Together We Rise – 9th February 2023

Once again, I was told I was free
That I could be whatever I wanted to be
So I told of the things inside my head
That had filled me full of existential dread
Then I found that so many people didn’t agree
I was called out and threatened constantly
I never thought just because of words I said
Made people so upset they’d want me dead
I realised freedom does not mean free
What’s freedom to you is not so for me
A common line must be towed instead
If you wish to lie in a settled bed
But is it possible for us to agree
That opposition is the end of you and me
We don’t need to succumb to lies we’re fed
Together we can travel the road ahead

Today I’m feeling:
Productive if only for household chores. Not sure I’ll be able to stay awake this afternoon.
Today I’m grateful for:
An afternoon cappuccino to keep me awake through the day but hopefully not so much that I can’t sleep tonight. I went out to Daytripper to enjoy it and watch the Kishore Mahbubani online course videos about US-China relations.
The best thing about today was:
A sense of achievement from sweeping up leaves, cutting back some climbing vines, preparing for cleaning off the roof, washing bedclothes, cleaning Kim’s room and getting everything ready for her to spend her nights in here again. I enjoyed doing it all.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I’m here in Kim’s room writing this and I can see that the fuckin’ ants are out of control. I wonder if this is why the doesn’t like to sit directly on the floor. I sprayed ant killer in one corner of the room where I can see them coming and going but there must be many different colonies here all vying for their pieces of territory and the pull of Kim’s food bowl. Kim is sitting watching me and wondering what the hell is going on.
Something I learned today?
The US voted no at the UN to make food a human right. They voted no to the convention of rights for persons with disabilities. No to the convention on the rights of the child and against the resolution ‘combatting Nazism and contemporary forms of racism.’ The US sure likes to be different.
What emotion am I feeling right now?
Lethargy as my body winds down from the activities of the day. My mind though is still busy but that will soon wind down too. I also have a feeling of anticipation looking forward to jumping into bed with fresh clean sheets. My body is already experiencing the sensation, I’m looking forward to it that much.

I took this picture because new sheets, new sleeps. Almost summer.

Almost – 7th February 2023

You became the master of money
And accumulated great wealth
Became a master of muscles
And maintaining physical health
But that final puzzle piece
Is still hidden as if by stealth
Couldn’t master your mind
Couldn’t master yourself

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and relaxed, waiting for the sun to drop so I can do some watering again. I’m hoping for an early rainy season again but I think this year may be long and dry, unfortunately.
Today I’m grateful for:
Manus at the post office for always being helpful and friendly and trying to help me remember the Thai word for ‘registered’.
The best thing about today was:
A long chat with Amy about different ideas and plans for the future.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I had just gotten on a roll with updating more blog entries when Fui came to House and we started talking. I’m never sure how long he will stay but I decided I had no hurry today and we ended up chatting for about 90 minutes. We often go over the same things but we learn a little more about each other each time. At points, I was keen to get back to what I was doing but I told myself to relax and enjoy this time.
Something I learned today?
You can buy a cock ring called the Tally Wacker that counts your thrusts when fucking. I’m not sure if it syncs with your health devices but maybe 100 thrusts equals a calorie?
What is one lesson I am learning right now?
We’ll have to generalise ‘right now’ a little because if taken literally all I’m learning is what I can remember from ‘around’ ‘right now’! I’m learning a little how to relax and even be bored again. This week involves a lot of tv and reading, playing guitar and listening to music. Much like many other weeks but interspersed with even less teaching than usual. It’s taken me a long time to learn to relax and in the back of my mind, I’m confident that when the time comes necessary I will be able to get right back on my game again.

I took this picture because I wanted a different angle to look at the garden. I like this mini bamboo plant that apparently cats like to eat. Not sure ours ever do though. The leafless frangipani has more focus than the other trees near it which are also now losing their leaves. The frangipanis are just starting to show leaves sprouting through now. You can also spy the tops of some of our cacti too.

Balloon – 3rd February 2023

Let go and let fly
Gathering data from the sky
To understand a stormy why

Unsteered and set adrift
To heavens, the air will lift
Arriving as an unwanted gift

A drama begins to bloom
Gossipped hot air fills the room
Fills and refills the balloon

Tricked and deceived by lies
It comes to no one’s surprise
The balloon contained no spies

Today I’m feeling:
Tired and a little rundown. Reasonably happy though despite some of my annoying students.
Today I’m grateful for:
The lady who I bought the salted fish from as she gave me extra sauce. Not that I could use it today. One pack is sure to be burning my ass tomorrow.
The best thing about today was:
Enjoying my classes and students despite what I mention below. We had a playful time and enjoyed learning and carried on into the playground during lunchtime.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
As usual, it was some of my students and their disrespectful attitudes and I handled it by kicking them out of my class. Other students asked if I was angry or upset but I wasn’t. I told them I was happy now that those students were gone. I think they were happy too.
Something I learned today?
I learned not to give Cap and Tig the special treats we have as it’s only for Kim. I found out when Amy watched me feeding them via video call. I thought I’d seen her giving it to them before but I was mistaken.
What word or phrase would I like to give this year?
2023 – The Year of…..

