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.

Gas Me Up – 4th April 2023

Will you be there? Will you be my friend?
Will you come to the garden that I tend?
Will you gas me up and make me whole?
Guide me to the ground when I lose control

Today I’m feeling:

Flat, sad but not teary today. As I experience another day with the empty space that Kim used to fill I start to feel like I’m forgetting her already. This is grief and its recovery. I call her name when I go to the bathroom, pretending she is in the walk-in and if I peek around the corner I will see her beautiful eyes staring out from her favourite box.

Today I’m grateful for:

Amy’s mum and dad inviting me out for dinner as Amy’s brother is here for a few days. However, I’m not up for it. I only slept for 6 hours last night, not due to any trouble sleeping, just that I stayed up late and got up early. I will sleep early tonight for sure. Anyway, I appreciate their offer and that they dropped off some food anyway.

The best thing about today was:

Feeling a bit better than yesterday. Getting a few things done. Distracting myself.

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

Beyond the usual waiting time at the hospital for my two-minute consultation with the psych which I’m used to now, there was nothing much out of my control. I told him I changed my dose back to a full tablet a couple of weeks ago and also told him about my sadness but that it is not depression and I can tell the difference. I know I have to be careful that I don’t let it develop into depression though but I don’t think it will.

Something I learned today?

I learned that my petulant student Nam is working during her holidays. This kind of makes sense to me as I know she is smart but not academic. I like her a lot despite her attitude towards me sometimes. I love the challenge to make her smile and partake in class even if it is only for brief moments.

What do I love about where I live?

My house feels like home. My village is quiet but I’m still surrounded by convenience or perhaps I’ve just adjusted my activities to what’s available. The temperature is good for about 10 months of the year and the weather is good about the same when there’s no burning. I like the slow pace of life and the countryside environment. There are beautiful hills and valleys to explore and people are kind and curious.

I took this picture because even though we have 100s of photos of Cap there may come a time when we think we never took enough. He’s about 14 years old now and has been with us for all of our (Amy and me) relationship. I fixed up his climbing frame and scratching posts so that he has fresh rope to grip with his nails. He loves to be chased there and will scratch as his purrs echo outwards from the corner walls.

The Contract – 20th March 2023

Killing time still brings the crows
A pile of shit still grows the rose
Who will hold and stab the blade
To break the contract freely made
To cut the cancer, counter pain
To withhold freedom for general gain
Sign the papers or travel far
To find agreement to what we are

Today I’m feeling:
Much better than yesterday. Despite sleeping less than 7 hours I woke a little more motivated, did some exercise and told myself that I will do some lesson preparation to keep myself occupied in the morning. I also wrote a message to Amy explaining how I was feeling over the weekend and we both are missing each other. Took a full tablet of sertraline this morning. I know it can’t take effect immediately but the placebo effect can.
Today I’m grateful for:
The patient waitress at Lardna Aroi who understood what I wanted with my bad Thai and some translation help. I tipped her two baht to round up the bill to 100 baht. Last of the big spenders.
The best thing about today was:
An unexpected message from my student Earn in the class LINE saying that she missed me. I replied that I missed everyone too. It’s funny because usually if I try and talk to Earn at school she tells me to go away (in a non-serious way). Leaving this job one day will be super hard!
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I’m still struggling with some small issues with my computer but I have some optimism that they will get sorted out with a bit more investigation and time. Nothing particularly stressful.
Something I learned today?
I saw a video this evening that indicated that Australia wouldn’t follow the US into war with China. This is a surprise, particularly after investing in submarines that would likely support a war effort. Something is going on behind the smoke and mirrors.
What makes me unique?
I want to be facetious in my answer. I am not unique at all. Yet, everyone is.
But in the spirit of the question….I don’t know. Perhaps it’s not for me to say but for others. It’s usually easy to say something like this about someone else rather than yourself. Why?
This is ridiculous, the more I think about it the less unique I become.

Someone working at Daytripper took this picture and then used it in one of their Facebook posts to promote that they were open. Free model, listening to Kishore Mahbubani talking about US-China relations, deep in thought. But this picture just makes me want to work off more of that back fat so that my shirts fit better.

