I’m alright, I’m alive – 20th August 2020

Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys? Where did that come from?

Building myself up to do my five minutes of exercise, tired this morning – don’t want to, want to sleep more – push through.

Crazy Kim was here trying to climb to the highest point. What is in the mind of a cat?

Go to Hill tribe school today – hope it’s okay – worry the kids can’t understand what to do. What’s Plan B?

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful to have dad’s truck so I can drive to the hill tribe school today.

How do you hide from something you have found? – 24th July 2020

Thinking how much better I feel mentally and a little bit physically. My body hurts in so many places but if I do my five-minute exercise every day I can feel it is making me feel better. I spent too many years ignoring my health and it’s hard to catch up but I’ll keep on.

Dreams – no recall. Today – last day of week with four days off.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for the big breakfast I had this morning. Not sure I need to eat again today!

Too much is not enough – 23rd July 2020

Oh No! Bruno! – brainbox. Dream? I’m not sure but I am tired this morning – did not want to wake up. Exercised (five minutes) feel good. Mozzie heaven in my room in the morning.

Read back into my past – what was I thinking? Some days good, some days bad. Tim Smith passed away – only 59. Seven years older than me. I want to live longer. Especially now I am happy.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for my glasses. I feel really disoriented without them. I love being able to see properly.

Too much, double bullseye, too much, do it again – 5th July 2020

A long weekend with two extra days. Though I have been barely working at all this semester, at least this weekend promised not having to attend school and an opportunity to do whatever I wanted.

I had half an idea to get back into playing some video games again but only got around to it on the last day. It was fun but unfulfilling, possibly the spectre of disappointment raised by having to relearn how to play a game again, that I was halfway through and not played for 18 months. I wonder when I’ll give it another go? I wonder if my old Nintendo DS still works after all these years?

On Sunday, the skies were cloudy but the rain had been holding off. It is gonna rain again, right? That can’t be it for rainy season already? Last year it didn’t seem to rain so much and it lead to drought in many parts of the country. We’ve had some big rains and the ground is getting saturated but there’s been nothing really approaching flooding.

Anyway, Amy and I took the opportunity for a quick drive down to Phayao. Amy had an idea to pick up some English muffins and jam from a local farm run by an Aussie and his Thai wife. Well, we didn’t really need much reason. It’s nice to have a break from the regularity of school and home and we haven’t been out much due to the pandemic situation, which, despite having limited impact here so far, is always something to be cautious of.

Amy’s old workmate, Jackie, had also managed to get himself out of Australia recently, having overstayed his visa by a few years already. Now, Jackie is a character, or perhaps even more accurately, a caricature. He can be difficult to talk to, difficult to listen to and difficult to understand. Having not seen him for 3 years or so it would be interesting to hear some of his stories from that elapsed time.

The drive was very pleasant and enjoyable, some fantastic mountain ranges on the right with fresh paddy fields across the plains of the valley. Everything one shade of green or another.

Soon we arrived and met up with Jackie at his friend’s fish restaurant on the lake, where I took the attached panorama. Jackie was exactly as we remembered though looking more like he was hitting his old age than before. He talked loudly and non-stop, mostly polite nonsense but always, always, about money, and he made us laugh with his absurd pronouncements. He paid for everyone’s lunch, despite having little money, insisting that this is the ‘Thai way’ and we will of course reciprocate if he ever comes to visit.

Next, we headed to a coffee shop, also next to the lake. Everything is next to the lake – it is the main feature of the sleepy little town. Jackie told us that the waters are lowering due to the Chinese damming rivers further upstream – a common issue amongst adjacent nations around the world these days. We waited at the cafe for the farmers to deliver our order to us, as they had decided to close the farm to visitors until next year due to the virus.

When they arrived I chatted with the Aussie and Amy chatted with his wife in Thai. Jackie was listening in as they explained about closing the farm and after a few minutes it was time for them to leave. Just as they turned to walk away, and well within earshot, Jackie turned to Amy and said in Thai, something along the lines of “Fucking stupid, why they close the farm, no virus now, fucking open, make money!” Amy shushed him (and told me this story later) and Amy and I discussed driving around the lake before heading home. Jackie said we should and he would leave us for ‘romantic time’. We laughed and then he instantly invited himself along too! He actually hasn’t been here in his hometown for about 20 years so the drive around was all new to him too.

Eventually, we dropped Jackie home and headed back along the highway, shaking our heads at the things Jackie had done and said in the short time we caught up with him. I concluded that we were being punished for something bad in our past lives. Meeting once every three years or so still might be too often.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for getting paid this weekend and being able to order in Lazada!