Maybe this question will be better answered at the end of the year.

I took this picture because Tigger just loves the dust and dirt of our garden. I don’t know if it’s ever going to be possible to clean up his skin without keeping him inside, which he would hate.

Too Long Jack – 16th January 2023

Those words came to me each night
But I could find no pen to write
Wondering what it is you do
Since those times we once knew
Racing hearts and chasing dreams
Of racing carts and laser beams
The world was ours for the taking
Or to be born of our making
Pages wait for this ink’s touch
What to say, there’s just too much
I hope you recall all we did
Loving the slippery slopes we slid

Today I’m feeling:
Happy but a little agitated. I feel like I should have achieved more than I have.
Today I’m grateful for:
Mum’s soup in the freezer. She made this batch ages ago but I haven’t had to eat for all the time Amy was here. With a bit of salt and pepper along with some Oasis dried gluten, I felt like a master chef. Thank you microwave.
The best thing about today was:
Tangmo brought his friend to play in our garden whilst I was watering and they ran and rolled and tumbled with each other in doggy joy. The new dog is nervous but I was almost able to him this time. I didn’t push it though.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Today was Teachers’ Day at school where monks come and do some chanting and speeches are given, awards presented etc. The event ran on Thai time and I was hoping to get out by 10 but things were still bumbling along at 11. I was entertaining myself by talking with David and Gus for a while, reading articles and playing poker on my phone. I did get away and home by midday though.
Something I learned today?
I listened to a reasonable discussion between two Americans living in China discussing current affairs and got to hear a slightly different perspective on events there. I tend to ignore western media commentary on China but am aware that I do focus on the opposite and enjoy hearing positive things about China. This discussion (Sinicism podcast) made me consider things differently and I’ll check out more.
Write about a few of your favourite family traditions?
As a son, we didn’t have any traditions in particular. I guess when we lived with my grandparents we always had Sunday lunch together and I can recall at Christmas the relatives would come for lunch. As a father, I’ve not really continued or fostered any tradition at all. Bronwyn is from a large family and any traditions would be held on that side of Hayden’s family. There used to be big family get-togethers that I would sometimes attend even when I was divorced, also taking Kyoko with me. I don’t think Amy ever went though and it’s possible I stopped going by then too.

I took this picture because it was unusual to see Tigger sitting in the middle of the lawn. It’s like he was savouring the sunrise and sucking up the goodness of the sun’s rays. Kim meanwhile had already buried herself under the bedsheets for her 8-10 hour daily nap.

In This House – 26th December 2022

The open door

Fresh air and

(Presents under the

Coffee fills this

Two cups then

*format from The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams

Every path is the right path. Anything might have been anything else and had just as much meaning to it.

Tennessee Williams

Today I’m feeling:
Happy, a little tired from noisy classes
Today I’m grateful for:
The salad seller at the market again. Amy told me she would be out for dinner when I got home so I rode off to the market not sure what I would decide to have and this time I went back to the salad which I haven’t had for a while now. It was great.
The best thing about today was:
Having fun in my classes despite the kids being noisy and lazy. I made Nam and Aoi laugh when they sometimes get angry with me pushing them. Goya was loud and hard-working and enjoying things and at the end, Gam happily stayed back to finish her work whilst I played around with Fah who was waiting for her.
In the morning I helped Dena, Nicha and Namkhing individually with some reading and sent the top 4 off to investigate and prepare for our scavenger hunt which we should have on Wednesday if all goes to plan. I think that I’ve got my mind in the right place for these kids now.
I also found out today that we have Friday and Monday off for the new year holiday. Cool!
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
The kids in the morning were particularly noisy so I moved a few of them around which helped for a while. As I was trying to help them with reading and pronunciation most were just talking with each other so I stopped and told them I wouldn’t help them anymore and to record themselves reading the passage. I almost lost it but distracted myself by talking with the top 4 as described above, so at least I still felt useful. Slowly students started to come and ask for my help, realising they should have been listening before. They all did it and did it well enough in the end. There are different ways to get to the destination.
Something I learned today?
Tangmo has got a new friend and decided to bring them here tonight. I thought it was ‘Mo on the terrace but then saw it was a slightly thinner shape and when I went to open the door it ran off. Later I went out to see if it was still around when I thought I saw it in the darkness but then Tangmo ran out to me. I went to get the rope for him and then saw the other dog cautiously nearby. It wouldn’t come close but was curious. I threw the rope for ‘Mo who collected it and then ran out with it, then to chase the new dog up the road and out of sight with the rope flowing behind him from his mouth…probably never to be seen again! The rope, that is. Dopey ‘Mo will be back tomorrow wondering why I have no rope to play with anymore.
What could you let go of, for the sake of harmony?
I’m not sure that I’m holding on to anything these days. I’ve let go of most things that have caused me trouble, often, maybe too often, by avoidance or running away, but now just by forgiveness and forgetting. I don’t make other people’s problems mine anymore.
Sometimes I still hold on to the point that I should be trying to stuff as much information into my student’s heads as possible and whilst that may be suitable for one or two kids it doesn’t lead to harmony in the classroom. So I do usually let that go anyway.

