Projects to think about while lying on the bed in front of the fan during 93 degree heat

These are exciting times at Anchaleephorn Garden. Our construction extravaganza has been extended to include another building.

We could have ended with the new stand alone guest bathroom with hand dug cess pit.

After the big garage, the small bathroom has been moving along quickly.

Electricity and tile are being installed.

There will be a shower inside and a sink outside.

The garage and guest room are looking good but right now the cement mixer is still front and center.

Look at the fancy swivel fan overhead on the porch in front of the guest room.

Nam has so prettified all these new additions that there is no place for me to move my tools. So I’ll make a room of my own.

The Sihlamb has been torn apart — again.

The workers convinced me to strike while they had all their equipment in place. They’ll make me a roofed area of 6×8 meter with sloping concrete floor of 4×6 for a labor cost of 12,000 Baht — about $400. I’m guesstimating another $600 for materials. How could I deny my 72 year old self this last request?

The holes for the 6 posts are being dug.

And one of my interesting projects is to construct a gate and motorcycle entry point near the tamarind tree so we can run our motorcycles into the New Sihlamb if the beautiful garage transmogrifies into a cafe.

I’ll have to reinforce the fence posts (that are spaced 2 meters apart) if I cut the barbed wire and then create two further sturdy gate posts next to them. Fun.

Meanwhile, an earlier picture showed the three quarter inch galvanized pipe that made the framework for the Old Sihlamb. So many projects, so little pipe. This morning Nam and I took Banana fritters to the laborers at a work party at the reservoir. This Saturday there will be a party there for the surrounding villagers who use the water from the dam.
People will bring free food. Nam wants to make a dish cooked over charcoal that will show off the herbs in our garden. We will need to take the lorry. I was thinking that maybe I could put together a tent out of the pipe and the heavy duty tarp that was the roof of the Old Sihlamb.

Ho ho.

Could I hoist these 7 feet into the air and stretch them between two posts in the New Sihlamb and make a giant storage rack?

Well, that is, could I get my workers to do it? But semi-seriously I’m investigating the concept of the idea of watching YouTube videos about learning to weld. It’s big here and the workers pop up the frames for buildings like tinker toys.

Meanwhile, to give my brain a break I spend a few hours a day with my new weed whacker. My electric machine died a couple of months ago and we’ve been paying someone to come and mow the yard but we can’t get the result we want like that. So I bit the bullet and bought a gas powered whacker that seems to be a Chinese made copy of the wonderful Honda Whacker. It’s doing a great job but man those weeds had gotten high.

Nam continues to experiment with the many bananas we are reaping. What will she do with the two big boxes of mangos I picked the other day? We picked them just as they were becoming ripe and the few that we’ve eaten so far were great. Nam is making lots of blended fruit smoothies and including herbs that are supposed to be good for what ails you. Today she produced two bottles of aloe vera gel.

Good times.

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Banana crisp

Nam has been working on a banana project that produces a multi-purpose banana flour.

You cut up green bananas and dry them in the sun. (You make it possible to remove the skin by putting the bananas in boiling water for one minute.)

Then you pulverize the dried slices in a blender. Two teaspoons of this floury powder before a meal is a remedy for acid reflux.

Nam also uses the flour to make a variation of the classic shrimp chip.

You substitute the banana flour for ground up shrimp in the shrimp chip recipe. Cooking with Alison:
How to Make Shrimp Chips From Scratch
adapted a recipe from Lily:
http://lilyng2000.blogspot.com/2009/01/prawn-crackers.html

You can eat them straight or as a chip that you dip into a sweet Nam Khim sauce.

You can use other fruits and vegetables to combine with the tapioca powder and then steam, refrigerate, slice, dry again, and puff up by frying in oil.

These are known generically as Khao kriap — rice crisp. With fish as its important ingredient — khao kriap plaa.

In the new kitchen

We’ve spent a few hectic days moving into the new kitchen. The old one was jam packed with material and unfolding the layers meant the expanded items filled up the new kitchen immediately.

Nam’s design ambitions are growing as she experiments with the black shelves here and new cladding on the garage.

It’s delightfully open and light. We can sit and watch the work going on in the garage and guest room.

We’re slowly filling the borders of the house in new ways. I like these transplanted aloe veras.

We have six bougainvillea that we potted in giant concrete planters. They are easier to take care of thusly and they flower well but moving them is a pain and our plans of where to put them keep changing.

During the day we are secluded from view. We are wondering how to create a green barrier for privacy when our interior lights are on at night.

A tsunami of cement

We are using a hell of a lot of cement. We’ve had at least four deliveries.

Our current spate of building started innocently enough. We thought we would tack on a shed roof to the south side of the house and that would give us a place to park motorcycles out of the sun and rain, and would provide a Thai style open air kitchen for preparing large fried dishes.

