Posts Tagged With: Train travel

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 18 Pepe 0005 (November 4, 2016)

“I see great things in baseball.”
― Walt Whitman



My condolences to Bill Yeates and his family for their great loss.







One Sunday, I traveled to San Francisco to visit my mom, my son Jason and his family, and to have coffee with Peter. While sitting outside Bernie’s coffee shop in Noe Valley, I realized that something about the Golden Hills and my life there has been lacking, Laughter. Laughter seems in short supply in El Dorado Hills. Smiles, there are plenty. Why wouldn’t there be smiles? It is as close to being an ideal place to live as one can imagine. Nevertheless, I rarely hear the sound of laughter, real deep booming out of control laughter. Without laughter is one truly alive — or even healthy? When I am with HRM, I often laugh, but otherwise nada. I need to either find someone up there in the Golden Hills like Peter who can make me laugh or perhaps, I should start rewatching my favorite comedy movies or maybe old Groucho, You Bet Your Life, reruns. Laugh more — you won’t regret it.

As for my mom, she has recovered nicely from her broken hip. She even played an enjoyable game of tossing the ball around with my granddaughter and me. She would throw the ball at me when I wasn’t looking, bounce it off my head and then break out laughing. It annoyed the hell out of me.

While sitting outside of Bernie’s drinking our coffee, Peter started a story about a trip he took many years ago. A little way into it, he stopped and said that he could not remember if what he was saying was true or if he was just making it up. I urged him to continue in any event because it seemed like a good story. So he did — and it was — something about Frank Lloyd Wright, a burning automobile, and an old lady sitting and looking out her window someplace in Nebraska.

About a week later, I returned to SF to show my cousin Frederica around the city. She had just arrived from Italy and had never seen the City before. While there, I received a call from my doctor with the most distressing news possible. Nevertheless, we continued our tour of the most impressive sights in the city and ended up for coffee with Peter at Bernie’s in Noe Valley. (Peter can be considered one of the city’s more impressive sights.) Frederica was indignant that instead of a spoon to stir the sugar into her espresso she was given one of those disposable wood stirring sticks. After a crazy time maneuvering through rush hour traffic in downtown, she took the train back to Menlo Park where she is staying with some friends and I proceeded on back to the Golden Hills.
Frederica and I



“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
Marcel Proust, À la recherche du temps perdu
While conversing with Peter in front of Bernie’s coffee shop, for some reason, we got into a discussion about India where Peter and Barrie spent many years and where I have, for a long time, longed to go. I mentioned a book about India I read several years ago of which I was quite fond. I could not remember its name but promised Peter I would search for it and let him know. After three days of searching on my computer, I located the book and sent the information to Peter. I also decided to buy the book on Amazon and reread it on my Kindle to see if it was as enjoyable as I remembered.

After reading a few pages, I recalled that the book was also one of the reasons I had put off traveling to India. You see, when I travel, I prefer traveling alone and although I enjoy the “Great Sights” like anyone, I especially like searching for the odd and a little dangerous — like the night I found myself in a knife fight in a rural town in Turkey that eventually prompted the leader of the Turkish mafia to demand I persuade him why he should not have me killed. I knew India for me would never be merely a visit to the Taj Mahal or the Red Fort and the like, but a lifetime commitment.

“A journey, I reflected, is of no merit unless it has tested you. You can stay at home and read of others’ experiences, but it’s not the same as getting out of trouble yourself.”
Shah, Tahir. The Complete Collection of Travel Literature: In Search of King Solomon’s Mines, Beyond the Devil’s Teeth, House of the Tiger King, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Travels With Myself, Trail of Feathers. Secretum Mundi.
Anyway, I guess the book can be considered a travelogue. There are many great travel books, like “A Short Walk Through the Hindu Kush,” and several by Krakauer that read like great novels. Tahir Shah’s book is one also — where the travel leaves off and the novel begins, however, is difficult to discern.

