Thursday, April 20, 2006
here are some photos
Monday, July 11, 2005
we're gonna party like it's 2548
so have i mentioned that it's the year 2548 here? no, i don't mean that thailand is a super-advanced society centuries beyond us (although i am impressed at the ability of the women to ride motorbikes in their spiky little heels). but really, why would a buddhist country want to use a calendar that starts from the year jesus christ was born? ah, it's so great to be back in thailand... why, i remember, back in '47...
so i arrived in chiang mai saturday morning, after a pleasant overnight train ride that arrived an hour late. pee keng (pee is the title that means "older sister," it's an affectionate thing) was there waiting to pick me up ("i will pick up you at that time") and take me to crystal spring house, where we all stayed last year. i settled in and killed the morning and afternoon reading books and walking around the neighborhood. then keng picked me up for dinner at a delicious vegetarian restaurant, khun churn (i recommend it, for any veggies heading to chiang mai!), where we met 2 of her friends, and then all went to the night bazaar together. keng kept on saying how happy she was that i came back to visit, and asking about all the other people from last year's group, and telling me that any time i wanted to come back, she would take care of me, and if i brought my family, she would be our guide. she's really sweet.
yesterday (sunday) morning around 11, i got picked up at crystal spring house by nook and king, 2 of our buddies from Payap last year, and they spent the day with me. they're really cute too, and they're both so tiny... i think maybe less than 5 feet tall. we went out to lunch, and then they asked me what i wanted to do for the afternoon. i didn't know, so they said, "do you want to go to the soo?" "the what?" "the soo, the soo!" ????? ohhhhhhhhhh, the ZOO! haha. i didn't understand them at all for a minute. they have trouble saying the "Z" sound, but we eventually got it cleared up, and for the rest of the day, they'd say "zzzzoo!" and cut up laughing.
so we went, and it was pretty fun. got to pet some small elephants and see a bunch of other animals. the gibbon monkeys are really charismatic, they swing and jump nd flip around in their cage area with complete abandon. it's been so long since i've been to a zoo... when we saw the giraffes, i was amazed just by how BIG they are. we also saw the pandas, who are housed in a special air-conditioned place where you have to be quiet and sterilize your shoes before you go in. they are really adorable, and one of them walked up to the edge of their enclosure, only about 20 or 30 feet away! it's kind of sad, though, all the animals' enclosures look too small, and they look bored. one of the pandas was sitting up high on a rock and making little noises, and the keepers said that meant she wasn't happy. i never know how i feel about zoos. but it was nice all the same.
after the zoo, they took me to their favorite temple... i think it was called Wat Umong, although i already forget. There, they have an informal discussion of Buddhism, in English, every Sunday at 3 (Chiang Mai has tons of American, and other Farang, tourists). I listened to that for a little, but didn't learn too much new stuff. Then i went and ate fruit (learned how to eat a mangosteen without making a huge mess!) and fed the fish with the girls. They are these huge weird catfish type fish, who swarm around the food in a sort of slimy mass, and they really like popcorn. After that we walked around the temple a bit, explored the tunnels (i think umong, or whatever the word is, means tunnel), through which i had to duck but they didn't. Then we left there and stopped to get some cheap food. I got a big watermelon shake in a plastic bag-- yes, they put liquids in bags here, it sounds crazy but it works just fine-- for 7 baht, which equals about 18 or 20 cents. i couldnt even finish it all.
After that, we went to tam boon (make merit) at this Buddha image nearby. You buy some incense, a little stick with a tiny garlic clove and a piece of paper on it, a lotus bud, a little candle, and a sort of necklacey-garland thing of flowers and ribbon. First you light the incense and kneel and pay your respects, then you light the candle and stick it with all the other candles, and stick your incense in this pot with all the other incense. Then you put your lotus blossom into this other pot. Then you go up to the Buddha image, peel your garlic clove, and rub it on a spot on the statue, and then open up your little piece of paper, inside which is a little square of gold leaf, and you stick it on the image. Then you hang your flower garland on it. At first i wasn't sure if i should participate, not being a Buddhist and all, but it was neat just to see how they actually do it.
After that, we went to Nook's house to pick up her dad, who was taking us to and from the Sunday Market. It is a cute little modest Thai house. They invited me in and Nook's tiny Thai dad cleared away a spot on the little day bed that is also their couch, and had me sit down, and talked to me in English about his daughter who in an au pair in NJ ("my daughter, he called me up last night") and stuff like that. Totally cute.
