events in my life, and neither should I be. It is the view that I am taking. It feels harsh but true.

I am kicking myself too. I know that everything alive will die, why do I fight against this knowledge? In some ways, grief feels selfish.

I couldn’t get to sleep last night feeling hot when it was cold and cold when it was hot. My eyes stung from the pollution and my mind recalled recent events. I consoled myself by looking at photos of Kim, hearing her little purrs and feeling our nose rubs and smelling her head. I was teary but felt better but still not sleepy so I read more Khalil Gibran and was inspired by his quotes, many touching the raw nerve of what it is to be human.

“When either your joy or your sorrow becomes great the world becomes small.”

“The bitterest thing in our today’s sorrow is the memory of our yesterday’s joy.”

These were comforting for me and finally, I got to sleep though not long enough.

I took this picture because it’s unusual to find these two sitting together, both at the door looking out. I didn’t even notice them until I opened the door coming back from coffee.

Fragile – 31st March 2023

Hang on in there
Don’t make this goodbye
Your eyes shine at me
But don’t speak those words
I don’t want to wake up
To hear those sad words
It’s in the balance, fragile
Like your kiss
I want to see you again

Today I’m feeling:
Fairly happy but stressed about Kim Chi’s health.
Today I’m grateful for:
Having been able to save a little money over the last couple of months which I’d planned to spend on myself but have been able to cover all the expenses our cats have had in March.
The best thing about today was:
The official start of the holiday for me. Also, see the attached picture.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
After dropping Kim with the vet this morning they advised to come back after 5 pm which I did. Dr Arnon said she only has a 50% chance of surviving this latest problem which is a low red blood cell count and lung infection. Kim looks very sorry for herself but tried to sit up when she saw me and heard Amy’s voice on a video call. I got the impression Dr Arnon was trying to give us hope whilst he didn’t really believe it. I guess I would do that too. Nothing to do now but wait. It was difficult to talk with Amy. She feels helpless because she is so far away and I’m helpless even though I am near. We are sad that we can’t comfort each other though. Kim has been dealt a bad hand after being left to die in the back of a truck and having leukaemia. We know that her life will be short but it’s hard to reconcile when we’ve seen her so happy and playful most of the time. I really hope we can see that again.
Something I learned today?
The Thai PM has admitted failure in being able to control the annual fires and pollution in Thailand. No shit Sherlock. Doing next to fuck all about it never amounts to much.
Reflect on a meaningful experience I had this week.
It’s hard to write anything at this time whilst Kim Chi’s life is in the balance. I’m questioning myself if I did enough for her, should I have taken her to the vet sooner? In hindsight, I can imagine she has not been well for a while but cats are never that clear about showing distress. If this is my meaningful experience this week it’s not over yet.
KP contacted me again about doing the English camp on Saturday which I had to decline because, despite feeling better myself, the air outside is still at hazardous levels. In normal circumstances, I would do it but now my feeling is low about things. Sigh.

Jet drew this picture of me because I asked her to. She’s a talent. Not sure about the devil horns though. She was very happy with her overall grade and said she looked forward to me teaching her again next semester.

The Plough – 3rd April 2023

The fire is out, now just smouldering
A burden the beast has been shouldering
Look beyond the mountain towards the sea
The red moon rising so graciously
A bell is calling to gather the bulls
A rope is the life on which it pulls
The will to work is never satisfied
Around the tree where stories are tried
Broken leaves sail down to earth
An imitation of an angel’s worth
All the chanting and all the prayers
There’s nothing dancing, nothing cares