The book begins with Tahir Shah as a young boy in England visited by Hafiz Jan, the hereditary Afghan guard of the tomb of his ancestor the great Muslim general Jan Fishan Kahn (a nom de Guerre that translates to, “He that Scatters Souls.”) He traveled to England because he had a vision of young Tahir, the last of his line, falling into a culvert and dying. He believed it was his duty to prevent it. Hafiz Jon is welcomed by Tahir’s father and takes up residence in Tahir’s home where he sleeps on the floor in front of his bedroom door. The Afghan guard had also spent some time before assuming his hereditary duties guarding the tomb as an apprentice to a great magician in India. The magic we are talking about here is not magic but illusion — the illusion of Houdini and the Indian god-men and sadhus for thousands of years. He began teaching the eager young Tahir the secrets of illusion. The training went well until one day, during an exhibition of Tahir’s magic educational accomplishments, a mishap occurred that almost set his parents on fire. Soon after, Hafiz Jan was sent back to India to resume his hereditary duties.

Years later, Tahir, as a young man, traveled to India found the guard, apprenticed himself to the guard’s teacher, a rather overbearing sort and after a mostly unpleasant education sets off at the request of his teacher to travel throughout India searching for “insider information.” What one learns along with Tahir are the tricks of the trade of the god-men, sadhus and the like that have enthralled millions of poor and gullible Indians and attracted hundreds of westerners to journey there to sit at the feet of holy mystics absorbing their wisdom — for a price.

“Because,” he called out, “we were on a quest . . .” “A quest for what?” “For a third eye. You see, in the seventies, India was Disneyland … it was the Disneyland of the soul.”… “[W]e had all been to India in search of the third eye, but had left with nothing but diarrhea.”
Shah, Tahir. Sorcerer’s Apprentice: An Incredible Journey into the World of India’s Godmen. Arcade Publishing.

Among these Godmen, Tahir and his sidekick, a 13-year-old thief and con-artist named Balu, spent some time at a luxurious mostly pink ashram of a well known Guru and in addition to describing at length the oddness of the entire set up, recounts some of his more private weirdness:

“When it came to divine eccentricity, Sri Gobind was no exception. His followers took great pride in the tales of their teacher’s irregularities. Every so often, gripped by an insatiable desire, the guru would jump naked from his bed. Running into the heart-shaped gardens, he would relieve himself in the bushes. Or, in the middle of an address, he had been known to rip off all his clothes and anoint his flabby belly with buffalo milk butter. Each morning, his fans averred, the holy man would douse himself in a bath of potassium permanganate. The immersion gave his skin its exotic purply-brown tinge. He would dress his hair with a pomade of seasoned egg whites,-dab his earlobes with witch hazel; and spray his nether regions with his own blend of catnip cologne.”
Shah, Tahir. Sorcerer’s Apprentice: An Incredible Journey into the World of India’s Godmen. Arcade Publishing.

Along the way, Tahir explores the economic and social life of India through stories about the people he meets such as the cadaver collectors and their business of providing the bones for the skeletons in most medical school classrooms of the world, and the women who rent cows after the owners milk them in the morning then stand on the street corners during the day selling the pleasure of feeding the cow to passers-by and in the evenings selling the cow patties to brick makers and so on. The reason why India with its incredibly concentrated population is not sitting on a pile of garbage and human refuse is that that very garbage and refuse is the resource that supports much of the population.

“Real travel is not about the highlights with which you dazzle your friends once you’re home. It’s about the loneliness, the solitude, the evenings spent by yourself, pining to be somewhere else. Those are the moments of true value. You feel half proud of them and half ashamed and you hold them to your heart”
Tahir Shah

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

PS: Amazon had a special on where one could buy all of Tahir Shah’s travel books for the price of one, so I bought them all. I am now enjoying his story about finding a fake map of the mythical King Solomon’s mines in a curio shop in Jerusalem and setting off to Ethiopia where he believes the mines described in the fake map might have been located — if they were real. There he hires a taxi driver as an interpreter, travels by some of the most uncomfortable and dangerous modes of transportation imaginable, explores an illegal gold mine where children are sent into the narrow tunnels and many of them die, spends several nights in an Ethiopian jail, just misses a dinner with Idi Amin, is befriended by the manager of a government gold mine who wants to emigrate to America, travels to a land where the men, instead of head hunting for a hobby, cut off the testicles of their enemies and carry them in sacks around their necks and so on and on. Alas, despite the danger and discomfort he finds nothing but adventure.

