Friday, June 19, 2009

A MAN'S HOME IS HIS CASTLE

THIS IS OUR HOME AND MY CASTLE
THIS IS THE HOUSE WE BOUGHT

The first time we saw our house it was anything but a castle , in fact, it was in really bad run down ,forgotten shape,and it was the subject of bad Karma ,so to speak. The couple that had built it had split up ,even before they had finished the house and so as far as all the village and neighbors were concerned it would just sit there empty till it fell down.When we saw it for the first time it had sit empty for eight years and the bathroom roof ceiling and part of the unfinished kitchen roof and cieling, had already fallen in and it was in really bad shape .Ciejay and me had decided just a few days before that we wanted to retire in Thailand and we had been lots of places in Thailand while on our vacation , but we just did'nt feel right about any of them , well on our last day before going back to BKK for our flight back to America , we drove down the mountain into the valley to a little village called Whang Pho and our hearts said to each other "this is the place ." We didn't get off to ourselves and talk about it, we were with two other couples, we just knew this was it.It was already five o'clock in the evening and we looked at a piece of land a friend of Ciejay's brother had for sale , but it was to far out of town and no utilities run anywhere near it, so we said we would come back another year and look around, as it was getting dark and the others were in a hurry to get on the road , well out of the blue I ask Ciejay's brother if there was a piece of land in town with a house already on it for sale , I was thinking we could tear and old house down and build what we wanted , as long as it was close to town and had water and electricity available. To my surprise he pointed up the road, fifty yards away and said that old place there belongs to a friend in BKK he might want to sell this place, because he is married again and his new wife will have nothing to do with the house and noone in the village will buy it as it is full of bad spirits and bad Karma.( they all being Buddhist of course)being Christians that did'nt bother me at all.
It was dark , the doors were locked and all the windows had bars on them and were tinted and we could not see in at all , but my brother -in -law said it had three bedrooms and two baths and a room to be made into a kitchen and a huge living room the full length of the house with the bedrooms off to the side and he drew it with a stick on the ground , Me and Ciejay walked around it and said to each other it has strong foundation and walls and the major roof is in good shape , we can make it a home with a lot of hard work . We called the man while standing there, in the overgrown yard with the car lights shineing on the front ,with a gecko telling us this was his place now, and Ciejay and my brother- in -law talking with him and in about five minutes we bought ourselves a house in Thailand , I felt like the opening lines to the movie Out of Africa , when she said"I had a home in Africa."I can remember saying to my self "I have a home in Thailand." That was one of the most emotional moments in my whole live , except when each of my boys were born.
We took a couple of pictures , it was already dark ,to take back home to America.We showed them to our friends and family and they thought we had lost our minds , and if you had seen it before we remodeled it, you would have said the same thing.We had one more year to work before I could retire with a social security check coming in every month, I knew nothing about Thailand , except what I had seen as a tourist for three weeks , and nothing about visa requirements , I thought we would just pack everything up and move to Thailand , was I ever in for a big surprise, And as I read and ask questions I found out a lot and it scared me a little to be honest with you . So we planned and saved and set our sights and hearts toward Thailand , the almost forgotten house as far as Thai's and anyone else were concerned on the other side of the world thousands of miles away in a land that I had only visited for a short time , but we did not forget about our dream , for one day, and we talked about what we were going to do everynight after dinner and things were done for the day and readied for tommorow. I made a cardboard model of the house with a removable top so we could see what we were going to do , inside and out , we put a huge calendar on the wall and begain to mark the days off . That was the longest year of my life ,but it finally did come (a lot of stuff and preparation happened in that year, but thats another story) and on October the 6th 2004 we arrived in Whang Pho and got the keys and walked into the house for the first time ,at six o'clock in the morning on October the 7th,we were shocked to say the least ,it needed more work than we thought,but we had a dream and before the day was over we had a crew cleaning the property and cutting down trees and bushes, and we found a wonderful man named Piak, that said he would make our house a home , I knew not one word Thai and He knew not one word English , him and Ciejay talked and when me and him shook hands I knew I could trust him completely.What a wonderful person he turned out to be , he told me what we needed he would go buy or order and give Ciejay the receipt and she would give him the money , five years have almost gone buy and I have learned a little Thai and I have learned a lot about Thai folks and Thai workman and labors and I can say that Piak never took advantage of us for nothing , even his final bill for all the labor and labors was well under what I was prepared to pay, five years later (almost) and we have not had to redo are repair anything he and his crew did . And I want you to know that I have read and heard so horror stories from farangs that have built houses in Thailand, (most of the time unskilled relatives of their Thai wife or girlfriend) using Thai contractors . And of course we have done a lot of work ourselves , adding a patio and gazbo and carport and a deck all the way around the house, landscaped and planted lots of trees and plants and flowers and "oh ya " built a pond with a water fall out front and got us a dog. We have made the delapadated ,forgotten , cursed house into a HOME and also into my CASTLE.
And I can say for certain, that the thing that makes this King to have a home to call a Castle is the QUEEN that lives there with him. Malcolm