We went to the market, where we met up with Om (another of last year's "Thai buddies") and walked around for a while, and had dinner. Throughout dinner, Nook wants to make sure my food isn't too spicy-- "Are you spice?" Hehe. At one point as we walked around in the street, the national anthem came on, from somewhere in the vacinity of a traffic light, and everybody froze until it was over. Not sure what occasioned it. It's so funny to see a street packed full of vendors and tourists and Thais just stop for like a full minute-- looks like something out of a movie.
Toward the end of the evening, the girls surprised me with a little gift they'd bought for me. Too sweet. Then Nook's dad picked us up again and they took me back to Crystal Spring, where i was totally exhausted, and fell asleep early.
Today and tomorrow they're all busy with school and work. Their semester is in session right now, and they have exams soon. Midterms, i think. So i'm on my own. I think today i will go up to Doi Suthep, and tomorrow I'm hoping maybe to go to an elephant camp or something, if i have time before my 5pm train. I'm only disappointed that i haven't been able to get in touch with Nui, i'm not sure if i'll see her before i go, which is frustrating. Oh well.
The fact that my time in Thailand is finally drawing to an end is unbelievable. Time becomes so weird when you travel... some things on this trip seem to have taken place so long ago, and yet each segment has gone so fast. Like, leaving Pathom Asok, I was sort of disappointed, even though i originally didn't know if i'd hold out... and then same at WTK, at first i was glad it was only a week but then i met all those nice people and a week ended up being barely a taste. I donno. I get everyone's emails, too, and it pulls me in both directions... Ian's email from down south, where he is helping with tsunami relief, makes me wish i had another month here to go down there and help and meet all those amazing people... but then i get emails from everybody at home and i can't wait to see everyone (and Ruby and Dixie and Chessie!!) and hang out, and visit st mary's. I read on the website that they took down the water tower.That's so sad. I still think they shoulda turned it into a smoothie bar.
Anyway, i don't want to fritter away my last bits of time in this air-conditioned place with no sounds but keyboards clacking! I want to go hear some roosters and motorbikes.
Love to everybody!
Saturday, July 09, 2005
by the light of the mobile phone
being alone can be quite romantic
like jacques cousteau underneath the atlantic
a fantastic voyage
to parts unknown...
i fascinate myself, the shit i do when i'm alone
ok, so last night i checked out of the lopburi residence hotel by candlelight, after packing all my crap in a hot, sticky, pitch-dark room. the power went out around 5 or 6 and stayed out, and since it gets completely dark by about 7, it got really hard to see anything. next time i travel, i will remember to pack a flashlight, but as it was, i had only my cell phone, which is not terribly helpful considering that anytime you press a button, the screen only stays lit up for about 3 seconds, so you have to continuously keep pressing random buttons while shining the screen towards your crap and trying to roll things up and jam them into the suitcase with some semblance of efficiency. ahhh, thailand.
anyway, travelling alone is ok, but i think it would be a lot more fun (and fascinating)with someone else along. still, you meet a lot of people when you're alone. yesterday i rode home from camp with 2 doctors, an afghan guy and a ukranian woman. they were both really nice, and we all went to the Big C department store together to get stuff for dinner. i felt funny cos i realized we must have looked like a family, they were both tall and basically white, and about the right age to be my parents. they were funny, though, and had great accents. the conversation on the way home revolved first around sarongs ("it is very attractive. i will have to study how to wear it, i do not know how to wear it. i try to look how they wear it but it is such easy movements, such quickly, i cannot understand how to wear it") and onto international phone cards ("it is possible to buy such a card? is it possible to use such a telephone?"), and so on. it really is amazing how international this group is. i met a czech-filipino guy, a ukranian, a french guy, an afghan, a canadian, a swede (?), a bunch of thais, etc... cool.