“Most journeys have a clear beginning, but on some, the ending is less well-defined. The question is, at what point do you bite your lip and head for home?”
Tahir Shah

(It sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it?)







1. For every human on Earth, there are 1.6 million ants. The total weight of all those ants, however, is about the same as all the humans.

(Hmm, this would mean a single human would weigh the same as 1.6 million ants. Those must be very small ants.)

2. Ten percent of all the photos ever taken were taken in the last 12 months.

(I bet more than half of them are of cats or dogs and posted on Facebook.)

3. Shakespeare made up the name “Jessica” for his play Merchant of Venice.


4. Your chances of being killed by a vending machine are actually twice as large as your chance of being bitten by a shark.

(How does a vending machine kill?)

5. Nowhere in the Humpty Dumpty Nursery Rhyme does it say that Humpty Dumpty is an egg.

(Another of life’s verities shattered.)







A. DeLong on Top:

“The authors say the US went off the rails in the 1980s, when government suddenly became the problem, and hundreds of years of institutions were torn down and simply not replaced. The result is a flabby, bloated economy that is bland and non-productive. Moves in the 80s have resulted in a “negative sum healthcare system” that is entirely about processing claims, with providers hiring armies of clerks to do battle with clerks of the insurers and government over codes and reimbursement. Totally nonproductive, consuming hundreds of billions of dollars every year. There is also the financial sector, producing literally nothing, except massive amounts of new money out of thin air, or rather from computer entries in accounts. Cash issued by governments now accounts for just 6% of the money supply, as central banks have been bypassed completely. The nonproductive financial sector siphons the brightest minds and has more than doubled its share of the economy, without producing, improving or exporting anything. Quite the opposite, as wealth is concentrating to the detriment of the vast majority, including to the detriment of governments that enabled it all. Healthcare and finance account for a quarter of the American economy.”
Review by David Wineberg of, Concrete Economics: The Hamilton Approach to Economic Growth and Policy by Stephen S. Cohen, and J. Bradford DeLong.


B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Life is one-half lies — lies you tell yourself or tell others, and one-half truth — truth that batters your beliefs or demands your acceptance. Without both, there are no stories. Without stories, what is there to life?”


C. Today’s Poem:


The Mystery

This poem is ascribed to Amergin, a Milesian prince or druid who settled in Ireland hundreds of years before Christ. It is taken from the Leabhar Gabhala, or Book of Invasions and translated by Douglas Hyde (see note below).

I am the wind which breathes upon the sea,
I am the wave of the ocean,
I am the murmur of the billows,
I am the ox of the seven combats,
I am the vulture upon the rocks,
I am the beam of the sun,
I am the fairest of plants,
I am the wild boar in valour,
I am a salmon in the water,
I am a lake in the plain,
I am a word of science,
I am the point of the lance of battle,
I am the God who created in the head the fire.
Who is it who throws light into the meeting on the mountain?
Who announces the ages of the moon?
Who teaches the place where couches the sun?
(If not I)

Note: ”The three short pieces of verse ascribed to Amergin are certainly very ancient and very strange. But as the whole story of the Milesian Invasion is wrapped in mystery and is quite possibly a rationalized account of early Irish mythology no faith can be placed in the alleged date or genuineness of Amergin’s verses. They are of interest, because as Irish tradition has them as being the first verses made in Ireland, so it may very well be they actually do present the oldest surviving lines of any vernacular tongue in Europe except Greece.”
Douglas Hyde, The Story of Early Gaelic Literature.


C. What’s wrong with professional football today?

Professional football viewership has begun to decrease sharply. There have been many theories proposed to account for this. I believe the real reason is evident by simply looking at the sidelines during a game. It used to be that the coaches who prowled along the sidelines had that lean and hungry look, like Bill Walsh and Tom Landry. Now when one looks at those same sidelines it seems as though the coaches are auditioning for the role of Santa Claus in a Christmas pageant. If in an activity where the participants are expected to maintain a regime of rigorous self-improvement, how can one expect from them high performance when their mentors are advertisements for self-indulgence?