I took this picture because I want to remember the view when leaving home. This house has been more of a home for me than anywhere else but still, it’s hard to appreciate it whilst living here. Homes are often created through nostalgia and the memories of everything that occurred there. One day I may look at this photo and think about all the things that I was part of here, which may as simple as reading in the hammock, eating on the terrace or managing the garden.

King Of A Shithole – 12th December 2022

The big cheese on the housing estate
The tough guy standing guard at the gate
The geezer at the bar talking shite
Bouncers bouncing idiots into the night
All the finagling to become the king
To lay down the tune for others to sing
Here amongst the whores you sit
The king of nothing, the king of shit

‘King of a shithole’ was a line in Top Boy Summerhouse. The first line is a nod to a Half Man Half Biscuit song ‘He’s the big cheese down at the Tourist Information’.

The fact that a man who goes his own way ends in ruin means nothing…He must obey his own law, as if it were a daemon whispering to him of new and wonderful paths.

Carl Jung

Today I’m feeling:
Lethargic and dizzy
Today I’m grateful for:
Yet another of Thailand’s holidays giving me another day off work. I spent it restoring energy is sleeping and watching tv!
The best thing about today was:
Watching Top Boy and identifying with one of the child characters that felt lost and useless. He got manipulated because of his ignorance and it made me think how easily that could have happened to me.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Amy was a bit grumpy in the morning so we kind of avoided talking about anything much. She cheered up later when Takky, Hangy and Berm came over and they all got on the wine. I was still dizzy and tired and was grateful that I could just watch tv whilst they had a blast.
Describe your most ideal day from beginning to end.
I get up in the morning
I go to bed at night
Everything in between is a bonus.

I took this picture because it is gardener’s day again today. Always looks good after they’ve been.

Tall Poppy – 10th December 2022

At first, we like a winner
Until boots are filled too high
The smell of musk becomes too much
And needs to be demoted to ordinary guy

Nothing really belongs to us but time, which even he has who has nothing else.

Baltasar Gracián

Today I’m feeling:
Today I’m grateful for:
Samuel Beckett (again). I watched about half of Endgame with Michael Gambon and though was enjoying it very much it just made me think that reading it would be a better experience. Its absurdity is very English and reminds me of Vivian Stanshall, Gormenghast and Cacophony-era Rudimentary Peni. Philosophically dark and disturbed, tinged with my favourite laughless humour. I’m grateful to be English!
The best thing about today was:
Reading Anton Chekhov’s short story called A Happy Man. A simple text with a very obvious ending but the set-up was nice and satisfying. I think I felt comfortable knowing what was going to happen and enjoying the happiness of the happy man in question. It’s a reminder for us to be happy in our times of distress and discomfort.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I woke up tired and though could have spent the day productively resigned myself to a three-hour afternoon nap. It was a nice day to have been doing something but I found myself absorbed in nice dreams. I wondered if it was possible to just keep dreaming after you die.
Something I learned today?
I learned about a friend and their story (though told to me second-hand) and can empathise with their behaviours which I dislike. They are in a situation which is a little similar to one I have experienced a couple of times in the past and was difficult for me to deal with but I know now how to avoid arriving there. It’s not really my place to offer advice though I will try to help by perhaps directing their thoughts to other things instead. Distraction can be a good use of time as things may sort themselves out without any action necessary.
What’s the weather like?
This rather dull small talk topic I mention often when writing perhaps because it is still curious to me. Growing up in England the weather was strangely important, maybe it is everywhere. I’m nostalgic for the extremes of English days as they would bring excitement to the mostly dreary bitter days. Now I’m living in opposite-land though more often comfortable at a lack of having to consider what clothes to wear. This morning though I was slightly bleary-eyed, sitting in the sunrise and considering how perfect this day was. I felt awesome.

