Time, time, time to escape – 30th July 2021

Since Kim came back from the vet she has been fairly content to be stuck in her one room paradise. The room is bigger than my own! We take her out on a leash each day but she doesn’t like it and just sits sniffing the air. She is getting more keen to dash out whenever we open the sliding screen door and occasionally I will let her roam close by and try not to let her run off.

This time I failed! She quickly jumped up the wall and onto the roof for a look around the trees, where she used to pull little birds out of their nests. I ran around the other side to the step ladder and poked my head up. Luckily she was curious enough to see my head in such an odd place and crept out from the cover of the leaves (can’t really camouflage orange!) and came to investigate whereupon I quickly scooped her up and back into the safety of her room.

It’s sad that she can’t be allowed outside but as she is still a rebellious fighting teenager cat we can’t risk her hurting herself with her weak and compromised body. We are trying a special medicine that has helped some cats fight back against leukaemia but there’s no real guarantee that it will work.

And as always, we get all 3 cats home for a few weeks before another gets sick and has to go and stay with the vet for a while. This time it’s Tigger, who has suffered kidney problems over the last few years. He was looking uncomfortable and stopped eating and the vet found he had high counts of something or other in his blood. He’s on a saline drip until that stabilises again.

We do love our cats.

The Chiang Rai Alternative Hour #43 – 20th June 2020

This week there’s music from Outside In, Deerhoof, PFM, The Small Faces, This Heat, Debile Menthol, Quizz Kidz, Magma, MC5, Lightning Bolt, The Vibrators, Unsane and The Shades.

Brain Dump

Fed cats but forgot to check KimChi didn’t eat Cap’s food. Cap’s so lovely – follows Amy everywhere. So fluffy and gentle. Kim teases him all the time and Tigger seems to hate him! Which cat am I? Tigger the hater – Kim the teaser – Cap the gentle. Which do I want to be. Of course. Be like Cap.

Half Man Half Biscuit on mental jukebox. On the ‘roids. Five-minute workout. Feels good but not yet inspiring enough to do a 10 or 20-minute workout. Don’t need to push it anyway.

I read – can I act on it? Practical things yes, but mental things? The result of performing practical things will bring me towards the mental things. I will spend my whole life doing this.

Ache in shoulder. Cateran. *

Time to watch a movie today? So many great movies. Sometimes feel like I don’t have time or concentration to watch movies anymore but that’s not really true. Painkillers or not today? Aching eye – tired from screens probably. Do eye exercises?

*reference to The Cateran song Ache from the album of the same name. I believe the line sung is ‘ache in clover’.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for getting out of bed with my alarm this morning and doing my morning routine when I could have ignored it completely. I feel good for it.

Why don’t you do something, at least get out of our way – 6th June 2020

Tiananmen – America burns – irony, oh the ironing – where did that phrase come from?

Core is useless – short plank – five reverse situps and 16 bike, at least I know it’s something I can improve.

Smoky air today despite lots of rain, coughing phlegm – neck sore from sleep – would like my neck to be free from pain – been a problem for so many years now. Look up neck exercises.

Still Heavy Vegetable* on the iMind player. Foot massage yesterday, good but ineffective – need every day! I can’t breathe anymore – I can’t see through these lenses.*

Fat Tigger purring in my arms – still eager to get down. No lap cats in my life. Maya and Inca.

Little garden changes – making a home.

Okay – some weights. Slowly, slowly changing body.

*was actually Thingy’s Ketchup Sandwich

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful to discover so many things that I enjoy. They keep my brain satisfied.

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.

It’s on a whim; it’s on a dare, To shrug away what we can’t bear – 6th-11th March 2018

Another busy week of back and forth.  I’m slowly getting into the rhythm of the hours and the days.  A weekly rhythm is illusive still but that’s fine, most days I have no idea what day it is.  It’s a big change from sitting around in an air-conditioned office, staring at a screen for 12 hours at a time, though I do spend a bit of more time looking at my phone these days.

One time last week Amy came to me laughing after having talked with the electrician at our house.  Apparently, he had heard, from someone around in the village, that I was a professional football player from Australia!  I can guess that this came from the village store where I’d been a total of once at that time.

I trekked up there again to buy beer for our workers after one long day where I did a lot of back-breaking weeding.  There’ll be more of that to come for sure, barely scratched the surface.  Anyway, I managed to convey that I needed 12 cold beers and that they were all for Amy, whilst I was just having a yoghurt drink.  They complimented me on the house and then said how hot the weather was.  Well, it’s small talk but I’m getting there slowly when I’m allowed off my leash.  I wonder what gossip that visit generated as I trudged in in my boots and sweat-ridden clothes.  We shall see.

