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.

Where To Hide? – 29th April 2023

Where can I hide from you?
Your red and blue words cut
Angel face, honest and true
Harder to crack than a nut
Where can I hide from me?
My blue and red words cut
My cave mind unfair, unfree
Always stuck in my own nut
All that glitters is not gold
Our stories best left untold

Today I’m feeling:

Very relaxed feeling today so far. I feel like I got an unexpected holiday gifted to me.

Today I’m grateful for:

My curtains all around the house. Since Amy went back to Australia I keep most of the curtains drawn all day to try and stop the sunlight and heat getting in. I think in our next house we have to think more carefully about design to allow better airflow and insulation to keep heat out. If there ever is a next house.

The best thing about today was:

Enjoying all the things I was reading from Substack articles about events in China, Dave Simspson’s book The Fallen about ex-members of the Fall and Michael Parkinson’s biography about his interviews with Muhammad Ali.

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

I called Hayden today and he was feeling down about things. He complained about his friends and how he feels they are treating him and also that he was feeling lonely. I was a little stuck with what to say and ended up saying that me and mum were far from good examples on how to make and maintain friendships and I felt a bit apologetic towards him. I tried to generalize things a bit and tell him that we often don’t have any idea what other people are dealing with so we have to forgive them and at the same time, we also have to be kinder to ourselves. I’m still trying to understand these things so he shouldn’t beat himself up about not knowing the best thing to do.  Although I couldn’t really help him at least he knows he has someone he can talk to.

Something I learned today?

I think I accidentally saw the result from today’s Swans match whilst looking around Youtube. I didn’t see a score but the picture and title were definitely pointing to a defeat. Oh well. I will still watch the match replay tomorrow morning and try and enjoy it!

What is my idea of fun?

These days I feel like I have no idea about fun. I’m happy and content but fun doesn’t play much of a part in my life right now. Perhaps the closest I get to the feeling is going on crazy bike rides or being with my students. I would love to be involved in concert organisation again but there’s just no chance of doing it locally and I’m slowly losing touch with what’s going on around southeast Asia too.

I took this picture as a follow-up to yesterday’s. It seems these flowers don’t burst open into bloom, they just wilt like this. They look like they are tired and gave up.

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.

Misery Comedy – 18th April 2023

Not like Beckett, not absurd
It’s just as English as the word
The saddest laugh I ever heard

Rolling laughs don’t come from rolling hills
No pearly whites penetrate the mills
More bitter than the bitterest pills

And only laughing when it hurts
The summer wine no longer works
Born amongst the miserable jerks

There was a time when some British comedy TV became too dour even for me. Last of the Summer Wine and Only When I Laugh are referenced and remain memorable for their misery! I was self-aware enough to realise that watching these shows made me unhappy. I just wanted to laugh at something funny, not at something sideways.

Today I’m feeling:

Tired and useless. The grey of the sky is getting me down. It’s not like the grey of a cloudy sky. That sky moves and promises. This sky is dead. I woke up tired and have napped twice since. Everything feels pointless. No inspiration. No movement.

Today I’m grateful for:

My memories of Murray and myself philosophizing with our teenage imaginations at the bottom of the school field. We looked up at the sky and stars and had no idea how inconsequential we are.

The best thing about today was:

Finishing reading Death’s End. What an awesome book with big crazy ideas. Onto some lighter reading next with Michael Parkinson’s biography.

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

My positivity has fallen down today mainly due to tiredness I believe. My PMT or low point of my circadian rhythm.  Perhaps I napped my way out of it.

Something I learned today?

I read today that China has offered to mediate between Palestine and Israel in a search for peace in the Middle East. It’s difficult to imagine that it might work but if both sides can see the benefits of increased prosperity perhaps there’s a chance?

What place holds special meaning to me?

There are too many to mention. Today I feel like I am not living my life. My memory feels like a story I watched on TV rather than events that actually happened to me. The places in my memory are still there yet the actual places are not. They exist but are not the same. Sometimes it’s better for a memory to be repaved over with concrete.

I took this picture because as I was riding home from Utopia the mountains were more visible than in recent days and it can be seen how dry the jungle has become out there. The cows and bulls offered a perfect foreground.