D. Comments on my prior post:

From Naida:

Hi Joe
Thanks for Ruth’s ballot advice— enlightening and entertaining. I hope she keeps sending that summation in election years. Every time I’m in the voting booth looking at the propositions I feel angry. People are elected and paid to decide those issues, yet I must do that work! — an old lady out here with many other things to do, putting off those pesky propositions until it’s too late and then hoping I know enough, usually skipping most of them and fearing that hoards of people more ignorant than I, are randomly stabbing at yes or no and collectively making wrong decisions. Hiram Johnson meant well, and the Initiative was good for a several decades, but no longer. IMO

Re turkeys:
In their brown-feathered, genetically-unaltered state turkeys are good travelers, following the waterways and making good time. They coast for long distances between wing flaps. The rivers are not barriers (Suisun Strait would be). But they can’t travel during hatching time. The moms form babysitting co-ops, 3-4 per group, about 12 pullets per mom. Those flightless fuzzy balls on long legs observe their aunties and moms pecking and scratching for seeds, bugs and more. The moms relieve each other as sentries, hopping to a high boulder. Round and round she turns, slowly. Intently watching for potential enemies. If she sees anything suspect, she emits a loud piew-piew-pieu, and they all vanish into the brush.

Someday I should publish my article on the dispersal of turkeys in CA, escapees from missions Carmel and San Jose. The State Dept of F & W tells everyone that turkeys were first introduced to CA in 1906. Actually they were re-introduced after being exterminated along with 100s of other bird species during the gold rush. Brown turkeys are smart. I’ve seen them dive-bomb our horse in coordinated attacks, circling and taking turns. They like to see him buck and kick out. They sleep in oak trees. In the early morning the leader floats down and stands there long enough to know the place is safe. Then, on signal, they all go down to breakfast.


From Barrie:

My family lived in the Seabrook house in Rhinebeck in 1953, the summer my dad was an actor at the Hyde Park Playhouse. There was a death mask of Wm Seabrook at the top of the stairs. He committed suicide. It was a wonderful summer and we went to tea at Valkill, Elinor Roosevelt’s home. My mother had introduced herself when Mrs. Roosevelt came to see Pygmalion in which my dad was Col Pickering.




“A good traveler has no fixed plan and is not intent on arriving.”
Lao Tzu


Categories: October through December 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment. March 9, 2010

I have just returned from a quick and strange trip to Bangkok. On Sunday, I received a call informing me that the trip to the beach that Hayden been whisked away for on Friday and that I was to go to Bangkok right away and retrieve him. So yesterday morning I took an early flight from Chiang Mai to Thailand, got a massage, picked up Hayden and took him to the train station for an overnight train trip back to Chiang Mai, arriving at 9:30 AM this morning. We travelled second class with the berths arranged along the sides of the RR car like the Pullman cars in the old movies. No dining car, but food and drink vendors were out in force. In the morning we got up at sunrise and watched the mountains and rice paddies slide by. Some of the paddies have been planted and show a bright green and others have just had their stubble burned and are black and brown, white others are still burning with thick yellow smoke rising over the horizon.

While in BKK I learned that my nanny duties have been increased it appears that I will be hosting a five-year old friend of Hayden’s from BKK while they both attend the summer session at Hayden’s school.

Today’s photograph is of Hayden on his bunk in the train mugging for the camera.



Saturday March 6 8:30 PM

Hayden and Nikki left for BKK at 5 PM Yesterday. Jerry came by and we had a nice talk. Today I went for a morning walk then spent the rest of the day in the Sala writing except for a nap from 2 to 4.

Nikki called several times,telling me that Hayden went to dentist and had a tooth removed and was very brave about it. He also said that Nat decided they were not going to the beach as we expected she would.

I am lyIng in bed and writing this and suspect that we have fleas.


Up early. breakfast on patio. To Sala to work on travel schedule. Air Asia $59 one way. Leave tomorrow morning at 8:20 AM. Return by train. Leave BKK at 7:35 PM. Nikki to pay. See Kesorn (1300-1800 baht) $40-$60


Drove to airport, bought Air Asia one way ticket to BKK (2300 baht ($71.88)). Came back, had a cigar and some water with Jerry and discussed things. Returned to house and hope for lunch.