Talking about being let off the leash, whilst I’ve been happily driving around in Amy’s mum’s car, or dad’s truck, I was granted permission to ride the motorcycle.  Usually just at night when it’s quieter and we never go too far anyway.  Amy had been riding with me on the back and I think she was finding it hard to control with the extra weight, better to let me ride instead.

I think she almost changed her mind on the first few runs though.  The motorcycle is somewhat dilapidated and the front brake doesn’t work at all.  It took me a while to master the gear changes, whilst also using the gears to brake half the time.  I decided we’ll get an automatic bike when we get round to getting our own.  Much simpler.  I need simple these days.

Tigger
Sometimes, Tigger is chill. Sometimes.

The weather has been pretty good as far as I’m concerned.  Even on the hot days, it wasn’t too much of a bother but I know it will get much more sticky and hot next month.  The evenings, as the sun is setting, are perfect.  We rode out to the old airport where folks young and old walk, run and ride up and down the runway, to get a bit of exercise in.  Has to wrap up before the sun disappears though as there is no other light there at all.  A few vendors have figured it’s a good place to make some money on water and various other drinks.

We walked past a group of about 30 teenage boys playing football, shirts vs skins, and I watched them for a bit, noticing the topless fat boy at the nearest corner.  A few seconds later the ball came his way with a long floating kick from midfield.  This was his chance for glory.  But he had his back to the ball and facing towards us.  His team all screamed at him, ‘Fatty, wake up and stop checking out the farang’s wife’, talking about Amy.  Everyone laughed and we kept on strolling.

We met up with Goi, one of Amy’s old school friends, as we were walking and they chatted whilst I called up my cousin Sharon to see how she’s doing back in England, now that things are not quite so frantic with her looking after my mum.  She asked if I felt bereaved and I said I didn’t really, things have just been too busy to even think about it too deeply, though I was always reminded of mum whenever I took photos of unusual plants and flowers.  Sharon said to send them to her instead which I had planned to do anyway.

Later, when Amy and I were having dinner, she told me about Goi’s life and her worries about health, money and the future.  Similar to another friend who is also raising a child, around 8 or so years old each.  We are sympathetic to their situations as they ask about ours and why we don’t want kids.  For us, the answer is obvious, we don’t want to have the same worries and concerns that they are now having.  For some reason, it doesn’t make sense to them.

After the football incident, we are also constantly discussing the fact that some people around they city stare at us – a lot!  We can understand people’s curiosity but some people literally gawp, mouth wide and follow us as we walk past.  Foreigners are not that uncommon around town or even out in the countryside these days and we think maybe it’s because Amy doesn’t look like the traditional Thai girl a lot of foreigners seem to go for.  I decided that next time it happens I will softly say in Thai, ‘Excuse me, what is it that you are staring at?’  The only downfall to this plan is that if they answer, I probably won’t be able to understand.

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Whilst our garden is a constant battle against weeds, our next challenge will be the constant battle against insects, particularly, ants.  Ants are everywhere in Amy’s parent’s house.  Whatever is built they will find a way in.  I don’t have anything against ants, as far as I know, none of them are dangerous, the thing that freaks me out with them is that sometimes, in low light and I’m not wearing my glasses, it looks like the walls or floor are moving and I’m reminded of tripping on mushroom tea.  And it makes me want mushroom tea!  The ants and the weeds will take over this world.  They are unstoppable.  We planted 5 small Jacaranda trees this week.  Fingers crossed they take root, survive and maybe in a few years time even flower.

Born annoyed – 10th January 2018

Gah!  As I was dozing off after night shift this morning I came up with a good narrative to write about.  I was struggling to remember it but then realised it was based on something I’d written already, so with knowing I could just reference that as a reminder I drifted off to sleep contentedly.  Now I’m here and ready to write I can neither remember it nor find reference to it – whatever ‘it’ was!  I’ll have another go in a minute.

My brain is always vomiting up mad ideas, some of which I get to pursue and often fail at but mostly they get dispensed to lost parts of my memory – possibly for the best.  This is particularly amplified by the constant grogginess of shift work hours.  Right now I don’t need any more ideas.

One day I may indulge myself in the pursuit of meditative silence but it’s never really been my style.  Give me speed and LSD over a spliff and valium any day.  I do wish I could sometimes turn off the noise when I’m trying to sleep though.  I also wish I could’ve turned off all the negative content that plagued me when I was younger.  But here I am now, some wisdom intact but with the body nearer decay.

Just got off the phone with Amy, our first catchup on her day’s news.  As I’ve been asleep and pretty much just come straight to work I don’t have much to say.  Amy is a good talker though and I provide input where I can.

Our house is all walled and sealed now and a new set of workers are coming in to start working on the finishing details.  These workers are transient homeless Burmese cheap labour.  Tough willing youngsters going wherever the money is.  They build a mini slum for themselves to live in onsite and drink cheap whiskey when their day is finished.