Today I’m feeling:
Flat and sad. Lonely but not alone.
Today I’m grateful for:
Condolences from Art, Fon and Jess as well as Hayden, following up and checking in on me. I really appreciate that. Like Amy, I’m also feeling like not wanting to talk directly with anyone much even though people are being nice. 
The best thing about today was:
I tried to keep myself distracted as much as I could today. Washing bed sheets after Tigger sprayed next to the bed again getting some on the doona, going shopping, starting ironing, watching football. It worked for a while. I think I’m nearly cried out now. 
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Nothing springs to mind today. This is a quiet time now.
Something I learned today?
I found out that the familiar old guy at the Swans games (Kenny Williams, I also learned) had passed away recently and his ashes were spread on the Sydney Cricket Ground. He was honoured by the Swans with a seat with his name and also one for his wife who survives him. That guy was a legend.
What happened today worth remembering?
Whilst I was talking to Amy on a video call, Cap and Tig came out into the garden to do some investigating. Cap was in the corner near the termite mound and Tigger stalked him from the garage. Amy thinks Tig’s eyesight may be no good now and doesn’t recognise Cap from afar. These old boys are handsome and beautiful. I hope they can stay with me for a long time.

Amy took this picture back in November 2018 not too long after we got Kim Chi. Amy is putting together all our cat photos in Facebook albums.

And the light pours out of me – 2nd April 2023


This cracked mirror shows
The holes in the heart
Pieces drop to the floor
As the jigsaw falls apart
Put back together again
It’s never quite the same
Like a missing memory
It’s difficult to explain
Reorder, reimagined
Ghosts fill the floors
A handful of smoke
Rushes through closing doors
Voices in the distance
Are illusions of the past
Clear out all the cobwebs
These confusions will not last

Today I’m feeling:
Sad, down, and a little lonely. Our two Aussie cats are lovely but they never come and rub me nose-to-nose or come and settle on my lap. Kim Chi is everywhere in my memory but I want her here in my house. Sigh.
Today I’m grateful for:
Finding olive oil in the kitchen so I could roast potatoes, pumpkin and onion for lunch. My first proper meal since Friday. I didn’t see the bottle where I was expecting but later found it on top of a cabinet. It saved me a trip out. I’m not much in the mood for going out though I know I should.
The best thing about today was:
Despite what I said above about having no mood to go out I can’t stop myself from coffee. At Utopia Boss was hungover so Noey made my coffees and though she’s still practising they tasted fine. I chatted with her for a bit, conscious that I was just distracting my thoughts.
When I got home I called Hayden and asked him just to talk to me to distract me too. He is sounding good and seems to have come around to the offer of taking a permanent part-time position with his work. He’s starting to listen more to the advice Bronwyn and I give him though we know it can take a few days for him to run it through his mind. He asked if I wanted to talk about Kim and I said maybe next time and after hanging up I couldn’t hold back the tears.
As I imagine many people reading this, some will think what is the big deal it’s just a cat, and other cat owners will understand. But I ask myself, why am I so upset? I often consider the fact that we are all going to die and have talked with Amy about being prepared for our cat’s passing. So, something was special about the love I have for Kim Chi. I’ve always rooted for the underdog and when she came into our lives she was very lucky. She could’ve ended up at a temple totally defenceless against other cats and dogs. Instead, she got to spend her short life in relative happiness with us. For some reason, she attached herself more to me than Amy and after Amy went to Australia I guess I was pouring all my love into little Kim.
I cried out for her. Where are you, Kim? I pretended she was in her favourite box in the walk-in and was rubbing her head and tickling her tummy. I opened a gap between my hanging shirts hoping to see her little face once more, looking out sleepily before settling back into a new position. Where are you, Kim?
I know your body is in the ground here. But where are you?
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Apart from my grief, there’s nothing in particular out of my control today. I’m also not really doing anything either.
Something I learned today?
Apparently Zelensky he’s said that if Bakhmut falls to Russia then Ukraine will have to sue for peace. This whole war was a waste of time and lives and some people have gotten very rich from it. Humans can be shit.
What is something I love about this season?
In north Thailand, there is nothing much to love about this season. The forecast is for a heatwave for the whole month which likely means no rain to clear the poisonous smoke. I guess there are still good strawberries around but it’s little consolation.

I put this picture here because this is the last picture I took when Kim was alive. One of the spots she loved to sit and annoy Cap from, or to launch herself off around the house on a mad chase.