anyway, friday was my last day at camp. in the morning, instead of teaching CO, i walked over to the temple (the camp is on the grounds of a temple, Wat Tam Krabok) with Subin, a young Thai woman who teaches TB education to the refugees. It was really interesting. WTK, which means the temple of the opium pipe, is famous for its drug rehabilitation program. Addicts of all kinds can come there, and actually many of them are from Europe and the US. I'm not sure how they all hear about it, i think it's mainly word of mouth. During the Vietnam War they had really high numbers, like 2,000 or so patients, but now they have about 200. I met a monk there, Gordon Baltimore, an older black guy who is originally from Manhattan, lived in B-more for a while, and then was a mercenary soldier for a while...and then his bus stopped there. He's been in Thailand now for 44 years, a monk for 24. He's quite a character... i'd love to write his life story. He walked me around and told me what they do there... it's pretty intense. When the patients first come in, they are given herbal concoctions for 5 days which make them vomit intensely. After that, they go through a meditation period and stuff... they have to choose something to believe in, whether it be God or Buddha or Allah or the sun or whatever, and it becomes their god, and they have to believe in it intensely because everything else in their lives has failed up to this point, and then they write it on special rice paper, and then actually eat the paper, and be all committed and stuff... it's crazy. Also, they make art and soaps and stuff, and the temple is primarily self-sustaining. They make their own paint, electricity (biodiesel now, but in the process of switching to solar), and food (no almsround, because the people around dont have anything to give). They just finished building a big boat to go up and down the coast and provide medical care to people. Oh yeah, and they have a pond with 3 crocodiles, although where they came from i wasnt quite clear on. They have an herbal sauna, of course... oh yeah! and also they have a Buddha relic, supposedly his finger-bone, which is really sacred to Buddhists. So it's in a glass dome inside a fancy glass case all strung around with blinking colored xmas lights. Woah.
so yeah, after camp i went back to the hotel and perspired for a while, and then got dropped at the lopburi train station and hopped onto the overnight special express up here to chiang mai. i like the overnight train rides. you get a nice comfy little curtained-off bed with a big window (if you get a lower berth) and the train just trundles along, gently rocking a bit (but not enough to make me motionsick if i don't read). it's dark for most of the ride, but in the morning i got a couple hours to watch out the window. we rode through a bunch of verdant mountains, covered in banana, tamarind, and coconut trees, and passed some small farms with cows. when little kids see the train, they wave. i got here about an hour late, around 10am, and keng was waiting at the train station to take me to crystal spring house, where i stayed last year. it's not exactly the cheapest, but it's nice and includes breakfast, and i remember the neighborhood and can get where i need to do. tomorrow i will see our payap friends from last year. how funny. when i left here last june,i didn't really think i'd ever be back, but here i am!
So, i guess that's it for now. Have plenty of time the next few days, so will update again!
Thursday, July 07, 2005
i never thought i'd do it
so this is a post devoted exclusively to KARAOKE.
yesterday i was invited to go out to a karaoke bar with a bunch of the younger staff from here. 10 thai people and the one other volunteer, a filipino guy who speaks french and english. i went, just for the hell of it. it was the kind of place where you rent a private room and there is a table & seats and a TV screen & microphone set up, and people order food and then everyone sings karaoke. very popular thing here in asia, i'm told. the concept of karaoke kind of hurts my soul, but hey, it's a different culture here. the difference is, asian people like karaoke even when they're not drunk.
so anyway, it's pretty weird. i looked through the book and there were like 4 songs i knew; most songs are in thai, of course, but even the fair number that are in english are either crappy thai pop groups who sing in english, or the carpenters. all the songs have videos to go with them, but since many of them weren't originally made with videos, they karaoke people made their own. the ones for american songs mainly consist of white people with floofy blonde hair and cut-off shorts walking around on beaches, or sometimes wandering around high bluffs in cowboy hats. The thai ones feature lots of backup dancers in shiny, colorful outfits; well-groomed couples in suits and cinderella dresses with puffed sleeves, facing one another chastely under a trellis; or a shiny-lipped, sultry thai woman (porn star?) who just sort of rolls around on the edge of a pool and fondles her fancy drink. they are hilarious. oh yeah, and after you sing a song the screen rates your performance. i'm pretty sure the numbers are completely random, and everyone always gets either a 94 or an 88.
after much coaxing, i agreed to sing a song. i didn't even have any alcohol. what am i coming to? i picked out "hey jude," because the beatles was one of the only recognizable bands. we won't talk about that part.
after a while, everybody got up and danced, which was pretty hilarious also. they were a sweet group of people. one girl, mint, who i just met earlier yesterday, was really sweet and kept on affectionately patting me on the knee and stuff. they folded me right into the group even though i was being a wallflower and don't even speak their language. so funny.