Friday, June 12, 2009

BATH TIME














Today ,I thought being it was not raining ,it would be a good day to take a ride on the Honda as I had'nt rode it in a week or so ,because of all the rain , and it's good to ride them every so often to keep things in shape and them running smooth, and besides all that, I miss my weekly trips to wherever the road leads. today I already had my mind set on going to Sai Yok Elephant Park , because I had heard that they had a new baby born last week and I wanted to get some pictures for my grand-daughter in Oregon , she takes my pictures on a disc that her Dad will make for her for Show and Tell.All the kids in her class love it when she brings pictures of Thailand to school with her , and her teacher has e-mailed me and thanked me for them too.But before I got to the park as I started across the bridge that goes over the Famous River Kwai , I looked over and saw two of the trainers racing their elephants down the hill toward the river for their evening bath, and my attention then turned to this photo opp and I thought you might like it too. You know if you have read any of my past post that I love elephants and every chance I get I try to get down to the camp to see them and and admire them as the wonderful,intellegent and kind animal they are , and let me asure you that they never forget you, if you have made a friend with them and their trainers.Hope you enjoy the pictures .Malcolm

Sunday, June 7, 2009

HERBS and SPICES, AND, MEDICINE IN OUR OWN BACKYARD

THIS PART YOU CAN PUT IN A CUP TO ROOT FOR YOUR GARDEN
HERE STEMS ARE ALL CLEANED AND READY FOR THE SOUP POT

READY TO TAKE TO THE MARKET,OR TO SELL WHOLESALE TO THE VENDORS AT THE MARKET ,OR TO SEND TO BANGKOK OR KANCHANABURI, TO THE MANY THAI RESTAURANTS FOR THEIR KITCHENS.

OTT: CLEANING AND TRIMMING THE LEMON GRASS, ONLY THE STEMS ARE USED FOR THE SOUPS, AS A SEASONING AND THE LEAVES THEY CAN BOIL DOWN FOR LEMON OIL.

DIRTY WORK , BUT, A VERY GOOD MONEY CROP FOR OTT AND HER FAMILY
RUBBER BOOTS ARE A MUST WHEN HARVESTING LEMON GRASS IN THE RAINY SEASON

THE STEMS IN ONE PILE AND THE LEAVES IN ANOTHER, GETTING READY FOR THE WASHING ,THAT WILL CLEAN THEM BEFORE TAKING TO THE MARKET TO SELL.

The other day I saw my neighbor,Ott going down the road with a load of grass in the side car of her scooter, and being one ,not to miss a good photo shot ,went to investigate the scene. It was grass, but a special kind of grass, called Lemon Grass. I thought to myself ,I'll share these pictures and do a little informative (not thesis) post about Lemon Grass and it's many uses around the world and here in Thailand SOOOOO here goes.
Lemon Grass is a native to India, It is used as a herb in Asian cooking,it has a citrus flavor,it can be dried or powered or used fresh in many Asian dishes . No tum Yum soup would be complete without a few chopped up pieces of lemon Grass put in the water along with many other kinds of veggies and meats and fishes,for that all important lemony taste (not to be eaten but to flavor only) that makes Tum Yum sooooo good .

