10 Years Ago, Part 1: Albuquerque

This is the first of a series of photographic blogs highlighting my last days in the U.S.A. and my first full year as an expat in southern Thailand.

DSC03645_10yearsTen years ago this week, I made my final trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I’d lived since June 1994, along with my brother-in-law.  We were there in order to clean out my home as I was starting a new life here in Phuket.  Keith and I spent a couple of days putting my furniture and boxes filled with the memorabilia of a life in music, books, and travel into a large storage unit under the watchful majesty of Sandia Peak.  Even my beloved car – a lapis lazuli Dodge Neon – went into storage when we were finished.  I thought I’d return to the States within a year or two in order to retrieve my things.  Alas, it was never to be.

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A Year In The Life: 2014

SAM_1660The beginning of a New Year brings the traditional “year in review” post on blogs all over the world.  Thus far, I’ve managed to avoid such an annual wrap-up as I’m not certain it serves much of a purpose.  Now that I’m blogging much more, and am on the verge of several major changes in my life, I feel that I should finally make an attempt to look back on the year past before moving forward. 

ASEAN-member-countriesThe year just begun – 2015 – promises to be a significant one for many reasons.  Not only does it mark the tenth year anniversary of my arrival in Thailand but also the fiftieth anniversary of my birth.  In Southeast Asia, there has been a battle cry of sorts – “Are you ready for 2015?” — for several years now as the Asian Economic Community comes into full affect with English as its official language.  Am I ready, indeed…

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Happy New Year 2015!

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Another year older, another year wiser?  I have to admit that I’m a bit confused – is this the Year of the Sheep or the Year of the Goat.  Some breeds of goats and sheep do look similar (the tails being the usual giveaway) but they aren’t exactly the same animal.  Most websites detailing the Chinese zodiac (including Wikipedia) seem to be going the goat route, a few like the much cuter sheep, and others are saying they are the same.  With the stamps marking the Lunar New Year that I’ve seen so far, most are calling it the Year of the Sheep but the United States Postal Service and Hong Kong Post are both declaring it the Year of the Ram!

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Resolutions? I Think Not…

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Every year, I make a list of improvements that I want to work on during the forthcoming twelve months.  By the first week of January, these “resolutions” are all but forgotten.  Last year, I even made a resolution to not make any more resolutions!  I didn’t keep that one, either.  So, in 2015, I’ve decided I’ll make a list of a few easy-to-keep goals but to call them “suggestions” rather than resolutions.  Perhaps that will work.  Probably not.

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Making A Dream Come True

The top two items remaining in my Bucket List loom like insurmountable mountain peaks.  In fact, one of them is just that: Mount Everest.  No, I don’t desire to climb to the summit.  My dream is to see the great peak from the ground (flying by seems like cheating).  A former co-worker of mine made the trek to Base Camp a couple of years ago and marks it as her singular most intense experience.

But I aim to make the second item a reality first.  Perhaps it will be my last great adventure as I’m not certain I could withstand the rigors of a multi-day trek at high altitude without a great deal of difficulty.  My secondary plans seem a bit more manageable.

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English Camp – December 2014

English Camp Thailand 2014

Earlier this month, the teaching agency I work for sponsored a two-day English Camp at Wat Sri Sunthorn School in the Thalang Sub-District of Phuket.  As are most camps of this type these days, this one revolved around the 2015 initiation of the Asian Economic Community (AEC) and so included plenty of quiz games in which the students had to demonstrate their knowledge of the ten ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) member countries.  Originally, this was to include interviewing tourists on Surin Beach but it was decided it would be better to keep the kids at the school and have them do plenty of on-site role-plays.

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Most Thoughtful Gifts

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It took a couple of years of packages that never arrived and frustrations over extremely high shipping costs to convince my sister and I that annual holiday exchanges between Kansas and Thailand were more trouble than they were worth.  Since 2008 or so, the majority of our exchanges have been the online variety.

But every once in a while, I’m shocked by some morsel in the morning mail delivery.  Whatever it may be, it always reaffirms my belief that my sister is the smartest and most thoughtful person currently living (having inherited those qualities from our dearly-departed mother).  This year, Marilyn truly outdid herself…

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The 12 Days Of Christmas – Variations

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While ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and A Christmas Carol are my favorite pieces of holiday prose, over the past couple of years I’ve found myself accumulating variations on “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.  I even attempted to write my own philatelic rendition but gave up after just a few lines:

On the first day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me
A British Penny Black stamp.
On the second day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me
Two Baby Zeppelins and a British Penny Black stamp…

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First Christmas Card for 2014!

With just two days to go before the holiday, I have just received my first Christmas card for 2014.  Appropriately enough, it was sent from the administrators of the only online stamp collectors’ forum that I am a member of, Stamp Bears.  The envelope was franked with one of the new Silver Bells Wreath Global Forever stamps released a couple of months ago, postmarked with … Continue reading First Christmas Card for 2014!

Busy, Busy Times

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Today I enjoyed the second of two straight days off due to student cancellations.  I was able to spend some rare time off relaxing and even did a bit of Christmas shopping for myself.  I’ve been extremely busy with various projects over the past few weeks and the rest of the ten days remaining until Christmas will be just as busy if not more so.  In fact, my next day off will be the 26th of December (yes, I will be working both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).  I cancelled my lessons for Boxing Day because it is the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami and I intend to mark the day in a couple of different ways.

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