MONDAY, MARCH 8, 2010 6 PM

Got up at six with my cell phone alarm. The electricity’s gone down, no water, no lights, no AC. Went back to bed until 6:30 grumbling about no shower or teeth brushing. Dressed went out sat on patio. Pi Newan brought breakfast of Fruit and yoghurt. Got in the car and drove towards “Leo’s House”. Met Jerry driving the other way. Agreed to use his car. Returned mine. Went to airport. Got on plane, learned it was going to BKK international airport and not the much closer domestic airport. Landed took the bus to Sukhumvit soi 11, went to coffee cafe ordered cafe latte, waited for Nikki. He arrived ordered coffee and I ordered a float. Talked about schedule and bitched about Nat. Left, went to Health club. Met Kesorn. Wonderful massage and blow job. Agreed for her to meet me in Chiang Mai on the 17th. Took sauna and steam and shower. 1000 baht tip for Kesorn and 700 to HC for massage. Went back to Cafe ordered Cafe latte. Nikki called. Said we will leave from Soi 10. Nat said I should get taxi and load at building. Did. Hayden and Nikki arrived with luggage. No Nat. Took about 45 min to get to train station. Ate crap prepared by Nat. Went into train car, and are waiting to leave.

10 PM

Sitting on by bunk writing this. Hayden asleep in the upper bunk, We are on this train because last week Nat insisted that Nikki leave Chiang Mai as early as possible on Thursday, Hayden’s graduation day, because she needed a vacation at the beach, When Nikki and Hayden arrived the plans changed and Hayden was to go to his dental appointment and have a tooth removed. The beach was forgotten and I was called to fly to BKK and pick the boy up and return him to Chiang Mai, We are taking the train in part to save a little money.

I am no more than a male nanny for a forlorn and lonely little boy. I have done this twice before and maybe I will get it right this time. There is little or nothing in it for me, one way or another he will be gone back to Nat. or to Nikki. With Jessica we had a little girl who bravely made a choice. With Jason, I made a mistake taking him from his aunt in Italy that he loved because I wrongly believed that he would be better off with a parent and as for my aunt, I left him in the position I find myself in now, aging, alone, abandoned and forgotten.

When I lived in Rome, I lived by myself and Jason lived with my aunt. I lived for a time on the fourth floor of a pension that overlooked the church of St. Paul’s within the walls, the main protestant church in the city at that time. In was a haven for the daughters of the wealthy from the protestant north who resided there while studying music at Santa Cecilia. I would listen to piano music drift across the small street and in through my open window in the evenings. I was so enraptured by the music that I wanted to meet the artist.

I did at a wine and cheese reception for a visiting concert performer that I attended to get some food since at that time I did not have enough money to afford any food not supplied by an invitation to dinner from one of my relatives. She was beautiful and the daughter of the owner of the Maersk shipping line a Danish company, one of the largest shipping companies in the world. We dated. I fell in love. One day she said that her father heard that she was seeing a penniless italian and ordered her back to Denmark to get married into one of the royal families, Swedish, Danish, Belgian whatever. She left. I wrote her letters to the address she gave me, but never received an answer.

During this time I affected a belief that I could be a poet. My manuscripts such as they were are long gone, especially in my most recent abandonment of all that I owned. Except for a bit of doggerel, only two remain in my memory and even at that, one is a fragment of a larger poem.

The first was my attempt to address what I thought was a failure of the imagist poetry that was the rage at the time. I believed that, like still lifes in paintings, poetry should be able to paint a picture in words of ordinary objects like Keats did with the Grecian Urn.

Awareness spreads,
In the corner by the beds.
from the dressers lip
it falls
upon the carpet.
all to naked rage
That had not crept
beyond its gaze.

The second one is one sentence from the middle section of a larger work:

The wanderer
Travels not by hook
but sprawled
upon the empty tides
of fairy worlds
and real
and the sham cult
darkness lie
that was
yet will not be
marks his passage
on nothing
but cognition.

The beginning of the poem was a rumination on the Esedra Fountain in Rome at night as the lights of the city played upon the waters.