Lemon Grass is also used as a pesticide, Ciejay always pulls off a leaf and crushes it in her hand and rubs it on her arms and legs ,when she goes out to work in the garden or to pull weeds around the flower beds , to protect her skin, and to keep the mosquitos from biting her while outside, when we eat outside in the gazebo some evenings, we burn candles that have been made with lemon grass oil to keep them away too, seems to work ok.
Something I didn't know is that Lemon Grass is used as a preservative to put on ancient manuscripts to keep them fluidity and to keep them from getting brittle it has a hydrophobic nature and keeps the manuscripts dry ,so that the text is not lost to decay due to humidity.

When we bought our home Thailand and I made a couple of the tables we use in our home from wood that we removed from the sides of the building, and replaced with concrete, I used lemon oil as a preservative to protect the wood againts termites, and also when rubbed in very good and polished after it drys , leaves a beautiful glossy finish.
Lemon grass also has a lot of medicinal properties and is used extensively in ancient Indian medicines,it is supposed to help with relieving cough and nasal congestion .Ciejay says that tea made with Lemon Grass is good for stomach problems too.Also she said you can shampoo your hair wit the oil ,to get rid of dandruff.

Most of the information and some of the pictures came from the Wikipedia Encyclopedia. Hope you enjoy.

It is easy to grow ,in fact we have several stands of it growing out our back door , we took the ends of the pplants we bought in the market for soup and put them in a cup of water till roots appeared and then I planted them in the yard and Kazam in a few months we had our own stand of lemon grass , it also grows well in a pot and makes a great house plant. Malcolm

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

AM I EVER GLAD TO SEE YOU


I'm sure you know what this truck and it's driver do for a living ,I call it the s--t sucker and Ciejay gives me a dirty look and tells me to be sweet, and then, I remember that the real name for them is the Honey Wagon. It's not that I am really glad to see them , but there are certain times after not seeing him for a couple months , when the wind is blowing just right,up the road and past the neighbors house ,that I can tell it's time for the s--t sucker to do his thing. Most of us in Thailad are not on a sewer system, so in it's place we dig a hole about four foot deep and put in a concrete coulvert with a lid and a small hole in the lid for the hose to pump the honey out, they charge about 200 baht for this service , and I got smart and put in a double size one soooo they charge me 400 baht , but the good part of it is I don't need to have mine pumped but only twice a year. My neighbors have the small ones and they need them pumped about every two months, and some try to go as long as they can to save money and thats when the tell,tell smell comes blowing up the hill to the farangs house and Ciejay calls the s--t sucker and tells him to come up our road and start blowing his horn , to get the neighbors attention and most of the time it works . Since we live in a small village and most of the homes are really old , the folks just run their gray and sometimes other water out back of their houses into a ditch and this not only stinks but it is a perfect breding place for the mosquitos, when we remodeled our place we put in two 500 gal concrete colverts in the ground for the gray water and also put in a drain field by removing a lot of the top soil and putting in a load of gravel and then covering it back up works great and I showed all our neighbors what we did and they all except one had a gray water tank buried and put in a small drain field , and it really keeps the populatiom of mosquitos down, and we went around and gathered up all the old tires and hauled them off(you know the Thais just throw them out back or put them around their plants (mosquito heaven).I even bought a few of them the decorative bricks to replace the tires , I have to say I have never been pushey for my neighbors to clean their yards and pick up and haul off , but as I cleaned out all the stuff left by the former owners and cleaning up the yard and sides of our street (dirt road) , they all begain to do the same and what a difference ,in how our small neighborhood looks and smells ,today, as opposed to four years ago.I know you've heard the ole saying (monkey see monkey do )not calling anybody a monkey here ,just using the saying . and it works better than trying to change the way they do things and how they keep their yards and the street looking . Amazing ,when we painted our house the next thing we saw ,was they all painted their homes to. I love my neighbors and I think they like me a little too. Malcolm ---- And it smells a lot better in our neighbor hood , until it's time for the s--t sucker truck to come and "clear the air"so to speak. Looks like I started rambling on there for a little , but thats what happens when a ex-preacher trys to tell a story. "forgive please."