Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Lights!

There's a popular street in Alameda that has a fabulous Christmas lights display every year and this is the second year we've taken Aidan. Last night we finished dinner early and the weather was cooperating so we decided that was the night to go. Every house on this street is decked to the hilt and there are carolers strolling around and singing and even a Santa Claus in the middle island for kids. People come from all over to see this display and it was a lot of fun to go - some displays were quite creative such as one with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme and another using plastic lawn flamingos with antlers instead of reindeer. Aidan was beyond excited with it all.

This was Aidan's first experience sitting on Santa's lap. We went through a brief rehearsal as we stood in line for his turn about what to expect. I didn't want him to be scared. He did great and totally enjoyed sitting on Santa's lap and telling him what he wanted for Christmas. While we don't really celebrate Christmas, I might be persuaded to getting Aidan a little somethin from Santa every year. He loves Christmas - what kid doesn't?

Below are more pics from some of the great displays.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Yeah, I'm 39 today and like anybody who gets older, I contemplated the aging process and something about entering midlife is weird. I think this is something that everybody goes through as we enter the passage from youth to middle age and then into our senior years. Even as my face, body and hair are changing (not an easy thing to see either!) I was contemplating that as I'm going these life stages, at least I'm making this journey with someone by my side who is also going through the same thing. And I look at the fresh, round, perfect face of my little son and I understand on an instinctual level about passing on what we know and believe on to the next generation. I also find comfort that the thoughts and feelings I've been having is not new and NO ONE is exempt from getting older.

Anyway, so happy birthday to me. :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Chinese Proverb About Money I Liked

With money you can buy a house, but not a home.

With money you can buy a clock, but not time.

With money you can buy a bed, but not sleep.

With money you can buy a book, but not knowledge.

With money you can buy a doctor, but not good health.

With money you can buy a position, but not respect.

With money you can buy blood, but not life.

With money you can buy sex, but not love.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Project after my Book is Done

Once I'm done writing my book to include all of Thailand, I'm going to start a new project on myself based on a book called The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron. It is a 12 week program with exercises to access and reawaken your creativity and it has gotten rave reviews. I've forced mine down for so many years that it needs some serious resuscitation. It will certainly help with my painting!

Deep in the Midst of Potty Training!

Last week, with the Thanksgiving holiday and our Thailand trip at an end and routine returned to the family, I had had enough of Aidan's diapers and decided it was high time he be potty trained, even though he wasn't enthusiastic about it. I'm dreadfully tired of diapers and their high expense - besides this kid is 3 1/2 years old - it's high time he uses a toilet!

The first two days were 100% accidents and I was puzzled and rather depressed that my son didn't get it, especially being as old as he is. But on day three, he went to the toilet every single time with no accidents. He was especially motivated by the small chocolate coin I'd give him as a reward. He still poops in his diaper, but that will change soon too. We're hoping to start him in a preschool program a few days a week once he gets potty trained.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


is my husband's birthday.

Happy Birthday Tii Rak. You're the best and I love you forever.


Painting Class

I'm very excited to be taking my first art class since I've been in college in the early/mid 1990s. Beginning this Tuesday and every Tuesday for the next 10 weeks, I'll be taking a class on acrylic painting for beginning and intermediate students at the local adult school. It's only $85 for these 10 sessions at two hours each class, which I think is unbelievably cheap - you'd pay that much for a single two hour workshop!

I think it will be a great way to kick start my painting and it's a way to get some time in to paint every week AND get some formal instruction. I also enjoy being amongst the other students, sharing ideas and just being with others who like to paint. :) I'm really excited about it!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Home Again

It's five in the morning! Hooray for jetlag. :)

Today will be spent unpacking all our stuff. We left with two pieces of check in luggage that were filled only half full with clothing and things we needed and we came back with three!

It was a lovely trip and Aidan got to get to know his father's side of the family and immerse himself in Thai language. Golf enjoyed his FOOD the most and caught up with his family. I enjoyed some leisures and luxuries I don't indulge in very often at home such as getting my hair washed and blow dried at the hair dressers (for $3.45 incl. tip) and mani/pedicure twice (for $6.31). A manicure/pedicure in my town costs me nearly $30 after I give a tip, so I was happily keeping up my nails. :) I also got one foot massage for the same price for one hour.

We all stayed with his sisters at his childhood home that has since turned into a neighborhood that is very crowded, noisy and busy with four lanes of heavy traffic. I'm grateful to have stayed here though because it saved us a significant amount of money in accommodation, but in coming back home, my neighborhood feels and sounds deserted and silent!

Two favorite highlights from my trip:
  • Meeting Catherine from Women Learning Thai blog. She took me to the British Club for a delicious lunch and fascinating conversation. The time went by far too quickly when you're with interesting company.
  • Visiting my former school and the neighborhood Golf and I lived. Before going to my school we had lunch at Bon Marche Market, about a block from our old condo high rise. We used to eat there every weekend and it's gone through a renovation in the three years we've been away and it's VERRRY nice now.
    Afterward we walked to my old school and met with former admin staff including the school director and the principal. Unfortunately all my former students are no longer at this school and I was very disappointed that I didn't get to see any of them. I did get to visit with one teacher who is still there. Sue is a Thai-American, raised in the US and reconnecting with her Thai culture. She's been at this school for about three years now and we had a very lovely chat.
    We spent about an hour at my old school, then we stopped at the grocery store in our old condo complex. In that shopping area there is also a computer shop among other shops, and Golf was friends with the computer shop owner who has a son about Aidan's age. So we stopped by to say hello and see his son. They had a nice reunion and Aidan got to meet their son and it was very cute to see them together. Then unexpectedly, Golf saw a retired expat Italian friend he had made who had bought a condo in this complex. He and his Thai wife also have a son about Aidan's age and we got to visit with them too.
    It was really a lot of fun for the both of us, each of us getting to meet up with old friends and reminiscing about living in this part of Bangkok, so quiet and lovely compared to where we were staying in Saphan Kwai.
There were only two disappointments on this trip. One was that Aidan got sick. He got that traveler's bug that you get when you're unfamiliar with the food, water and climate of your environment. He was laid in bed all day on the Loy Krathong holiday, the holiday I wanted to take him out and experience. Poor baby - you know when a hyper little boy cannot get out of bed and has a fever that he really is sick. It took over a week for him to get over his runny nose and cough, but his fever lasted only a day. We then got him a flu shot a week later and that made him feel sick that day too (projectile vomiting!) My poor baby got well a few days before it was time to go back home.

The other disappointment was not being able to go to the beach. Reports were coming in that there were storms throughout the Gulf of Thailand, and the resort city we wanted to go to was on the Gulf. No sense going if it was going to rain, so besides one day trip we took, we spent the entire time in Bangkok.

I'll write more later and tell you about some of the stuff I bought and post some pictures too!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Here in Bangkok I've been closely watching the election returns and I have to say I couldn't be more thrilled about our new President. Just watched his acceptance speech video and can he be an inspiring speaker. I'm looking forward to this new era. HOORAY

Monday, October 27, 2008

Leaving today

We're all excited, packed and ready to go. Golf is more excited about eating over there than anything else! LOL! So this is my last bit of time on the internet before I'm over and out for awhile. Gonna check my other blogs. I'll be back November 21st and may upload some pics between now and then, we shall see. Bye for now!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Getting ready to go

Earlier this week I called to confirm or reservation on our flight to Bangkok. It was six days in advance and it's a good thing I called that day; our flight had been canceled (as flights often are these days) and we were rescheduled a day EARLIER than we had booked.