I took this picture because sometimes the things I plant are out of control. I like this tree at the front, I’ve never seen anything like it and have no idea what it is. Its branches grow in weird directions and its flowers are bright red. Amy wants to cut it back but I’m interested to just let it be and seeing how it develops. I know we’ll probably have to cut it down completely at some point if we build more. Behind are the trees Amy’s mum planted before we built anything, now tall and wide and the tallest is now completely overwhelmed by a climbing plant that has a smallish beginning down by the entertainment area. Again, I’ve let it go wild and enjoy the excellent shade it gives and the gorgeous fat buzzing bees its flowers bring but there’s a chance it will stop the tree from getting enough sun. I figure I will cut it soon though it will undoubtedly make a return.

The Reveal – 29th October 2022

Let the sunshine in
But don’t let it burn your eyes
Sometimes you’ve got to win
For time to reveal the prize
This puzzle piece
Is much smaller than it may feel
Take a deep breath
Let time spice the reveal

One must always maintain one’s connection to the past and yet ceaselessly pull away from it.

Gaston Bachelard

Today I’m feeling:
Satisfied though a little rundown.
Today I’m grateful for:
My resolve to actually sit and play guitar even though I had been telling myself that I didn’t want to after not really enjoying it for the last couple of days. I ended up playing for about 50 minutes and felt good afterwards.
The best thing about today was:
Finally doing the vacuuming around the whole house and enjoying the result. I can let things get a little dusty and dirty but there’s a point where it’s just too much and has to be done. I don’t have the same resolve to mop the floors though!
If your house was on fire and your family were safe, what would you grab?
I think I’d grab things like diaries, writing, and photos. Things which aren’t replaceable. Most everything else can be replaced or reconsidered whether it was actually needed. When I was younger I would have tried to protect all my records, or maybe my favourites. Since they are mostly all gone now since twice moving countries the fact that I once owned them still carries meaning. I sold all my comics before moving to Australia and then bought many many more in Australia and finally sold all those again before moving to Thailand. Digitisation of all these things at least makes them easily available without having to physically own them. This is slightly saddening to me but I can understand it too. The kids growing up now are hopefully being overawed by things I’m too old to understand.

I took this picture because this weird tree that Jessica’s auntie gave us a few years ago is starting to flower. I should try to find out more about this tree. It’s certainly doing very well.

You Won’t Believe Number Four – 16th October 2022

Here’s a list of things you must see
There’s something here to set you free
And you won’t believe number one
Something no one else has ever done
If that really doesn’t tickle your fancy
Number two will surely make you antsy
And number three has so much more
But you’ll never believe number four
Scroll on through to five and six
You’ll start to see these amazing tricks
Manipulations to make you laugh and lol
To make sure the way on the infinite scroll

One can only live while one is intoxicated with life; as soon as one is sober it is impossible not to see that it is all a mere fraud and a stupid fraud! That is precisely what it is…it is simply cruel and stupid.

Leo Tolstoy, A Confession

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and contemplative
Today I’m grateful for:
The gardeners. Whenever they come they will appear here. They do all the hard work that I’m lazy to do and they can have it done quickly. I wonder if I would ever be in a position to hire a full-time gardener or maid or similar, would I actually do it? It seems like a weird thing to do though there are actually people who would appreciate the opportunity. One of Amy’s mum’s friends has two ‘workers’ though she does own and run a substantial property with guest houses. It just seems strange that you would be the boss of your house and get your staff to do the actual work. Cooking cleaning or gardening etc…
The best thing about today was:
Picking up the guitar after a three-day break, almost stopping after only seven minutes, carrying on and then realizing an hour had gone by.
Write about your work/life balance.
My work/life balance feels perfect at the moment. I’m loving being on holiday right now but I also love being in the middle of another semester. I love my time at school and away from it. I rush to get to school and I rush to get home. It’s great.

I took this picture because these ‘fruit’ from our palm trees caught my eye this morning as I opened the gate after walking back from Utopia. They remind me of music and dancing somehow. In this mono edit, they still pop. A few hours after this the grass was cut and the garden tidy again.

The Bull Remains – 30th September 2022

The rain makes the dragonflies dance
Across the green rice field sea
Stalks quivering under droplets weight
Bent to the breeze in a quiet tango
Four rainbows beam from the mountain
Tin rooves announcing progress
Animals seek out shelter
Yet the bull remains, unamused

In recent seasons of being, I have had occasion to reflect on the utterly improbable trajectory of my life, plotted not by planning, but by living.

Carl Jung

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and relaxed.
Today I’m grateful for:
The coconut shop that makes delicious iced coconut water drinks. They are delicious but disappear too quickly like good things are supposed to.
The best thing about today was:
As I was walking to the coconut shop a school van pulled up, the door opened and I heard ‘teacher!’ and it was my student Baipad, who I found out lives next door but one to Black Smooth cafe. I think there are a couple of other students in my village but Baipad is the first I’ve actually seen around and all because I decided to walk instead of going by motorbike.

I took this picture because it was only by chance that I saw these strange star-shaped flowers on this cactus. Pretty and pretty interesting.