i could say more but people are waiting for me to go to lunch!
till next time!
adventures in lopburi
ok, so a quick post-- i go talk about american law (??) in 10 minutes.
yesterday was exciting, though. first off, in my EFL class, i was teaching a couple older people who have never learned to read and write at all, in any language. with a lot of time and one-on-one attention, they both completed a ditto where they had to write english words to match with pictures. the man is 67. i think this was one of the first times they had written anything in their lives. as they left the classroom, the old man (who has an incredible amount of trouble with his english pronunciation-- it doesnt sound ANYTHING like what i am trying to get him to say) looked pretty proud of his paper. wow.
after class, i got the rest of the day off to go see lopburi. touger's nice little assistant, what's-his-face, took me to see the ruins of the old palace (reminiscent of ayuthaya, only way smaller) and then the monkeys!!!!!! the monkeys were awesome, although some of them did climb up my leg and gnaw on it a little bit. mostly they leave you alone, though. i was warned to hang onto my stuff, apparently they love to steal anything shiny or colorful that you're not hanging onto and just run away with it. i got to sort of hold hands with a couple of the babies, though, and i was amazed at how soft their little fingers are!! wow. so cool. oh yeah and, unlike what would happen in america, there is no sign reading "beware of monkeys," etc etc. they are just free to walk everywhere and climb across the power lines over the street and jump around on the building facades. i even saw 3 sitting in an empty police box. they're so funny!
in the evening, i got roped into going out to a karaoke bar with 11 other people from here. originally, i didn't think there were a whole lot of other young people here, but it turns out there is a whole big karaoke-lovin bunch of them! none as young as me, i think, but some in early- mid 20s.
ok, gotta go teach class. i'll relate more of the harrowing experience of the karaoke bar later.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
day 2.5 at WTK
ok, now i have time to write a bit before my EFL class at 1. so anyway, where was i?
i spent the weekend in BKK, with claudia and chris and karen & sarah siler, then, gradually, alone. They left bit by bit and by Sunday evening i had BKK to myself. Originally i was a bit worried about that, but it turned out fine, and time went quickly in a bookstore and internet cafe.
Monday morning i got up and had to get my visa renewed for 10 days. I took my first mototaxi to the bureau of immigration--i'd been avoiding them up to this point. It wasn't that bad, but i didn't enjoy it, and tried not to cling onto the driver's shoulder. Since i was wearing a skirt, i was perched sidesaddle (that's what they do here-- it's easier to stay on than you'd think), so i was in charge of keeping my own feet off the ground and my knees tucked close as we squeezed between cars. I think it's probably easier for Thai people. One case in which long legs are a disadvantage.
Anyway, i arrived safe and sound at the door of the bureau of immigration, which is similar to the DMV only in Thai. I had to fill out some forms, stand in lines, walk across the street twice to get photocopies, and give them 1900 baht (almost $50). Not so bad, but i recommend just applying for a 2-month tourist visa if you're coming here, rather than doing that.
So, success there. Took a tuk-tuk back to my guest house and checked out, then lugged my crap about 2 blocks to the IOM (International Organization for Migration) office. There, behind an unmarked door ("knock loudly," i was instructed; fortunately i knocked on the correct door), i met Peter, who's a nice guy, and he shipped me off in an IOM van to Wat Tra Krabock, where the camp is located.
I got here in the early afternoon and met a few people who work here, and after a short tour they tossed me in a classroom with about 30 Hmong refugees, all scheduled to leave for the US within the next few days or weeks, all of whom speak zero English (Thai is their second language, and old people don't speak that either). There were 2 young Hmong guys who speak fragments of English there to help me. They gave me a ditto (yes, 1), but it was a 2-hour class, so i was a little at a loss. Luckily Hmong uses the same alphabet as English, so I can write stuff on the board-- of course, most of the people are illiterate anyway, because they've never gone to school at all. It went ok, though, i guess... they're not very responsive or eager to learn. And the women are very shy and won't talk at all. I think it will get better as they get to know me a little more, though. I want the women to talk.