So we're leaving day after tomorrow, not on Tuesday. Which is fine -- Golf finished up all his jobs and the new itinerary did not conflict with his work.

This weekend is busy, of course. This afternoon I have a hair appointment and I'm going to clean, clean, clean this apartment. I love returning back to a clean home. And we're bringing out the luggage to start the packing.

We've already successfully booked our hotel in Bangkok the first night. We arrive at the airport at 2 AM and so won't get to the hotel until close to 3 or 3:30 AM! It's because of this late hour that we booked a hotel, otherwise we'd go straight to my sister in law's house.

We're also trying an experiment with Aidan and the whole huge time change. Starting this morning, I let him sleep as late as he wants to, which was only an extra 35 minutes than normal. We're not going to attempt to put him down for a nap and we'll let him stay up as late as he can at night. I expect he will sleep later tomorrow and even later Monday morning, the day of our departure. I know it's not much, but anything to make the transition easier for him is our objective.

It's exciting around our home today!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One Week From TODAY!

It's been sinking in the last few days - in exactly one week we'll be off to Thailand!!!

The week before your big trip, the reality of it finally sets in and it's time to get ready to go. I've been purchasing a few little bits that we need to take with us (most stuff we plan to get while there) and nailing down the logistics - paying bills online or arranging for their future payments so we don't have to worry while we're gone.

Today I'm off to the Eddie Bauer outlet store. I hope they still have some of their lightweight capri pants in stock - hopefully on clearance by now. I have one pair that fit me well and I don't like wearing shorts these days. So one pair isn't enough and jeans are too hot in Bangkok. A new swim suit would be nice to find as well as we'd like to take a side trip to the beach.

Woo hoo! The time is drawing near!

Monday, October 20, 2008

What a Great Sunday!

I had the best time with Melanie yesterday seeing the Open Studios in San Francisco. Golf and I have only had Carolyn or my mother watch Aidan for a couple of hours while we go to a movie, but yesterday it was for six hours! So a great big huge THANK YOU to Carolyn for enduring for that long AND for changing a poopy diaper on a kid that is old enough to use a toilet.

Golf came with Mel and me and we dropped him off to do his own thing. He's not into seeing art the way Mel and I am but he needed to take advantage of his freedom so he just wanted to be out and about in the city, browsing stores and relaxing in a coffee shop, just enjoying himself. He had a great time.

One of the best things I like about Open Studios is that I get to meet and talk to the artists themselves. All the artists I met yesterday were so very friendly, and of course we could relate with one another (with the artists whose work I really enjoyed, that is - I'd likely relate less with one whose works were not to my taste). Best of all, I got to meet and speak with each of the artists I profiled in my previous posts. They were each inspiring and happy to talk about the techniques they used in their paintings, their opinions and philosophies about their work, how long they've been painting and how their paintings have changed over the years.

It was a great, great day! One of the galleries was a space that Mel and I used to go to for rave parties back in the mid 90s called "Sweet". Still looks the same and seeing that space brought back fun memories from well over 10 years ago - wow, 10 years!

Anyway, it was the best time I've had in a long while, filled with no worries about the kidlet and just indulging in my own adult time and interests. It was wonderful! :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Open Studios

I'm very excited about tomorrow. I'm going to go to San Francisco with my best friend Melanie to see some art with Open Studios! For over 30 years, San Francisco Open Studios has provided the public with an opportunity to see artists in their workspaces. As the largest and first open studios program in the country, San Francisco Open Studios showcases artists without judgment and invites art lovers to make friends and start or build their art collections.

A few weeks ago I picked up the catalog and artist directory for this year's Open Studios, and many of the artists whose sample works in that catalog looked appealing to happened to have their showings this weekend. I'm especially excited to see the works by these artists:


This weekend's Open Studios is in an area of San Francisco that I'm rather familiar with, since I used to live there. Mel and I plan to find a parking spot and just walk walk walk, and the plan is to get lunch at Goat Hill Pizza on Potrero Hill - I haven't been there in years, but there's a gorgeous view of the city from that vantage.

I'm looking forward to an adult day out! A big thank you to Carolyn for watching Aidan!!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Super Aidan!

Since we're not going to be in the US for Halloween this year, Golf went ahead and got Aidan a Superman costume. Aidan's been on a Superman kick lately, using towels as a cape and listening to the movie soundtrack. He's one happy boy in his costume!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bummed About My Toastmasters Club

We now have only eight active members in our Toastmasters Club, and of those eight, we're lucky if half of them show up on any given Thursday. I'm very disappointed in this, but apparently it's common in clubs everywhere, and not just Toastmasters.

People are too busy in their evenings, I guess. It's a by-product of my previous post of people cramming too much into their schedules and having too much work to do, too long of a commute to make and frankly, if there is any time left over for family in the evenings, that's where it should be spent, not at a Toastmasters Club, really. In the end, people just don't have the spare time for any fun extracurricular activities for self improvement and socialization with others in the community.

The decision about our club is that come January 2009, if there is not an increase in members, this club will shut down. Fortunately there is another club in Alameda and the remaining members and I will transfer to the other club. It's just kind of sad as this club I'm in has survived since 1972...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Simple Living Simple Thinking

I happened to see Oprah the other day and it was about cutting back your expenses and living more frugally. She's been having shows recently that reflect the concern with this deep recession we're going through and what all of us can do to ride it through.

I felt great because most of the advice was what Golf and I follow all the time and is a way of life for us, like cooking at home, bringing your lunch if you're going out to work, running your errands at one trip to save gas, renting videos instead of going to the movies, going to the library instead of buying books. We don't have to make any sort of adjustments to this failing economy at the moment because we're already doing the right things.

Golf and I just have not been bitten by the ultra-consumption bug that seems to have gripped most people in America. We're not living like po' folks, and the number one thing I cherish is the TIME that I have for my family that I wouldn't have if I worked outside the home.

I just finished a library book called Get Satisfied, and it's about twenty different people who had found satisfaction with enough - and each had a different definition of what constituted as enough. It's very nice to see a movement of people who are committed to slowing down and living well in this hyper fast, ultra consuming, time sucking life that most tend to live. Not for me.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Painting from photos

I found a really cool blog called Different Strokes from Different Folks.

The blog author posts a photo weekly and artists submit their rendition of the photo in their own art, which is then posted on her blog. It's very interesting!

Nothing much happening of late. It's finally starting to act like fall weather around here. ;)

Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm Going to Paint!!!

I cannot express how excited I am. But let me start from the very beginning to tell you my news.

A recent book I read called The Wishing Year, by Noelle Oxenhandler, involved art and getting involved with art. In snooping her website, (which I do for all authors I read) I found the site of one of the most influential people she had in her life during the time of her writing. This artist, Carole Watanabe, is a person I would love to get to know and have as a mentor. She's a successful artist AND business person, so a life of poverty for someone living the life of an artist is not a given, as Carole has proven.