The end or the poem speculated on the futility of despair and ended with the words “Red Sails Returning” an image taken from Tristan and Isolde tales.

There were many versions of Tristan, in some there were two Isolde, the one Tristan loved and Isolde of the white hands who he married and who loved him and did not have the baggage of being married to someone else. Anyway, Tristan had gone away on a quest or something and he promised Isolde that on his return as his ship hove into view it will display one of the two sets of sails. If the sails were white he will have lived and if red he would be dead. As it happened he returned at sunset with white sails billowing. Unfortunately since it was sunset they appeared red to the lookout who when he reported this to Isolde she promptly died in despair.

I do not know if any of this is the correct version of the story, its been over forty years since I read the tales but I like it this way.



Irwin writes:

i really enjoyed reading about the train trip from bkk to chaing mai (by the way i saw a package of spice labled “chaing mai” at the world market store in costa mesa today) and particularly your description of the passing landscape. i myself am fond of trains, however have only been on three short train trips in the last thirty years. one to san diego and back, one to san juan capistrano (my grandkids first train trip – i hope they remember) and two to downtown los angeles (one to connect with the gold line and attend chinese new years parade in chinatown, the other as part of a mystery train trip that my last wife hoodwinked me into years ago).

my fondest memory of train travel is a trip my mom and i took across the country from new jersey to san diego in 1942 (i think it was 42 it could have been forty-three, four or five). anyway the train was full of returning-from-the-war soldiers. at that time my mom was still young and attractive…the soldiers adopted me as a means of getting mom’s attention and i remember being carried on their shoulders through the club car. mom and i shared an upper birth and we watched the passing scene before it got too dark. the clikety clack of the train wheels (do they still make that sound?) was soothing and put me to sleep fast every night. if i can make it, i have always wanted to take the orient express from istanbul to venice – all i need is some good fortune, good coin and good health; at the moment out of sight.

Joe’s response to Irwin:

Trains rock. Most of my train trips were the commuter runs on the Hudson line from Yorktown Heights in Westchester County to my office in Rockafeller Center.

My fondest memories of my my mom getting hit on, occurred at one of the annual Tuckahoe (the town I grew up in in NY) social club (either the local deer-hunter type hunting club or the church men’s club I do not remember which) picnic-clam bake at a place called Peach Lake (I do not know why it was called that because there certainly were no peaches there) . My father and the other men spent the day standing at tables with buckets of clams and kegs of beer in front of them, opening the clams with lightning speed, downing them in heroic and disgusting quantities and washing them down with unbelievable amounts of beer until they were all completely bloated and drunk. We kids went swimming in the lake while the wives fumed. This one time my father, drunk as the proverbial skunk (I’ve never seen a drunken skunk proverbially or not) herded my mother, my younger brother and I into the car for the ride home, my mother shouting that he was too drunk to drive and my father equally loudly protesting that he was not. My father then put the car into reverse instead of forward and promptly drove us into the little stream that fed the lake. After fishing us all out, the other drunks attempted to calm down my fuming mother while copping a feel if they could get away with it.

Ah, the glorious memories of my golden youth. I much prefer the astigmatic view of my decrepitude.

Cuzin, may you get your wish to ride the Orient Express, and may you have an exciting adventure with a dark and beautiful Israeli spy and may you take me along to watch.


From Nikki:

Well i am glad ur train experience went ok this was an all complete and new way of traveling and looks like we went back in time when train was the only way of traveling.
Also was fun for the both of u the boy had a time to enjoy the view of the country and all the little thing like preparing the berth the conductor and the food carried from the service people all was fun i might think to take a trip myself next time after all why rushing all the time?
So nothing new since our last phone calls the other kid is due to stay there soon just after his school is finished in bkk i guess is another poor soul left abandoned from the mother they have to work in the pubs no time to grow them up.
We leave in a world of selfishness and even grow a child is considered a burden and an annoyance not to sacrifice.
They don’t know what they are missing those moments and progress of the kids the time when start to count numbers and writing they will never come back in ur memory if u don’t share them together
I was happy to see Hayden start to count and reading numbers when we were in the taxi looking at the taximeter rolling the fare.
well so far i think we are safe at least for the all summer i still don’t know if his passport is been renewed but i will have a check soon.
I ll try to squeeze another week soon in chang mai as soon i got my schedule
waiting for the Finale of the last story of the rats…………
take care keep me update i have to fly to New York few times this month but i can still watch u guys on skype

