Friday, March 25, 2011

Our Garden At Night

Come and visit our garden at night,

when only the spirits abound.

The night sounds,

the quarter falls quiet,

the geckos call; the soft insects crawl.

Here all silence is:

the bare stillness

the light on a wall
 grasping bird of paradise.

Immobile all.

Leaves, wind, the barest wisp of cloud

in full moon’s glow;

the spirits call silent

as deadly as the night.

We are lost, wayward,

east of the Mekong;

look no further

and you will find us

with the spirits rejoicing.

Pull aside a awkward leaf

spread the vegetation to the side

and reveal now the spirit house

its full moon offerings

eaten by insects:

prowlers of the noonday sun.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Biking South Of The City

The other day I awoke after a nearly sleepless night. Our son Sayo, that marvelous and cute digestive tube did his fair share of crying.

Maybe it was the full moon. Sleep was half-hazard and graceless.

And so I called my private students and cancelled my classes and got on my bike, the Specialized, and rode south.

It was one of those hot days, but I never really feel the heat.

I rode to the “Clock Roundabout”, known to French friends simply as “L’horloge” and followed the Mekong. If truth be told, we are looking for land upon which to build a house. Prices are climbing and it will soon be now or never.

On the way down to where the road forks off to the left I stopped in a Wat on the river and hung out with some old guys who made coconut juice and talked about their girlfriends.

The Mekong was still swollen from last week’s rain and in the end I found a beautiful spot, a coconut grove at the bottom of a street at the edge of a rice field. A perfect spot for a flood, but wonderful in the dry season.

A word about the dentist sign. Braces are all the fashion now in Vientiane. In the College Which Will Go Nameless where I teach a lot of the girls and some of the boys are wearing them. For the life of me I cannot understand why. A pretty girl with perfectly straight teeth will show up at class one day wearing braces! The new status symbol, I suppose, like a shiny red sports car.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Winter is over!

Winter is over. Blue skies have returned.

Boy, winter was tough; those were the worst three days of my life!

Now I have to clean the pool.

Current temperature, Sunday morning, is 25C

I’d like to thank all our friends and family in Canada, France and around the world for their sympathy and support in getting through that bad patch!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Horrible, horrible weather - March 18th, 2011

No more gloating until tomorrow. I promise.

For the past three days we have had horrible weather. The temperature has dropped to 15C.

If that weren’t bad enough, it has been raining. In the dry season! The chutzpah!

The streets are wet and slippery. People ride their scooters holding an umbrella with one hand. The Mekong is bloated.

Our garden is soaked. Our swimming pool cover is soaked. Our lives are soaked. We spend every non-working moment huddled in blankets.

Luckily friends, Michel and Baj, lent us their car before leaving for France so I can take the kids to school with some semblance of dry dignity.

Tomorrow’s weather forecast calls for 30C and sunshine.

So I will live to gloat another day!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Summertime - March 14th, 2011

Fish are jumping and the cotton is high.

It has been a while, and my apologies to the numerous fans out there who have been awaiting news and photos.

First of all, it is almost impossible for a man of my fragility to live on sleep deprivation, teach, translate and update a blog.

Others can, I cannot.

The baby is cute I can assure you. Cute when he sleeps, cute when he eats, cute when he gurgles in joy. Less cute, much less cute, when he screams bloody hunger at 2 in the morning.

OK, here is the news scoop of the month: we bought a pool. Yes, folks, an above-ground plastic pool complete with pump and filter and chloride tablets and even a cover to keep the nasties out when we’re not using it.

A simple Internet search led us to a German in Udon Thani who is selling these things out of his house:

Nice enough guy but not much of a businessman. Instead of selling me the chloride tablets adapted for the pool he sent me down the road to a pool shop and let me fend for myself, calculating cubic meters of water, (The pool has a diameter of 3.6 meters and is 90 centimeters deep. If you can calculate the number of cubic meters of water in the pool you win ten points!) and learning all about PH from someone whose English is less than great.

Now, here’s the funny thing. I’m sure you have all memorized every word of this blog and know everything about how life functions here. So you know without me having to remind you that water enters our cistern every night and that is our daily allotment of H2O. The water trickles in slowly, painfully. So how do you fill a pool?

Well, believe it or not, there is a municipal service that you can call, a cell phone, and tell them that you have a swimming pool. Within a few hours (!!!!!!) they show up with a big truck full of water and fill your pool for you. Now we know what to do if we are in a Bo Mee Nam situation again.

So to resume – roads aren’t paved, garbage stagnates by the sides of the roads, medical care is across the Mekong… but if you have a swimming pool you can get water delivered to your door in a matter of hours.

Truly a worker’s paradise!