So of course I went to Carole's website, to see her works, which are gorgeous. Well, she's got a book out too, about the Ecstatic Marriage of Life and Art. The blurb for the book is:
Do you wish you were an artist? Are you an artist who wishes you could actually build a sustainable life around your art? Then read Carole Watanabe’s beautiful and lavishly illustrated new book, The Ecstatic Marriage of Life and Art. Offering wisdom from a lifetime of Carole’s personal journals, it is a companion volume to Noelle Oxenhandler’s book, The Wishing Year.
The answer to Carole's two questions is a loud and unrestrained YES!!!!

I have always wanted to create art. In my childhood that's all I did. In college I took art classes, but ended up majoring in graphic design (so I wouldn't be a poor pauper) and discovered graphic design didn't float my boat. I let my art side slip away. I still went to galleries often, especially when I lived in San Francisco. I also explored the art scene in Bangkok, and I got the opportunity to teach art to kids at the two schools I worked at when I lived there.

But to learn to paint on my own and create for the sake of creating is something that has slipped away over the years, but now I am inspired to begin again. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING else in the world that gives me such inspiration, focus and feelings of near ecstasy. When in the midst of drawing or painting a picture, I forget to eat or drink and the concept of time vanishes. Going into an art store makes me feel giddy. The smells of the linseed oil and wood for the canvas framing and other new materials smells creates feelings of deep happiness.

So I decided to carve out the time I need to do this. I have thought long and hard of where to paint in our apartment (far from art studio style) and when I can do it. Yesterday I bought some supplies and I already have my portable easel. You can be sure I will share with you some of my creations and while I'm sure my early works will be a bit sketchy as I get back into practice, my future pieces should be something to be proud of.

Here's to ART!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

New Review for Expat Women in Bangkok

The first review of The Expat Woman's Guide to Living in Thailand (That Men Like, Too!) has arrived! Thank you, Catherine Wentworth, for such a well-written piece . You can see the original on her website.


What's a woman gotta do around here to get a bite…

When a western woman arrives in Bangkok, she's overwhelmed with a multitude of tasty sites and resources on offer. Mostly for men.

Bangkok, a city for the hungry male? Or is it?

First up (when googling), she'll find Stickman's Bangkok. A classic. And while there's decent information on offer, from a female point of view, we be going hungry.

Bangkok Bob is another fav of mine. But again, it's heavy on the guy angle (as it would be).

Other well-written sites have the same tang. There's interesting chunks for sure, but I don't really need to know that some poor sod paid over the going price, or how to investigate a Thai bar girl, or even the ins and outs of a man's guide to Bangkok life (but I will peek).

With a female flavour, I need to know about reasonable housing and what areas to avoid, the nearest market to suit my tastes, where to eat, the best masseurs (and why), English book stores (should I bring my own), what shops have shoes in my size (ditto), how to make new friends (male and female), and tips on important Thai customs (a biggie for women avoiding uncomfortable snafus). And all in my particular brand; a zesty, zingy, female munch.

And that's where Amy's ebook, the Expat Women's Guide to Living in Thailand comes in.

Amongst it all you'll find needed resources such as BNOW (Bangkok Network of Women), British Women's Group (Bangkok), and the Bangkok Guide (online).

And that's just the icing on the cake. Or (as they say out here), The Big Mango

Take a DEEP breath while I do a quick skim down the index. You know, just to see if I can grab your fancy.

Right away you'll get an indispensable dose of Thai etiquette (whatever you do, do not skip this section), possible ways to get around Bangkok and beyond (airport, taxi, buses, subway, skytrain, tuk tuks, boats, motorcycle taxis, maps, car and driver hire), everything to do with money (cost of living, taxes, tipping, paying bills, credit cards and transferring money), safety tips (emergency numbers and personal tips from women living in BKK), accommodation (where, what, how and how much), communications (landlines, mobiles, Internet and postal services), shopping (supermarkets, hypermarkets, malls, tech malls, markets, book stores and more), eating out and in (street hawkers, restaurants to drool over and who delivers), health (hospitals, dental, insurance, pharmacies, fitness clubs and parks), entertainment (cinema, concerts and cultural centres), organisations (women's groups, Chambers of Commerce, cultural clubs, expat clubs and those with special interest), Thai language learning (where you'll find Women Learn Thai )… all to delight the female palette.

So what I'm saying is this. That Amy has one whopper of a resource for expat women living in Bangkok. Bar none. She updates often, so be sure to read her blog. And if you have tips of your own, don't be shy. Amy's not.

Time to talk about Amy

Although western women are outnumbered here, we are not exactly scarce (even if it seems so).

Expat women in Bangkok are successful teachers, writers, designers, mothers, wives and business owners.

But not all women slide into this city as smoothy as a finely baked souffle. Like Amy did.

Amy left her comfy position back in the US. Packed what she needed. Then changed her life forever.

Within months of being taken under the wing of a knowledgeable American, Amy started helping others coming into Bangkok fresh. And that's really when the idea for the Expat Women's Guide to Living in Thailand came about. From Amy's desire for exploration, excitement and a taste for all things new.

Amy's adventure on buses, boats and tuk tuks eventually led to a greater adventure. Her dear Thai husband Golf. And (as often happens), they now have a sweet addition, Aidan.

Amy presently resides in California with her young family, hopping over to Bangkok for experiences new and old. I can't wait to see what's new on the menu, for sure.

Mentioned resources…

The Expat Woman's Guide to Living in Thailand (that men like too): Book and site
The Expat Woman's Guide to Living in Thailand: Blog

BNOW (Bangkok Network of Women)
British Women's Group (Bangkok)
Bangkok Guide (online)

Absolutely Bangkok: The portal for the Bangkok connoisseur
Bangkok Bob: A guide to Bangkok
Bangkok Diaries: Tales from the "Big Mango"
Stickman's Bangkok: Living, working, travelling, and teaching English in Bangkok
The FARANG Speaks 2 Much: Insiders take on Thailand


Catherine Wentworth, a semi-retired communication designer, is an expat by default. Now a resident of Bangkok, she's making her way through the ins and out of the Thai language and culture via Women Learn Thai. Care to follow along?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Taking a Leap

The current book I'm reading, The Wishing Year, by Noelle Oxenhandler, has got me thinking about art. I've always wanted to get into art, and I have a collection of beautiful papers sitting in a bag in my bedroom, waiting to be used one day in a beautiful collage/painting.

I've always had an excuse not to pursue it: no time, no money, so space, other responsibilities. But I'm getting to a point in my life now that if I could devote a few hours a week to my art, a whole new world could open up to me - it is my passion, it's just been buried for many years. I even majored in graphic design so that I could produce art and be paid for it. I only discovered later that it was a completely fulfilling pursuit.

Today I found a Craigslist ad that could break me of my excuses (except that I must shop for art supplies!)

UPDATE: I just now responded to the ad. What's the harm in finding out more. It's better than letting this opportunity disappear forever. I'll let you know what happens!

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My New Bonsai

I live in apartment. No balcony, no back yard, no front yard, no nothing for nurturing nature. I love plants and gardening and when I go to Mom and Dad's out in the country, I do a lot of gardening.