New Wombs – 17th March 2023

We’ll birth our babies from sacs
So our mothers feel no pain
Patting ourselves on our backs
With this technological gain
A matrix of unborn babies
Hangin up in store
We take away one suffering
Perhaps replaced by more
A matrix of millions
Spat from artificial wombs
Why not exploit them further
In this society that consumes
Mothers now free of pain
Have more time for shopping
Acceptance is hard to explain
When there’s no sign of stopping

Today I’m feeling:
A tinge of sadness but in general pretty happy. I was sad when I got to school and walked around but found no students. An empty school reminds me that at other times these are just useless buildings. I miss my students already though I know I will be over it soon enough, maybe even already!
Today I’m grateful for:
The staff who fixed my iMac and called me at 11 am, just as I was about to head home. It was ready to pick up. Great timing. I’m happy to have a working machine again and looking forward to getting it back into the shape that works for me.
The best thing about today was:
Getting a quick haircut was pretty satisfying as it’s getting too hot to have a thick head of thinning hair. Sitting at Daytripper and putting together another lesson was fun too. Also, whilst there, watching the highlights of the first game of the AFL season on my laptop and watching students come and go.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I struggled to find all the software I needed to reinstall on my refurbished iMac. I’ll probably have to fiddle around a fair bit more before it’s really back in the shape I want. But that’s all right, this kind of annoying challenge suits me.
Something I learned today?
I watched a little Al Jazeera segment on the state of Iraq since the Western allies’ illegal war there. It seems that the little hope Iraqis had at the removal of Saddam Hussein was very short-lived and one has to wonder how much is the fault of the allies and how much the Iraqis themselves. Money, power and religion make for a terrible mix when it comes to governance.
What is something in my life that I feel “lucky” to have?
Trying to think how to answer this. In one way I feel lucky for everything I have. In another, I feel like it wasn’t luck at all. So I’m trying to think of something that was just luck. So after five minutes, I’ve decided all the things I have were not due to luck. Except for one thing. I’m reminded by my student who told me her story of her parent’s rejection and asking ‘if they didn’t want me then why did they have me?’ We didn’t ask to be born, yet here we are. So the one thing in my life that I feel lucky to have is life itself.

I took this picture because I’m at the hairdresser again. To get a haircut, not to just take a picture of their cat.

Sweet Lips – 13th March 2023

A trickster manipulates words
I’ll collect them in my box
Register them with internal affairs
And see what it unlocks
Adding a twist of lemon
They become spat-out sour
More honest than the saccharine
Used to give them power
Everything already said
Is gonna get said once more
A constant strive for meaning
Makes a profit to explore

Today I’m feeling:
Calm and relaxed.
Today I’m grateful for:
The delicious perfume of this candle that Amy brought from Australia for me. No matter how much you try to save money when buying perfumed candles the more you spend the better the smell and its lasting effect.
The best thing about today was:
Feeling in a great mood in the morning, chatting with students and spending time with them without any rush, then spending about three hours drinking coffee and updating the blog (1983 diary entries completed) and then back to school again for more chat and some play before shopping and home. After eating dinner though I’ve run out of steam and ready for bed before the sun has even set.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I was excited to get a call from FedEx as it meant they would deliver the SSD I needed which will hopefully upgrade my iMac and get it running again. Unfortunately, when the delivery guy arrived he needed almost 800 baht in import tax before handing it over, adding another 40 bucks to the cost. What can I do? I hope this all works in the end otherwise I’ll just have ended up with an expensive SSD drive and still no desktop computer.
Something I learned today?
I’ve made some lessons that require audio input from myself and the students and I went to record this afternoon but it sounds really odd when played back. There’s an option to upload mp3s so that seemed like the way to go except there is no simple way to do that without downloading new software. You can record to m4a files and then hopefully (I haven’t tested yet) can convert them in Apple Music. I forgot how simple things can be once they’ve been set up, such as I had on my main computer and then just ran and worked forever. Now I’m back to fiddling around again to do this initial setup.
What is something I can do today to improve my well-being?
That would be the exercise I did this morning and the early night I’m about to get this evening so I can catch up on some sleep.

I took this picture because when I got home today I was greeted by this menagerie along with Tangmo and the white and black cat on the terrace. A few others in the village were investigating the herd just outside too. It seems to have grown as I only remember there being five last year though maybe he has smaller herds stashed around the village. My guess is that the aunties next door want the poop and the benefit of the jungle being kept at bay for free. Their vegetable garden is doing very well and none of the land belongs to the aunties or the cowman but it’s all for the common good.