Joe’s Response:

She arrived by about 3 PM and almost immediately went to the gym and took the car. Hayden wanted to go swimming. I guess to follow his mother. We walked to the pool. Hayden swam for almost two hours and had a good time. When Natalie finished her exercises, she insisted that he leave the pool and we go back home. Hayden usually changes into dry clothes when we leave the pool. She insisted that he just dry himself and go home in his wet trunks because he was going to take a shower and get wet anyway. An argument ensued between Hayden and Natalie about this and a compromise was reached where he could put on the dry clothes but not his underwear. There then was a tussle about whether I should carry the bag with Hayden’s wet shirt and towel. She wanted to carry it and Hayden wanted me to do so. Hayden won and Natalie appeared annoyed.

When we reached the car she complained that I did not put gas in the car and the car had not been washed. I said I did not know that she was coming today or otherwise I would have gassed it up. She said that I should have anyway since I drove the car everywhere. I said except when Nikki is here, I hardly ever use the car. She clearly was looking for an argument.

While driving back to the House, she told Haden the she was going to Italy this month. She said she was going with someone whose name sounded like Nan Nut a woman friend of Natalies who was going to look at Schools for Hayden. I do not know what this all means other that that I am out of this.

Hayden has had his shower and is in the bedroom with me coloring with coloring pencils that Natalie brought with her.

I will keep you informed as things progress. We will eat dinner soon.

More from Joe to Nikki:

I forgot to mention that as we were leaving the house to go to the swimming pool, for some reason I said “I can fly. What movie did that come from?” And Hayden answered immediately, “Peter Pen”. That was the right answer. The boy is a genius.

Hayden wants me to tell you “Zinky-doo” and “Scooby-doo”. Maybe he is not such a genius after all.

More from Joe:

Normally, I would be writing this stuff in my journal, but since it includes you also I will forgo my journal for the next few days but record whatever in these emails to yo.

It is now 7PM. Natalie and Hayden are off to get a sim card for her phone. She cadged 300 baht from me for the card with the excuse that she did not want to go upstairs to get the money.

In any event, after a chilly beginning she was like the “Old Natalie” during dinner pleasant and talkative. She cooked so the food was great. She bought some figs at an organic market that she said had recently opened in the Airport. After she spoke with you, she began telling me of her plans to relocate to Italy and settle in the Rome area with you and me. Yes, you read that correctly, “with you and me” and Hayden and send Hayden to elementary school there. She appeared serious. I suspect she was spinning out another of her fantasies for our benefit. She thinks you should relocate back to Fumicino. I told he that I thought you were pretty committed to the North.

Nikki’s response:

Wow what a day u had u can count me responsible for the smoking in the car i can handle the heat from her but the baby is gonna report your smoking too as only a child can do.
I have the feeling that when she is around everybody is nervous and upthight waiting a storm coming, look at the difference when i was there we were a good pack having fun and go along pretty smooth and relaxed.
i got the address and will send her ticket soon so i guess is my time to have somebody barking at me the all day.
I hope the baby is having a good preschool time before he start the summer term anyway is the other boy coming?
Not surprise that the gardeners screw up the cutting of the tree also cause she has no idea of what in the hell want to do or organize the setting of the tree send me some pic about their lousy job.
I guess her visit cost u more than u spend in a week i hope she filled up the fridge for u guys at least
I need a report how Hayden interacte with her if he is ok or looks stressed
Nothing much news here i had my new york canceled for maintenance so i have to wait till the 14th to get back to new york this time i take my brother with me we gonna stay at one of those Mariott inns and Steven will accomodate us for a very good rate something less than 40 bucks a nite with a corporate discount from his job position in the Mariott
I will fly to JFK another 3 times this month and get ready for her visit to Rome God help us.
I don’t know what is coming next but i ll try to get back to chang mai quickly maybe ill back with her let’s see
We had another snowfall i think is the last from this winter spring should enter soon
Miss our weekly barbecue with our friends and neiboroughs
Wish u a pleasent weekend this time in peace try to finish the story of the rat want to see the finale
Goog luck

Joe’s message to Nikki:

She woke me up this morning a 5:30 AM or so to drive her to the airport for her 7 AM flight to Bangkok. I did so and returned. I did not take any money with me in order to give me coverage for refusing any last minute requests.