Golf gave me a good idea the other day and encouraged me to get a bonsai tree to raise. So that's what I did! Last Sunday was the Oakland Chinatown Street Festival, and Chinatown is where Aidan and I walk every Sunday while Golf goes to the nearby flea market. Anyway, I found a good deal on a pretty little bonsai tree. It's a juniper with the lovely little ceramic figure underneath. It was also pretty cheap, only $17. I wanted to start out with an inexpensive plant so that if I mess up and kill it, it won't be a huge loss. So here's my pretty little bonsai, my indoor garden.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pictures of the Hornet

We've got a national treasure and historical museum right in our own back yard here in Alameda, the USS Hornet, a WWII aircraft carrier that also participated the Apollo 11 manned space mission. I love museums and Golf especially loves WWII history so it was a great combination for the both of us to go as a family. This was also a chance for Aidan to practice his good behavior and he was a very good boy for the most part, until the very end. Here are some of the pictures from our outing!

Friday, August 08, 2008

When in ROME!

My sister Anna told me about this HBO series, ROME and she said it was excellent. Then Mom said the same thing, aside from all the dirty naughty sex scenes. :) But they were right. Golf and I have rented the first season on Netflix and I'm completely hooked! It's very well done and apparently it is historically accurate as well. The costumes, music, acting, everything about it is big budget. I'm very happy to see Indira Varma in there as well, as Niobe. She played in Kama Sutra, another one of my favorite movies.

So if you get a chance to see this series, do it! And to my friends in Thailand, if you see this DVD series for sale, snap it up, it's got an international cast and you will be riveted to your sofas!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Literary Enrichment

Aside from my website and eBook which take all my spare time, I'm left with very little time for self enrichment. For me, self enrichment is reading and reading is about good fiction, literature and contemporary issues of the day.

Fortunately for me, our neighborhood library is excellent at acquiring new publications. I have learned about some excellent books that have come out recently from author interviews on the radio. One book I have on reserve is a new book by Susan Jacoby called the Age of American Unreason.

In her book, Jacoby
laments the decline of middlebrow American culture and presents a cogent defense of intellectualism. America, she believes, faces a "crisis of memory and knowledge," in which anti-intellectualism is not only tolerated but celebrated by those in politics and the media to whom we are all "just folks."

I can hardly wait until I can get it - I have the book on hold, so hopefully within the next few weeks.

I've also just finished the 27 disc (!) audio recording of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. It's wonderful to listen to a great story while walking with Aidan or preparing dinner. I had read Rand's Atlas Shrugged years ago and greatly admired it. The library also has a copy of Atlas on audio recording, so I plan to listen again as the book is over 1000 pages of 8 point type. Anyway, The Fountainhead is fine literature and because it takes some study of the characters and plot to fully understand and appreciate the story, I was thrilled to find that Cliffsnotes has a site online that offers their work for free! I thought I'd have to purchase a Cliffsnotes book for Fountainhead, but I found the Cliffsnotes for Fountainhead here.

Another recent fictional piece I've enjoyed was an Oprah book of the month selection called Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. It's about an intersex (hermaphrodite) person who was raised as a girl in childhood and only at puberty did she discover that she was more of a he and so changed his identity. The book chronicles several generations including the grandparents' immigration from Greece in the early 1900s to present day. This book won the Pulitzer Prize so I was thoroughly intrigued about it and I was not disappointed.

My life cannot be all about business and family, and books have always been my good friends.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Expat Woman's Guide to Living in Bangkok

The Expat Woman's Guide to Living in Bangkok

My website and eBook are up and ready to go, at long last! I think the website looks pretty good. It's the first time I've ever used Wordpress and it's taken a bit of getting used to, with lots of trial and error. I've still got some issues I'd like to improve upon, and I think it shall look better over time as I learn how to use Wordpress.

I've already posted a couple of blog entries and even if you're not in the market to purchase my book, I'd love all my readers to take a quick look at the sample PDF files I have of chapter excerpts. Look under the Book Preview link. I'm rather proud of my results. I've worked hard and it's taken a long time because I can work pretty much only when Aidan is sleeping or napping during the day. This explains why I haven't posted on this blog in a very long time, but I hope to change that soon.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Termin-Aidan!

I could not resist sharing this little video clip.

We're off to see the parade this morning. Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Monkey Beanz

I want to promote a fellow American/Thai business. Julia and her Thai husband, Bee, run Monkey Beanz, a clothing and toy company that promotes fair trade with hand made goods from Thailand. An interview about Monkey Beanz can be found here - Julia has a very interesting story and high standards with her business philosophy. Julia and Bee have two daughters.

Friday, June 27, 2008

We are GOING!

Last week Golf got our tickets to Thailand! I was prepared to cringe at the airline ticket, but for it being high season and the fact that supposedly the airlines are charging so much more for travel because of fuel costs, I was surprised that the price was reasonable.

We'll be there for Loy Krathong, which this year, is the 13th of November. This is my favorite Thai holiday and Golf and I really wanted to be in Thailand for this holiday to show it to Aidan. One of my most memorable years was when I went with my Thai friend and colleague (at the time) nicknamed A and we went to Ayuthhaya, the old Thai capital and about 45 minutes north for the festival. There was a carnival, bands playing, Chinese acrobats, a beauty contest (for ladyboys and real ladies) and lots of shopping. A and I made our own krathongs, the small float that has flowers and other greenery and holds three sticks of incense and a candle that is floated on a river or stream - or any body of water for that matter. Needless to say, A's krathong looked far superior to mine, but it was great fun to make.

I think it would be so much fun to show Aidan something similar for his first Loy Krathong.

But before that, there are SO many issues to address in traveling with a small kidlet. The first is keeping him occupied on that tremendously long flight. He's also still sleeping in his baby crib, which he's going to outgrow in less than a year anyway. In Thailand, he will have to sleep in a big bed, either between Golf and me or in his own little bed, depending on what's available. With bathing, Aidan's always had baths in the tub. Thai rooms have mostly showers and so we'll have to teach Aidan how to take a shower.... I mean some of these are minor, but it's still things he's never tried before and can be worked out fine, especially once we 've done it.

Anyway, we're very excited about getting Aidan caught up on speaking Thai and interacting with his Thai relatives. Chai-Yo!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Feeling Hot Hot Hot

We're roasting over here in the Bay Area. I live in Alameda, which is in the East Bay, but not inland enough for really hot temperatures. The highest temps we normally get are in the 80F/27C and most homes do not have air conditioning. We don't have an A/C nor do we have a fan that does any good! We have one very small one that doubles as a heater and barely moves the air around. The other one I have is one that Golf bought me that is teeny and it hooks up with one of my ports in my computer! So neat, I'm sitting here with it fanning my face right now! So at the moment it is 89 F/36C. Pretty damn warm for not having any good method of cooling down. I do have a spray bottle I use with my tiny fan. :)

More good news: Golf is currently booking us some airline tickets to Bangkok -- we're going to go for Loy Krathong! More coming...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Considering Condos

Part of the "American Dream" is owning your own home, and yes, I've certainly bought into that notion to some degree. Unfortunately, I live in a part of the US where only 20% of the population can afford to be home owners, so the rest of us rent.

Now we have a worldwide energy crisis looming over us and I think it is only the beginning and the impracticalities of suburbia are quickly becoming apparent. Suburbia, developed around the auto, is not sustainable. Densely populated urban areas, where people own condominiums and flats, where you can walk to public transportation and to shops and restaurants - have all your needs met through walking or biking, is the more practical solution.