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.

Big Cat Meet – 10th March 2023

What is it? What is that?
It seems like an oversized cat
Sniffing and lurching as a pet
And yet….

Fear arose at eyes meeting
Ears pound with heart beating
Comes the rush of approach
I lay down my body, defeating
Please! No eating!

A sniff, a purr, a tentative pat
Mutual understanding of where we’re at
A roll and a push, off excited
I too, soon alighted

Whisper at your feral fears
Into the eyes, through the tears
Roll over as if to submit
Here where the big cats sit

inspired by a dream of meeting an unknown type of big cat in a park

Today I’m feeling:
Happy, relaxed, maybe even bored!
Today I’m grateful for:
Febreeze and its feeble attempts at masking the still-rank cat pee smell on my mattress. It’s doing its best.
The best thing about today was:
Testing out the Quizizz lesson I put together yesterday with Ploy and Praewa. They enjoyed it and I learned a few things from practising it with them. I need to add a little more detail and tweak a few things. However, the concept may be good but I think the level is too high for my M1 classes. I will look for easier lessons to put together in the same way over the holidays.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Still dark, lost in a dream world, a thud and a scream sit me bolt upright as Cap and Tigger, a ball of furry yin and yang roll over me, their combined weight slamming down at my hip. I grab the darker fury but cannot pull them apart, interlocked they are in a vicious grip. A second pull and a broken claw embeds itself in my finger and finally, they are separated and I fling the fuming ball across the bed but this doesn’t stop them and they reassume attack positions in the living room. Good morning, Shaun, it’s a lovely day though there’s no daylight apparent. Finally, the fighters back down and I return to my soft bed hot and awake. I check the time. 4 minutes until my alarm. I get up and shake the doona back into place and clumps of fur float through the still air. Ok, let’s go.
Something I learned today?
Some private chats with a couple of my students helped me to learn a little more about their situations. With there being no classes and fewer kids around school everyone is a little more relaxed and open these last few days.
What is my favourite memory from childhood?
I’m going to say it was the common spirit we village kids had. Forced together by location we went through all the usual ups and downs a group of teenagers would. Being out in the sticks with little street lighting, we entertained ourselves with endless hours of mischief, fire and explosions. There’s not one specific memory that stands out but as I bring those thoughts to mind many more flood back and the joy of that childhood camaraderie remains special to me.

I took this picture because I was lazily reading in my hammock when these neighbours’ kids appeared and started blah blah blahing in Thai at me. They usually come in around this time every day adding our garden as part of their playground. If I’m watering I’ll spray them to hear their screams and laughter.

A Moment, Please – 9th March 2023

Take me to the perfect people party
A room full of fancied dress
Smoke and mirrors cooperate
To make meaning of this mess
This picture painted is a fake
Yet within, contains the essence
Deeper than those apparitions
Chasing love over lessons
The traveller lives in joy
Following rules of thirds
From friends to lovers to art
The meaning is within these words

Today I’m feeling:
Very relaxed! Not many kids were around at school and I told those who asked that we wouldn’t have classes which enabled me a lazy time at House before checking back in with students I could find and then heading home before midday. Chill chill.
Today I’m grateful for:
The girl I met playing cards at Daytripper about ten days ago remembering my name. I remembered her friend’s name and almost got hers right too – she is Panan and I remembered Panon. I was busy with lesson planning so couldn’t join them this time but hopefully next time. I want to go there more as it feels to be more conducive to me working (blogging, writing, lesson planning) than home.
The best thing about today was:
Talking with Namkhing and Fah about study and what I’m trying to help them achieve. What was memorable was that they told me they prefer to study English more than Thai but then discovering the real reason is that they don’t like any of the Thai teachers because they complain all the time. But then I said that I complain all the time too and they laughed and indicated that that was ok because they didn’t understand what I was saying so much.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
There has been nothing to make me feel upset about anything today so the best I can manage, and is a generalisation, is the air quality today and temperature tonight. Handled with the air purifier and aircon. I’m grateful to have these available.
Something I learned today?
In preparation for an event that may occur in the next few years, I watched a video about Marcel Proust. The event will be me reading In Search Of Lost Time. One of the points the video mentioned about the book was that we barely notice the 1000s of things happening around us each day and that things like art can connect us back to that. This made me think of my last four years of keeping a gratitude journal and how at times I have to search for something to be grateful for but there is always something new to be found. Also how my days are relatively uneventful but I am able to find happiness within them. I’m looking forward to reading those books but unsure when I can get to them.
What seems uncertain right now?
Isn’t everything? I don’t mean in a bad or negative way but nothing is certain. One day the sun won’t be coming up, just like yesterday there was no yoghurt at Makro. Everything that I think about is uncertain. It’s not that most things are likely to happen but they could.