I became infatuated by the idea of a full kitchen. Nam was unable to go back to our motos living in the squalor of my Sihlamb.

I can’t decide if our decision making is dysfunctional in these circumstances or if we are following our dreams. I’m pleased by the results but my credit card is taking a beating.

However, the payments on the sale of my property are going to roll in for another two and one half years. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

The new kitchen is complete but we haven’t moved in yet because our worker’s tools are still in there as they shift their attention to the garage. As soon as they pour the floor they’ll move their stuff.

Now the garage has grown itself a room. Nam’s son Khing is lonely over at the old house and wants to have overnights more often.

There is still going to be room for the motorcycles.

But now we need another bathroom. And more tile.

Kitchen tile Thai style

Give me tile, lotsa tile, under starry skies above, don’t fence me in.

It’s Sunday, the 8th of April and our workers are putting on a push to finish the kitchen by the 13th, the start of the Songkran Water Festival Holiday. That means tile, lotsa tile.
The ceiling is in and it and the walls are painted. The electricity is installed and looked great in the dark last night.
The tile has been going down.
We now have a tile walk way going completely around the house. Before, the porch on the east and south had represented a partial walk way.
The problem was the dogs would dig burrows to lie in and they would extend under the walls supporting the porch. We would place concrete block among the plants to stymie them.
Now the east is secure.

The way a concrete slab is supported here, an ‘effective’ wall is erected along the sides, and the interior is filled with rocks, dirt, and sand and let settle, Then the 2-3 inch slab is poured on top. I kept worrying that the dog holes would drain the sand and remove support to the slab.

On the south side we had six bougainvillea plants and they provided attactive shade for the dogs. Now rather than the railed porch we can step outside the sliding glass doors to a walk way that makes an easy step down — to a patio of pavers circling islands of plants?

The new light fixtures on this side looked great last night and illuminated a patio with tables and chairs in my imagination.

We ran back to the tile store on Friday to get a few extra boxes. One item we hadn’t considered was the front of the kitchen counter. Nam is super happy over the farang style cabinet doors but now they’ll look even better in contrast with the black tile facing.

Death and taxes

The rituals of village life keep me in touch with the universal rhythms of life and death. Our cats are old enough now to be thinking of sex and every month we have at least one funeral.

The 71 year old leader of Wat Phra That died and there were a series of ceremonies commemorating him. We had visited him two days before his death and he had tied string bracelets around our wrists and gave us a blessing. NAM POINTS OUT THAT a little while later we had a motorcycle spill when a car cut us off while making a turn and we survived with minor bruises.

The monk had been lying in state for 100 days before his cremation was held.

He was presented to the faithful by being held up between two monks from nearby temples. His body has simply dried out and he has been covered with gold leaf  that makes him glow.

Nam made fried chicken for 100 people on the second of five days of festivities. A very tall ‘pagoda’ was constructed at the old village school ground and lots of monks attended the Saturday event which included numerous tents with free food.

I had to get up and walk around because the sound system for the monks chanting blasted my ears.

The father of the head monk at Wat Huai Kaew also died recently. We attended one of the four days of ceremonies. On the day we attended, as is customary, we made a contribution of 100 Bahts to defray the cost of the meal that comes with the day’s event. (This was the food I’ve liked best of all the funeral meals so far.)

This small fee came after a few other contributions to our Huai Kaew village temple in the last few days. (And there are five temples we are indebted to in our two villages.) There was 500 Bahts that goes to help build a new pagoda to replace the ancient crumbling brick relic. And there was 200 Bahts for general food supplies. Since this came in addition to the 1500 Bahts that the ingredients for the fried chicken dinner cost you can see that although we don’t pay any land tax there are significant monthly expenses involved in our life here and require me to keep a supply of small bills on hand.

Every month or so there is a work party. If you don’t come you pay 300 bahts. I finally got around to attending one at the reservoir.
We traveled on the road that goes past our house.

https://goo.gl/maps/RztAmaJKvEB2

We were cutting down brush in preparation for a visit by government officials who are coming to dedicate a new bridge that crosses the canal near our house. This is part of a plan to make access to the reservoir easier and make the reservoir a tourist/playground destination.

This reservoir is evidently the source for the older canal system that still operates but is now in conjunction with the pipe system that provides us with our garden water.

The importance of water and irrigation to the Thai society constantly reminds me of a thesis I learned in college that societies with a need to irrigate, as a by-product, also learn to impose order. One of Nam’s pet phrases is “Don’t think a lot”, meaning don’t by fretting and making your forehead wrinkle, and that is a hang loose attitude I see in Thai culture. On the other hand they are very good at bureaucratic paperwork.