I love it that I can walk to the grocery store and to the library and to the park. I'm used to urban living from my time living in Bangkok. I never owned a car there; I used buses, taxis, boats, trains and subways. I'd like to be able to replicate that experience here in the United States. When gas hits $6 or more a gallon we won't be so affected. The Europeans have been living this way for years.

Anyway, several months ago, a midrise condo building was completed in Oakland and it is gorgeous. I mentioned to my mother how I would love living in such a place and her response was that she could not think of anything worse. She's country folk and this kind of urban living is not for everyone - but I am a city girl and I don't think I can ever change. I love it. This building is at the gateway to Chinatown, my favorite place in Oakland. The nearby schools look fine.

Take a look at it and see a presentation of the 8 Orchids at their website - at the beginning of the movie you will see the park with two green slides that I take Aidan to every week when Golf goes to the flea market. Tell me your thoughts about dense urban living and how raising a family in the city compares to suburban influence.

We bought the Mercedes....

...of rice cookers on Sunday. It is the Tiger Corp. brand made in Japan and is the best of the best for rice steamers. Seeing how we prepare rice at the very least every week and at most once a day, it's worth it to have a good quality steamer. I read a few reviews of Tiger brand, and one customer said that they've used theirs for 12 years now!

That being said, our cheap (~$20) Chinese made rice cooker was bought shortly after we moved into our apartment three years ago and the non-stick coating in the bowl was chipping off, causing the rice to stick.

When it comes to electronic appliances and equipment, Golf is a big proponent of buying quality brands and paying the extra money for their durability. For a rice cooker to last over a decade and make quality rice is worth it to me to pay more.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The first day with my vest

My weighted vest arrived today! Acutally UPS tried delivering it last Thursday AND Friday, but we were out both of those mornings, but I'm glad I finally have it.

The fit is pretty good, it's a one size fits most. It's also black, as opposed to the blue picture I posted below and it makes me look like a member of the SWAT team. I was getting a couple of looks from people when I was out today LOL!

I was a bit disappointed when I weighed a couple of the weights. There are 20 of them and each are supposed to weigh a pound. There are 20 little pockets all over the vest to hold these weights, therefore the 20 pounds you haul around for your workout. Well, each little weight weighs only 14.2 ounces instead of 16. Mulitply that by 20 and you get 284 ounces or 17.75 pounds - 2 1/4 pound short of 20! I was unhappy about that.

So today I was going to start out with 10 weights, but since they don't each weigh a full pound, I put 12 of them in there, for a total of 10.65 pounds. The weight of the vest is just over a pound, so we'll round it up to 11 3/4 pounds. I power walked my usual route of about three miles and it felt great! I'm glad I started out with that amount of weight and not more.

When I trekked in Nepal, my hips gave me trouble, especially the right one. That happened again today, very mildly. I'll keep it up to get my body used to the added resistence and see how my hips do. I did get some good cardio breathing and felt like for the first time in a long time, my walk was a real workout.

In all I LOVE my vest, just wish it was the full 20 pounds!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm getting serious about it

I've been making big pots of vegetable soup and eating it throughout the week. It adds to my meal and therefore I eat less of the heartier, more fattening parts of the meal - kind of like having a salad before your entree. I would really love to lose the weight that I have gained back since stopping the phentermine diet pills a year and a half ago. I got back down to my Bangkok weight after I stopped breastfeeding Aidan and was able to take those diet pills. They work very well and I love them - which is precisely the reason I should do this without them, phentermine can become addictive if you're not careful.

I regained about 15 of those pounds within 6 months of getting off the pills and they've been stubbornly clinging to my ass and thighs ever since (about a year). I'm tired of it!!! Now Golf and I and Aidan are planning to go back to Thailand for a visit in November and I desperately want to be back at my weight, or less, by that time.

I powerwalk with Aidan, sort of. I walk briskly with him every day, him in his stroller. He just likes to stop and look at things and touch them quite often, so my exercise does not get the intensity and consistency I need to get into shape. I miss feeling toned and am tired of feeling sluggish, so in addition to vamping up my eating habits, I am vamping up my workout routine.

Today I went jogging while Golf put Aidan down for his nap and I was able to keep it up most of the route, which is about three miles. To give my body a challenge and feel myself winded felt so fantastic. I love the feeling of pushing my body and the sense of fatigue after a great workout. I ordered a 20 pound weighted vest to add to my powerwalks from Amazon this morning and am very much looking forward to wearing it when I take Aidan out in the stroller and when I go on my jogs. You add the little weights into the pockets of the vest to get the desired amount, up to 20 pounds. I will do my first walk with 10 extra pounds and see how that feels and take it from there.

When I was conditioning myself to trek the Annapurna Circuit 7 years ago, I put bags of rice into my small backpack and hiked up and down the hills of San Francisco. While it was a good workout it made my back and shoulders ache because the backpack was more of a book bag style backpack, not a hiking backpack with a hip and chest belt or a frame. This vest distributes the weight and that's one of the main reasons I wanted to get it. I'm so excited about getting it! Will keep you updated on my fitness progress.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Baby

My baby turned 3 years old today. Well, yesterday if you consider that Bangkok time is 14 hours ahead of us, but to keep things simple, we're calculating his birth by the time zone we currently occupy. ;)

We actually celebrated Aidan's birthday on Mother's Day, 11 days earlier, over at Mom and Dad's house since that was the time we were going to be there, we thought we'd have his party then. So instead of confusing the poor guy making him think that he gets two birthday's this month, we're not really doing anything today. So here are some pictures from his celebrated birthday about a week and a half ago.

I bought him that little flute the previous day at a craft fair in town. It was only $1, but it was one of his favorite things! I felt a little guilty only spending a buck on my own son, but in the end, I was so happy with the enjoyment he got out of his flute. That was what I wanted for him anyway.

He got cupcakes this year and I splurged on cake and frosting mix from the natural foods section of the grocery store. They cost nearly 4 times what a Duncan Hines cake mix and frosting cost, but that brand tastes sooooo terribly sweet and almost chemically. This mix was very delicious and best of all, the ingredient list didn't take up half the box.

Aidan's grandparents got him:

  • Cars feeding set (plate, spoon, fork, bowl and 2 cups)

  • Swimming trunks

  • Sandals

  • Tee shirt
His Auntie Anne gave him a Target gift card and Golf got him that Totoro doll a few weeks ago. Aidan's always my little baby, but he's turning into a little boy!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Happy 4 Year Anniversary!

Golf and I celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary on Wednesday, April 30th. We went out to a Chinese seafood restaurant and the food was delicious. It was our first time to leave Aidan with someone other than my parents. He stayed with my friend of nearly 15 years, Carolyn. Thank you, Carolyn! Golf and I really enjoyed our date. Here's to many more years together, honey. Kiss kiss!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rice Doubled in Price

I've been hearing on the news over the last few months about the food crisis throughout the world, in particular rice, wheat and corn. Our family eats quite a bit of Thai Jasmine rice and the last time we bought a 25 pound bag of this rice (not the broken rice, this is the only image I could find) we paid about $15. Today we paid $30!! We have finally felt the bite of this food crisis - no pun intended, and although it was not unaffordable to the point where we would not buy it, it was certainly a shock.
It's no wonder people buy rice and hoard it. That's sort of what we did. We still have half a bag when we bought our new rice today. But we were in Chinatown, where it's less expensive and we thought we'd buy it since we were there. Makes me wonder what the price will be next month!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Japan Town Cherry Blossom Festival 2008

On Sunday our family took a trip to San Francisco for the annual Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival. I'd never been to the festival before, but really wanted to go this year since Japanese culture is also of interest to me. This was the first time Aidan rode on a bus! The only down side to the whole experience was the bitterly cold wind. The only place we found for the parade that was available was in the shade of a tall apartment building. We froze ourselves but it was worth it.