Done – 21st March 2023

In the time it took to read this line
A million things could’ve been done
I’m feeling fine, searching for the perfect rhyme
Though perhaps this isn’t the one
Did you do the things you always wanted to?
Or just work away the days
I guess it’s true we never think things through
And time is the crime that never pays

Today I’m feeling:
Good but a little tired due to sleeping late. Walked to Utopia as a counter to having an afternoon nap, coming to try their new Affagato which has got my heart racing. Contemplating what to do if I go home or to walk on to Daytripper but then what to do there…
Today I’m grateful for:
My crappy old earphones that allowed me to listen to a podcast as I walked around in the heat. Am I the old man that prefers to listen to people talking about music rather than listening to music?
The best thing about today was:
In the afternoon, after walking back home and having a shower I felt inspired to read and got hungry so ate my salad before calling Amy at cat feeding time. Still with some energy, I did a bit of watering as dusk settled in. As I went to close the gate I was still not satisfied and decided to pull up the vines that grow behind our driveway’s tall grass. Pulling them out is a great feeling and I didn’t really notice the humidity, the grass cuts on my fingers and my itchy skin until Tangmo came along and distracted me and we played with his rope which he happily brought back each time I threw it. In total darkness now I got back inside and had my third shower for the day.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
A message came through for teachers to spend the next week or so crammed in the big hall doing lesson plans. I reckon we’ll be able to drift out pretty quickly but still, it’s not a thrilling prospect, especially as I’m already doing lots of work around my lessons. Oh well, I have a plan to do the flashcard glueing whilst I’m there rather than do it at home. That’s a good use of the time for me at least. I’ll get my head around everything else and it will be ok.
Something I learned today?
A study produced by Ipsos in Paris found that the Chinese are overwhelmingly the happiest people of the 32 countries questioned. Of course, it’s just one study and people are quick to bring up other studies as counterarguments but there seem to be more and more of these kinds of positive happiness studies of China appearing.
What is the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited?
I’ve seen some beautiful places in Australia, China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and pretty much most places I’ve been. But sometimes there are simple places that stand out not just because of their beauty, which may be seen at any time of year or over the years and decades; places that brought a euphoria with them that might never be repeated, the smells and sounds nostalgic indicators, the people those moments may have been shared with. Riding a bike through Branksome Chine, a hidden pond in the English countryside discovered one summer evening, the rocks off the path in the bush down to Middle Harbour discovered during a lunch break with TLJ, in an artists warehouse anticipating bands to perform.

I took this picture because I’d noticed these flowers on the weekend as I rode home. As I was walking today I had time to stop and grab this shot.

No Freedom – 15th March 2023

There’s no freedom without morality
Or institutions to provide education
For freedom to provide peaceful reality
Needs reassessment of this situation

We (a royal we, a royal we of the West) are obsessed with freedom but we’ve misunderstood its reality. Freedom does not mean freedom to just do as you please. It must have some moral guidelines and that part is being eroded and going missing in our modern Western societies. I don’t know so much about other societies in depth but I feel that they have a different relationship with ‘authority’. It’s a choice to make and to pick your battles.

Today I’m feeling:
Relaxed, happy
Today I’m grateful for:
The shampoo that helps clean up Tiggers skin. It leaves his coat feeling good and hopefully, this is the last time I have to wash him for a while as the blisters have almost all gone now. Luckily he doesn’t mind me washing him too much now.
The best thing about today was:
Starting to read Death’s End. First at Daytripper and then in the cooler late afternoon in the hammock. Already thought-provoking in the first 40 pages. Awesome.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I couldn’t resist an afternoon nap after reading and I spent an hour fluctuating between lucidity and what felt like deep sleep. As I was falling asleep waves of euphoria hit me dragging me down to dreamland. It was delicious, I love that feeling and tried to make it last longer but the pull was too strong. I handled the ‘waste of time’ with sixty star jumps when I woke up and after shaking out my head a little.
Something I learned today?
After China brokered a deal between Iran and Saudia Arabia last week there’s talk now about the possibility of negotiating peace between Russia and Ukraine. That would be the biggest diplomatic coup so far this century. Pushing the world toward peace is the exact opposite of what the US has promoted for the last 70 years. I really hope China can pull it off.
How can I express my creativity today?
How? In any number of ways. Anything is possible. However, I didn’t really. The two photos I took were about it. I did get some students to test my online lesson though, but I created that yesterday and will update accordingly tomorrow. I guess I got some ideas. Not every day is creative, much as we might like it to be.