After that i had a little time to hang around and watch some refugees load themselves and their worldly possessions onto a bus bound for BKK and beyond. Groups of refugees leave here daily for the airport, and ultimately for various destinations in the US, mainly Minnesota, Wisconsin, and California. They each take one large rainbow-striped bag containing all their belongings, medical records (scant) and paperwork, and weighing no more than 20 kilos. When they arrive in the US, their first task will be to pay back the cost of their plane tickets, and after that they can begin to get on their feet.
While i stood there, i mostly just took a few pictures and made faces at babies (there are quite a few). One man trained his video camera on me for like 2 minutes straight as i just stood there doing nothing. Another old man came up to me and asked me (en francais) whether i speak French! Fortunately i do, a bit. That was the first time i've met a Thai person who speaks any "Farang" language other than English! It was cute.
At 4pm i hopped back into an IOM van and went to my hotel, known as Residence 2. I was given a choice between Residences 1 and 2 and chose 2 because it was cheaper. Unfortunately, it is also totally isolated-- not within walking distance of anything, and there aren't really any taxis, sawng thaews, or tuk tuks here. Confused, and anticipating a week of completely lonely boredom (and not knowing how or where to go to eat, do laundry, etc) starting at 5:30 pm and going until i fell asleep, i didn't know what to do. I wasn't sure yet what my place was at the camp-- felt a little superfluous (and maybe i am, at least in the CO capacity, but teaching EFL makes me feel a little more useful) and underfoot. Since Allison, Sarah, Darrion, and Ken are still wandering Thailand, I was tempted to just jump ship and go visit awesome national parks with them (it still sounds tempting). I decided to give it another day, though, and was glad i did.
Yesterday was a lot better. I went with Touger, a CO (cultural orientation) trainer, to teach his morning class, so i talked mainly about traffic law. After that, I had a while to walk around camp and take pictures, and I was accompanied by Touger's assistant, a really nice little Hmong-Thai guy who speaks good English (I can't remember his name...), so i didn't feel to obtrusive. He showed me a place to find good mang-sa-wi-rat (vegetarian) lunch, too. Walking around camp is amazing. It's pretty squalid, and it poured Monday night so it's flooded everywhere, too. After a family moves out, the gov't immediately destroys their house so that more people can't move in, so everywhere between the inhabited huts are piles of rubble or sometimes just sticks and stuff. There are dogs, naked children, and chickens everywhere.
At 1, i went to teach EFL again. This time i had only 5 students, all men. I was still unprepared but this time had a better expectation and a place to start from, so i think we made a little progress. It's very basic, and moves reeeeeally slowly, but i think maybe they actually got down the numbers. Introductions are a little more difficult for them. Some of them are going to America today, tomorrow, next week-- but they will be resettled in communities with other Hmong families, some of whom have been there for a while and speak English... still, i can't imagine how hard of an adjustment it must be.
After EFL i went out to watch another bus being loaded. Everyone was crying and hugging. Some of these people, who have lived here for years, will never see each other again. While I was standing around i met another young volunteer, Mack, who is originally from the Philippines, studies in France, and is currently living in BKK. It was so graet to meet another young person! He's been here for a few weeks so we walked around and he told me a lot of stuff. Like the fact that the Hmong practice polygamy (it's not legal in Thailand). When they are going to come to the US, though, the husband can only bring 1 wife, so he is forced to choose which one he wants, and then the other wives are left here with their children. Some of them have 7 or 8 children-- Mack has been doing paperwork, and said he's seen families with as many as 13. God, who could give birth 13 times? Anyway, though the situation is incredibly sad. And just difficult. These people's culture is sooo different from American culture. And they're totally uneducated. They do not have an easy road ahead.
I also met Shannon, Jan's friend, who has been extremely helpful and friendly, and got me moved to Residence 1, the hotel in town. Things feel a lot better now. I can wash my stinky clothes today!
This morning i talked about education in the CO classes. I also walked over the the office of the resettlement unit with Touger, and got to hear a little bit about the medical stuff that's going on. There has been a recent outbreak of TB here, which threw a monkeywrench into some of the operations, but they are getting it under control now. It's hard, though, because the Hmong people don't believe in bacteria and stuff; apparently, for them, you're not sick till you can't get out of bed anymore, and if you can't see it, it's not there. So public health here is a challenge, and translating even a lot of symptoms is not easy.