Aidan is a big Totoro fan, and his daddy bought him his first Totoro doll from the Kinokuniya bookstore in the Japan Town Plaza. Unlike the Kinokuniya bookstores in Bankok, this one is almost entirely all Japanese books, most popular being Manga with English.

Traditional Japanese dancers. I've always loved the patterns of their costumes.

Taiko drummers. There were several groups of Taiko Dojo drummers. I think of drumming as a masculine pursuit, but that has now changed. Most of the drummers I've seen live or on TV have been women and they are fantastic! Aidan loves the drumming, and who knows, he might take it up when he's older.

In my opinion, this was the highlight of the parade. The Cosplay group!!! Cosplay is short for Costume Play, and fans dress up like their favorite Manga characters. There is a HUGE following in this country, and there are many Cosplay conventions attended by these fans. One of the things I loved about going to this festival is seeing how many non-Asian people are into Japanese culture, Manga included. In this parade, overall, there were probably 1/3 of the participants who were not of Asian decent. Most of the fans in Cosplay are younger - teenagers up through early to mid 20s. What a cool thing to be into! :)

More Cosplay kids. Wish the picture could be clearer, but you get the idea. So fun!

Aidan's highlight was seeing Totoro on the float. The only missing character from the parade was Ultraman. Maybe next year?

Hanging out in the Peace Plaza after the parade, we saw this character. I don't know what this poor kitty's name is, but Aidan really loved playing with him.

While Golf went to get some change for the bus ride back, Aidan and I hung out with all the Cosplay kids. If I didn't have to keep such a close eye on him, I would have talked to some of these guys to find out more about them. Since I used to be into raving years ago, I have an appreciation for sub-cultures of young adults who might be considered freaky by society. Anyway, a little while later Aidan was more than thrilled to see that Totoro had arrived on the scene and he spent a long time playing with him. The person in the suit was fantastic about playing and the other folks nearby got a big kick out of Aidan giving big hugs and dancing with Totoro!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pictures of Aidan at Fairyland

I took Aidan to a little toddler theme park in Downtown Oakland called Fairyland. It's been around for decades and it looks it, although the park is well maintained. The well-worn rides and fairy tale sets had a certain charm to them when they've been around for so long. The weather was fantastic - we've been going through a bit of a heat wave and it feels really good.

Sawatdee Pii Mai - Happy New Year for my Thailand readers out there. I know you scoff when you hear me speak of a heat wave in the Bay Area - our high temps for the day are a few degrees more than the coolest part of the day for you, just before sunrise. So try and stay comfortable and DRY. I would always load up on food, drinks and DVDs during Songkran. The water throwing got old after the first two years I was there. Anyway, here's my Baby. Gonna be three next month!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Maybe a trip to Thailand?

Not a whole lot going on lately. Been waking up between 5am and 6am to work on my eBook. Then I spend the morning and afternoon with Aidan. After he goes down for his nap by 3pm I write and research until 5. Then it's time to make dinner, then spend an hour or so hanging out then time to put Aidan to bed. Afterward, I write and research again til 10 or 10:30pm. Then repeat the next day.

Last Sunday I got hit with a terrible cold. Monday I was laid out with a fever, cough, sore throat and sinus problems. Today I'm only about 65% back to normal. What was so cute was I bought a box of tissues and Aidan kept pulling them out giving me one after another after another. He's so thoughtful and sweet (even if a little over the top!).

Well, as the subject line suggests, I'm hoping our family will be able to make a trip back to Thailand for a visit toward the end of the year. Golf's got some big jobs lined up and it might just be enough to comfortably get us our tickets for the trip. I sure hope so! I miss it, especially since writing my book and doing the voice talent for Speak Like a Thai. I know Golf misses it too and looks forward to seeing his family. They haven't seen Aidan since he was three months old. He's going to be 3 1/2 when they see him again!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Finally Writing It!

I've been quiet over the last few weeks because I've been working in a project I've put on hold for almost a year. I started writing guidebook for people who want to move to Bangkok and I decided to finish it and get it marketed. I'm even narrowing the niche and focusing on women expats.

More and more women are heading to Thailand to live as expats and there are topics that are not covered in other guides and huge topics that don't need to be explained like how to get a Thai girlfriend, for example. I've already got in mind some expansion ideas after this is released!

And it's funny, while doing this creative endeavor, I feel so in my element. I've always been a creative person, but I've put that on the back burner for some time, choosing to focus on more 'practical' considerations. Well, I you know what, I CAN consider creativity now! I enjoy what I'm doing and it doesn't feel like work and best of all, I might be able to make a some money from it.

I will likely partner up with Benjawan Poomsan, author of Thai for Beginners. Another update is that I just finished doing part of the voice talent for the fifth volume of her Speak Like a Thai series which is apparently selling very well. I've done voice talent for volumes 3-5, the fifth not published yet. Benjawan is a great mentor for the world of publishing success for this market.

So I'm putting my sales job on hold until I get this book finished and who knows after that? I like to keep the future open to possibilities.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Been on Blogging Hiatus

Are any of you still around??? I've been taking a break from doing much blogging because I've needed to put my energy elsewhere and I think the project I'm working on is coming along very well. I will write about it in the coming weeks once it is released.

I'm in a Toastmaster's Speech contest tonight! I won the club contest, so now I'm in the area contest which is amongst all the Alameda clubs. My topic tonight is about Time Famine. The inspiration of which was inspired by the high value I give to time and how much I devote to family, work, friends and myself. See these stats for yourself: (courtesy of Tim Ferriss' 4 Hour Work Week Blog)

The USA vs. the World
Average Annual Vacation Days
Italy 42
France 37
Germany 35
Brazil 34
Britain 28
Canada 26
Japan 25
USA 13

Is it any wonder that US Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks just about everything but worker satisfaction?

Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.

The Japanese document approximately 10,000 cases per year of "death by overwork," or karoosh.

Considering the above stats, what must the undocumented US numbers be??

The US is the only nation in the industrialized world with no minimum paid-leave laws. European law provides each worker with 4-5 weeks per year of paid-leave.
Nonetheless, Europe has had a higher productivity rate than the U.S. for 14 out of the 19 years between 1981 and 2000. More just isn’t better.

Unending Workweek Growth and Burnout
Compared to 1970, American managers are working an additional month per year.

Americans are working more hours than any time since the 1920s. 63% of Americans log more than 40 hours per week at the office, and 40% log more than 50 hours per week.

Turnover rates among mid-level associates in New York City law firms is 36%. The entire system is predicated on burnout.

62% of workers routinely end the day with work-related neck pain, 44% report strained eyes, 38% complain of hand pain, and 34% report difficulty in sleeping due to work-related stress.

In total hours, the average middle-income family works four months more than in 1979.

People work approximately 8 weeks longer per year than in 1969—in the space of a single generation—but for roughly the same income (after adjusting for inflation).