This has brought up Amy’s safety as an issue though.  She has been travelling to the house before sunrise to water plants and trees before the day gets too hot.  The location of our house is a little out of sight from the road and it’s basically just a small village anyway, so never many people around.

Now that the workers will be living onsite there is potential for trouble and something we need to consider to avoid.  Amy will need to be there at certain times to advise on specifics for the workers so we’re not sure how we’ll go about this yet.  Her mum and dad are both busy with other things during the day so not really available to come act as security guards either.

Note that we both doubt that anything bad may happen but in this circumstance, we want to be extra cautious.  If something were to occur it would be everlastingly associated with this house.  It also makes me think more about security ongoing.  We are planning on security lights and maybe a camera or two.  I also want to get a dog at some point too but that will have to wait until I am settled in too.

The community around is already curious about this strange house being built.  Only strange by Thai standards, it’s fairly basic by western standards.  But anything new is great for village gossip and rumour.  We will want to make friends with everyone around but also don’t want people up in our business.  I think it’s more likely for me to end up closer to those around if I can help or assist with things in any way.  I’m actually quite looking forward to that aspect of this new life.  It doesn’t matter if the locals think I’m strange, I’ll just be a crazy foreigner.  For Amy though they are likely to be more judgemental.

As I alluded to yesterday, there are certain traditions and customs that we won’t be adhering to such as a big housewarming for family, friends and neighbours.  No spirit house at the entrance.  This has already been an issue of discussion with Amy’s parents.  Whilst I think these are just a quaint custom and don’t really have an objection to them as they have no other meaning for me, for many traditional Thais they are seen as a necessity to provide spiritual protection and prayers are said as you drive or walk past, supposedly.  Of course, I don’t buy into that and Amy completely rejects it.  I think her rejection is a show to other Thai people that you can’t depend on luck and fate and other forms of woo to bring you what you want.  She sees it in her friends, the friends who say how lucky Amy is to be able to have done the things she has done and is doing in her life.  Amy knows full work that she has worked her ass off to do these things and it has nothing to do with luck.

Perhaps some of her friends also think I am some kind of rich sugar daddy, as foreigners are often seen but again both Amy and I know that this is not the case and we are doing what we have to do to get where we want.

This was another thing we discussed tonight as we talk about her friends who are constantly disappointed with their lives.  How their lives are in debt and loveless, their exes having gone on to brighter things with other partners.  These are beautiful looking women who find the quick and empty highs of expensive purchases and credit card holidays.  Their online personas at odds with their inner turmoil.  We have tried advising them on better approaches from time to time and almost everyone comes to talk with ‘Auntie’ Amy for advice but she gets tired of watching people make the same mistakes over and over again.  Why come for advice if don’t accept it.  Obviously, it is more complicated than that but perhaps obviously, it isn’t.

We don’t sit around thinking we are better than everyone else but we can see that we are happier and I think one of the reasons is that when we met we were both at points in our lives where we were happy with ourselves.  Even now, if anything happened to break up our relationship, we both know that we would be able to carry on, maintaining the happiness in ourselves.  We love each other, we want each other but we don’t need each other.  I think some people want and expect too much from themselves, their partners and their lives.  When I was younger, I did too.  It’s a course set for unhappiness and an unfulfilling life.

Our second call of the night, before Amy goes to sleep, revolved around our cats – our default topic when there isn’t much left to talk about.

Soon after Amy moved in we decided to get a cat.  Amy left several of her cats at her mother’s house but they were reluctantly looked after.  Unfortunately, they all passed away by the time Amy moved back.  I hadn’t had a pet since leaving home, more than 20 years previous.

We lived next to a shopping centre that had a pet store and we were smitten with a kitten on display there.  This was before discovering much about pet shop animals and pet farming practices, something soon to be highlighted by how sick our new pet was in the first 3 or 4 years of his life.

Our new resident happily adjusted himself as we did too, to have this other thing living in our space.  A purebred rag doll, as a coffee fan, I crowned him Cappuccino.  He has been a beautiful pain in the ass ever since.

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About a year later, a little concerned that one cat might be lonely on its own we thought what fun it would be to get another little bastard.  This time we went to the RSPCA and found a little tiny handful of fluff Amy named Tigger.  It soon became apparent that these two boys were not going to be great friends.  Like chalk and cheese, Cappuccino is an expensive and fussy prince whilst Tigger is a doesn’t-give-a-shit street cat.  Tigger soon became the fat cat, hoovering up any food left lying around, often times just pushing Cappuccino out of the way to get to his food too. Capp would wander about graciously, always complaining he was hungry so we had to devise ways to stop Tigger from being renamed the Vacuum Cleaner.  He would often eat so fast, without chewing and biting anything that he would throw it all back up again 5 minutes later.  Which of course, meant he was hungry again.