Yesterday I was told that Oo was not bringing the child to Chiang Mai for summer school. This morning I was told that she was bringing him up today but to attend only two weeks of school before he has to leave to visit relatives in the south.

From Nikki again:

She was able even to mess up a poor tree from the garden mybe not explain well to the burmeses what to do or it was a language barrier.
Our burmese or mexican are the African mainly from senegal ghana mali and from those north african regions.
Those are really maintaining our economy since no italian is willing to clean toilets or swipe streets in the cold.
The east european those form the old IRON curtain are doing more skilled job like painting or constructions their women do the nannies or guardian for old senior people if they not end up into the flesh market of sex slavery
So we went in Africa to colonize LIBIA and ETIOPIA now we are colonized by them
Did u finish the story for HAYDEN?
Saturday i am bound to new york with my brother to see my Steven and tour the city

From Ann Marie:

Hello from San Francisco!

Sorry I haven’t been able to keep up the correspondence, but I wanted you to know I immensely enjoy reading your emails. I find myself looking forward to them each day when I open my mail. I’ve shared a few from time to time with Athena and she also continues to enjoy them as well.

Sounds like you are enjoying yourself, and that Hayden is proving to be quite the companion!

Updates on the grandchildren:

Things are going well here. Athena is still doing consistently well in school. We just opened her first checking account and deposited $100 as her reward, and I’m planning to take her to see the play “wicked” as a special treat. I just haven’t decided when since I’m trying to use that as a reward for good personal behavior. She’s entered the realm of teenage hormonal rudeness. I’m hoping it passes quickly! I’ve suddenly become “embarrassing” for just about anything. So far I’m still allowed to drop her off in front of the school, but I expect any second to be asked to let her out at the end of the block. Offering her one of your wonderful emails proves to be the best form of opening her up for conversation. Thank you for that!

Aaron has been a great kid, not giving me any real problems so I’m taking him to see Dr Suessical the musical as his treat for just being an all around good teen, and not causing any more gray hairs. He could apply himself more in school though. We’re working on that with his counselor so he doesn’t fall too far behind. He wants to go to Expression college and learn to design video games. I’m encouraging him gently to stay on that path for now. I’m just thrilled he wants to go to college! He’s also announced he plans to live with me forever or until his future wife wants to move out. He claims he knows a good thing when he has it, and is quite comfortable at home. Gotta love him. I’m sure that will change as soon as I tell him he has to pay rent if he isn’t going to college!
Anthony is in for a rude awakening.He has a court appointment tomorrow. The PO told me yesterday they will begin weekly drug testing and random checks periodically, as well as enforcing stricter punishment. If he disobeys me or skips school I just simply call them up and he will be picked up by the police. He is in general a nice kid, but he has no sense of accountability or responsibility for his actions. This last week for instance he decided to take a vacation to Oregon in the middle of the school year! He told me he was planning to go, however he said he would leave Friday and return Sunday!! He gets back tonight, and will have his first drug test right after court tomorrow. He is doing well at his new school, and the teacher says he hasn’t given him any trouble, but he is already falling behind with his credits. Hopefully the new arrangements with the PO will awaken him to reality a bit.

I’ve posted some new photos of my grandson on my website: there is also a gallery under “family” click on “Petrillo family” to see the old photos I posted of you and Jason. I update my website often, so please feel free to check back often.

Hope you are managing to keep cool in the hot weather! And that your nanny duties don’t tire you out too much

From Bill Gates:

Doesn’t sound as if “re Thai r ment” is all that it’s cracked up to be! Baby sitting TWO is getting a little unreasonable, eh? – especially when last minute plane, train & whatever is involved! You have WAAAY more patience than I do – gotta admire that, I guess. My best to sala and her friends!?

Categories: January 2010 through March 2010 | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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