40% of employees work overtime or bring work home with them at least once a week.

Work-Life Imbalance and the Disappearing Family
57% of the class of 1999 graduating business students in 11 countries said that attaining work-life balance is their top career goal.

32% percent of workers cited work-life balance as the top priority in their careers, followed by job security at 22% and competitive salary at 18%.

How are they actually doing?
88% of employees say they have a hard time juggling work and life.

70% of working fathers and working mothers report they don’t have enough time for their children.

64% of Americans report that time pressures on working families are getting worse, not better

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My night with Max

This is Max. Melanie and Daryll took me to see him in Oakland and we all got to see a lecture about this sacred artifact of mysterious origins. Max is an authentic ancient crystal skull, a wonder of the world estimated to be thousands of years old and considered by many, to be one of the rarest artifacts ever found on this planet. Max was discovered in Guatemala and was used by Mayan priests for healing, rituals, and prayers. Nobody knows how it was made because there is no tool marks anywhere on the skull. The crystal is also made up of several pieces fused together, so any vibrational frequency caused by a tool to shape it would cause the crystal to crack or shatter. To read more about the story about Max, please go here.

The caretaker of Max made the point during her lecture that quartz crystal, the kind Max is made of, helps to run clocks, computers and other finely tuned technical machinery. It is a conductor of electricity, amplifying its charges. We know that our bodies hold an electrical charge as well (remember the Matrix, not based on pure fantasy!) so when we hold a quartz crystal like this, our thoughts and energy is amplified. I'm not normally a crystal-holding new agey sort of person, but this makes more scientific sense to me.

The skull, I learned, represents Knowledge, not death, for the skull encases the brain. So if somebody has a crystal skull, they are seeking knowledge and Truth within themselves. Isn't that what most spiritual people pursue anyway?

Melanie was so kind to get the two of us into a private session with the skull to touch it and meditate a little bit with it. The movie "The Red Violin" came to mind when coming into contact with such an ancient object that countless numbers of people have come to touch, expressing their deepest prayers and wishes to it. How many rituals has Max been a part of? How was he made and how long ago? How I wish I could have seen a flashback timeline of his life. That was what was on my mind as I held him in front of me forehead to forehead.

What a really really really awesome experience this was for me. Thank you again, Mellie, for sharing this once in a lifetime event!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Redoing my vision board

I'm going to do another vision board. Why? Because, believe it or not, the largest pictures on the one I have now have manifested already!

  • The photo of the beneficiaries of a micro-loan. I gave to a few months ago.
  • A HUGE picture of a Buddha head in a garden. I've been reading up on Buddhism online and a very good book called, "Buddhism without Belief". is a great web resource.
  • Lastly, Oprah! A book I'm reading right now gives detailed instructions on how to study somebody who is extraordinarily successful and how you can take on those traits and make the same sorts of decisions as that person. Part of the exercise is to speed-read biographies about that person, so I have 3 biographies about this powerful and successful woman who I greatly admire.

So what I need to focus deeply on is our finances and success in our careers. Fortunately our family life with our son and our couple time couldn't be better, so the only area in our lives we need to work on is M*O*N*E*Y. Let it floweth into our lives! :)


WOW! The Slim-Fit tea actually works! I weighed myself yesterday and have lost 4 pounds already. My tummy troubles are indeed disappating. So far I'm very pleased with this product. :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Slim-Fit Tea

In the previous post I mentioned the grocery store we visited. One of the products I've seen countless times has been slimming tea. That day, I thought I'd give it a try and I bought the box above for only $2.99. Here are the instructions that go with it (found on this website)

Product Description
Eight Leaf Brand Imperial Monarch's Favorite Royal Ginseng Dieters Tea. This Slim-Fit tea has been proven an outstanding natural "helper" to reduce weight, reduce bloating, improve metablism, cleanse digestive system, and remove excessive fat deposits from your body.Ingredients: Malva Verticellata, Chinese Ginseng, and other natural oriental herbs.

BEFORE USING THE TEA, NOTE THE FOLLOWING: Its normal for some individuals to experience extra bowl movements after using the tea. This is believed to relate to the cleansing of the body's system and should disappear gradually. First time users should restrict themselves to one tea-bag per day after dinner. Not more than two tea-bags per day should be consumed. Eight Leaves Brand Slim-Fit Tea should be strictly avoided by pregnant and nursing mothers, children, elderly and sick peoples. To comply with FDA requirements we do not make any claims to the efficiency of this product.

DIRECTIONS: For best result, drink the tea during meal or half an hour after meal. Drink Tea as hot as it can be.Bring fresh water to a boil. Pour 5 oz of hot water over (1) tea bag in a cup. Cover the cup with a lid and allow to steam for approximately 5 minutes. Stir and press the tea bag gently with spoon and stir well to fully release fragrance of herb. Do not add sugar or sweetener.First time user: Use 8 oz of hot water instead of 5 oz for 1 tea bag. Soak the tea bag for 2-3 minutes instead of standard 5 minutes. Use this instruction for your first 10 tea bags.

First off, the paper instructions included with the tea did not include the directions to dilute it with 8 oz of water for 2-3 minutes. I used full strength with 5 oz of water. I sure got the bubble guts within an hour of drinking it after dinner. By morning I was making several trips to the toilet (I know you want to know all this!). I didn't mind though, think of it as internal cleansing. Last night same thing with a repeat of bathroom visits this morning. It said that this should gradually dissapate, so I hope they're right. I will keep you updated if it actually helps me lose weight.

Waii Jao (Chinese New Year)

I love living in the Bay Area, particularly Alameda, where a short car trip away (about 3 miles) you'll find yourself in downtown Chinatown Oakland. Every Sunday Golf goes to his flea market and I'll walk with Aidan in his stroller around Chinatown, a few blocks away. I let him play in the local park where there's a pretend Chinese junk ship for kids. I love having him interact with all the kids and I've even thrown around the idea of having him attend preschool in Chinatown so he'll begin learning Chinese in addition to his Thai and English.

Across the street from the park is a Chinese grocery store where we go often for food. The owners were having a Lion Dance ceremony done with a long string of firecrackers held up on steel rods outside the entrance, a lion dancer, and the big drums and cymbols. We made our purchase just in time and crossed the street to the park again so the firecrackers wouldn't be too noisy for Aidan's tender ears. What a thrill! I love it so much that I live in a part of the country (and city) that such a spectacle can be seen. All around the Chinatown area as we were walking we could see red paper reminents of the firecrackers from many ceremonies that had taken place over the week. I could hear another bunch of firecrackers being lit off a few blocks away and driving on our way home we saw another storefront going through with the ceremony.

Earlier this week Golf paid respect to his ancestors. Mother, Father, Sister and Brother. We laid out a table of food and lit the candles and incense. This is a twice yearly event, plus we do it on the death anniversary of each family member. Golf's heritage is both Thai and Chinese, so we participate in both cultural rituals. Below are a couple pictures from last week's offering. Notice how my baby has grown into a little boy!!!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

My First Float

Back in March last year, I wrote about my long time desire to float in an isolation tank. In December, for my birthday, I made it known that I wanted to have this experience and there was a float center and spa nearby AND you could buy gift certificates online! ;) My dear friend Caroline took me up on my request and yesterday I finally went in, after a month of forgetting to schedule an appointment, and had my first one hour isolation tank experience!