I took this picture last month because all our cats enjoy Amy’s old bra box to sleep in. This time it’s Cap and then Kim will usually kick him out and then at other times Tig will steal this spot first.

Minds Go Dead – 3rd March 2023

What’s next after the novelty?
After the return to reality
The exploration must be repeated
Or minds do dead defeated
Familiarity breeds contempt
Rested at ease with each attempt
The risk of ridicule, to fail
Is the push needed to prevail
A mind goes dead unstimulated
Boredom stretches time created
The space is needed, left to fill
And no longer becomes time to kill

Today I’m feeling:
Relaxed, content and happy.
Today I’m grateful for:
Kru Fang for offering to enter my grades into the online system even though I was happy to do once I could understand the method. I returned a little later with a small bottle of SangSom to say thank you.
The best thing about today was:
Only half of my students coming to class this morning as many had to attend a meeting. It made for a pleasant and quiet environment as the kids just got on with their work and we finished early and everyone was happy.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
As I was talking to Kru Fang Kru Matthew was there too. We see each other around but never talked much, I usually comment when he’s wearing nice shirts. Out of the blue, he said ‘You live near Uncle Nit.’ I said I don’t know who that is. I said Tha Sut? ‘Yes,’ Huai Phlu? ‘Yes, he’s my uncle. Him and Auntie Su.’ Ahhh! My next-door neighbours! It’s impossible to be totally secluded here. Everyone knows everyone! I joked that Auntie Su is my CCTV, always checking who’s around!
Something I learned today?
I learned the uncle next door’s name! I’d never heard it before. He’s getting a bit slow and old since I first saw him. I’m not sure he would come across and help Amy kill a snake like he did a couple of years ago.
Describe a recent moment of joy.
I don’t think I’ve had any. Feeling more emotionally stable these days with a general sense of well-being has meant fewer ups as well as downs. This is suiting me. I’m just generally happy most of the time. The joys are more common if just lesser in intensity. Brief moments like the smell of flowers, the smile of a student, the taste of coffee, the smelly dog scratching, the birds tweeting, the red sun rising and on and on.

I took this picture because the night jasmine has finally blossomed and the smell in the morning as I go to open the gate is delicious. Although it reminds me of night times it sets me up for the day.

Come In – 24th February 2023

Come in, my neighbour, share my bread
Sit, eat, talk and listen to what is said
This is the only meal that we need fed

Come in, my neighbour, you’re welcome here
Sit, eat and talk and I’ll listen to what you fear
The walls of our history will disappear

Come in, my neighbour, all will be well
Sit, eat, talk and I, too, will tell
Of the help I got each time I fell

Come in, my neighbour, the door is open
Sit, eat, talk and I’ll consider words spoken
We are the glue to fix the broken

Today I’m feeling:
Today I’m grateful for:
Amy’s needles and cotton so I can attempt to fix the holes in my favourite t-shirts. I’m not sure quite how it will look afterwards, maybe even worse than the holes but anyway I’m grateful to have the tools to make an attempt!
The best thing about today was:
Some interesting LINE conversations with my students when I ask them what they would like to do when they finish school and university. Rista wants to be a volleyball player as her mum was denied the opportunity to do the same. Aoey wants to be a tattoo artist which is a surprise to me as I don’t think I’ve ever seen her drawing. Anchan, a flight attendant, not unrealistic for her if she pushes herself and Bright wants to be a barista.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
The washing machine couldn’t spin dry the doona so I hung it out wet. No big deals today.
Something I learned today?
I’ve been reading a lot of news today and somehow feel that I have learned nothing.
What do I need to embrace about myself?
I think I’m pretty well embraced. Perhaps that is a sentiment of age, a resignation or acceptance of one’s own foibles. I know what I’m not good at and have a good idea of what I am good at.

I took this picture because the forecast was for a possible storm but this was all the skies could muster. It did make for a nice shot at least!