August saw my return to high school and I’m still trying to adjust. My leisure time went from “perfect” to “will I ever have free-time again”? September will be even busier but I should be able to take a lengthy holiday starting the second week of October. At least the weather has largely cooperated; the mornings and evenings have been relatively cool with only the rare thunderstorm.
Following more than a month of working at a school on an small island just to the east of Phuket Town, I am finally able to pursue a few of my favorite free-time activities. One of those is writing for this blog (which suffered greatly with student assessments and a week-long English camp at the end of the school term). Another is, of course, working on my stamp collection..
It has, indeed, been a “stampy” start to 2015, to use an adjective coined by one of my favorite online collector forums. Not only did I have a few days of holiday time during which I could sort, scan and catalogue many of my stamps and postcards but the first mail delivery of the year brought several philatelic – and other – goodies.
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!
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…
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:
The 26th of December marks ten years since since a tsunami caused by an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra devastated the region surrounding the Indian Ocean and beyond. Although local resorts and government officials like to pretend it never happened in order to not “frighten” potential tourists, remembering the terrible loss of life has deep meaning to many long-time local residents, including myself. It’s unfortunate (and, indeed painful to the families involved) that – in order to keep the actual death counts for Phuket low – many victims are still officially listed here as “missing”. In fact, Phuket originally wasn’t planning to mark this year’s anniversary (and spent the intended budget on the recent Asian Beach Games) but an outcry from family members intending to visit on Boxing Day seems to have taken care of that.
Today, the 7th of December, is Pearl Harbor Day – the anniversary of the attack on the U.S. military bases in Hawaii, which led to America’s entry into the Second World War. It was, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt (a fellow philatelist) declared, “A date which will live in infamy.”