The photo is what the tank I used actually looks like - it is from the Float Center in nearby Oakland (How spoiled am I to live a mere three miles from this place!). It is about 8 feet long and wide enough that you can stretch your arms out but not fully. When relaxed, you don't bump the sides.

So upon arriving, I was greeted by the co-owner. I arrived a little early so I could look at the artwork (it has an art gallery in the lobby) and she talked with me awhile and then gave me the orientation on how to use the tank while her current clients were finishing up.

First I showered and shampooed my hair - it's very reassuring that you must be head to toe fresh and clean before entering these tanks. Then you wrap your towel and not three feet away is the tank. Before entering, I put in earplugs provided.

The water is about 10 inches deep and has 1000 lbs of Epsom salts dissolved in it. You float like cork bobbing on the water and you cannot sink if you tried. 10 inches of water is still deep enough that you don't touch the bottom of the tank. The water is the same temperature as your body and the air inside is also the same - you feel very little. Once the hatch is closed there is no noise and it is painted black all on the inside, so it is completely dark.

I lay back and look around - sometimes its difficult to tell if my eyes are opened or closed. My breathing was the only sound I heard and because it was all encompassing, I was able to focus on it far easier and repeat my mantras and begin meditation.

It was easy to relax into the water, but now and then I had to focus on my neck because of the natural tendency to flex the neck when floating on your back in regular water. I had to put my hands behind my head to allow for full relaxation at one point, but most the time my arms were relaxed up around my head - more comfortable than down at my sides.

I noticed my breath slowing significantly and my heartbeat still felt the same and at one point my pulsing blood pressure pulsing made me feel like my body was dissipating with every beat. It was weird and very nice, like I was suddenly made out of sand and with every pulse, the outer layers of body were dispersed into the water. I would say that was my experience of leaving the body. Allison, the co-owner with whom I spoke, said it was common to have an out of body experience, or just have the sensation of not feeling your body any longer. My experience did not last long, but I did have it, and it was cool.

Toward the latter part of the hour, I felt very very relaxed. I could feel salt crystals forming on my stomach and arms that were exposed to the air. Allison knocked softly on the pod when the hour was up and I left and showered and shampooed again. Once finished, I sat in the lobby and had a hot tea that she prepared and we talked some more.

I felt uplifted and energetic the rest of the day, but by night, I was exceptionally sleepy. I went to bed early last night and I still feel great today.

A float session is something I would love to be able to do twice a year. I absolutely love it, but it is expensive, so it's got to be for special occasions. If you live near a place that has isolation tanks, give it a try! I am happy to say that I've got one more on my list of things I HAVE TO DO in my lifetime checked off and that makes me feel almost as good as the float itsself. :)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More than a Week Later...

The Leadership Training for Toastmasters went really well last weekend. It got me all fired up to get more members in our club and inject some new energy. I proceeded to update our info at the local paper and post our meetings on this online event announcements page. I even got a call a day later from a prospective guest!

Well last Thursday came and went and the guest never showed. Only SIX members showed up too. - plus a previous guest that came again making us a grand total of SEVEN. After being in a sort of convention with hundreds of Toastmasters from different clubs from all over the region and seeing such enthusiasm, it was a bit of a bummer seeing only SEVEN people. The good news is that despite the low turnout, our guest decided to join us.

I have a possibility of having my first sale tomorrow. I'm really excited about it.

In the meantime, I've been attending my leads group and I went to my first ever Chamber of Commerce Mixer. It was FANTASTIC!!!! There were at least 100 people there, all happy to talk to one another and I met so many wonderful business people, some of whom would make great referral partners. I've already got meetings set up with some of them next week. I love meeting new people, especially positive, forward thinking people with enthusiasm and optimism. A free Mai Tai and glass of wine helped the words flow flawlessly. ;)

I only wish I had done this while living in Bangkok. Sort of a tangent, but I look at what Andrew Biggs has done with his career. He's an Australian living in Thailand for many years and speaks Thai fluently. His background is in journalism, but he also taught English, if I'm not mistaken. He now hosts a show on a Thai TV station, has authored numerous books on speaking English, and now owns and operates an academy. What an ambitious man. Most the westerners I encountered did little more than complain a lot on the job (myself included). This guy kicked it up a notch or several, and got WAY ahead. How satisfying that must be....

On the subject of Thailand, next week I'm also editing the text for the next Speak Like a Thai series. Last time Golf and I partnered up with Benjawan (the author) and her American husband to do the accompanying CD to the booklet. American male and female, Thai male and female speakers, respectively. I love that sort of work, so FUN!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Regional Leadership Training

In about a half hour I'm leaving to the Toastmasters Leadership Training session. I was nominated to be VP of Public Relations for my local Toastmasters club. Right now I'm in charge of keeping our website up to date, and I'll be in charge of promoting our club. This will be great experience because I will need to promote my own service within the community and I'll learn how to do it effectively!

One more bit of good news - I should be HOPEFULLY landing my first sale later this coming week! The CEO of the business development group I belong to referred me to a prospect who is very interested in what I have to offer. Thank you thank you!!!!!

Friday, January 04, 2008


Golf drew this picture of Aidan a few days ago and it looks so much like him that I had to scan it and share it with the world. My husband is actually quite talented and was the illustrator for a book called Thai For Lovers.

It's dumping rain

We're in the middle of a pretty significant storm here, and man am I glad I don't have to go out in it today! Actually if it weren't for the very strong winds, the downpouring rain isn't much more than the rainy days I used to experience in Bangkok.

Back then on those days I was ever so grateful that I did't have to commute in a car or standing for hours in a crowded bus because I worked right across the street from the school. I'd heard horror stories of people getting caught up in traffic jams from flooded streets and downpours that lasted for hours and hours and hours. Can you imagine leaving your office at 6 and not getting home til 10?!?!?!? I've heard that Thais carry little pee cups to deal with the many hours they are stuck in their cars... well, I can see it being used easily for men, but for the ladies, I can't see it happening.

My best friend Mellie commutes with her husband one hour each way to their jobs (they work for the same company) and this morning would have been an absolute misery to have to endure. The beauty of both Golf and I being self employed is that we have the choice of whether or not we venture out in this mess. Needless to say we're staying in! I even discovered, to my delight, that I have all the ingredients to make Chicken Cacciatore for dinner tonight!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Sawatdee Pii Mai!

That's Thai for Happy New Year!

Speaking of Thai, at around 9 AM PST, I logged on to one of my favorite websites that shows multiple web-cam links to various parts of Koh Samui. 9 AM our time was midnight there and it was so fun to watch the Thais ring in the new year.

Like most families with small children, we did not go out last night. Instead I listened to Art Bell on the radio. Every year on NYE he takes phone calls with listener predictions on what they think will happen in the upcoming year. Here is part 1 and here is part 2. He also reads the predictions from the current year (2007) that were made NYE in 2006 to see what came true. It was fun, but I did doze off and on til midnight. Golf then woke me up to hear fireworks and wish one another happy new year.

We plan to go to the temple this coming weekend. If we went today it would be far too crowded, so we'll wait for the crowds to subside. I also would like to have my isolation tank experience this week as well, as part of kicking off 2008 with some introspection and meditation.