I took this picture because it’s time to start a new book and get back into a good story. The third part of the trilogy and it’s off with a bang and a twist. I got to Daytripper early so not many people around. I also started to feel sleepy as my body and brain winds down from the intensity of the classroom.

No Suffering – 14th March 2023

Do you wish not to suffer?
How to know you’re alive?
Wanting for others not to suffer
Is the goal for which to strive
The love that comes to you
Share amongst your friends
Til the circle is complete
And one’s suffering truly ends

Today I’m feeling:
Down and up, happy and relaxed right now.
Today I’m grateful for:
The counter staff at the hospital who assisted me today. One changed my phone number on file. Another asked me questions and advised there would be a wait and another helped me to pay, all doing well with their English. I speak as much Thai as I can but know that they have to try hard to speak in English for me.
Also to Fon, who made me a small sourdough loaf and brought it to me at school. It was a little heavy but tasted great.
The best thing about today was:
Taking my iMac and SSD kit to the store at Central and getting a fairly positive response that they could fix it for me. It will be an expensive fix but at least cheaper than having to buy new and should hopefully keep me going for a few more years.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
At the hospital, I had to wait an hour and pay 150 baht for a one-minute consult. As mentioned above I was warned of the wait so I happily sat and played poker on my phone and watched people coming and going, and despite being a little unimpressed at paying this fee for what was essentially just a mental health check-in as I was riding home I considered what this was like in Australia and how much it cost then too. Really I’m very lucky to live close to a hospital where I can just walk in anytime and pay so little for their service.
After thinking in the morning that I would go back to a full sertraline tablet I actually started feeling more positive whilst I was waiting and decided to go for another three weeks at half dose.
Something I learned today?
Today was just more about US-China relations. I’m not sure why I’m so sucked into this topic except that I want to share the positives about China in the constant stream of negative propaganda out there. The actions of the US government in general disgust me. Did I learn anything new today (on this subject)? Perhaps not.
Oh, related to this I discovered an archive site of articles that allows limited free access after following a link to one article that I wanted to read related to Mao Zedong. I will search the archive for other things of interest when I have free time.
What is most important to me today?
The health and safety of my family and friends or, in fact, anyone facing struggle. I can include myself in that. In general, there’s not much going on around me that is so important. Things seem under control.

I took this picture because I saw this muddy crew, this brown crew in a sea of green, as I rode up to the hospital. How can we tell if they are happy? I hope they enjoy their lives eating grass and cooling in the mud. It’s pretty fucking extreme out there!

Broken Mind – 12th March 2023

Giving in to the
Broken mind
You got me down here

Pinned to the floorboards
Can’t stand up
Falling down again

Every time I rise
With the sun
Comes the clouds and rain

Giving in to the
What is normal now?

Today I’m feeling:
Some aching bones but relaxed and positive.
Today I’m grateful for:
My blow-up neck stretcher. I don’t know if it really helps my neck but it does feel like it helps keep it stable and forces me to sit up rather than lie down to read or watch tv. I go through phases of using it and it has felt necessary for the last few days.
The best thing about today was:
Forcing myself out and enjoying sitting at Daytripper and putting together more lessons with Quizizz. It’s making me look a bit more at my lessons to see how to improve them. I don’t like to do work at the weekend but I’m spoiled with actually doing so little work whilst I’m at school!
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
In my ongoing attempts to counter the smell of cat pee in my mattress, I pulled off all my bedding and shoved it into the washing machine and headed off for my morning caffeine injection. Waiting for that first cup I checked my phone and found a heavy rain warning for the whole day. Everyone is hoping for rain to crush the poisonous smoke in the air. But will it rain? It was forecast yesterday too but nothing eventuating. Just a smoky sky that even the power of the sun was unable to really penetrate. Either way, today looks like more of the same. I’ll stick the bedding under cover and hope the humidity dries it out by bedtime.
(It’s 8 pm now and there’s been no rain and the hot humid air dried everything before lunchtime. Tomorrow’s forecast is a 90% chance of rain so let’s hope that that comes true!)
Something I learned today?
A piece brokered between Saudi Arabia and Iran by China. Could this be the start of lasting peace spreading around the world or will the USA inevitably stick its nose in to destabilise things for its own gain?
What is a simple delight I have been enjoying lately?
My two bottles of Curcumin C, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, activate my tastebuds in the best possible way.
Talking with Hayden has also been nice the last few times we’ve talked too. He seems a lot more open and not stuck in his head so much.
Yoghurt, muesli, strawberries and of course, coffee.
Our cats, despite the pee issue, make me smile every day somehow.
My students, despite frustrating me to no end, are all also delightful.
Life is pretty good.