Oh no, it’s starting again and time will bend – 28th May 2020

image: making videos for students working from home

Sat at my desk in amongst the clutter to make it easier on my back and wrists. Reminds me of an old online friend who had a blog called ‘atmydesk’ – I think her name was Sara – some connection with Nomeansno – was thinking about my tattoo this morning for some reason or was it a dream “of a 6-foot woman”– listening to Heavy Vegetable and things on the weekend but now I wake up with the songs in my head. I’m bad at writing quickly these days and arm is sore from pen holding. Sweating on the clutter just a fan today no Aircon temp is perfect just sweat when moving. Neck is creaking after the very short workout – just warmup really but got my body out of slumber neck is really bad these days “6-foot woman” is stuck now. Amy rearranged plants around the house Tigger rolling around in the grass last night – all the cats seem really chilled these days – makes me so happy. Is my mind already empty? Just replaced with Rob Crow’s music. Don’t remember any dream – slept well – want to sleep more but energised now after warmup workout – don’t push it doesn’t matter – don’t stress about George telling you the best way to do something – it’s just his advice on his experience – it’s not a judgement on you and you can do it the way that you want. Going to offer more help to teachers today. Do they like me? Are they scared of me? Am I not approachable? If I’m thinking about it then – even if I am not these things I can still do something to be more those things right? Put thinking cap on today for video. Gonna be another good day today – just you see.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for the cooler weather this morning. I felt more relaxed and happy.

We start out loudly and go in circles, all things converging, we find an end to each day – 11th April 2020

“High in the North in a land called Svithjod there is a mountain. It is a hundred miles long and a hundred miles high and once every thousand years a little bird comes to this mountain to sharpen its beak. When the mountain has thus been worn away a single day of eternity will have passed.”

― Hendrik Willem Van Loon, The Story of Mankind

That little bird is our lives. Dwarfed by the magnificence of time.

We are small and insignificant. Not individual, not a group, nor a race. Not a society, a species or a thought from God. We are nothing.

The dinosaurs, the mammoths, the pharaohs, the sultans and kings, the inventors, the thinkers and philosophers, the builders, the masters and slaves, the writers, the historians, the celebrities, the murderers, the saints and the despots. You and me. Nothing.

What will you do with this information?

Our floating houses on molten granite
Our liquid planet, it is a home for us all
I’m firmly planted, my earth is solid
I feel a presence but there is nothing at all
I wanted something, down here is something
It’s really something but there is nothing at all

‘Slowly Melting’ by Nomeansno

The Chiang Rai Alternative Hour #34

Music from Tipographica, Keukhot, Chui Wan, 400 Blows, Lifter Puller, Mazaj, Geronimo, Unknown, Pell Mell, Opal, Child Bite and Debile Menthol.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for the space we have in our house and garden. We can move furniture around and reinvent ourselves, change our views.

When I go for a stroll I always stay on the sidewalk, and I always wear a pair of nice warm boots – 15th March 2020

We wake up in the morning fresh and ready to go and by the end of the day, we are covered in dust. The dust of emotions, of work, of stress, of everything. 

– Daily Stoic email

Most days disappear too fast. I was busy – busy with what? I set myself small goals and challenges and cross them off at nightfall. The next day, do it again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I am a machine and the dust gets in. Wash it away, wash this out of my life.

Talking of dust, it hasn’t rained here for 6 months, the land is cracking, grass clings to life but the jungle can still prevail. It doesn’t matter what gets thrown at it.

The sight of a big rat running around hopefully means the snakes are gone for now. Our lazy cats bring us gifts of small lizards and small birds, blood trailed across the kitchen floor.

Each evening we water the plants and trees, the sun red over the mountains, barely penetrating the thick smoke blown down from Myanmar and Laos. This is still the Wild East – laws often meaningless, common moral duties not learned in the chaos of the education systems.

We live in dust, breathe it in, poison for the lungs. But, we live.

A wise man said that you can’t step in the same stream twice,
But I find that wet feet soon get caked with sand and grit, that’s very unpleasant, especially between the toes…..

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful to be able to go outside again. It was weird to be outside again after two weeks at home.

Everything had a name and everything had a place – 2nd January 2020

Get people to like you

1. Seek someone else’s thoughts and opinions without judging them. Ask questions. Listen. Do not judge.
2. Do not correct someone. Do not one-up with a clever story.
3. Stop thinking about what you’re going to say next and focus on what they’re saying now. Tell yourself ‘I’m not going to say it!’
4. Ask about what challenges people have. Ask for advice.
5. To make strangers feel at ease tell them you only have a minute.
6. Body language – smile slower.
7. If you feel someone is using you just ask them what it is they want and what they hope to achieve. Are you there for me or there for you?

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for the beautiful smelling flowers in my garden. When I walk to my car in the morning they smell so delicious. I am grateful to Amy’s mum for planting them for us.