Tigger was adventurous enough to take a plunge off our first-floor balcony one day and we desperately searched our whole block for him but he must’ve hidden himself away somewhere.  The following evening, as we sat in our apartment, we could hear little pathetic cat cries from outside. We dashed outside and a scared little Tigger was hiding in the bushes and took some coaxing to come out again.  The first thing he did when we got inside was the dash to the litter tray and dump a great big shit in there for us.  He must’ve been holding it the whole time waiting until he found a litter tray again.  I think Capp secretly enjoyed the house to himself again briefly and maybe even encouraged the original jump or perhaps providing a little push himself.

Tigger took another jump into the unknown a few months later as a bird flew past him but luckily Amy was there watching whilst it happened.  She ran out and quickly retrieved him.  As he became fatter and lazier I think he decided he was getting fed well enough not to go chasing after more food.

Cappuccino became a favourite visitor at the vets, where we handed over piles of dollars on a regular basis to try and fix his urinary issues.  Finally, we eunuched him and he is pretty much a girl now.  But this wouldn’t be his last time to get to travel in the car to various places, him screaming himself hoarse in displeasure.

Cappuccino had been recommended to get his teeth cleaned as they were getting a bit mucky so we had to drop him to the vet in the morning where he would be sedated, teeth cleaned, and awake for us to pick up later in the afternoon.  All was well until later that evening. We’d heard a bit of growling and hissing from the other room and a while later Capp sauntered into the kitchen and gave his usual cry to be fed.  I noticed his mouth was red though and forced his jaws open to reveal a mouth full of blood and half his tongue flapping loose.  It was too late for the vet so it was off to emergency.  As Capp didn’t seem too bothered by his new multiple tongues, the vet there advised to wait and take him to the normal vet in the morning, giving him a quick shot of painkillers in the meantime.

So back in the car again, the vet surprised to see her favourite customer and us sad walking wallets again.  And lucky boy, he gets to stay overnight again – his favourite thing in the world.  We had the choice to just leave his tongue as it was as it would probably heal up but just remain flapping around.  This didn’t seem like a great idea as it could easily get bitten again whilst he was eating.  So with a stitch or two, he was fixed again.  But not for long.

Capp would often try to exert his authority in the house but without realising that he probably wasn’t the boss, and Tigger would stand for none of it.  He would take a swipe at Tigger who would then swipe back, a chase might occur and then two rolling balls of fur would explode for a few seconds before they retreated to their corners of safety.  This happened about once a week and it was common to come home to patch of carpets covered in big chunks of Capps white hair, Tigger often with telltale signs of white hair around his lips.  So we didn’t think much one night when it happened again.

This time though Capp was squinting with one eye and which was weeping down his face.  When we looked closer we could see a big white area on his eye and a little bit of blood.  We usually err on the side of caution but his regular visits to emergency vets were meaning we might have to take up second jobs.  We gave it the night to see how it would be in the morning and of course, it was worse.  Out came the carrier again which quickly sees him disappear and then the screaming starts.

The vet had a look and poked around a bit and we could see that the white area was a deep cut across his eye.  She stuck some antibiotic and painkilling liquid in there and advised to come back in a couple of days.  Oh great – we have to go through all this again in a couple of days.  Here, just take my debit card and pin number.

That couple of days later, with no real sign of improvement, we were recommended an animal eye specialist about an hour away.  Our first visit there the next day and the doctor offered a couple of solutions, one expensive and another very expensive.  Or, he said, we could just leave it and see what happens but that might mean losing the eye if things go badly quickly.  The doctor could see that was reluctant to make a decision there and then and so advised to come back a week later.  He did the antibiotic and painkilling liquid too as well as some other more specialised checks that saw us well out of pocket.

Back we came, Capp still no more happy and used to travelling in a car.  The doctor said the eye was looking ok but he would like to do a graft on it – it would cost some outrageous amount but would likely fix it up properly.  Again, he could see my hesitation and he asked me to think about it whilst he had another look and poke around.  He lifted up the flap of skin over Capps’ eye and said it was possible to cut this flap off and see how the healing process goes and that a graft would still be possible after that if it didn’t go well. I don’t know how or why but Cappuccino was completely tolerant of us holding him steady as the doctor took a pair of tiny scissors to the tiny flap on his eyeball and snip, snip, it was off.  Thank you very much and come back in a week.

Thankfully his eye rapidly improved and I rang the doctor up and said thank you very much but I don’t think we need to come back for a final check and another couple of hundred bucks.

So with all that stress of these bastard cats, we decided to stick them on a plane – see how they like that!?

We chose a good company and again, threw an open wallet at them and despite some concern when we initially received the boys in Thailand they made it through intact.  They even seemed to enjoy being loose in the van that we picked them up in at the airport.

Safe to say, we love those little furry fuckers.

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