After EFL today, the assistant guy is taking me to Lopburi to see the monkeys and the palace, and i think tomorrow i will explore the temple, which is also an opium rehab center, and the bat cave. I think i may also have plans to go to karaoke (the verb for me with karaoke is not "sing," but rather "watch") tomorrow night with Mack and some other people from here. Ha. We'll see about that.
That about brings us up to date!
Miss you all, email me!
Wednesday morning. I'm here at the Hmong refugee camp at Wat Tra Krabock (i'm not sure if i spelled that right). It's my 3rd day here, my second full day. When i first got here, i didn't really know what was going on and felt kind of underfoot, but things are good now.
oh, ok, gotta go teach an extra CO class this morning. will finish this later.
write to me! miss everybody!
Sunday, July 03, 2005
happy 4th, kiss a crab for me
My time at Ko Samet is over; I’m back in real Thailand now. Those days slipped past so quickly, I can’t believe I passed a week lying there on the beach and floating in that warm turquoise water. Actually, a large fraction of my time was devoted to those puppies. There was also a bit of disco action, even a karaoke bar—though you didn’t catch me singing, you’d be hard pressed to do that—and a lovely sunset watched on a rocky outcropping on the western side of the island (TubTim, where we stayed, is on the east side). I was sad to wave goodbye to John, Tarn, Sarah, Allison, Darrion, and Ken (the remains of the group plus one or 2 friendly SMC additions) as they stood in the surf and we sped away in the boat.
Away from the island’s tranquility, things are typically Thai again. Before we had gotten halfway to BKK, the back hatch door of our van flew open and our suitcases tumbled out into the middle of the highway. Fortunately, our driver stopped and retrieved them, and they didn’t cause any accidents or even get run over (!). In the moments where it looked like a couple of semi trucks were headed straight for my bag, I was doing some quick thinking about whether there was anything valuable (or crushable) in there, and I think the answer was no on both counts, but I was glad nonetheless to have my clothes and books back.
In BKK, Claudia and I arrived at Bangkok Christian Guest House, an establishment that holds no special place in either of our hearts but is very convenient to the IOM office where I’ll be heading tomorrow morning. We went to dinner (Italian!) with Chris and Karen & Sarah Siler, Darrion’s mom and sister, who joined us for the trip to Ko Samet and are a lot of fun. Back at the guest house, our power went out twice before we could get ourselves into bed, but eventually stabilized.
Claudia left for the airport at 4am this morning. I got up latish and spent the day doing little errands and then hanging out with Chris and the Silers again. Chris left for the airport later in the afternoon, and I saw Karen and Sarah off a little bit ago. Now I’m on my own for the night, and am about to head back to good ol BCGH (with a picture of a Caucasian Jesus hanging in the lobby, lots of cross stitch everywhere, and no alcohol or durian allowed on the premises) to repack my stinky clothes, do a little reading, and zonk out. In the morning, I awake in search of various offices, ready to hop in a car to monkeytown.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
puppies in paradise
I'm in Ko Samet!! This place is astoundingly gorgeous, and my body and brain are completely relaxed and removed from the past few weeks. We stay in small bungalows right near a small, white beach that gives way to gently undulating and warm teal water through which you can see all the way down to your feet! Since arriving, all we've really done is relax and play. The beach, fairly sparsely populated all the time, is covered with tiny crabs who make hundreds of little sand-spit-balls, and the occasional washed-up ten-legged starfish bigger than a frisbee. There is also a litter of just about the cutest 2-week-old puppies ever, who keep us constantly distracted with their antics and their sandy little faces. The place is quiet and perfect. A short walk up the beach reveals plenty of restaurants, and there are also places to rent motorbikes (i'm too chicken), kayaks (hopefully tomorrow), and snorkeling gear. Sitting on the beach, we are occasionally approached by people selling fruit, som tum (spicy papaya salad), sarongs, or massages. i think i'm going to get a massage today. there is really nothing to possibly complain about. of course, i don't even feel like i'm in thailand at all anymore, which is partly a relief and partly a shame, and it will be an adjustment to re-enter BKK and a few more weeks of thai life.
today we did our presentations of our experiences to one another, as a dry run of whatever we end up doing in the fall. the group trip officially ends tomorrow, even though we're all hanging around here a bit longer (i can't believe i was originally planning on leaving the 29th!).
anyway, i can't possibly sit in here any longer on this perfect afternoon. hope all is well at home! talk soon!