I took this picture because I often see this furball sitting here in the beauty shop next door to Utopia. What a beauty but I’m glad I don’t have to deal with all that hair.

The Visitor – 6th March 2023

Our visitor, quiet by our side
So close, so very close
There’s no one else and nothing happens
We share this realm
There’s no ordinary language
Just the feeling of unbounded love
The presence remains
Long after the sun turns golden
The comfort the visitor brings
– Hope to see you again

inspired by (and phrases appropriated from) Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and relaxed.
Today I’m grateful for:
The iron, the ironing board, electricity, TV, Netflix, Sex Education and spare time. All these combined saw me knock off the pile of 20-plus shirts that now hang, reasonably smooth, in my wardrobe.
The best thing about today was:
Shaving off a five-day beard growth with a new razor. I always try to make my razors last well past their supposed use date which is something ridiculous like 15 shaves. But I’m also always relieved when I switch in a new one and can get a clean shave with no rashes or cuts.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
My main computer has been slowly dying for the last two years and is being particularly troublesome today after not having any issues at all yesterday. I get to the point where I’m resigned to the fact that I’ll have to buy a new one and then it will suddenly start working ok again for a few months. This time might be the end though.
Something I learned today?
I watched a video about the Two Sessions in China. The National People’s Congress and the CPPCC ( I forget exactly what this acronym is now). They meet every year and elect new leaders every five. What was interesting was that they clearly represent a wide range of peoples and groups throughout the whole country.
What is a defining moment of my life?
Moving away from the UK – really the whole impetus for this blog which has now morphed into something else.
Meeting TLJ – the start of a long difficult recovery.
Meeting Amy – the becoming of a truly independent adult and finding deep happiness.

I took this picture because as I was arriving at Utopia this morning the leaves’ symmetry struck me, requesting a photo to be taken.

Less People – 4th March 2023

We don’t really need less people
To make the world a better place
We just need less people like you
Pouring hatred into its space

Today I’m feeling:
Content, tired
Today I’m grateful for:
The lady as Sensi Weed who gives me an extra free gummy when I go there. I know she will give it to everyone but I don’t expect it so I’m grateful.
The best thing about today was:
Today started off pretty well with a 30-minute snooze after my wake-up alarm, feeding the cats, putting the washing on and then having a couple of great coffees at Utopia. Good way to set up the rest of the day.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Taking Cap to the vet for his yearly vaccines and blood check and him needing a supplement for a couple of weeks to fix up some blood count. Along with having to order new food and pick up even more at the store I’m down about 5000 baht today. But that’s what has to be done as a pet owner.
Something I learned today?
I learned a little about the medical system in China thanks to Jerry’s Take on China which started development under Mao with what were called The Barefoot Doctors scattered around all rural parts of the country. This developed into the current state-of-the-art support system in place now. I was surprised to find that many of the officials running the system are not CPC members but members of the Peasants and Workers Democratic Party. Jerry cites the system as an example of people forming policy that meets their own needs, a system truly democratic.
Who am I grateful for today?
The baristas at Utopia, the staff at the pet store, the vets at Dr Arnon, the lady at Sensi Weed, Gui at House, my students still doing Duolingo, all the people who made videos that I watched online and the people who wrote the books and comics I read today. And many more I have forgotten.

I took this picture because roof cat Kim Chi is back! I haven’t seen her up here for a year or more but this morning she is happily full of energy and ran out from the dining room, along the path and up the tree to the roof.